Who was Laura Babcock? A look into her life as the trial into her presumed death continues

Every aspect of Laura Babcock's life has been scrutinized in a downtown Toronto courtroom, at the ongoing trial into her alleged murder in July 2012.

Dellen Millard and former best friend Mark Smich have pleaded not guilty to 1st-degree murder

Laura Babcock's ongoing murder trial in downtown Toronto is not sitting today, but will resume Tuesday. (Babcock family)

A daughter, loyal friend and dog lover with dreams of becoming an actress, Laura Babcock's personality was both optimistic and conflicted. Her private life, the good and not so good, including struggles with mental health and a brief stint as an escort, is now extremely public, as the trial into her presumed death enters a third week.

The jury at the Ontario Superior Court trial will return Tuesday to hear from more witnesses, as the Crown continues to build its case against Dellen Millard, 32, of Toronto, and Mark Smich, 30, of Oakville, Ont.

Both men have pleaded not guilty in Babcock's alleged murder.

In the summer of 2012, Babcock was 23 and eager to take on the world. She recently graduated with a degree in English and drama from the University of Toronto and was searching for a permanent job and a place to call her own.

But she was drifting.

She argued with her parents about curfews and, rather than stay with them, she moved from couch to couch. 

Dellen Millard, 32, is acting as his own lawyer at the Laura Babcock murder trial. Co-accused Mark Smich has a lawyer. (Toronto Police Service)

Then a friend from high school told her about the easy money to be made in the world of escorting.

Those close to her noticed Babcock changing — then suddenly without explanation, she was gone.

The prosecution is expected to present evidence that she was killed and her body was burned in an animal incinerator, by Millard and Smich. Court has heard the alleged killing may have been motivated by a love triangle — that there was bad blood between Babcock and Millard's girlfriend at the time, Christina Noudga, and Millard promised to get Babcock out of the picture.

A daughter full of whimsy, fun

Babcock now would've been 28, her father told the jury, as the first witness at the trial into his daughter's murder.

"She was full of whimsy and fun," Clayton Babcock, 60, said, quite different from him and her older brother, Brent, both self-described science nerds.

He gave the court brief snippets of her childhood — begging her father to go on ride after ride at Wonderland, blasting '70s rock in her room, and endless marathons of reality TV shows like Say Yes to the Dress.

The Babcock family leaves court after Laura's father, Clayton, testified Oct. 23. No one has heard from Laura since early July 2012. (CBC)

But in the months before her disappearance, Babcock testified his daughter was not the same.

"Laura was frustrated. She seemed to be agitated, couldn't sit still," he explained.

Then there were disagreements over house rules.

"She wasn't banished from the home, but you can't keep coming home around 2 or 3 in the morning," he told the jury.

Babcock ended up moving around, taking her belongings and little dog Lacey with her everywhere she went.

Clayton Babcock appears in the witness box Oct. 23, questioned by Crown lawyer Jill Cameron. Dellen Millard, left, Mark Smich and Justice Michael Code are also shown. (Pam Davies/CBC)

Loyal friend

Every single one of Babcock's friends, half a dozen who testified, described Babcock as amazing, open about all aspects of her life and not afraid to ask for help.

And she was in constant communication with all of them, often calling as many as 20 times a day.

She was bubbly, she was outgoing, she was amazing- Megan Orr , Laura Babcock's friend

"She was bubbly, she was outgoing, she was amazing," Megan Orr, 29, told the jury on Oct. 30, pausing for a moment as she cried.

"She had a lot of emotional issues, but I understood her." 

In the spring of 2012, Babcock seemed to be on a downward spiral.

She started working as an escort to bring in some extra cash and, Orr said, that brought a new strain to their friendship.

Orr decided to pull back, no longer hanging out with Babcock in person, but they continued to communicate every day by phone and text.

Orr offered her best advice to one of her best friends: "just be safe."

One of Laura Babcock's duffel bags was seized from co-accused Mark Smich's home during a police search in 2013. (Court Exhibit)

Brief stint as an escort

A handful of middle-aged men who met Babcock in June 2012 gave some insight about her brief stint as an escort.

Her boss, the owner of Last Minute Escorts, Shlomo Abuhav, told the jury Babcock worked for him twice that month.

"She wanted to be an actress," he recalled, smiling. "Hollywood."

Three clients testified they did not sleep with Babcock, but each gave her money. A film and television producer let Babcock stay at his home for two weeks, while a doctor offered to help her pay for an apartment — an arrangement that never went through.

He, and everyone else, stopped hearing from Babcock in early July 2012.

History of depression, anxiety

Overnight stays in hospital and private conversations Babcock had with doctors and nurses were distilled into an eight-page summary, an agreed statement of fact that was shared with the jury.

Details of more than a dozen hospital visits, between Aug. 11, 2011 and April 29, 2012, were read out loud.

Babcock told health-care workers she had a history of depression and anxiety and had harmed herself, by cutting her arms. 

The Crown has worked to establish that while Babcock struggled, she was not suicidal that summer.

Friends testified they knew Babcock was on medication for anxiety and depression, but were adamant she wouldn't take her own life.

Jessica Trevors, who opened her home to Babcock for four days at the end of June and was among the last people to see her, said Babcock only talked about her future.

"She wanted to have a school where she could teach people to act and dance."

The trial continues Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET. 

About the Author

Shannon Martin

Reporter, CBC Toronto

Shannon is an award-winning reporter with CBC Toronto. She was part of the core team that launched "No Fixed Address", a hugely popular series on millenials renting and buying in Toronto. In 2016, Shannon hosted a special live broadcast on-air and on Facebook simultaneously from Toronto Pride, which won top honours in the Digital category at the RTDNA awards. Contact Shannon: or find her on Instagram at @ShannonMartinTV.