Calgary

'It's bad, Papa': Victim begged grandfather for help hours before quadruple murder

In the hours before he was killed, Cody Pfeiffer called his grandfather and said, "It's bad, Papa," jurors in Calgary heard Wednesday.

Tewodros Kebede, 27, and Yu Chieh Liao, 27, charged with murder and accessory after the fact to murder

Yu Chieh Liao, left, and Tewodros Mutugeta Kebede are taken into custody in Calgary on Oct. 10, 2017. (Postmedia Calgary)

In the hours before he was killed, Cody Pfeiffer called his grandfather and said, "It's bad, Papa," jurors at a Calgary trial in a quadruple murder case heard Wednesday.

Pfeiffer was killed because he'd witnessed a murder, according to prosecutors' theory of the case.

Tewodros Mutugeta Kebede, 27, and Yu Chieh Liao, 27, are on trial for first-degree murder in the death of Hanock Afowerk, 26.

They are also facing charges of accessory after the fact to murder connected to Pfeiffer's death as well as sisters Tiffany Ear, 39, and Glynnis Fox, 36. 

Bodies of the three were found in a car that had been set on fire on July 10, 2017. All three had been shot.

Prosecutors believe Pfeiffer and the sisters were killed because they witnessed Afowerk's slaying.

Left to right: Glynnis Fox, Cody Pfeiffer and Tiffany Ear were found July 10, 2017, in a burned-out car in Sage Hill, a new community on Calgary's northern edge. Hanock Afowerk, right, was found days later west of the city. (Facebook/Megan Snell/Calgary Police Service)

Afowerk, who owned the burned-out vehicle, was found dead two days later by cyclists west of Calgary where Highway 22 and Highway 8 meet.

His body showed evidence that he'd been restrained, tortured and then shot. 

On Wednesday, jurors heard from two witnesses who communicated with Pfeiffer in the early morning hours of July 9, 2017.

'This is an emergency'

Around 4:45 a.m. that day, Pfeiffer sent text messages to a friend of his parents who lives in Barons, Alta., about 165 kilometres southeast of Calgary.

"Yo bro this is an emergency ... I need your help," wrote Pfeiffer.

"Can you come and get me? I need to get the f--k out of here."

Anderson told Pfeiffer he had to be at work at 6:30 a.m. and would get in trouble if he missed his shift. He offered to drive to Calgary to pick up Pfeiffer on the Wednesday, three days later.

While exchanging text messages with Anderson, Pfeiffer called his grandfather, Maurice Noseworthy, asking if he was working that day.

Noseworthy told jurors he got the impression his grandson wanted something but wouldn't ask because he knew he was working.

Pfeiffer's last words to his grandfather were, "It's bad, Papa."

'He sounded frantic'

Earlier in the day, jurors heard from Irene Gessesse, who was close with Afowerk, describing him as "like a little brother to me."

At the time of his death, Afowerk was living with Gessesse and her children. Gessesse said Afowerk wasn't into drugs or alcohol but did earn money through criminal activity, making fake identification for people.

On the night of July 9 and into the early morning hours, she received tense phone calls from Afowerk. First, he wanted her to pack up his belongings, including printing equipment. 

Gessesse identified Kebede and Liao as the two people who came to her home to pick up Afowerk's things. 

Shortly after, Afowerk called in a panic, saying $10,000 was missing from the bags.

"He sounded frantic," said Gessesse.

He begged Gessesse to keep looking. She never found the money. Afowerk's body, which showed evidence of torture, was discovered two days later.

The six-week trial is being presided over by Court of Queen's Bench Justice Blair Nixon.

Susan Karpa is representing Liao, while Jeinis Patel is Kebede's lawyer.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary crime reporter

Meghan Grant is the courts and crime reporter for CBC Calgary. If you have a good story idea or tip, you can reach her at meghan.grant@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @CBCMeg.

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