‘Who comes this late to see a truck?’
While waiting inside his Ancaster, Ont., home for the two men coming to look at his pickup truck, Tim Bosma turned to his wife, Sharlene.
"When they come, should I go with them?"
It was May 6, 2013, and for weeks, Tim had been trying to sell his 2007 Dodge 3500. Money was tight – the Bosmas were living paycheque to paycheque, and between a new transmission, a snapped tie rod and some smaller fixes, the truck had become a sinkhole for cash.
Sharlene had posted ads for the truck online, and the men said they would come see it that night.
It was around 8:30 p.m., and the Bosmas had just put their two-year-old daughter to bed. In the dim light of dusk, frustration was setting in. Tim paced the house as the sounds of the NHL playoffs on TV droned in the background.
"Yes, you should go, because we want the truck to come back," Sharlene said.
Tim was still perplexed. "Who comes this late to see a truck?"
By 9 p.m., still no one had shown up. Sharlene was now in the garage bay of their home, sharing a smoke with Wayne De Boer, their downstairs tenant and friend.
Night was creeping in, casting long shadows down the driveway that led to the rural road.
Through the garage walls, Sharlene heard the muffled ring of Tim’s cellphone, followed by the sound of his voice. She took a drag on her cigarette.
Soon after, voices drifted up the driveway.
Two men approached. There was no sign of the vehicle they arrived in, which struck Sharlene as odd.
Tim emerged from the house to greet them. The first man, the taller of the two, seemed affable. He was clean cut with light brown hair and a scruffy beard.
He said a friend had dropped them off and then headed to a nearby Tim Hortons.
"That might be the last time we ever see him."
The second man hung back from the others. He was unsociable, even sketchy-looking, wearing an oversized red hoodie with the hood up. He didn’t take his hands out of his pockets.
The visitors took only a cursory look at the Dodge. Tim talked for a minute with the taller man, then walked over with a big smile to where his wife was standing.
“We’re just going on a short test drive and we’ll be right back,” he said.
They got in the truck – the tall fellow in the driver’s seat, Tim on the passenger side and the man with the hoodie in the back — and drove off.
Sharlene turned to Wayne and said, "That was weird."
Wayne felt it, too. Something about the situation seemed off. To ease the tension, he cracked a joke.
“That might be the last time we ever see him."
Indeed it was. Tim Bosma vanished that night after taking Dellen Millard and Mark Smich on a test drive in his truck.
Several days later, investigators found what they believe were Bosma’s remains at the bottom of an animal incinerator on Millard’s farm in the nearby town of Ayr.
Police theorize that Bosma was shot at close range inside his truck and that his body was subsequently burned.
Several days after the test drive, Millard was arrested and charged with theft and forcible confinement, charges that would later be upgraded to first-degree murder. Smich was nabbed not long after and charged with the same.
Three years later, they were both convicted of first-degree murder.
Tim Bosma wasn’t targeted for who he was. By all accounts, he was a kind, hard-working man beloved by his family and their tight-knit church community. Although he was the victim of a long-hatched plan, he himself was an afterthought. The bullet that killed him could have been meant for anyone.
If Bosma had owned a Ford F150 or a GMC Sierra, he would still be alive today. But Dellen Millard wanted a diesel Dodge truck.
Bosma’s death was the most extreme turn in an escalating series of criminal acts carried out by wayward thrill-seekers.
And it all centred around Millard, a charismatic heir and wannabe crime boss who surrounded himself with a group of malleable young people who looked to him to deliver them from their bland, predictable suburban lives.
A life in flight
Dellen Millard was born into wealth, which is no surprise when your family is legendary in Canadian aviation circles.
Millard's grandfather, Carl, started his own charter airline in 1954, and at its height, MillardAir had a fleet of 21 planes. The airline was based at Toronto's main airport, and Carl Millard once flew the Toronto Symphony Orchestra on a tour through Canada’s North.
Even though MillardAir filed for bankruptcy in 1990, the family continued to operate an aircraft servicing and maintenance company at Toronto's Pearson International Airport for the next two decades.
Dellen grew up in airports and as a child sat next to his father, Wayne, as he flew. The younger Millard showed an interest in flying at an early age, and in 1999, on his 14th birthday, became the youngest Canadian to solo pilot both a helicopter and an airplane on the same day.
Dellen’s life seemed to be one of affluence, privilege and boundless potential, which makes his development into a small-time kingpin and killer all the more puzzling.
In his teens, Millard attended the Toronto French School in the city’s north end. While the family name held prestige, there were signs Dellen didn’t fit into the private school milieu.
Former classmate Charles Humphrey remembers Millard roaming the halls in Grade 6 and 7 eating dog biscuits, for the sole stated reason that “they taste good.”
Humphrey told the National Post Millard seemed “a little marginalized, a little different. I didn’t even know the guy was so wealthy. He always looked like a bit of a hillbilly.”
While flying made his family rich, it ultimately held no long-term interest for Dellen, who ended up exploring other career options, looking for a purpose.
He trained as a chef at a career college. He studied animation. He took courses in makeup artistry. He also tried his hand at photography, and was credited on an aviation-themed photo series on the softcore porn website Suicide Girls.
