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Katy Turner was a 30-year-old Canadian Police Officer with an exemplary record. She was a good-looking young woman with longish blonde hair and striking blue eyes. On the morning of the 22nd of September 2018 she was reported missing by her dispatch unit, based in Colchester, Nova Scotia. They requested a missing-person’s investigation - to be carried out immediately - after she failed to show up for work for the first time in her 7-year-long career.
She had not once been late, and was known as the “go-to colleague” for filling in last-minute shifts and late assignments. Jim, her patrol-partner, described her absence, and lack of communication, as “very out of character” and immediately went to check her apartment with a spare key she had given him. He testified that he found her alarm-clock ringing and nothing out of place.
Katy Turner’s credit card was traced to an Uber-driver at 3.40am the night before. The driver was located by the police and he testified that he picked up a male and female from the Ale Bar and dropped them off at the end of a street just 6 minutes away. He also stated that he could sense tension between them during the short journey.
The Ale Bar’s security cameras were then checked and the police discovered Katy talking, kissing, and dancing with a man, who at the time, was unknown and unnamed. The closest point of surveillance to the Uber-destination was the rear parking-lot of a leisure-centre situated about 50 yards from the street where they were dropped off from the cab.
Investigators checked the CCTV recordings from the night before and saw a bare-footed character dragging a large wheeled-bin shortly before 5am. Then, 7 minutes later, the same figure is seen dragging the bin, with some difficulty, because of the weight, in the opposite direction. The same man is then traced and seen dragging the bin to a location underneath the Mackenzie Bridge. When he emerges from the other side, the security-camera footage shows him dragging the wheeled bin more quickly as it appears that it has been emptied. This area was immediately searched and Katy’s lifeless body was discovered at 3.30pm.
Katy’s lifeless body was discovered at 3.30pm on the day she never turned up for work. She had two black eyes, a broken nose, and her cause of death was ruled as asphyxiation, most likely due to strangulation. As forensics got to work on Katy’s body at the crime scene, the police strengthened their operation and declared the figure of the man in the CCTV footage as their priority.
Just over 48 hours later they had found out the man’s identity. A member of staff at the Ale Bar testified that it was Christopher (“Chris”) Gardener who had worked at the Ale House, as a doorman, in 2014, four years earlier. The following Tuesday-night, Chris was spotted, on the same surveillance camera that covered Mackenzie Bridge, driving his girlfriend’s car. He was seen driving up to the location where Katy’s body had been dumped, presumably after noticing the body was gone. He was located, and arrested, at his apartment, on the early hours of Wednesday morning. He was immediately subjected to interrogation.
The grey-walled interrogation-room is small in area, and it has a low ceiling. The lighting is stark fluorescent white-light. The only furniture, apart from three chairs, is a plain and functional table that has many 10x8 inch or A4-size photographs spread over its entire area. Chris sits adjacent to the table, with his back to the grey wall, on a stool which has wheels, allowing it to move on the floor, and a back-support; a standard office-chair.
Two detectives sit facing Chris, on similar stool-chairs. They effectively make a barrier which prevents him from walking to the exit door. Two cameras, bracketed on the wall, are recording events, and there is also a continuous audio-recording being made. The interrogators are employing the “Mutt and Jeff” technique, or Good Cop/Bad Cop.
Facing Chris, on his right-side, is a stocky-built man in a grey suit who has a full, and thick, set of grey wavy hair which neatly just brushes the collar of his crisp white shirt. To Chris’s left, there sits a pleasant-looking woman, with her fine-light-brown hair, tied in a pigtail at the back. She has a light-blue thin top on, and black slacks and flat sandals. She is adopting a casual and approachable posture. The woman detective (the Good Cop) is leaning forward towards Chris and is stroking his left arm to comfort him. The man-detective (the Bad Cop) has positioned himself, also, in close proximity to Chris and he, too, is leaning forward, while holding a steady gaze on Chris.
