A rural Ontario farm is again the epicentre of a Toronto police search, with forensic officers and a drug unit focused this time on a dilapidated barn in their search for clues in the disappearance of a friend of murder suspect Dellen Millard.
Officers are investigating the disappearance of Laura Babcock, who went missing in July, 2012, as well as the death of Mr. Millard’s father, Wayne. Dellen Millard is also accused in the murder of Ancaster, Ont., father Tim Bosma.
Detective Mike Carbone confirmed this latest search is related to the young woman, though he wouldn’t say what led officers back to the property south of Kitchener, Ont. A police spokesperson would say only that the warrant was prompted by “further information.”
The search began around 8 a.m. on Monday and extended until the early evening, deepening in intrigue as members of the Waterloo Regional Police drug unit put on white jumpsuits, blue gloves and black ventilator masks to briefly enter the barn’s two roadside entrances.
Police didn’t leave with any physical evidence Monday and planned to continue their search – likely Tuesday – a Toronto officer said as the effort wound down around 6 p.m.
The barn, with its rusting roof and cracked wooden frame, has attracted national attention ever since Mr. Bosma’s charred remains were found on the 100-acre property in May. Hamilton Police are investigating the death of Mr. Bosma, who went missing after taking two men to test drive his pickup truck on May 6.
In the spring, officers seized a portable livestock incinerator, which was purchased by an employee of Mr. Millard’s aviation company around July, 2012. Mr. Millard, 28, and Mark Smich, 26, face charges of first-degree murder in relation to Mr. Bosma’s death.
Toronto officers searched Mr. Millard’s property later in May, using a backhoe and a hand-held metal detector, but at the time said “no evidence was located.” 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.
On Monday, officers devoted their attention to the barn, taking notes and pictures as they went back and forth between the structure and a white Toronto Police Forensic Identification Services truck parked at the scene.
Earlier in the day, Ms. Babcock’s aunt, Lori Ryan, said she feared police were on site in connection to her niece, calling the timing of the incinerator delivery and Ms. Babcock’s disappearance “too fishy.”
“I believe they’re looking for Laura – and I’m sorry [if] they’re looking for Laura,” Ms. Ryan said.
Ms. Babcock and Mr. Millard had begun a sexual relationship in the first half of 2012 while Mr. Millard had a girlfriend, said 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.
Mr. Millard's lawyer, Deepak Paradkar, said he didn't know why police had returned to his client's farm. "I don't know anything about any new information."