The 2005 shoot features a model named Josie posing in a vintage DC-4 plane with MillardAir stamped on it. “Her first official act as captain was to make the DC-4 a clothing-strictly-prohibited aircraft,” reads a blurb that accompanies the photos.
Millard drifted from one vocational whim to another, looking for something to strike him as worthwhile.
In the meantime, he partied.
‘The weird Etobicoke party lifestyle’
Millard had quite a reputation among high schoolers in the Toronto suburb of Etobicoke in the late 2000s. It was the kind of notoriety that comes from being a 20-something who sells drugs to teenagers and throws parties for kids yearning to shrug off parental supervision.
“Dana” knew all about it, having met Millard in 2007, at the end of her Grade 12 year.
She was 17 at the time. He was 22.
Dana, whose real name has been withheld to protect her identity, is one of few people who knew Millard back then and is willing to speak to his character after the scope of his involvement in Tim Bosma’s death was revealed.
“Above all else, people thought he was very mysterious.”
She and Millard met through mutual friends and sometimes hung out. She also bought pot from him, though he wasn’t her first choice as dealer.
“When you’re talking to him, and he’s staring you straight in the eye and was pseudo-charming, I think people were very comfortable with that,” Dana says now. “Above all else, people thought he was very mysterious.”
Some women found him attractive, while guys envied his lifestyle.
Millard’s house on Maple Gate Court backed onto a golf course, had multiple vehicles parked in the garage and featured an elevator. Gaming PCs were set up throughout the home so Dellen and his friends could play first-person shooters like Counter-Strike to their heart’s content. The pool out back was a go-to spot for parties.
Certainly, cash never seemed to be in short supply.
Andrew Michalski met Millard in 2007 and felt the pull of his charm – and his seemingly endless financial resources.
Millard let Michalski drive some of the cars in his collection, including his Cadillac and Camaro. He would also let him live at his place for weeks, rent-free.
When they were out at a bar or restaurant, Millard would usually foot the bill. And then there was the couples vacation Millard, Michalski and their girlfriends took to the British Virgin Islands.
Michalski says being around Millard made you feel “indestructible."
Dana says some people in Etobicoke regarded Millard as a kind of “saviour” — the implication being that he offered a hedonistic escape for a group of people who really didn’t have much going on in their lives.
Some people were more leery, however, and saw Millard as a damaged rich kid trying to buy back his youth.
There is evidence of family turmoil. Millard’s father and mother split up for a while in the early 2000s, and his uncle, Robert Burns, says he “sporadically” took care of Dellen for "altruistic reasons" between the ages of 15 to 17.
Nobody has come forward to fully corroborate the discord in the Millard household — that is, other than Dellen himself, who would later write, “For twenty years, ever since my parents got divorced, I have been surviving one spiritual blow after another.”
What those spiritual blows might be, one can only speculate. Real or imagined, they seem to have informed his outlook. Dellen’s uncle, who has classified their relationship as “distant,” calls his nephew a “sick, twisted prick.”
Dana acknowledges there was something strange about Dellen when she knew him, but she says he didn’t seem dangerous. Still, she questioned the kinds of people he attracted.
“After a while, I was like, why is this dude hanging out with 18-year-olds?”
Word got around that if you went to one of Millard’s parties, you could easily get drugs. Dana had seen them in a black and yellow Stanley toolbox, which was typically brought out to dispense weed and MDMA.
She remembers going to a party he was hosting at the MillardAir hangar at Toronto’s international airport in March 2009. She arrived a little late, and found hundreds of people milling around an impressive collection of vehicles: a helicopter, the fuselage of a plane, a school bus and a number of cars.
A live band had just finished its set. There was music playing, but the weak sound system failed to fill the cavernous space with any real party atmosphere.
Dana saw plenty of “middle-class, sketchy Etobicoke people” there, many of whom had known beefs with each other. Between the drugs and the alcohol, things quickly got out of control. A fight broke out and escalated into a brawl involving 60 or more people.
Dana, who says she was stone sober at this point, was punched in the face after trying to break up a scuffle between two women.
“You just knew he was a thrill seeker.”
She knew she had to leave.
“I didn’t know how I was getting home, and it was in the middle of nowhere, [but] I needed to get out before it got worse.”
Dana saw Millard walking around, trying to calm people down. At one point, they shared a glance.
Millard had what she calls a “dead” look in his eyes. It shook her.
The police were eventually called in to break things up, but the experience made Dana more wary of him. It was at that point that she began to transition out of what she calls the “weird Etobicoke party lifestyle.”
Millard, on the other hand, continued to evolve into an adrenaline junkie — jumping off the roof at pool parties, going skydiving and getting into off-road racing.
“You just knew he was a thrill seeker,” Dana says.
By the late 2000s, those thrills had crossed over into illegal activity.
It was a poorly guarded secret that Millard and his closest friends liked to steal. The heists started small, like taking plants from a nursery for Millard’s garden. As time went on, the stakes intensified – a concrete floor buffer, a wood chipper belonging to the City of Oakville, a trailer full of Corvette rims, a Harley Davidson.
In some ways, these thefts could be seen as grown men enacting some fantasy of playing cops and robbers – running around in the dark with walkie-talkies, fostering a sordid camaraderie through what they gleefully referred to as a “mission.”
