Tim Bosma was an everyday guy doing an everyday thing — and it got him killed.
He disappeared on May 6, 2013, while trying to sell his truck. His charred remains were found days later, confirming the worst fears of an anguished family and community. Now, almost three years later, the trial of two men charged in his slaying is scheduled to start next week in Superior Court in Hamilton.
Dellen Millard, 30, of Toronto, and Mark Smich, 28, of Oakville, Ont., are both charged with first-degree murder in connection with the 32-year-old's death.
"It was just a truck. A stupid truck," Bosma's widow Sharlene said through tears and gritted teeth, back when there was fleeting hope that the Ancaster, Ont., father might still turn up alive. "You don't need him, but I do. Our daughter needs her daddy."
'I think the enormity of it is hitting [the family] now. For 2½ years they knew this day was coming — and now, here it is.' - Rev. Rita Klein-Geltink
He left his home with a smile — telling his wife he would be right back — but Bosma never came home. And so, the country's eyes will be on Hamilton as jury selection begins in one of the highest profile cases in the area's history.
It's a story that feels like it was ripped from the pages of a crime novel: a doting father from a rural area who suddenly vanished, leaving a desperate family searching for answers.
As his wife put it back in May of 2013 when making an impassioned plea to get her husband home: "This does not feel like real life. This only happens in TV and in movies. It does not happen in real life."
But it did.
Jury selection starts Monday
Millard and Smich will be tried together in front of a jury. After months of disclosure and pretrial motions, jury selection will begin on Monday, with 1,800 people being called as prospective jurors. That pool will be whittled down to 12 and an alternate juror. The trial is scheduled to resume on Feb. 1, when evidence will start being presented.
The trial will take place in the largest courtroom in the John Sopinka Courthouse, and an overflow room will be set up with a video feed should things get too crowded.
It will be the public's first chance to hear details about a case that garnered a lot of press coverage.
Sharlene Bosma braved the glare of news cameras through it all, first asking for her husband's safe return, then, tearfully thanking members of the public for their support after her husband's remains were found, burned beyond recognition.
The Bosma family has requested privacy, and is not making any public statements in advance of the trial, family spokesman Peter Lowe told CBC News.
"The family is grateful for the love and support shown by their community," he said.
Support from church
Much of that support has come from the congregation of Ancaster Christian Reformed Church, where the Bosma family is still deeply ingrained. The 700-strong congregation plans to collectively pray at 10 a.m. each morning once the trial starts — the expected start time for each day's proceedings.
"I think the enormity of it is hitting [the family] now," said Rev. Rita Klein-Geltink. "For 2½ years they knew this day was coming — and now, here it is.
"We're going to have to rally around them."
While providing that support, the congregation is grappling with deep questions of faith — chief among them around the notion of forgiveness.
"How do you love your enemies in a situation like this?" Klein-Geltink asked. "These are the struggles we're dealing with."
'Vilest form of evil'
The Bosma family's plight culminated at a massive public memorial on May 21, 2013, at the same Hamilton hall where Sharlene and Tim Bosma had their wedding reception just three years earlier.
"On May 6, our lives changed forever," Sharlene Bosma told a crowd of over 1,000 people packed into Carmen's Banquet Hall. "The devil led the vilest form of evil down my driveway, and it smiled at me before taking Tim away from me."
The case against Millard and Smich has been called hugely complex, as it includes multiple jurisdictions and search warrants. Bosma went missing in Ancaster, but his remains were found in Waterloo, Ont., and his truck was found at a house in Kleinburg, Ont.
Hangars at the Waterloo Airport were also extensively searched by authorities. The complexities of the case mean that three assistant Crowns — Tony Leitch, Brett Moodie and Craig Fraser — will prosecute the case.
Lawyers Ravin Pillay and Thomas Dungey will represent Millard and Smich, respectively. Justice Andrew Goodman will oversee the trial, taking over from Justice Stephen Glithero, who stepped down for health reasons in October.
In a rare move, the Crown successfully applied to bypass a preliminary inquiry in the case with a direct indictment. Preliminary hearings are usually held to determine if there is enough evidence to take a case to trial.
The trial is expected to take at least three months.