HAMILTON – The accused killers of a Hamilton man who disappeared after leaving home with two strangers for a test drive of his pickup truck first shot their victim and then burned his remains, their trial heard Monday.
Dellen Millard, of Toronto, and Mark Smich, from Oakville, Ont., have both pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Tim Bosma.
The 32-year-old Bosma left his home on the evening of May 6, 2013 and was never seen alive again. Police found his body more than a week later “burned beyond recognition.”
Tim Bosma: A timeline of the police investigation
In his opening statement, Crown attorney Craig Fraser said Millard and Smich shot Bosma in the truck before burning his remains in an incinerator outside an airport hangar owned by Millard, who is the heir to an aviation business – Millardair – started by his grandfather nearly 50 years ago.
“Tim Bosma was killed in his truck, shot by the two accused in close range while on a test drive,” Fraser said. “His body was incinerated hours later by the two accused.”
Fraser said police found the pickup truck at the home of Millard’s mother in Kleinburg, Ont., with the seats ripped out.
Police found gunshot residue as well as Bosma’s blood both inside and outside the vehicle, Fraser said, adding that police later found some of Bosma’s bones inside the incinerator. Fraser said Millard’s fingerprints were found throughout Bosma’s truck along with a shell casing from a bullet.
He also said police found the keys to Bosma’s truck in Millard’s car when he was arrested.
Fraser said a man, whom the Crown intends to prove was Millard, phoned Bosma two days before the test drive on May 4. He said the same man also phoned three others to try to arrange to test drive a similar pickup truck.
Fraser also said that in a statement Smich’s girlfriend gave to police, she said that her boyfriend told her both Smich and Millard were there that night and the man they stole the truck from was “gone, gone, gone.”
Bosma’s wife, Sharlene, took the stand in the afternoon as the Crown’s first witness. She said the family was planning to move from Ancaster to nearby Brantford, and they decided to sell their truck, which was frequently breaking down.
They listed the truck for sale on Kijiji and Auto Trader and received interest from one man in Toronto, who wanted to see it on May 4, Sharlene Bosma said. So they arranged to meet up Monday after work.
Sharlene Bosma said her husband paced the house waiting for the man, who showed up late in the evening.
“Who takes a test drive this late at night?” Sharlene Bosma recalled her husband saying.
The couple discussed plans for the test drive.
“He said ‘when they come, should I go with them?”‘ Sharlene Bosma told court, overcome with tears.
“I said ‘yes you should because we want the truck to come back.”‘
She described a tall man and a shorter one walk down the long driveway at their home, talk to Bosma, and the tall one got in the driver’s side while Bosma got in the passenger seat. The shorter one got in the back. The pulled out and headed north and she never saw him again.
Repeated calls and texts to her husband went unanswered so she called a family friend who is a police officer in Sarnia, Ont., to ask for advice. That officer recommended calling police.
Earlier on Monday, the Crown said it intends to present video that shows Millard and Smich firing up the incinerator outside the hangar in the early hours of May 7.
In a text sent to Millardair employees, Millard wrote: “Airport politics. No one goes to the hangar today, not even just to grab something,” Fraser said.
“Employees did as they were told to do,” Fraser said. “However, when they returned to work the following day, one employee saw a black pickup truck in the hangar that he believed could have been Tim Bosma’s.”
This employee, Fraser said, “knew about Bosma from the news,” so he took photos of the vehicle identification number and sent it to Crimestoppers. They matched Bosma’s truck, he said.
Millard’s girlfriend – who has been charged with accessory after the fact in relation to the case and will be tried separately – will testify that she helped him move the incinerator to a stand of trees on his farm near Waterloo, Ont., the Crown lawyer said.
Fraser said police also seized letters from Millard’s girlfriend, written by Millard from jail after his arrest, that asked her to persuade one of his friends to change the information given to police.
That friend, Fraser said, will testify that he heard both Millard and Smich planning to steal a truck.
Millard was arrested on May 10 and originally charged with forcible confinement and theft of a vehicle. Smich was arrested 12 days later.
Both were charged with first-degree murder after Bosma’s body was found.