Nova Scotia·Timeline

What happened before and after Taylor Samson went missing

A detailed timeline that follows the events leading up to, and following, Taylor Samson's August 2015 death. William Sandeson is charged with first-degree murder in the case.

Detailed look at timeline of Samson homicide and investigation of accused murderer William Sandeson

Taylor Samson is seen on surveillance video outside the apartment of William Sandeson, the man accused of killing him. (CBC)

This timeline is based on evidence and testimony at the bail hearing and first-degree murder trial of William Sandeson in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Taylor Samson and William Sandeson meet. They had been negotiating a drug deal via text messages. Samson provides Sandeson with a sample of marijuana. Sandeson says he isn't satisfied with the quality and wants more. Samson promises to address both issues. They make tentative plans to meet that Saturday.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Samson and Sandeson exchange text messages, trying to confirm a time for a meeting. Sandeson suggests postponing the meeting. Samson voices concerns. They agree to meet late that evening.

Sandeson tells his girlfriend, Sonja Gashus, he wants her out of his Halifax apartment that evening. Gashus later testifies she had been urging Sandeson to leave the drug business that she believes he wants to conduct one last deal.

At approximately 10 p.m., Samson leaves his south-end Halifax apartment. He tells his girlfriend, MacKenzie Ruthven, that he won't be long. He is carrying a large black duffel bag. She believes the bag contains marijuana.

A few minutes later, security video at Sandeson's apartment shows him walking up the apartment hall with Samson, who is still carrying the duffel bag.

William Sandeson is charged with first-degree murder. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press)

At about 10:30 p.m., Sandeson's neighbour, Pookiel McCabe, hears a gunshot. McCabe's friend, Justin Blades, is at McCabe's apartment at the time and also hears it.

Moments later, Sandeson knocks on McCabe's door. Sandeson says nothing and returns to his apartment.

McCabe and Blades follow Sandeson. They see a man seated at Sandeson's kitchen table, bleeding, they later testify. They say they also see drugs and cash.

This blood-stained $20 bill was a court exhibit in the trial of William Sandeson. (Court exhibit)

McCabe and Blades look in Sandeson's apartment a second time. They see that the body is gone, they testify, but the blood and money remain. They leave the building. Their movements are recorded on the security video.

Concerned that her boyfriend is taking too long, Ruthven starts texting and phoning Samson. She never gets a reply.

Sandeson's security system, which includes a camera pointed up the hallway outside his apartment, is disabled.

Sunday, August 16, 2016

Gashus returns to the apartment sometime after midnight. She says there's a strong smell of cleaning solution. She says Sandeson explains there'd been a fight and he had to clean up the blood.

Sandeson sends a text to Samson's phone, suggesting Samson had failed to make their meeting. The text says: "This isn't cool man."

Text messages that Sandeson said he exchanged with Samson were introduced as evidence in court. (CBC)

Gashus discovers a missing person's post about Samson on Facebook. She asks Sandeson whether Samson was the one injured in the apartment the night before. He says no.

When the security system is restored, it shows Sandeson making several trips up the hall, carrying items. An external camera shows Sandeson placing those items in the trunk of a small black car.

Sandeson drives his girlfriend to her job at Starbucks that morning. She usually drives herself.

Police believe Sandeson's car may have been used to transport a body. (Blair Rhodes/CBC)

At 10:30 a.m., an exterior security camera at the apartment shows Sandeson cleaning the trunk of his car.

Sandeson goes to his job at a special needs facility in Lower Sackville at noon. He's there until 10 p.m.

Samson fails to show up in Amherst at the home of his mother, Linda Boutilier, who was expecting him for Sunday dinner. Her efforts to contact him fail.

Police are notified.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sandeson texts his younger brother Adam, saying he's coming over with a load of laundry. William Sandeson tells his brother there's stuff in his basement and it smells funny. Adam Sandeson subsequently discovers a Dalhousie backpack containing marijuana.

This backpack was taken from Sandeson during his arrest. (Court exhibit)

That day, police also open a missing person's investigation into Samson's disappearance.

Boutilier comes to Halifax to search for her son. She joins his friends in searching hedges and dumpsters in south-end Halifax.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Using information they obtained later, police establish that Sandeson crossed the harbour on one of the bridges. They use data from his MacPass and from bridge security video.

Police use cellphone records to establish that Sandeson is in the Truro area. His phone bounces signals off cell towers there.

Police track down Sandeson through the last number on Samson's phone. Police contact Sandeson.

Sandeson comes to police headquarters in Halifax for an interview.

William Sandeson is seen on a video of his interrogation by police investigating the death of Taylor Samson. (CBC)

RCMP Sgt. Charla Keddy questions Sandeson. He is a witness, not a suspect. He tells Keddy that Samson never came over on Saturday. At Keddy's urging, Sandeson reinstalls the texting app on his phone that he used to communicate with Samson. He allows police to take screenshots of the text exchanges.

Investigators monitoring Sandeson's interview with Keddy are suspicious about his answers. They decide to place him under surveillance after he leaves.

Investigators review Sandeson's text messages and realize he was discussing a large drug deal. They fear Samson may have been the target of a "drug rip" and may be held captive.

Police go to Sandeson's apartment. He is not home.

This is a diagram of William Sandeson's Halifax apartment. The room on the left was his bedroom. (Court exhibit)

Police force their way into Sandeson's apartment, searching for Samson. They do not find him, but what they see prompts them to ask for a search warrant. It will take them 10 hours to get one, so they assign patrol officers to guard the apartment while they wait.

Based on their review of his texts and what they see in his apartment, police decide Sandeson is arrestable.

Police track Sandeson to the home of Gashus's grandmother in Dartmouth. He is arrested. She is briefly placed in handcuffs. Both are taken to the police station. Sandeson is facing charges of kidnapping, trafficking and misleading police.

Police begin interrogating Sandeson. The interview is videotaped. They have up to 24 hours to question him before he must either be charged or released.

Police put Sandeson in a cell for the night to sleep.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Police obtain a warrant and begin searching Sandeson's apartment.

The interrogation resumes. Toward the end of the interrogation, police start confronting Sandeson with inconsistencies in the story he has told them so far. They have found the inconsistencies by collecting evidence from his apartment, including security video and what appear to be bloodstains.

Sandeson tells police in his videotaped interview that two masked men shot Samson and took his body away.

Adam Sandeson and his roommates investigate the basement. In addition to the backpack full of marijuana they discovered earlier, they find two other containers full of drugs: a small appliance box and a grocery bag.

An appliance box photographed by police investigating William Sandeson. (Blair Rhodes/CBC)

The roommates will subsequently contact a lawyer to surrender the drugs to police.

Police charge William Sandeson with first-degree murder. The interview ends.

Friday, October 23, 2015

After a two-day bail hearing in Nova Scotia Supreme Court, Sandeson is denied bail. Justice Jamie Campbell says he is a flight risk. Sandeson remains in custody until his trial.

Monday, February 22, 2016

A preliminary inquiry for Sandeson begins in Halifax provincial court. A judge commits him to trial.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Sandeson's first-degree murder trial begins in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The jury begins deliberations in the case.