CAUTION: This story contains graphic content some readers may find disturbing.
Durham Regional Police Acting Sergeant Kevin Park was the first officer on scene the night a plumber called 911 to report finding what appeared to be flesh in the drain of a house at 19 McMillan Drive in Oshawa on Dec. 29, 2017.
Adam Strong is on trial for the first-degree murder of Oshawa teenagers Rori Hache and Kandis Fitzpatrick. Eighteen-year-old Hache went missing in late August 2017, less than two weeks before a fisherman found her torso in the Oshawa harbour.
Nineteen-year-old Fitzpatrick went missing from downtown Oshawa in 2008. Police allege her DNA and blood were found in Strong’s apartment during a thorough forensic examination of his apartment in late December 2017 and in January 2018.
Strong has pleaded not guilty. The trial is being heard by judge alone and is expected to last three months.
Park testified at Strong’s double murder trial on Tuesday that he arrived on scene to find plumbers with a garbage bag full of what they thought was flesh.
The plumber had called 911 earlier in the evening to report that while snaking to unclog the drain at the home, they pulled 10 to 15 pounds of what they thought was flesh.
Court heard the landlord called the plumber after the upstairs tenants complained the drains were clogged and the whole house was backing up.
“They seemed a little shaken up by what they found,” said Park.
Two other constables arrived a minute later, Park continued, and said they decided to knock on the basement tenant’s door. Park said when Strong answered the door, he asked him, “What have you been flushing down the toilet that you shouldn’t be?”
Park told the court Strong seemed kind of solemn and seemed defeated, saying he dropped his head and said, “OK, you got me, the gig’s up, it’s a body.”
The officer testified when they knocked on Strong’s door, he did not plan to arrest him, though defence lawyer Tom Balka suggested in cross-examination that he did.
He said his concern was that they didn’t know who the tenant downstairs was and didn’t know what this substance was.
Park said Strong was arrested and that he thanked the officers a number of times for treating him like a gentleman.
“I told him to turn around and put his hands behind his back. And he said, ‘No problem’ and asked if we could lock his apartment,” the officer testified.
As he was putting Strong in the back of the cruiser, Park testified that Strong said, “I want to spill the beans.”
Park testified he had already read Strong his right to legal counsel, advised him he was under arrest for murder, and cautioned him that anything he said could be used as evidence. Park said he shut the back door and got into the driver’s seat.
“I had to compose myself for a second and take a breath based on the information I had just taken in.”
Park said as he was writing notes, he was caught off-guard by Strong who spoke up from the backseat: “If you want to recover the rest of her, she’s in my freezer. She’s buried, defleshed.”
About five minutes later, when they pulled into the nearby police station, Park told the court Strong made another utterance.
“I considered suicide. I knew it was done and that the plumbers were going to be pulling up parts of her up,” Park said that Strong had a very calm demeanor as he spoke. “It seemed like he wanted to tell me and talk about the incident,” said Park.
Park said he and another officer removed Strong from the car and took him into the cells. Strong was searched and three gold chains were seized from his neck. One had three gold female engagement style rings on it.
Park said Strong got very emotional when the necklaces were put into a property bag.
“Be careful with my jewelry. It took a long time to procure it,” Park said he recalled Strong saying, testifying he was quite upset.
Strong’s statement to the officer who showed up at his door as well as two subsequent videotaped interviews he had with police are subject to legal arguments in the next few weeks about their admissibility.
The prosecution said it has a strong circumstantial case that will rely heavily on the forensic examination of Strong’s home and his digital devices.
—With files from The Canadian Press