“I think everything was a game to him,” Dana says. “He was just so privileged.”
In addition to amassing a large array of stolen property, Millard seemed to be a collector of people — specifically, aimless young people who he could persuade to help execute his schemes.
Andrew Michalski was one of Millard’s heist buddies. So was Mark Smich, who he first met in 2008, and who would become his most trusted collaborator.
Before meeting Millard, Smich had some odd jobs here and there – working at a croissant restaurant in a mall, delivering newspapers and painting for a friend’s business.
But dealing drugs became his bread and butter, and the original reason Millard contacted him.
"As time went on, our bond was stronger."
Their initial correspondence was pretty casual, and they eventually lost touch. A couple of years later, Millard came calling once more.
After sharing a joint one night, they began to feel a kind of kinship. The two came from very different class backgrounds, but they clicked.
Like Millard, Smich came from a family with baggage. His dad wasn’t really around. He claimed to be close to his sisters, but it was clear Smich yearned for a male sibling, or a father figure.
"As time went on, our bond was stronger, and I felt ... [Millard] was like a brother to me,” Smich says. “Like a bigger brother.”
They began hanging out more often, Smich joining Millard and his crew for chicken wings or games of Halo.
By 2011, they’d become even closer. Smich would talk about his aspirations as a rapper and shared some of his rhymes.
Video: Accused killer Mark Smich rapping
Smich would do odd jobs at the MillardAir hangar and construction work on some of Millard’s properties. Millard never paid him a salary, but he remunerated him in other ways. He’d often let Smich and his girlfriend Marlena Meneses live in his homes. If they needed food, Millard would pay for it. If Smich wanted new shoes, Millard would oblige.
There were even promises of building a music studio so Smich could record his much-desired rap album.
There were times when big brother Dell would pay Smich in cash – whenever they pulled off a successful heist.
Theirs wasn’t a totally one-sided relationship. When Millard expressed interest in procuring a gun, Smich was more than happy to introduce him to Matthew Ward Jackson, an alleged gun dealer (and fellow aspiring rapper).
The Crown contends it was Jackson who later sold Millard the gun police believed was used to kill Tim Bosma.
The weapon Millard bought was a Walther PPK, a gun immortalized by James Bond. It seems it wasn’t enough for Millard to have a gun; it had to feed into his idealized version of gang life.
While brokering the purchase via text message with Ward Jackson in February 2012, Millard asked, "BTW, is it clean or dirty?"
“Clean,” Ward Jackson responded, adding "bring her back safe plz."
Millard then wrote, "By the time I let her go, she'll be a dirty girl."
‘Prince of thieves’
By that time, Millard clearly regarded himself as some sort of petty crime kingpin, calling the shots and directing his underlings on how not to get caught.
Before setting out on a heist, he would scope out the area in advance. He would then send a text message asking his buddies to stand watch while he and Smich grabbed the prize – whatever it happened to be that day.
There’s something bizarre about Millard’s preoccupation with theft. At the time of Bosma’s death, he owned two properties with a tax assessment value over $1 million as well as a 45-hectare farm, and had just closed on a condo in Toronto’s high-end Distillery District.
He had the money to take his girlfriend and pals on tropical vacations.
So why resort to stealing?
There are indications Millard was property-rich but cash-poor.
Before he died in 2012, Wayne Millard was in the process of establishing MillardAir MRO, based at the international airport in Waterloo, Ont. The elder Millard’s plan was to shift the business into a fixed based operation (FBO) – essentially, a hotel for airplanes.
With Wayne in his early 70s, there was talk that Dellen could later take over the business.
In November 2012, Wayne was found dead in his home with a gunshot wound through his eye. Though it was originally ruled a suicide, Dellen was later charged with first-degree murder in connection with his father’s death.
Within days of Wayne’s passing, most of the company’s employees were laid off and Dellen cancelled the company’s Transport Canada certification, which was necessary for the business to operate at Waterloo airport.
“How is it one can fly a plane but not a business?”
In text messages to his mother, Madeleine Burns, in late 2012, Millard wrote that his father was “hiding debts.”
“Mom, I’m very confused,” Millard wrote, shortly after his father died. “How is it one can fly a plane but not a business?”
“I think he was slowly poisoning his brain, that’s how,” Madeleine responded, though she has never publicly clarified that comment.
Former MillardAir bookkeeper Lisa Williams reveals that the company took out a $3.7-million loan in October 2012 to build the 50,000-square-foot hangar built at Waterloo airport. Once it was built, however, the hangar never brought in any revenue for the company.
“If you're going by the money that's in the bank account, I'd say things are getting tight. Very tight,” Williams said to police after Millard’s arrest.
With Dellen at the helm, the hangar was never actually used for aircraft business. All that ended up being stored there were his vehicles, alongside stolen property that led police to believe the hangar was housing a chop shop.
In text messages from April 2013, Millard told Michalski he needed to make $100,000 a month to get out of the hole. He also said he wasn’t sure Michalski would be “up for his methods.”
Michalski figured that could mean anything from dealing drugs to stealing. But he doesn’t believe the main impetus for Millard’s underhanded dealings was poor cash flow.
