File illustration by THE CANADIAN PRESS Crown attorney Ken Lockhart, right, questions retired OPP Det. Sgt. Jim Falconer, second from right, as photos are displayed and Justice Michael Code, centre top, Dellen Millard, front, and Mark Smich, red checkered shirt, look on in this artist’s sketch from court in Toronto.

Photo of bones burning in incinerator focus of testimony in Babcock murder trial

TORONTO — A photograph of what appears to be bones burning inside an animal incinerator was the focus of testimony Tuesday in the trial of two men accused of killing a young Toronto woman whose body has not been found.

Scott Rufolo, an archeologist with the Canadian Museum of Nature, testified on behalf of the defence that he believes the objects in the photo found on Dellen Millard’s phone are animal bones.

Under cross-examination from Crown lawyer Jill Cameron, however, Rufolo waffled.

“It’s possible it could be a human radius,” he said, describing one of the forearm bones.

The Crown contends Millard, 32, of Toronto, and Mark Smich, 30, of Oakville, Ont., killed 23-year-old Laura Babcock in July 2012 because she became the odd woman out in a love triangle with Millard and his girlfriend.

They allege the pair burned Babcock in an animal incinerator, named The Eliminator, at Millard’s aircraft hangar near Waterloo, Ont.

Both men have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.

Rufolo told court earlier on Tuesday that he believed the photo shows an upper arm bone and shin bone of a deer or goat.

“It should also be stated that I’m offering an opinion based on a poor quality image that is based on patterns of shadow and light,” he said under questioning from Millard, who’s representing himself.

“What I see there is my opinion with what you’d expect with a deer or other animal of related size and doesn’t match easily with human bones, if I have accurately judged the photograph.”

The jury has seen the photo, taken on July 23, 2012, on several occasions.

Millard had Rufolo zoom in close on the photo and go over what he could see in painstaking detail. Babcock’s mother, Linda, winced, closed her eyes and shook her head often throughout the testimony.

Court heard this was Rufolo’s first time giving an expert opinion in court and he did not realize he was going to testify until recently. He said his report was rather casual, did not include precise measurements and he did not bring his notes because of the last-minute notice he was given.

He wrote down his notes on a hotel notepad Monday night, he said.

Millard tried to recover on re-examination, but was cautioned by the judge.

“You’re repeating your questions, now stop it. That’s an order,” Justice Michael Code said.

“Your honour I apologize, this is my first time doing this,” Millard said.

Tracy Rogers, a forensic anthropologist who is an expert in identifying human remains and the effects of burning on human bones, has previously testified the objects in the image appear to be bones from a human arm.

“Based on the shape comparison, one is similar overall to the human humerus, the upper arm bone,” Rogers said. “One looks similar in overall shape and size to a human radius, the end close to the wrist.”

Rogers also could not be certain because she said she was only able to analyse a poor quality photograph.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 9, 2020 in Ottawa. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be joining European Union leaders for a virtual summit, where they are expected to discuss their shared commitment to international co-operation and what that means ahead of Tuesday’s U.S presidential election. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau, EU leaders meet ahead of U.S. election to reinforce support of world order

Trudeau speaking with the European Union’s two top political leaders

The Hub on Ross has announced it has permanently closed. (Photo courtesy The Hub on Ross Facebook page)
The Hub on Ross in Red Deer to permanently close

The Hub on Ross in Red Deer permanently closed on Wednesday. “The… Continue reading

Alice Kolisnyk, deputy director of the Red Deer Food Bank, says the agency expects an increase in demand as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Every new subscription to the Red Deer Advocate includes a $50 donation to the food bank. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Support the food bank with a subscription to the Red Deer Advocate

The community’s most vulnerable members are always in need of a hand,… Continue reading

If you have a letter you'd like to submit to the editor for consideration, please email us at Look forward to hearing your thoughts. 
Two readers express different views on hospital worker walkout

Union members deserve more respect Re: “Yes, we know how to do… Continue reading

Email letters to
Gift of groceries leaves couple ‘speechless’

Red Deer has got to be the No. 1 place in Alberta.… Continue reading

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a daycare in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. Alberta Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz says the province plans to bring in a new way of licensing and monitoring child-care facilities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Alberta proposes legislation to change rules on child-care spaces

Record-keeping, traditionally done on paper, would be allowed digitally

Matt Berger is shown skateboarding in Huntington Beach California in this July 10, 2020 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Monster Energy, Joey Shigeo Muellner
Canadian skateboarder Matt Berger awaits his sport’s Olympic debut

Berger ranked No. 1 in Canada and 17th in the world

Most Read