RCMP lacked forensic evidence to link Bosco teens to slayings

Court documents obtained by CBC News reveal RCMP had no forensic evidence to link two 14-year-old runaways from a Bosco group home to the 2009 slayings of Susan Trudel and Barry Boenke.

Warning: this story contains graphic and disturbing details

Court documents obtained by CBC News reveal RCMP had no forensic evidence to link two 14-year-old runaways from a Bosco group home to the 2009 slayings of Susan Trudel and Barry Boenke.

RCMP found Trudel, 50, and her friend Boenke, 68, dead on Trudel's rural property near Ardrossan, just east of Edmonton, on June 1, 2009.

A stay-of-proceedings was entered on second-degree murder charges against the teens last summer after a judge ruled that a statement made by one of them was inadmissible as evidence.

Susan Trudel, shown here in an undated photo, was found dead at her home east of Edmonton. (Courtesy of Jason Anderson)

Lawyers for CBC and the Edmonton Journal fought a three-month court battle to obtain records about the case, which were released this week by a Court of Queen's Bench judge.

Transcripts from the preliminary hearing held in June and July of 2010 reveal no blood from the victims was found on the boys, nor did police find any DNA evidence to link them to the crime scene.

No gunshot residue was found on the teens, even though investigators found ten bullet casings at the scene. The teens also had no link to fingerprints and footprints found by investigators.

During his testimony, an RCMP bloodstain pattern analyst agreed that the body and clothes of a killer or killers would likely have blood stains on them.

"I would expect it would be highly unlikely that they would not have some spatter on them," Dean Funnell testified.

Victims shot and beaten

The testimony also reveals the gruesome scene that RCMP officers found at Trudel's acreage that day.

Trudel's body was found on the kitchen floor with her head resting in a blood-filled metal mixing bowl. Trudel had been shot four times in her face, head and shoulder. An axe was lying on the floor beside her leg, although she had not been decapitated.

Barry Boenke in an undated photo. (Supplied)

The gunshots didn't kill her, according to Medical Examiner Dr. Graeme Dowling. Instead, he told the preliminary hearing that Trudel died from a blow to the head. He could not determine if she had been shot or beaten first.

Boenke's body was found outside the trailer. He had been shot three times — twice in the head and once in the shoulder. He was killed when a shot from .22 calibre rifle went through his brain. He had also been beaten.

The primary investigator testified that she decided to lay charges against the boys 45 minutes after she was assigned to the case.

The boys first came to the attention of police when they were stopped for erratic driving in north Edmonton.  A search for the owner of the stolen truck led them to Trudel's acreage early that day.

Police have never found a weapon or any bloody clothing linked to the case. RCMP have not indicated if there are any new suspects in the case.

Statement ruled inadmissible

The CBC and the Edmonton Journal were granted permission to view, but not broadcast, a videotape of one of the teens being interviewed by police.

The teen, who cannot be identified, described his foray onto the property as one of number of break and enters the pair had committed that night.

There were two trailers on the property. The boys entered the one that appeared to be empty. They stole a couple of jackets, used their pellet guns to shoot out the TV and then grabbed a set of car keys. But the car didn't start.

Police found Trudel and Boenke dead on this acreage east of Edmonton on June 1, 2009. (CBC)

Then they found a truck with the keys inside that was parked closer to the other trailer, where people appeared to be inside, he said.

His friend then left him to go look for gasoline, the boy said. 

"[My friend] left me ... I didn't even know what he did," he said. The pair then took off, his friend swerving and acting goofy while he was behind the wheel.

"Did you kill either of those people last night," the police sergeant asked at one point in the interview.

"No," the boy said with no hestitation, looking directly at the officer.

But after more questioning, the teen broke down in tears.

"I just heard gunshots and then like, he runs to the driver's side ... and he started the vehicle and like gunned it out of the bush and then he got it out of the driveway [inaudible] because he shot a girl and some older man," the teen said.

Justice John Gill of Alberta Court of Queen's Bench ultimately decided to disallow this statement, because the RCMP investigator failed to let the boy know he could have a lawyer present during the interrogation.

The defence lawyer had raised concerns that the teen only told the officer what he thought he wanted to hear.

The Crown decided against proceeding with the prosecution after the judge issued his decision.

The preliminary inquiry transcripts also reveal that there were two men living in another trailer on the property. One man could account for his whereabouts.

The other man had an alibi, but could not back it up with phone or banking records nor surveillance tape, the court was told.

The defence suggested that RCMP had fallen short in pursuing that angle of the case.

With files from the CBC's Janice Johnston