Joe Thorne was at a meeting Friday when he heard the RCMP in British Columbia had made an arrest in the 2011 murder of his 18-year-old cousin, Tyeshia Jones.
"I cried," he said. "I left the room. It was like getting hit in the face with a bucket of cold water. I knew this day would come."
The RCMP say they have arrested a single suspect in the deaths of two Vancouver Island women – Karrie-Ann Stone, 42, and Ms. Jones – whose remains were found in wooded areas of Duncan.
In a statement on Friday, the force referred to a single arrest in the two deaths, but declined to say if the person arrested was male or female.
The Mounties are holding a news conference Saturday to announce further details.
The crimes stunned residents in and around Duncan, a community of more than 5,000 people in the Cowichan Valley between Victoria and Nanaimo.
A berry picker found Ms. Stone's charred remains in July, 2010, in a wooded area. She was last seen a previous evening at an area motel.
In January, 2011, Ms. Jones' remains were found near a First Nations cemetery in Duncan. She was last seen at a friend's house on the Cowichan reserve, and left around 3 a.m. to meet a friend at a local store.
Mr. Thorne said he had been in touch with Tyeshia's mother, who he said remains haunted that she was not there for her daughter, but now looks forward to closure.
Al Siebring, a councillor in North Cowichan, the largest community in the valley, said residents of the community are "absolutely overjoyed" at the long-awaited arrest in the two cases. "There's a real general sense of relief -- given how long this has taken," he said.
Duncan mayor Phil Kent said people have never been able to reconcile the murders with their sense of the small community. "There will be a collective sense of relief at an arrest," he said.
Editor's note: an earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled Joe Thorne's surname. This version has been corrected.