Michalski maintains that for the most part, Millard stole “for the thrill of it.”
There were times when Millard would blast out a text at 1 a.m., recruiting Michalski and other buddies such as Matt Hagerman for lookout duty while Millard and Smich poached a trailer or construction equipment.
There was a five-year age gap between Millard and Hagerman, but they had a connection — Hagerman’s grandmother had looked after Millard’s grandmother in her final years. In October of 2012, after Millard’s licence was suspended, Hagerman became his driver.
By convincing his friends that he was smart and savvy enough to elude capture, Millard was able to maintain an aura of invincibility. Michalski says that even though they were doing things that were blatantly illegal, he felt safe around Millard.
“He had money, he could protect me,” Michalski says. “I was confident he would do that for me."
Millard mythologized their exploits, once referring to himself as the “prince of thieves.”
It could almost seem ludicrous – that is, if Millard wasn’t trying around the same time to get his hands on a large-scale incinerator.
A bizarre obsession
Shane Schlatman worked at the MillardAir hangar at that time, tinkering on Millard’s cars, mostly. If something mechanical needed to be done, he was the guy to do it.
Around early 2012, Millard asked him to build him an incinerator. Schlatman says Millard told him he needed it to to “burn off garbage” from his properties.
This was only one of three reasons Millard gave people who wondered why he needed such a grisly device. At another juncture, he told Schlatman he wanted an incinerator to get into the pet cremation business with his uncle, Robert Burns.
Burns vehemently denies that suggestion.
Millard told his girlfriend, Christina Noudga, that he needed an incinerator to melt down metal from his airport business – the one that didn’t have any clients and had zero revenue.
The original version of the incinerator Schlatman built was dangerously crude. It looks like three 50-gallon drums welded together, like a makeshift rocket. Schlatman says the first time he ignited the apparatus, it almost blew up in his face.
So Millard decided to go a different route, and asked Schlatman to start researching professional livestock incinerators.
The Eliminator is not the sort of thing anyone would purchase on a whim. More than three metres tall and weighing 2,720 kilograms, it can cremate up to 225 kilograms of animal carcass in just hours.
Its retail price: more than $15,000.
But that wasn’t enough to satisfy Millard’s needs. He wanted the unit to be mobile – on a trailer with a propane tank and a generator – so it could be towed wherever it was needed.
All told, with Schlatman’s modifications to make it mobile, the Eliminator cost about $23,000.
Schlatman had brokered the deal for the Eliminator with Bill Penner, whose company, TriStar Dairy, Hog and Poultry, distributes the machine in Canada.
Penner says he had never seen anyone modify the incinerator that way before. In fact, the retrofit was so bizarre to him that he asked Schlatman for photos of it.
Another burning desire
In addition to managing a burgeoning empire of petty theft, Millard was obsessed with off-road racing, a sport that appealed to his interests in vehicles and unorthodox adventure.
Back in 2011, Millard, Michalski and Schlatman drove 5,000 kilometres to Mexico's Baja California Peninsula to enter the Baja 500 race. Established in 1969, the world-famous competition includes more than two dozen race classes, including trucks, sedans, ATVs, motorcycles and jeeps.
Participating in the race requires a certain financial clout and superior driving skill, two things Millard clearly thought he had.
Schlatman had made $80,000 worth of modifications to one of Millard’s Jeeps, even pimping out the air conditioning to make sure the vehicle was comfortable in the harsh desert sun.
Despite his confidence, Millard was not a professional driver, and it showed. Just 25 kilometres into the grueling 800-kilometre race, he gutted the bottom of the Jeep on some harsh terrain and Schlatman couldn’t get them on their way again in time. Their race was over.
The Baja 500 had been an expensive venture with no payoff. But it hadn’t dampened Millard’s enthusiasm. He got a “Desert Baja Racing” logo emblazoned on his left bicep; Michalski got the same tattoo on his left shoulder.
Millard may have crashed out of the race early, but he was ready to do it again in the future – with one notable difference.
That first time, Millard and his team had towed the racing Jeep down by putting it on a trailer and hitching it to his red Dodge pickup. But the Dodge was a gas guzzler.
He decided the next time they made the trip, they should use a diesel truck to tow the Jeep down.
That would cut costs.
‘It just has to be a Dodge 3500’
Millard's plans to steal a diesel Dodge 3500 date back to at least early 2012, when he sent this text to Smich:
In a March 2012 exchange, Millard and Smich discuss the matter again:
At first, the plan was to pull a simple smash and grab. Millard and Smich scoped out lots of trucks online between early 2012 and May 2013. But they had trouble finding one that fit the bill and could be easily stolen – either the setting was wrong and they might be seen, or the truck would be moved before they could get near it.
As time went on, their strategy evolved to setting up meetings with sellers using a prepaid phone – known as a “burner” on the street, since it can be easily disposed of, thereby making it difficult to trace to the user once it has been thrown out. Millard bought a burner and registered it under the name “Lucas Bate.”
The Crown alleges the plan evolved even further to include an incinerator and James Bond’s gun.
Millard set up multiple test drives with different people selling diesel Dodge 3500s, including a Toronto man named Omar Palmili.
