Tim Bosma trial: Dellen Millard's texts about missing man revealed

Days after Tim Bosma disappeared, Dellen Millard was texting one of his employees about the missing man's truck, a Hamilton court heard Monday at the trial of two men accused of murdering the 32-year-old.

'The Dellen Millard I know, he's a rich guy, he doesn't need to steal a truck,' Shane Schlatman testifies

Shane Schlatman leaves the Hamilton courthouse after testifying at the trial of Dellen Millard and Mark Smich on Monday. (CBC)

Days after Tim Bosma disappeared, Dellen Millard was texting one of his employees about the missing man and his truck  which was seen in the MillardAir hangar, a Hamilton court heard today at the trial of two men accused of murdering the 32-year-old.

The Superior Court trial resumed Monday with the jury seeing texts between Millard, who has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, and one of his former employees, Shane Schlatman. Those texts were written after Bosma failed to return after taking two men on a test drive of a pickup truck he was trying to sell.

The Crown alleges Bosma was shot in his truck and his body burned in a livestock incinerator.

"I can't stop thinking about what that family is going through," read one text Millard sent to Schlatman. He previously told Schlatman that he "bought the truck in Kitchener."

"I want to take it back, but I'm a little concerned about how that is going to play out," another text read.

Millard, 30, of Toronto, and Mark Smich, 28, of Oakville, Ont., are accused of killing Bosma, who lived in the suburban Ancaster area of Hamilton. Both have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.

I never would have thought Dellen Millard would be involved in anything like that.- Shane Schlatman, ex MillardAir employee

Bosma was last seen on May 6, 2013, after taking two men on a test drive of a pickup truck he was trying to sell. He was missing for more than a week before human remains were found in an animal incinerator on an Ayr, Ont., farm owned by Millard.

Schlatman was the last employee left on the books at MillardAir in May of 2013. He told the court that most of the work he did for Millard was on motor vehicles.

Schlatman testified that he first started texting Millard about the truck after speaking with his father-in-law, Arthur Jennings, who called Crime Stoppers when he spotted Bosma's truck in the MillardAir hangar at Waterloo International Airport.

Jennings previously testified that when he told his son-in-law about the truck, Schlatman "lost his temper" with him and his wife. The two no longer speak, court heard.

'I never thought he would hurt someone'

Shane Schlatman built this homemade incinerator at Dellen Millard's request, court heard Monday. (Court exhibit)

Schlatman didn't say anything about the tone of his conversation with Jennings, nor did say what prompted the first messages from Millard that the jury was shown. 

"Ya, that's a tough call man," Schlatman said in a text response. "Have you considered goin to cops? Tell em ya bought this truck but you think it's warm?"

Millard answered: "Hypothetically: if this is the same one, I'm in a lot of jeopardy: what truck?"

Assistant Crown Attorney Craig Fraser asked Schlatman why he would send those texts to Millard when his father-in-law had already told him the truck belonged to Bosma.

"I told him that because I thought he had maybe gotten himself into getting a stolen truck. The Dellen Millard I know, he's a rich guy, he doesn't need to steal a truck," Schlatman said.

Fraser also asked Schlatman why he didn't ask where Bosma was, knowing it was Bosma's truck.

"I never would have thought Dellen Millard would be involved in anything like that. I never thought he would hurt someone."

Homemade incinerator attempted

Schlatman told the jury he wasn't surprised when two police officers showed up at the hangar on May 10, 2013. 

"I knew that Art had gone to Crime Stoppers about the truck and now the truck was gone," he said. "I wasn't surprised they had shown up."

Court also heard that Millard asked Schlatman to build an incinerator.

In late 2011 or early 2012, Schlatman testified, Millard asked him to build a homemade incinerator to "burn off garbage" from his properties.

"There was a lot of garbage produced from [his] properties, so he wanted a way of getting rid of it quicker and cheaper," he said.

Court saw photos of the device — which appeared to be three 50-gallon drums welded together — and heard that it "didn't work very well."

Schlatman said Millard decided to go a more professional route, and purchase a livestock incinerator called The Eliminator.

"Why is it you were looking to purchase The Eliminator?" Assistant Crown Craig Fraser asked.

"Dell had mentioned to me that he talked to his uncle ... and Dell was interested in purchasing this unit to start a business of cremating deceased animals from the veterinarians," Schlatman said.

"He thought he could help his uncle out and possibly pick up other business from other veterinarians in the area."

Millard's uncle, veterinarian Robert Burns, denied any intention of getting into the pet cremation business with his nephew when he testified earlier this month.

Burns said he was "absolutely blown away" when he heard about the suggestion, and told the jury he never discussed pet cremation with Millard or "anyone in his entourage."

Millard arrested before truck could be painted

The windshield replacement kit that Schlatman bought at Millard's behest after Bosma's disappearance was also brought up again in court Monday. 

Bosma's truck and Millard's truck were similar makes and models, except Bosma's was black with a diesel engine and Millard's was red with a gas engine.

Schlatman testified Millard wanted him to take the windshield out of his pickup, even though it wasn't damaged. 

"If you remove the windshield of a truck, does that give you access to the VIN plate?" Fraser asked, with Schlatman responding yes.

Schlatman testified he was the one who took all the decals off Bosma's Dodge Ram. He said this was in preparation to have it painted red, like Millard wanted — like the red Dodge Ram he already owned.

Before that could happen, Millard was arrested.

CBC reporter Adam Carter is in the courtroom each day reporting live on the trial. You can view a recap of his live blog here: