'Something terrible has happened,' Millard texted friend after father's death

Dellen Millard's text messages to friends and family in the wake of Wayne Millard's death were revealed in court for the first time Tuesday, as the aviation heir's first-degree murder trial in the death of his father continues.

1st-degree murder trial hears evidence about text messages sent the night Wayne Millard died

Dellen Millard, 32, is facing a first-degree murder charge in the death of his father, Wayne. (Court exhibit)

Dellen Millard's text messages to friends and family in the wake of Wayne Millard's death were revealed in court for the first time Tuesday, as Millard's first-degree murder trial in the death of his father continues.

Retired Ontario Provincial Police officer Jim Falconer returned to the witness box in Superior Court in Toronto to testify about text messages discovered on Millard's devices after his arrest.

The 2012 death of 71-year-old Wayne Millard was originally ruled a suicide. His body was discovered at his home at 5 Maple Gate Court in the Toronto suburb of Etobicoke with a single gunshot wound through his eye in the early morning of Nov. 29, 2012.

He was found by his only son, who lived in the house with his father.

Millard's text messages around the time of his father's death provide a snapshot of how he was describing the situation to those closest to him.

At 5:56 p.m. ET on Nov. 29, Millard texted his friend Andrew Michalski and said, "bro please come over, I don't want to be alone, something terrible has happened."

Michalski responded, "Ok Im coming."

My dad shot himself. my world has never been so upside down.- Dellen Millard text to girlfriend

That was around the time, court has heard, that Millard says he discovered his father's body. He called his mother, who lived elsewhere, before calling police. Michalski got to the Maple Gate home before Millard's mother arrived but appeared to only stay a short time.

At 7:08 p.m., Michalski sent a message to Millard that read, "Dude I'm sorry for not coming to see Wayne. I couldn't if you need ANYTHING let me know."

Millard, 32, is currently serving consecutive life sentences for the murders of Tim Bosma, a father and husband from Hamilton, and Laura Babcock, a Toronto woman he had been involved with. He was charged in his father's death after police started investigating the disappearances of Bosma and Babcock.

Millard has pleaded not guilty at the judge-alone trial to killing his father.

Millard blamed father for money woes

Millard also sent messages to his girlfriend, Christina Noudga, in the early morning hours of Nov. 30, after he had been interviewed by police.

"My dad shot himself. my world has never been so upside down," Millard wrote.

"The last time I spoke to him, I told him the company's financial troubles were his doing and that he was a failure. Usually he tells me not to worry, but this time he said maybe I was right."

In this clip from his interview with Toronto police, Dellen Millard describes the scene the night he says he found his father's body. 3:54

In another text to Noudga, Millard says, "He's always had depression, but he's never been suicidal. I've dealt with suicidal people, it doesn't fit."

The crux of Millard's defence is that his father did, in fact, kill himself. Questions from his lawyer, Ravin Pillay, have painted a picture of Millard's father as a reclusive, depressed alcoholic.

Millard himself said as much in a video statement to police on the night he says he found his father's body.

In the video, he says his father "has a very strong liver" because he drinks so much, and was dealing with a debilitating back problem. He also says his father was stressed about his business and suffered from depression.

"He had depression in him … he carried some great sadness with him throughout life, but I never really knew what it was," Millard told police. "He never wanted to share it with me."

Another side of Wayne Millard

But John Barnes, a former employee of MillardAir, testified Tuesday that Wayne Millard seemed in good spirits before he died.

Barnes said money was tight for the business, but MillardAir had just received a licence from Transport Canada that was critical for the company to move forward as an MRO, which is essentially a garage for airplanes. 

He said Wayne Millard was "very happy" about the licence coming through. "It was the essence of the business," he said.

Dellen Millard, left, is facing a first-degree murder charge in the death of his father, Wayne. Lawyer Ravin Pillay, centre, is representing him. Justice Maureen Forestell is presiding over the trial. (Pam Davies)

At one point, assistant Crown attorney Jill Cameron asked Barnes if Wayne Millard ever told him why he was pushing so much of the family's wealth into this new venture.

"He told me it was to leave something for Dellen," he said.

Barnes also appears to be one of the last people to have had contact with Wayne Millard. Court saw an email sent from Wayne Millard's account to Barnes on Nov. 29 at 2:50 a.m. The two were arguing over the acquisition of some equipment for the business at the time.

Barnes responded to the email later that morning, but never heard back from Millard. Days later, Barnes testified, Dellen Millard and his mother gathered all of the family's employees at the MillardAir hangar. 

Barnes said the employees were told the business was being closed down — and that Wayne Millard had died of an aneurysm.

In his cross-examination, Barnes agreed that he did not know Millard well, and said the two weren't friends.

Another MillardAir employee, Philip Woodward, testified that it appeared to him that Wayne Millard was having some cash flow problems. Court heard he had taken out a bank loan, and had mortgaged both the MillardAir hangar and his own home. 

He testified that Wayne Millard said at the outset of the MillardAir MRO business venture that he had $10 million available for costs. Woodward testified that "problems started" when bills started to mount over $5 million.

"It was apparent there wasn't $10 million to start with," he said.

Follow along with a recap of the CBC's live blog from inside the courtroom. On mobile and can't see it? View the live blog here

adam.carter@cbc.ca

About the Author

Adam Carter

Reporter, CBC Hamilton

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