On the day of the planned test drive, Palmili fell asleep and missed the call.
Tim Bosma wasn’t so lucky, inviting Millard and Smich to his home on May 6, 2013.
How it all went down
While Millard and Smich were both found guilty of murder, what exactly transpired between Bosma, Millard and Smich during that fateful test drive was hotly contested during the trial.
Here are the three versions of events.
Millard and Smich are in the truck with Bosma, cruising along Highway 403, not far from Bosma's home, where they’d started the test drive.
Suddenly, Millard looks over his shoulder and sees Smich pointing a Walther PPK handgun at Bosma. That wasn't part of the plan, as far as Millard knew. They had agreed to scope out the truck during the test drive, and if everything went well, come back later to take it.
That all changed when Smich pulled a gun from his hoodie and said, "We're going to take the truck."
Bosma grabs the gun, trying to wrestle it from Smich. They struggle and then a single, deafening bang rings out in the tight confines of the truck. The bullet kills Bosma and shatters the front passenger window.
Millard pulls over, shaken and furious. Why would Smich bring a gun? There’s talk of calling an ambulance, but Smich says there’s no point. Tim Bosma is dead.
They drive back to the field near Bosma's home to retrieve Millard’s SUV. Millard is petrified he’ll be blamed for the murder.
They agree to drive towards Waterloo to burn the evidence.
Smich stares at Tim Bosma's lifeless body slumped against the dashboard of his truck.
It wasn't supposed to be like this. No one was supposed to get hurt.
The night started mostly as planned. Smich and Millard were in Bosma's truck, a short distance from his house. Then, out of nowhere, Millard announced he had just gotten a text from the fictitious "friend" who had dropped them off at Bosma's home.
That wasn't part of the plan, as far as Smich knew. They had agreed to scope out the truck during the test drive, and if everything went well, come back later to take it.
But things appeared to have changed.
After the fake text, Millard pulled onto the shoulder on Book Road, just past the entrance of the field where he had stashed his GMC Yukon. He told Smich to get out and jump in with the "friend" in the SUV.
Smich took the hint, hopped out, grabbed the keys that were left in the Yukon's cupholder and pursued Millard in the SUV.
The two vehicles drove a short distance before Millard suddenly swerved to the side of the road and stopped.
Smich pulled over behind him. Under the harsh glare of the headlights, he saw Millard step out of the truck and stuff a gun into the satchel on his back.
"I'm taking the truck," Millard said, before moving to the rear of the Yukon and opening the back.
What is going on? Smich thought. He got out and crept towards the passenger side door of the truck. That's when he saw Bosma, face down on the dashboard, covered in blood.
"What the fuck is going on?" Smich yells. Millard is incensed. He looks like a lunatic.
Millard tells him not to worry. He tells Smich to get the plates from his red Dodge 3500 from the back of the SUV and swap them with Bosma's.
Smich, panicked and afraid, does what he's told.
Millard drives Bosma's truck to his farm in Ayr, with Smich following in the SUV. They attach Millard's incinerator to the truck. Millard tells Smich to help put Bosma inside. Smich says he can't, feigning a shoulder injury.
Really, he just can't bear to be anywhere near the body.
Millard, in a huff, tells Smich to go open the gate at the entrance to the farm. When Smich gets back, Bosma's body is nowhere to be seen.
The two drive to the MillardAir hangar. Bosma's body is incinerated.
Smich and Millard strip his truck.
The Crown's version
The prosecution contended the actual sequence of events was more cold-blooded and calculating. The Crown's theory was this:
Millard drives Tim Bosma's truck down Trinity Road South, with Bosma in the passenger seat and Smich in the back.
Millard turns right onto Book Road and immediately pulls into an empty farmer's field, where his SUV is parked.
Bosma is shot and dies in that field — just like Millard and Smich planned all along.
The two drive to Millard's farm in Ayr, pick up the incinerator and burn Bosma's body at the hangar, in the hopes of eradicating all evidence of their crime.
The Crown conceded during the trial that it is impossible to know exactly what happened on the night of May 6, 2013.
Only three people know for sure – and one of them is dead.
The unassailable truth of what happened to Tim Bosma remains elusive, but in the days following his death, Millard and Smich did everything they could to cover their tracks.
Millard, a man who had fancied himself such a cunning criminal, soon realized he had left a rather careless trail of evidence. And his coven of eager collaborators, the people who were convinced he would always protect them, would soon desert him.
After stripping the interior of Bosma’s blood-soaked truck, Millard and Smich burned the pieces they had cut out in a field at his farm, leaving behind two patches of scorched earth.
Once it was cool enough to handle, they moved the incinerator from the hangar back to the farm.
Millard thought that by swapping the license plates and VIN numbers and giving it a new paint job, Bosma’s truck could pass for his own.
He got in touch with the company that typically did paint jobs on his vehicles and inquired about bringing the truck in.
Early on May 7, Millard sent a group text to his employees telling them not to come into work that day. It was the first time that had ever happened.
One of MillardAir’s employees was Shane Schlatman’s father-in-law, Arthur Jennings. When Jennings went back to the hangar on May 8, he immediately noticed a black Dodge pickup sitting on a green tarp on the floor.