Chris himself sits facing them both. He has his arms folded tightly across his chest. He is pressing back on his back-rest, but his head is pointing downwards. He is not making any eye-contact. Between his spread-open legs, on the chair, is a plastic bottle of water. Chris looks about thirty. He has close-cropped black hair and is wearing a short-sleeved black T-shirt which shows his upper-body and arms to be strong and muscular. He looks like a gym-guy. He has black sports-leggings on.
The female Good Cop is slightly-built compared to Chris, and she sits very near to him, side-on, with her legs-crossed over, and in a relaxed, non-threatening, posture. The suited-man Bad Cop, with the wavy grey hair, has a similar “chunky” build to Chris, and he sits back a couple of feet, leaning forward, and is face-on to Chris who’s shoulders are hunched inwards as he leans forward and looks down towards his knees.
When confronted with the surveillance images, Chris instantly broke down but alluded to nothing and asserted that his memory was blank on the night of the incident.
“Are you still saying that you can’t Chris?” the male detective gently asks. Chris says nothing and just sniffs, as if he has a cold, or he has been crying. Chris’s head shakes in a tremor but he says nothing. “There’s either I won’t, or I will, or I don’t want to. Which is it? You don’t want to?” the detective gently presses Chris who says nothing in response and just keeps on sniffling. “I’ve just talked to some people upstairs. I know what you had in your car”. The detective is referring to a tarp, gloves, rope and gasoline.
When Chris was arrested they had found a big tarpaulin, some thick rope, a pair of black gloves, and a large can of gasoline, in the car he was driving at the time. The police assumed that the tarp would have been used to wrap up the victim’s body to transport to a secluded location, to be dowsed in gasoline, and then set alight, as a method of eliminating evidence.
Chris remains silent in his chair, but raises his head up to meet the eyes of the male detective. He carries on sniffling. His head is visibly shaking.
The male detective carries on: “Chris, the people that we interviewed, that were with you this weekend, said that you did not show any remorse. They said that you were your regular old self. No issues. Your Dad came in, but he wouldn’t give us a statement. He found out through the police. The police called him”. The detective leaves a pause. Chris shakes his head from side to side and starts to sob. The female detective reaches out and gently pats Chris on the shoulder in a comforting manner. Chris makes high-pitched sobbing sounds and continues to shake his head from side to side. “Chris, you’ve been sitting here saying, ‘I can’t, I can’t, I can’t’. Life is about choices right now…” the male detective raises the tone in his voice and begins to point at Chris. “…just like the choice you made to go out on Thursday night. She paid for the cab” - the detective jabs at a photo on the table from the cab camera. The detective stabs at the photo on the table again for emphasis. “She paid for the cab Chris”.
Chris turns his head to the side to look at the picture, on the table, of Katy and himself in the back of the cab. The detective remains silent. Chris lingers on the photo on the table. “Do you remember that?” the male detective sternly asks, pointing at the taxi-cab photo. Chris shakes his head in a “no” gesture while still keeping his arms tightly folded over his chest. “You don’t remember, or you don’t want to remember?”
“I don’t remember” Chris replies in a squeaky and pathetic-sounding high-pitched tone.
“What do you remember?” the male detective taps at the photo again, impatiently. “After she paid for the cab, what do you remember?”. The male detective uses the power of silence to increase the pressure. Chris sighs and sobs.
The female detective strokes Chris’s arm and, in a soft voice, gentle whispers reassuringly, “It’s ok”.
“Chris, do you see what’s going on here?” the male detective asks, and then leaves more silence. The detective now tries an alternative question as a tactic. “When you put her down, were you really hoping someone would find her?”. This is a subtle technique used to get an indirect confession out of a suspect. Answering “yes” would appeal to Chris's higher morals and the detective is hoping this will swerve his thought-processes from the fact that it would also distinguish him as the culprit in the victim’s death. Again, more forcibly, the male detective asks: “Chris, when you put her down there, were you hoping someone would find her?” Chris sobs and sniffles and shakes his head in a “no” gesture. The technique fails.
