The man accused of murdering Tim Bosma has been portrayed as the wealthy heir to his family aviation firm who slid naturally into the CEO's chair after his father's death. But a contractor who helped overhaul the company describes an uneasy succession marked by the starkly different business visions held by father and son.
Last fall, the company was on the cusp of a daring new chapter in its 50-year existence. Wayne Millard had invested at least $8-million in a state-of-the-art hangar, built to maintain some of Canada's most prominent commercial fleets.
The company had secured key operating licenses at a huge cost and was staffing up its 50,000-square-foot hangar in Waterloo, Ont., when the driving force behind the company's revitalization, Mr. Millard, died unexpectedly.
That's when 27-year-old Dellen Millard, the man formally charged with first-degree murder in the death of Mr. Bosma on Wednesday, took over and quickly made it clear that, despite being close with his late father, he did not share the elder Millard's aspirations for Millardair.
The younger Millard put the new building up for lease, according to the contractor who built the facility, dashing the new phase of the company before it could start. An avid pilot and car enthusiast, he used a portion of the hangar to store the family's sizable collection of vehicles and aircraft.
"Dellen, being a young man, wasn't really ready to take on a hundred employees and a business that he knew nothing about," said the contractor, who has known the Millard family for about a dozen years and asked not to be named.
His business philosophy only deepens the mystery surrounding the reluctant heir with the tattoos who now sits in protective custody inside a Hamilton jail. He is accused of murdering Mr. Bosma after the young father took two men to test-drive his pickup truck.
As many shortcomings as Mr. Millard might have as an aviation executive, the contractor said he cannot square the young man he knows with the gruesome criminal accusations he faces.
"I think the cops are barking up the wrong tree," the contractor said. "There's something else that's not right as far as I'm concerned. … There's something wrong with the whole picture. 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."
Outside court on Wednesday, Mr. Millard's lawyer, Deepak Paradkar, hinted at an alternative explanation yet to emerge. "There is a story behind this which I can't get into, but obviously it's more than it appears to be," he said after Mr. Millard appeared in a Hamilton court on Wednesday.
Mr. Paradkar rejected suggestions from reporters that Mr. Millard's personal and business fortunes were flagging, characterizing his client as a wealthy man who could have easily bought Mr. Bosma's 2007 Dodge Ram had he the inclination.
While Mr. Millard maintains his innocence, Mr. Paradkar said his client is refusing to speak with police to avoid inadvertently implicating himself.
"My client is exercising his constitutional right to remain silent," Mr. Paradkar said, adding that Mr. Millard will plead not guilty.
Police are still seeking at least two more suspects in the killing, and Mr. Paradkar said their arrests would help Mr. Millard's case. "There are other suspects out there, it's my understanding, and once they've been apprehended, you'll get a fuller picture of what's going on."
Standing over six feet tall and wearing a wrinkled light dress shirt and grey slacks, Mr. Millard appeared unshaven but alert in court. He spoke only to say his name and consent to a list of people with whom he's prohibited from communicating.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bosma's widow, Sharlene, struggled to check her emotions as she spoke publicly for the first time since police confirmed her husband's charred remains had been found in the Waterloo region. Ms. Bosma, who wore a black sweater and had her hair pulled back, trembled as she delivered a heartfelt remembrance of her husband before microphones at her church.
"I am broken. The biggest part of me is gone," she said.
Ms. Bosma vowed that her little girl, who is two years old, would know how much her father loved her and would watch her sleep and chase her for tickles.
"I must ask for your support and prayers for the hours and the weeks and the months and, indeed, the years that lie ahead for us. Because this will never really be over for us."