The parents of a missing Toronto woman are waiting by the phone, hoping that police spending a second day searching a farm won’t call with any grim news.
Toronto homicide and forensic investigators on Tuesday continued combing through a rural property belonging to murder suspect Dellen Millard for clues related to the mysterious disappearance of Laura Babcock in July, 2012.
“We’re optimistic and we just hope this has nothing to do with her,” said Linda Babcock, Ms. Babcock’s mother.
Still, every time the phone rings, her worries are renewed. “I’m panicking for each call that comes in just in case it’s some news,” she said.
Toronto Police notified Ms. Babcock and her husband, Clayton, that they would begin another search of Mr. Millard’s farm south of Kitchener, Ont., on Monday.
A police spokesman would only say that investigators obtained another search warrant for the property after receiving “further information” in relation to Ms. Babcock’s disappearance. Toronto police initially searched the farm in late May, but said at the time that no evidence had been located.
Mr. Millard’s lawyer, Deepak Paradkar, said he didn’t know why police had returned to his client’s property. “I don’t know anything about any new information,” he said by e-mail late Monday.
Toronto homicide and forensics officers spent Monday focusing on a dilapidated barn. As well, members of Waterloo Regional Police drug unit arrived late in the day and briefly entered the barn in white jumpsuits, blue gloves and black ventilator masks.
Waterloo police wouldn’t say why their drug unit helped with the search, referring all questions to Toronto police. But speaking in generalities, Staff Sergeant Gerry Nugent said the squad is typically tapped to assist with drug investigations and to handle drug-related contamination, adding that the unit could be called in to briefly assess hazardous materials that aren’t drug-related.
“They may be called out to do a quick assessment, but we’re also going to call the [provincial] Ministry of the Environment,” he said Tuesday.
Mr. Millard, 28, faces a charge of first-degree murder in relation to the death of Tim Bosma, whose charred remains were found on Mr. Millard’s farm in May. Mr. Bosma, an Ancaster, Ont., father, went missing after taking two men to test drive his pickup truck on May 6.
Hamilton police seized a portable livestock incinerator from the property, which was delivered to the Millard property around July, 2012. An employee of Mr. Millard’s aviation company purchased the device.
Mark Smich, 26, has also been charged with first-degree murder.
Toronto officers searched Mr. Millard’s property later in May, using a backhoe and a hand-held metal detector. That search was in relation to both Ms. Babcock – a friend of Mr. Millard who phoned him several times before she disappeared – and his father, whose Nov. 29, 2012, death was initially deemed a suicide.
Ms. Babcock and Mr. Millard had begun a sexual relationship in the first half of 2012 while Mr. Millard had a girlfriend, according to Shawn Lerner, Ms. Babcock’s ex-boyfriend and close friend. Mr. Millard later told Mr. Lerner that Ms. Babcock had been asking him for drugs and a place to stay, which Mr. Millard said he declined.