The male investigator now switches to the “ego-down” approach which is, essentially, the opposite of the “ego-up” approach he had just attempted. The detective now attacks Chris’s sense of personal-worth in the hope that, by doing so, the subject will voluntarily provide information in an attempt to vindicate himself and redeem some of his pride.
“How can somebody … I mean … if I ran over a dog …” the male detective raises his hands and makes chopping motions for emphasis. “… if I ran over a dog I’d feel bad. How can somebody do something like this and all weekend you act normal, have sex with your girlfriend, go to your father’s birthday party, and everybody says you were acting as always. Then, you’re driving around … you were gonna go and do something with her body …” the detective leaves a pause.
“I don’t know what I was gonna do” Chris says.
“Ok, the stuff you had in your car, what was that for?”
“Well … I had my bags … I was not sure if I was going to leave or not”.
By “leave“, Chris means skip Town, run away. In his bag was a passport, enough clothes for a week, and all of his savings in cash, which amounted to just under $3000.
"The stuff you had in your car, what was that for?" asks the detective.
"Well … I had my bags … I was not sure if I was going to leave or not".
“And what else?” the detective prompts Chris.
“Ah … eh … the tarp and gas … they were for … eh … one or two things …” Chris then clams up and starts sniffling.
“Which were what?” the detective prompts him. “That’s what I’m saying Chris, what did you have these for?” the detective adopts an upward-palms, open arms, gesture and puts a pleading tone in his voice as if to say, “come on, you can tell me Chris”. Chris just sniffs away with a blank look on his face. His forearm is shaking with the tension.
“You know what you had them for. You were going back down there … to get her?”
“I thought about it” Chris says, while nodding his head.
“Yes, you were” the detective confirms.
We have a breakthrough. This is Chris’s first incriminating statement, although it is not a full confession. However, this is an example of good, low-key, detective work. But it is not nearly enough, yet, for a guaranteed conviction that would stand up in court. The words “I thought about it” could be transmuted, in a number of ways, by a defence team. Yet the suspect has essentially identified himself as the man who was dragging the bin and therefore insinuating to the crime of interfering with a dead body. The highly-skilled detectives will use this breakthrough as a foundation to frame their next set of questions in order to increase the pressure for a full confession.
“What were you gonna do with the gasoline Chris?” the detective sweeps his hand in an arc to emphasis his question. Chris moves his head from left to right in a “no” gesture.
“I don’t know”.
“Chris, stop playing this game, ok? Seriously. You knew what you were gonna do”. The female detective sits very still and maintains a steady gaze on Chris as the male detective continues. “If there hadn’t been anyone around there you would have went down there and did that …”
“I don’t think I could have” Chris sounds feeble. “I drove by there before”.
“Yes I know you drove by there before” the male detective says to Chris while nodding his head in the affirmative. “I appreciate your honesty, ok?” (using the “Ego-Up” approach, giving Chris a reward for being truthful). Again, “I appreciate your honesty” then the detective leaves a pause.
“I don’t know what I was thinking” Chris says in a pathetic voice while shaking his head from side to side.
“Chris, you had your girlfriend’s car, too, right? Why … why would you do that? Because you didn’t want …”
“No, no, I didn’t have a lot of gas left and I thought I would have to go further away … to try to get away …” Chris says in a weak voice.
“Ok, that’s reasonable” the detective waves his hand in acceptance of the lame reasoning.
“I didn’t want to lie to you” Chris’s voice is whinny and he grips himself tightly with his arms.
“Ok, you don’t have to lie to me” the male copper says gently and kindly. The female cop reaches out and pats Chris on the shoulder to reassure him they care about him and he is with friends in this room. “Tell me this, was she … tell me this … was she still alive when you put her in that bin?”