He recognized it from the media coverage of Tim Bosma’s disappearance.
Oh my god, could that be the truck? he thought.
Jennings steered clear of the Dodge virtually the entire day. Just seeing it made his skin crawl. When he asked his son-in-law about it, Schlatman said Millard told him he had bought the truck from someone in Kitchener.
That didn’t dissuade Jennings’s fears.
The inside of the truck was stripped. The plates were gone.
Jennings couldn’t stop thinking about Sharlene Bosma’s impassioned plea in the media for her husband’s safe return. He kept hoping Millard hadn’t gotten himself into something serious.
On May 9, Jennings got to work before everyone else and took photos of the truck’s VIN number. He then phoned CrimeStoppers in nearby Brantford to ask if they could check it against Bosma’s Dodge.
His worst fears were soon confirmed — it was Bosma’s.
Jennings ran outside the hangar and vomited. His mind was racing. His son-in-law was so close with Millard – what could this mean for his own family?
Between the shock and the fear, Jennings couldn’t tell Crime Stoppers where the truck was. Not yet.
Jennings told Schlatman about the truck that night. A furious Schlatman told his boss what his father-in-law had done. Millard continued to maintain that he bought the truck in Kitchener.
Millard saw his plan starting to unravel.
Knowing that Jennings had called Crime Stoppers, Millard immediately got the truck out of the hangar and enlisted his girlfriend to help him cover his tracks.
On May 9, Millard picked Christina Noudga up at her home in his red Dodge pickup, towing a large trailer. Bosma’s truck was inside.
The two drove to his mother's home in Kleinburg, Ont., where they parked the trailer. Millard wouldn’t tell his mom what was in it, even after a barrage of questions.
The couple then drove to the farm in Ayr.
Millard and Noudga got there late at night. Donning gloves, they moved the Eliminator out of the barn and onto a wooded path nearby. Noudga maintains Millard told her they were doing so because the floorboards under the Eliminator had been creaking.
On the way back to Millard’s home in Etobicoke in the early hours of May 10, he told Noudga he had to make one more stop – Matt Hagerman’s house.
He had to deal with another piece of incriminating evidence.
Hagerman hadn’t heard from Millard in about three weeks. Then, just prior to midnight on May 9, he saw a barrage of missed calls on his phone from Noudga’s cell.
He soon received a flurry of texts from Noudga – but he quickly realized it wasn’t her. It was Millard on her phone. Millard wrote that he was “feeling some heat” and asked Hagerman if he could hold onto some items for him.
Hagerman: "Can you tell me what these toys are so I can prepare myself?"
Millard: “A tool box.”
Hagerman: “Haha full of guns?”
Did he mean two guns? Or that he’d be there in two minutes?
Hagerman didn’t ask. But he knew the toolbox well. It was where Millard kept his drugs.
Around 4 a.m., Millard pulled up at Hagerman’s house in his SUV. Noudga was with him, but Hagerman couldn’t make her out through the heavily tinted windows.
Millard handed him a black and yellow Stanley toolbox, fastened with a small padlock.
Hagerman asked him what was up. Millard responded it was better if he didn’t know. Millard told him he needed him to hang onto the toolbox for “a couple of weeks tops.”
Noudga says that through the tinted windows, she saw Hagerman and Millard laughing and giggling as they made the exchange.
Hagerman stowed the locked toolbox away in his parent’s basement, and went to bed.
Millard’s criminal activity might never have been discovered were it not for an ostentatious tattoo.
In addition to the Baja Racing tattoo on his bicep and lyrics from a song by the American emo band Brand New on his forearms, Millard has the word “ambition” stamped on his left wrist. On the other arm is companion ink that reads “discipline.”
Igor Tumenenko couldn’t help but notice this the day he met Millard.
Tumenenko describes tattoos as a “criminal language” back where he’s from. He never did say where that is, but his name and accent suggest eastern Europe.
“[In] my personal opinion, it's very ambitious to have ‘ambition’ on your arm," he says.
In the spring of 2013, Tumenenko was also trying to sell a Dodge 3500 diesel truck. In fact, he went on a test drive with Millard and Smich in Toronto the day before Bosma’s death.
It was the same seating arrangement: Millard driving, Tumenenko in the passenger seat, Smich in the back seat.
A crucial difference, perhaps, is that Tumenenko isn’t built like Bosma.
At six foot one and 170 pounds, Tim Bosma had a slight build. Tumenenko, on the other hand, is an imposing figure who looks like he’s made of concrete.
And he has a military background.
During their test drive, he and Millard discussed the truck's layout, suspension and the engine. Tumenenko admitted he was quite familiar with the engine as a result of his time in the Israeli army.
Smich had been “quiet as a fish” up until that point, according to Tumenenko, but piped up to ask him what he did in the military.
“You don't want to know what I did there,” Tumenenko responded.
The dynamic in the car changed after that, and the test drive ended not long after.
Police contacted Tumenenko in the days after Bosma vanished when they realized the burner that had been used to set up the Bosma test drive was also used to contact Tumenenko.
He gave them a description, including Millard’s “ambition” tattoo. Thanks to Millard’s previous charges of pot possession (from 2008) and driving while disqualified (2012), police services had that description on file.
