One of two men accused of killing Laura Babcock and burning her body ordered a large animal incinerator – called The Eliminator – days before the young woman disappeared five years ago, a Toronto court heard Thursday.
The Eliminator was operational a few weeks after Babcock disappeared, according to text messages recovered by police.
Retired forensic officer Jim Falconer guided jurors through a lengthy presentation about the haul of data found on three computers seized at the home of Dellen Millard.
“What temperature is cremation done at?” read a screen capture of an online search taken from Millard’s phone at 10:38 p.m. on July 23, 2012.
“Best answer: 1700 degrees and it takes about 1 hour for the first 100 pounds and 1/2 hour for each 100 after that.”
Babcock’s father, Clayton, who sat in the courtroom, held his hand to his mouth as he listened to the testimony.
The Crown contends Millard and his friend, Mark Smich, killed Babcock and then incinerated her body.
Falconer, a former detective sergeant with the Ontario Provincial Police, showed court a series of photographs and videos taken from Millard’s phone at a hangar he owned at the Region of Waterloo International Airport on the same night.
One photo, taken at 11:14 p.m., shows Smich standing in front of the incinerator, smiling and holding a black pole.
Another photo, taken at 11:20 p.m., shows flames inside the incinerator.
A video recorded at 11:45 p.m. shows embers floating in the air, a streetlight in the distance and a rumbling sound in the background.
About an hour later, a note was created on Smich’s iPad. It read:
“The bitch started off all skin and bone,
Now the bitch lay on some ash stone,
Last time I saw her was outside the home,
And if u go swimming u can find her phone”
The jury then saw a video of Smich rapping those lyrics, which was recorded on Sept. 25, 2012, at Millard’s home.
The Crown alleges Millard, 32, of Toronto, and Smich, 30, of Oakville, Ont., killed Babcock because she was the odd woman out in a love triangle with Millard and his girlfriend.
Prosecutors say Millard and Smich burned the 23-year-old woman’s remains in an incinerator that was later found on Millard’s farm near Waterloo, Ont.
Both men have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges.
Falconer told court that on June 18, 2012, Millard asked a man named “Shaner” to order an animal incinerator that could burn a 250-pound animal.
“Cost on small 250 lb incinerator is 11390. Next model is 500 lb and sells for 13440. Tax and shipping extra,” Shaner wrote to Millard.
“Put an order in for the larger one. Use the red Visa,” Millard wrote.
The total cost of the incinerator, which Millard and Shaner referred to as “the BBQ,” came to more than $15,000 after taxes, according to texts from Shaner.
Millard struggled to get the incinerator operational, according to a slew of texts between he and Shaner.
But they got it working by July 23. At 3:07 p.m. that day, Millard wrote to Smich: “bbq has run its warm up, it’s ready for meat.”
On July 3, court has heard, Babcock’s phone pinged off the same cell tower as Millard’s phone at the same time – near Millard’s house in Toronto’s west end. Her final outgoing phone call came at 7:03 p.m.
At 7:30 p.m., Millard texted Smich: “I’m on a mission, back in 1 hr.”
Court has heard that Babcock’s phone stopped connecting with cell towers at 11 a.m. on July 4.
At 2:40 p.m., an image from Millard’s phone showed a dog sitting beside an object wrapped in a large blue tarp, with the GPS co-ordinates showing it was taken at Millard’s farm near Waterloo, Ont.
On July 7, a calendar event was created on Millard’s phone with the note: “Barn smell check.”