Chris’s arm is trembling. His right leg is rapidly moving up and down on the seat. His foot is tapping away on the floor. “No” he says.
Chris has now confessed to the “felony” of interfering with a dead body. It is no longer insinuated, it is now confirmed.
“She didn’t suffer in there? She didn’t suffer when you threw her over that bank, she was dead? How do you know she was dead?” the male detective presses Chris, in a serious tone.
“I think she was” Chris replies. His right-leg and arms are trembling markedly. Chris should really have legal counsel at this point. He has just admitted that he did not know if the victim was already dead before the attempted disposal over her body. There was a chance she could still have been alive, but instead of taking her to a hospital, he left her underneath a bridge in the middle of the night. Disclosing lack of morality in such a manner will be brought up by the Prosecution at a trial.
“How did you know that?” the male detective asks. “Are you telling me she was not alive when you stuffed her in there?” Chris sniffs. “How did you know she was not alive?” the detective taps the table for emphasis.
“She wasn’t moving” Chris whines.
“You’re a paramedic” the detective states. Chris was, in fact, a salesman for a fire-suppressions company and a part-time personal trainer. He briefly served as a volunteer fire-fighter and underwent emergency medical technician training which is what the detective is referring to. “How do you know she was not alive?”
“She wasn’t breathing” Chris says.
“She wasn’t breathing? Like, how did you know that? Did you get down to feel for a pulse? Did you get close to her face, you know, because you are a paramedic, some people might have faint breaths?”
“I don’t know” Chris shakes his head and sniffs.
The victim not moving, or appearing to be breathing, is now Chris’s acumen for recognising her death. He has just admitted to not checking for a pulse, or using his CPR training, to try and save her life. The female detective now grips Chris’s left hand in her own, tightly, to bond and comfort him in his time of intense stress.
“When you put her in there, she wasn’t alive, 100 per cent, you’re telling me 100 per cent she wasn’t alive?”
“I think …” Chris shakes his head from side to side and grips the female detective’s hand tightly.
“Was she making any noises?” Chris replies with a shake of the head.
“Did she suffer? Did she suffer Chris?”
Chris sighs. “I don’t think …”
The male detective continues: “I can understand how some of those other things happened … but …”
This is a cunning and calculated tactic by the male investigator. He is now focusing his disapproval on one element. That is, the victim still being alive inside the bin, overly emphasises the wickedness of this single misdeed while he downplays, and partly justifies, all the other infractions that haven’t been confessed to yet.
“Please tell me she was not alive Chris. I need to know. Everybody needs to know…” the detective taps the table. “…you’re telling me she was …” the detective leaves a pause hanging in the air. “…and you said she wasn’t breathing?”
“No” Chris shakes his head.
“She wasn’t making any noises?”
“No” Chris says.
“Did you check her pulse, or anything like that?”
“You didn’t? Because if you had told me that she was still alive when you did a thing like that I don’t know if I could still be in the same room as you Bud. Okay? So did she suffer? How do you know she didn’t suffer?”
“I don’t know” Chris sighs.
“I guess what I’m saying is, if you’re telling me that she’s dead, that you’re certain that she’s dead, when you put her in the bin, then how do you know she didn’t suffer? How did it end? Was it over quick?”
This is the first indirect question relating to the suspect, Chris, being present at the time of the victim’s murder. The detective is very good at stating the essential wording of the question at the end of his sentences in a very quick and casual manner which disguises the condemnatory nature of the inquisition.
“I think so” Chris says with a sigh.
“Chris, how did you know it was over quick?” the detective pursues further admission. “You’re a paramedic, you’re a fire-fighter, you know anatomy, you know how people’s bodies work?”
Chris sighs and sniffs, then composes himself. There is now a slightly stronger tone in his voice. “She wasn’t moving, and she wasn’t breathing” Chris says with certainty. This is not the answer the detective was hoping for.
To be continued ...