The police visited the MillardAir hangar on May 10 to question Millard. The officers told him they were investigating Bosma’s disappearance, and asked if they could look around.
“I thought you were going to say that,” was Millard’s blithe response.
Police didn’t find anything immediately incriminating in the hangar. But based on the positive description provided by Tumenenko, they put Millard under surveillance.
They saw him heading to a bank, and take out a wad of cash. He also stashed his red truck at a friend’s place and met with Mark Smich in an Oakville apartment building.
Hamilton police pulled Millard's phone records and found that his cell was pinging off similar phone towers at around the same time as the burner on the day Bosma disappeared.
Four days after Bosma vanished, police officers tailed Millard as he drove his SUV through Mississauga, a city west of Etobicoke.
Eventually, they used their cruisers to box him in and, with guns drawn, arrested him on charges of theft and forcible confinement.
The cops found him with $3,000 in cash and black nitrile gloves that were later found to contain blood and DNA most likely belonging to Tim Bosma, Millard and Christina Noudga.
Millard’s run of criminal impunity was over. With no other recourse, he came along quietly.
Meanwhile, his underlings scrambled to contain the damage to themselves.
When Smich found out the night of May 10 that Millard had been arrested, he called Andrew Michalski in a mad panic.
He needed Michalski to get the drugs out of Millard’s place.
Michalski, who was living at Millard’s Maple Gate home at the time, rounded up everything Millard had and stuffed it into a blue Under Armour backpack. He texted Hagerman about the toolbox, later telling him that Millard would want everything to go to Smich.
Hagerman wanted nothing to do with Smich, but agreed to drop the cache off to him in Oakville.
Michalski still hadn’t told Hagerman about the seriousness of the situation, but while driving with Michalski to Oakville, Hagerman turned on the radio.
There it was: Tim Bosma still missing, and Dellen Millard the prime suspect.
Hagerman panicked and immediately pulled off the highway. Michalski and Smich had agreed to a set drop point, but Hagerman couldn’t wait anymore. The two found a strip mall with a maintenance stairwell in the parking lot. They grabbed the toolbox and the backpack and dropped them there.
Michalski texted Smich. If he wanted the stuff so badly, he could come get it himself.
Since Millard’s arrest, Smich had been hiding out in his girlfriend’s sister’s apartment in Oakville, afraid that he was next. And so he got a friend to pick up the goods from the strip mall stairwell.
According to Smich, he thought he was just getting a backpack full of drugs — and he only asked for it because his girlfriend wanted it.
The toolbox, he says, wasn’t part of the plan. Not according to Michalski, who says Smich specifically asked for the toolbox.
Either way, once Smich got the toolbox, he broke off the lock and there was Millard’s Walther PPK, the weapon he says he believes was used to kill Tim Bosma.
Smich stashed it at his mother’s home. He tried selling it, but gave up on that plan when he realized he couldn’t fetch the kind of cash he was looking for.
A friend suggested burying it.
Hamilton Police, working with a surveillance team, tailed Smich around Oakville for about a week.
Smich was on a BMX bike on a highway overpass with Marlena Meneses on the morning of May 22 when police arrested him for first-degree murder.
When he saw his girlfriend being put in handcuffs just a few feet away, he snapped.
“Don’t tell them anything, babe!” he yelled, repeatedly. “Don’t tell them anything!”
During questioning, Smich was asked repeatedly about the gun. He insisted he buried it – but he couldn’t remember where.
When pressed further about the circumstances of the gun’s burial, Smich said couldn’t remember what direction he rode in, for how long, what streets he might have been on or if he passed any landmarks.
It’s a curious decision, especially considering that if Dellen Millard was the only person who ever used that gun, it could very well contain evidence that would exonerate Smich.
Again, it depends on whether you buy his story. Either Smich dumped the gun out of worry he’d be framed for Bosma’s death, or because he wanted to pin the blame solely on Millard.
Plotting his defence
It’s fair to say that Dellen Millard enjoyed more personal freedom than most people — sustained by easy access to money and enabled by a group of compliant friends, he was able to live a life of crime with none of the consequences.
But once he landed in jail in May 2013, the money — and, just as importantly, the loyalty — disappeared. While Millard was on the inside, his friends on the outside were doing everything they could to distance themselves from his machinations.
While at Hamilton Wentworth Detention Centre, Millard spent his time in segregation, confined to a cell on his own, with little time among other prisoners. Segregation is often used as a punishment on the inside, but for Millard, it was more of a precaution.
The Bosma case, and the Millard family’s wealth, were well known among the prison population.
At one point, officials at the prison offered to put him in protective custody. He turned it down over fears that inmates in the general population would target him for being in the “diddler” wing — i.e. where they house convicted pedophiles.
With all that time on his hands, Millard began to plot his strategy for trial in his first-degree murder case.
It involved rehearsing speeches to the jury that would convince them he didn’t murder Tim Bosma.
In letters to Christina Noudga smuggled in and out of the prison, he asks about the best approach.
“Obviously I want the jury to believe I am not a murderer. But by what road do I bring them to that conclusion?” Millard writes. “In this little practice session, I imagine I would have conveyed that I am scared, but composed. Do you think this is a good route?”
