Edmonton

Twitchell questioned about $40 car purchase

A story Mark Twitchell told about buying a car for $40 from a stranger prompted more questions in an interview police conducted with the amateur filmmaker about the disappearance of Johnny Altinger
Mark Twitchell in seen in this video still from his interview with Edmonton Police Det. Bill Clark on Oct. 20, 2008. (Edmonton Police Service )

A story Mark Twitchell told about buying a car for $40 from a stranger prompted more questions in an interview police conducted with the amateur filmmaker about the disappearance of Johnny Altinger.

The story "severely raised my suspicions about Mark Twitchell," veteran Edmonton Police Det. Bill Clark testified Thursday at Twitchell's first-degree murder trial.

Twitchell is accused of bludgeoning, stabbing and dismembering Altinger on Oct. 10, 2008, after luring him to a garage through an internet dating site

Clark interviewed Twitchell on Oct. 20, 2008, 24 hours after Twitchell was first questioned by Det. Mike Tabler.

Following the first interview, Twitchell told another police officer a story about how he bought a Mazda 3 car from a man who approached him out of the blue in south Edmonton. Altinger's car was a red 2005 Mazda 3.

"Do you not think that kinda strange?" Clark asks Twitchell in the videotape that was played to the jury Thursday. "I mean, I have to ask you this, you're paying $40 for a car. How much did you think that car was worth?"

This photo of Johnny Altinger's Mazda 3 car was shown to the jury last week. (Edmonton Police Service)
"I thought it was worth somewhere between three and four thousand," Twitchell replies.

"But you're paying $40 for it," Clark says.  

Twitchell says he planned to check with the Alberta Motor Association to see if the vehicle was stolen or had any liens on it. If it was, he would report it and then get rid of it, he told Clark.

"Did you think it might be stolen?" Clark asks.

Twitchell replies while he wasn't sure, it didn't seem like it was, because the vehicle wasn't damaged. Twitchell tells Clark he didn't get a bill of sale for the car. 

"You don't get a bill of sale. You're buying a car for 40 bucks that's worth several thousand," Clark says. "You know, you don't ask a lot of questions. It's kind of wilful blindness."

Det. Bill Clark leaves the Edmonton courthouse Thursday. (CBC)
In a written statement Twitchell provided to police, he repeated a story he told another police detective in an email: that someone had broken into his car which was parked at Southgate Mall on Oct. 8 and stolen a receipt with his address on it.

Four days later he found the front door to his house unlocked. Then he was approached to buy the car on Oct. 15, he states.

"At this point it seems that whoever broke into my car on the 8th used all of the information they stole to use my location and personal property for who knows what," he writes, later adding: "I don't know if the person who sold me the other car is involved but looking back it certainly feels that way and I have to wonder if I'm being targeted or if it's a nasty coincidence."

In his opening statement to the jury last week, Crown prosecutor Lawrence VanDyke called Twitchell's story "absurd."

The trial continues Friday.

 

With files from the CBC's Janice Johnston

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