Two and a half years ago, Dellen Millard envisioned a life of rural leisure when he first laid eyes on the quiet section of farmland along Roseville Road. It was a 20-minute drive south of the Waterloo, Ont., airport where he would soon work alongside his father, Wayne, in a new state-of-the-art hangar owned by the family firm. He could imagine building his dream home there alongside the corn and barley crops, settling down with the woman he introduced to a local real-estate agent as his fiancée.
His outlook at the time could be summarized in the word he would have tattooed on his wrist: “ambition.”
The deal closed in May, 2011. The price: $835,000, all cash.
Within two years, his father would be dead, Mr. Millard would stand accused of murdering an Ancaster, Ont., father and his bucolic piece of land would come to symbolize an appalling end rather than a fresh beginning.
Forensic investigators are slated to wrap up a one-week search of Mr. Millard’s farmland and the hangar on Saturday, a hunt that has uncovered a portable livestock incinerator and the charred remains of Tim Bosma.
The strange circumstances around Mr. Bosma’s death – as well as the first-degree murder charge laid against a modest, young man of means – have vaulted the sad and vexing story to national attention.
On Monday, May 6, 32-year-old Tim Bosma left his wife and two-year-old daughter at his Ancaster home to take two strangers – a tall man and short man – for a test drive in his black 2007 Dodge Ram. He never returned.
His disappearance confounded police for days until a man came forward with an eerie story of two similar men who had taken his red Dodge Ram for a test drive a day earlier. He recalled an “ambition” tattoo on the tall man’s wrist.
Four days after Mr. Bosma’s disappearance, police tailed Mr. Millard for at least four hours before arresting him and later charging him with forcible confinement, theft over $5,000 and, eventually, first-degree murder.
Through his lawyer, Deepak Paradkar, Mr. Millard has denied all charges. Mr. Paradkar characterized his client as the wealthy heir to his family’s aviation business who had no debts and no need to steal a used truck.
Police are looking for two more suspects – the short man and the driver of an “SUV-type” vehicle that appeared to be following Mr. Bosma’s Dodge as it pulled away from his home.
Mr. Bosma’s family, meanwhile, has scheduled a public memorial on Wednesday at Carmen’s banquet hall in Hamilton.
While the Bosma family grieves, those who know Mr. Millard are perplexed by the charges against him. The real-estate agent, Bruce Nicholson, recalled a business-savvy young man who never flaunted his money and had a keen eye for trucks, including Mr. Nicholson’s new Chevy Avalanche. “We talked, you know, how do you like yours? What’s it got? You know, like guys do about their trucks. It was always quite easy and friendly,” Mr. Nicholson said.
For Mr. Nicholson, the story doesn’t add up, especially the part about Mr. Millard allegedly stealing Mr. Bosma’s six-year-old truck, “when he can write a cheque for a half a dozen new ones,” he said.
One friend of Mr. Millard’s girlfriend shared the impression of him as a modest man who acted neither spoiled nor particularly well-off. “He’s a soft-spoken sort of a guy,” said the friend, who cannot be named due to a publication ban. “I didn’t even know he had money. He never acted like it.”
Though the two never became close, the friend said Mr. Millard seemed to treat his girlfriend well, taking her on skydiving trips and tropical vacations.
The investigation into Mr. Millard’s alleged involvement in the Bosma murder has forced investigators to consider some macabre possibilities. A relative of one man questioned by Bosma investigators told The Globe and Mail the interview included questions about the 2012 death of Dellen’s father, Wayne.
Police are also re-examining his relationship to Laura Babcock, a Toronto woman who went missing last July, according to a CTV News report.
Toronto Police said Wayne’s death on Nov. 29, 2012, was deemed a suicide at the time. Nearly six months later, the Ontario Chief Coroner’s office says the investigation into Wayne’s death remains “ongoing.”
The death halted ambitions for the Waterloo hangar. Established by Dellen’s grandfather, Carl, in the early 1960s, Millardair was moving from Pearson International Airport to an $8-million hangar in Waterloo. The company would operate as one of only a couple of privately owned aircraft repair hangars in Ontario that could maintain jets as large as Boeing 757s.
But when Wayne, who was in his early 70s, died suddenly last fall, Dellen put his father’s plans on ice, laying off staff and cancelling a key certificate from Transport Canada. Instead, he put the hangar up for lease and continued to store his collection of cars and aircraft there.
However, a contractor who worked on the hangar said Mr. Millard wasn’t the type to tinker on engines himself. “I’ve never seen his hands dirty that way. I didn’t find him that mechanically inclined,” the contractor said.
In fact, once when Mr. Millard needed some space he took a cutting torch and removed some structural components from the building, the contractor said. “That’s something you don’t do and I told him we have to put it back. And if he was a little more mechanically inclined, he would know that.”
Still, the recent developments don’t add up for the contractor.
“They have no problem with money. He’ll spend however many thousands on vehicles and airplanes and things. What’s the story with him buying an old truck? There’s something not right.”