Millard’s letters from prison offer the most direct glimpse into the mind of the man who killed Bosma, and the lengths he would go to try and control the narrative of what happened that night.
Although riddled with spelling mistakes, the letters are written with some eloquence. They show someone who is self-aware and given to philosophizing.
“Compared to most of the nut jobs in here I’m … well, I’m me! Haha.”
“To bail or not to bail, that is the question,” Millard muses in one missive peppered with thees and thous. “Will the fates be kind? Will his mates upset this bind?”
He channels Shakespearian prose, but then also asks Noudga for the lyrics of Crazy Town’s cringeworthy 2000 nu-metal jam Butterfly. These are the two sides of Dellen Millard.
Millard writes that he was treated “like Hannibal Lecter” when he first arrived, but that he has adjusted to the prison experience. In fact, he starts to treat it as something of a sociological experiment, viewing his fellow inmates as inferior specimens.
“I’m learning about humans,” he writes. “The interactions between guards and prisoners, the system, the posturing, the backstabbing (literally in here).”
“Compared to most of the nut jobs in here I’m … well, I’m me! Haha,” he writes, adding that he’s well behaved and generally good humoured.
The letters also reveal a sentimental streak, though his sincerity is in question. Millard professes his undying love for Noudga, constantly yearning for their life together.
"More than any thought I want to express how much I'm in love with you," he writes in one letter.
“My one true fear is to die before being a father,” he says in another.
In a nod to her heritage, he makes an effort to learn the Ukrainian language. He asks her what sort of car she likes most out of a list he provides, hinting that he’d buy it for her. He promises a sailing trip around the world.
But for every declaration of love, there’s a catch.
“We need to get our stories straight,” he writes. “I need to know what you’re willing to do.”
Millard’s writing reveals his intelligence and cunning. The notes show a man who thrives on having control over people — and wilting in a place where he has no such control.
And so he attempts to charm his girlfriend into working as his “secret agent.”
Millard appears to do everything he can to flatter Noudga in the hopes she’ll do exactly what he says – whether that’s fabricating evidence or convincing witnesses to change their stories so their evidence becomes less damning.
It becomes clear in the letters that he feels the greatest threat to him is the prospect of Andrew Michalski’s testimony. Michalski knows that Millard planned to steal a truck, putting him firmly at the scene of a crime when Bosma died.
Millard asks Noudga to get to Michalski and feed him stories that he should give as testimony.
“I love him, and I know he loves me. He has a loyal heart,” Millard writes. “If he knew that his words were going to get me a life sentence, he would want to change them. Show him how he can, and he will change them.”
Millard also concocts a story for Noudga to tell in the witness box, in which Smich already knew the Bosmas prior to that fateful night, and that Michalski could be instructed to say that Millard wasn't there the night Bosma was shot.
Throughout their exchange, Millard makes it unequivocally clear that after reading each note, Noudga should destroy it.
The letters show that Millard didn’t manipulate people through fear or rage — he controlled them by forming a bond and compelling them to carry out his wishes as an extension of that bond.
Noudga wrote him many letters back, but says she refused to acknowledge his pleas for her to manipulate evidence or witnesses.
In fact, Noudga says she realized she herself was being manipulated.
He thought his girlfriend would destroy his letters from jail, just as he asked her.
“I was madly in love with him but I wasn't sure how he felt back at me ... I kind of felt like I was being played," Noudga says.
Even incarcerated, Millard’s self-confidence remains steadfast. “I’ve always been able to achieve extraordinary goals,” he writes. “I wished for a challenge worth devoting myself to. Seems I got it.”
For a man who wished for a new challenge, his response was erratic, delusional and ultimately demonstrated his shortcomings — to say nothing of the fact that he effectively handed the Crown some of the most damning evidence against him.
Dellen Millard thought he was smart enough to elude police and get away with murder.
He thought his girlfriend would destroy his letters from jail, just as he asked her.
He thought his friends would lie under oath to protect him.
He was wrong on all three counts.
In the end, Millard never did get to make that much-rehearsed plea in court.
Between the mountains of evidence amassed by investigators and his own damning words, Millard never stood a chance of having a jury believe his twisted narrative.
The pointlessness of Tim Bosma’s death is inescapable.
It’s worth recalling the chain of twisted logic that led Dellen Millard to want to steal Bosma’s truck in the first place.
He desperately wanted to race in the Baja 500 again — but wanted to avoid the fuel costs he incurred on the first trip.
So he decided to get a diesel truck, with no intention of ever paying for it.
The truck’s owner was simply an obstacle to be removed.
This is not the rationalization of someone troubled by morality. It was just Dellen Millard operating with the entitlement and impunity he had become accustomed to.
The result of all this is that Tim Bosma’s young daughter will grow up never knowing her father. Sharlene Bosma will forever mourn the life she could have had with the man she loved. Bosma’s parents will never get to see their boy reach his full potential. Nor will his beloved sisters.
And for what? A truck Millard could have easily afforded.
Tim Bosma “did nothing to deserve the ending of his life,” said Tony Leitch, one of three assistant Crown lawyers on the case.
"It seems absurd to murder a man for a used truck,” he said, but “killers are not always rational."