January 26, 2008
Radocaj's ex-wife also charged
Joins four others in murder case
By CHRIS KITCHING - Winnipeg Sun

Big John Radocaj prepares to compete in a Winnipeg sumo bout. (NEW BRAND WRESTLING ARCHIVES)

The ex-wife of an Interlake man slain last summer and another woman have been charged with plotting his murder, a day after his ex told the Winnipeg Sun she didn't know the men accused of killing him.

RCMP said Melody Lynn Sanford, 43, was arrested Thursday and charged with conspiracy to commit murder in the death of her ex-husband Ivan (John) Radocaj, 43.

The pair married last summer and spent three tumultuous weeks together before Sanford filed for divorce in August, court documents state.

Radocaj, a former pro wrestler, was beaten to death. He was found dead in his Komarno-area home Sept. 14. Court information stated he had been killed Sept. 12.

In an interview last September, Sanford denied having a role in his murder and said the suspicions of his family and friends were untrue.

Sanford talked briefly to the Winnipeg Sun on Wednesday after police charged three men with first-degree murder.


She claimed she did not know the suspects. She said she was shocked to learn of the arrests, and then hung up on a reporter after she was asked to explain why.

Also charged with conspiracy to commit murder is Rita Louise Cushnie, 53, of Eriksdale. Cushnie and Sanford are friends, RCMP said.

Cushnie is the mother of Donald Richard, a 31-year-old Winnipeg man and one of the three men charged with first-degree murder. The others are relatives of Richard -- Daniel Richard, 23, and Timothy Richard, 20, both of Winnipeg.

All five suspects are in custody in Winnipeg.

The investigation is ongoing, meaning additional arrests are possible, said RCMP spokeswoman Sgt. Line Karpish.

In an affidavit filed after the homicide, Radocaj's father, Josip, said Sanford threatened Ivan Radocaj that she could have him killed.

In September, Sanford denied making the threat.

Ivan Radocaj feared for his life and asked his father to help him get a gun for protection, the affidavit stated.

The affidavit stated Ivan Radocaj told his dad Sept. 12 that Sanford had called and asked "to meet to settle matters." Sanford previously said she had last seen Radocaj alive at a Teulon restaurant the evening of Sept. 12.

Radocaj accused Sanford of marrying him for his money, court documents stated.

Radocaj wrestled in Winnipeg in the 1980s and was known as the Croatian Giant and Ivan the Giant.

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