Teenagers accused of murder while under government care has reached never-before-seen rates in the Edmonton area and a local criminologist feels the situation could be the worst of its kind on the continent.

A 17-year-old ward of the province charged in the murder of Keith Goddard, Edmonton’s 13th homicide victim of the year, made a brief court appearance yesterday. He is the fourth teen to be charged in connection with an area homicide in under a month.

The youth, who cannot be named, is facing charges of second-degree murder, aggravated assault and eight counts of breach of recognizance.

“This may be one of the worst cases in North America over a four-week period I’ve ever seen,” said Grant MacEwan criminologist Bill Pitt.

“We have a problem, a big problem … it is epidemic status right now.”

The capital region has recently seen an influx of murder cases with teens under government care, highlighted by the June double-murder of Barry Boenke, 68, and Susan Trudel, 50, who were found dead on a Strathcona County acreage.

Trevor Columbe, spokesman for Children and Youth Services, says he doesn’t want recent homicides to stain kids in care with a stigma. He added caregivers are sticking to status quo with policies, and no reviews have been launched.

“Whenever a serious incident occurs it’s deeply concerning and there’s a process in place ... (but) the vast majority of the kids, around 9,000, do wonderfully,” Columbe said.

Pitt feels the government needs to tackle issues at a grassroots level, and start looking at the core problems for troubled teens.

“We are not being protected and people are drawing salaries for doing nothing,” Pitt said.