GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING: The details and pictures in this story may be disturbing to readers.
The body of a Calgary mother was put in a plastic tub then cemented into the basement of the home she shared with her common-law husband and two children, court heard Tuesday.
Allan Shyback pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and causing an indignity to a body Tuesday, as the first day of his judge-alone trial got underway.
Shyback is accused of strangling Mitchell then hiding her in the basement.
Calgary police Det. Karl Sudyk testified when police searched the Ogden home on Dec. 5, 2014 they found a stack of items hiding a pile of cement.
Once investigators excavated through the cement they found a tub, duct taped shut.
Medical Examiner Dr. Jeffery Gofton testified when he received Lisa Mitchell’s body for autopsy, she was in a plastic tub in the fetal position covered with salt pellets mixed with cat litter.
Mitchell, 31, was last seen alive on Oct. 29, 2012.
For more than two years, Mitchell’s family held on to hope she would be found alive.
Her mother, Peggy Mitchell, testified Tuesday morning and described a volatile, on-again-off-again relationship between the couple.
Peggy testified that in the days leading up to her disappearance, Lisa had been staying with her in Longview. She said she left in a hurry on Oct. 29, 2012, telling her that Shyback said he needed his truck back in Calgary.
Days later, Peggy said she received an email from her daughter.
“She said in the email, ‘I just have to get away.’ It seemed to make sense, but it wasn’t her. It wasn’t personal, it wasn’t the way she spoke,” Peggy told the court.
Further details of the investigation of Mitchell’s disappearance and eventual death were revealed Tuesday, as an agreed statement of facts was given to the court.
Several apps were found on Shyback’s phone, such as “False Mail” – an app that allows the user to send an email using a fake or “spoofed” email address, as well as “Hexamob Recovery Lite” – a tool for recovering deleted files from a phone.
Laptop search shows searches for ‘Lisa Mitchell,’ ‘missing person’
Also in the agreed statement of facts, it was revealed that after Shyback’s arrest, a forensic examination of his laptop was done by Calgary police.
They found a history of online searches from December 2012 about “how body decomposition is affected by various things such as salt, lye, concrete, lack of air and lack of insect activity.”
Similar searches were done in April and May of 2014, along with queries on murder legislation in Canada. Between August 2013 and March 2014 there were numerous web searches made for the name “Lisa Mitchell” – some included the additional search terms “Calgary,” “missing person,” “nude,” or “porn.”
Peggy said there were several emails back and forth between her and her daughter – but when Lisa missed a work shift, she grew suspicious and decided to drive to Calgary and search their home.
She testified that Shyback told her he went to the store on Oct. 29 and when he came back, Lisa was gone.
She said she also received a phone call from a blocked number on Nov. 15, 2012 at 2:46 a.m., that went to voicemail.
The short message was played in court.
“Hey, I’m OK. Sometimes my weeks get crazy you know, and it was quiet for a while and then all of a sudden, this happened, and within half a day I should, but he’s back now and I gotta go, love you,” the voicemail said.
But Peggy said she didn’t believe it was her daughter.
“It sounded like her voice… but I know my daughter and how she talked, and it wasn’t her.”
The agreed statement of facts also states Shyback admitted to an undercover police officer that he used a previously recorded file of Lisa’s voice to create that voicemail.
Court also heard Shyback confessed to a police officer during an undercover “Mr. Big” sting operation that he killed Mitchell.
In December 2014, police raided the house and discovered Mitchell’s remains.
The trial is scheduled for nine days in front of Justice Rosemary Nation.