Toronto

Kalen Schlatter confided in undercover cop, Tess Richey murder trial hears

Accused killer Kalen Schlatter spent hours talking with an undercover police officer about his prowess with women and the case against him right after his arrest, court heard Wednesday as Schlatter's first-degree murder trial in the death of Toronto woman Tess Richey continues.

WARNING: This story contains graphic details

Kalen Schlatter is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Toronto woman Tess Richey. He has pleaded not guilty. (Facebook)

Accused killer Kalen Schlatter spent hours talking with an undercover police officer about his prowess with women and the case against him right after his arrest, court heard Wednesday as Schlatter's first-degree murder trial in the death of Toronto woman Tess Richey continued.

The Toronto police officer, who testified from behind a large screen to protect his identity from the body of the court, said he and another undercover officer were placed in holding cells on either side of Schlatter in the early morning hours of Feb. 5, 2018.

"Mr. Schlatter said that when he left [Richey], she was alive, so maybe she took her own life, but he doesn't know," the officer testified. "Mr. Schlatter said he was drunk and something could have happened but he doesn't remember, and he doesn't think he's capable of doing it."

Richey, 22, was reported missing in November 2017 after a night out in the Church and Wellesley area. Investigators say she was strangled. Schlatter, 23, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in connection with her death.

Schlatter, court heard, was arrested after watching the Super Bowl with his family at a movie theatre on Feb. 4, 2018.

Once he was placed in a holding cell with the undercover officers at 3:19 a.m. on Feb. 5, it didn't take much goading for Schlatter to start talking, the officer testified.

Schlatter spoke at length about board and card games, specifically Magic: The Gathering, but also spent time boasting about his ability to pick up women, the officer said.

"He says he's slept with over 40 women, and he's only 21 years of age," the officer testified. "He says that he can tell us his secrets.

"That's when Mr. Schlatter starts speaking about having foursomes, and sex with more than one woman at a time on college campuses, and with random girls, and that girls beg him to sleep with them."

Schlatter said he did 'something big,' cop says

The officer said that Schlatter also told him that he meets women working as a nude model. "He says he doesn't mind being naked, because he is big, and doesn't feel shy," the officer said.

At one point, Schlatter said, "Sometimes you have to push the boundaries with women to see where it goes," the officer told the jury.

Court heard that the undercover officers told Schlatter they had been arrested for being found with stolen property. The officer then asked Schlatter what he was in for.

"Mr. Schlatter said that what he did was something big," the officer said. 

"He then asked us if we know a girl named Tess Richey."

Richey's family distributed this poster in an effort to find her. (Court exhibit)

Richey's body was found at the bottom of an outdoor stairwell at 582 Church St. in downtown Toronto in November of 2017. 

In her opening address to the jury, Assistant Crown Attorney Bev Richards said Schlatter's DNA was found on Richey's pants and bra.

She also said surveillance video shows Schlatter leading Richey to a stairwell of a building under construction around 4:14 a.m. on Nov. 25 — around the same time she was supposed to get into an Uber.

Richards said the video, which is expected to be presented at trial, will then show Schlatter leaving alone 45 minutes later.

Schlatter 'wanted privacy,' court hears

The officer testified that Schlatter said he met Richey at a nearby nightclub called Crews and Tangos. Schlatter said he "met her in the club, and was kissing her, and grinding on her," the officer said.

As the night progressed, Schlatter ended up out on the street with Richey and a friend of hers, the officer said Schlatter told him. The friend got on a streetcar to go home, leaving Schlatter and Richey alone, the officer said.

"He said that he wanted to have privacy with her so they could hook up," the undercover cop said.

"He then took her to the alley, and they were making out and grinding on one another there."

A friend of Richey's mother found the body in the bottom of this outdoor stairwell. (CBC)

The officer said Schlatter told him that he "came in his pants" while grinding on Richey, and that's how his DNA was found on her pants.

He also testified that Schlatter said he wanted to have sex with Richey, but Richey said she couldn't, because she was on her period. Schlatter then said that he tried to penetrate Richey with his finger, but she stopped him, the officer said.

"He said that he was upset because he wanted to have sex with her," the officer said, adding that Schlatter said Richey was "falling over because she was drunk" and he "had her against the wall" at the bottom of the stairs, the officer said.

Schlatter said that at some point, the two stopped kissing, but Richey said she wanted to stay at the bottom of the stairwell — so Schlatter left on his own, the officer said he was told.

Schlatter also talked about his experience with police questioning, court heard.

"Mr. Schlatter said that [detectives] showed him pictures of the dead girl, and it didn't faze him at all," the officer said. The officer also testified that Schlatter said he "pretended that he got emotional" when he saw photos of Richey's body, "but in reality, it didn't bother him at all."

Schlatter appeared to cry in court Tuesday when images of Richey's limp body were shown on screens in the courtroom.

The officer also said that at one point during their time in the cells, Schlatter said that he has "so much upper body strength" that it surprises people.

The trial continues Thursday morning.

adam.carter@cbc.ca

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Adam Carter

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Adam Carter is a Newfoundlander who now calls Toronto home. He enjoys a good story and playing loud music. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamCarterCBC or drop him an email at adam.carter@cbc.ca.