Canadian True Crime - Remembering Beverley Rowbotham: 23 Years Today

Episode Date: October 24, 2023

Special ad-free presentation to commemorate the 23rd anniversary of the murder of Beverley Rowbotham, a wife and mother of two young boys.About three years ago, Canadian True Crime released an episode... about Beverley’s case, and earlier this year we were contacted by members of her family who wanted to discuss the case.We’ve kept in contact and at their suggestion, we’re republishing the episode ad-free today, re-mastered and slightly updated, to keep Beverley's memory fresh and make sure she isn't forgotten.To be continued....See photos: Bev's killer sure was tidy by Tom Brodbeck, Winnipeg Sun Hosted on Acast. See for more information.

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Starting point is 00:00:00 Canadian True Crime is a completely independent production, funded mainly through advertising. The podcast often has disturbing content and course language. It's not for everyone. Please take care when listening. Hi there, I hope you're well. Stay tuned for a new episode coming in the next few days, but today, October 24th of 2023, we've got an important announcement to make. It's the 23rd anniversary of the murder of Beverly Robotham, a wife and mother of two young boys who was tragically murdered in Manitoba in 2000. We released an episode on Beverly's case about three years ago,
Starting point is 00:00:38 piecing the high-profile story together from court documents and news archives. Earlier this year, we were contacted by members of Beverly's family, who had just discovered our episode and wanted to discuss the case. We've kept in contact and at their suggestion, we're republishing her story today, ad-free, remastered and slightly updated, to commemorate the anniversary of her murder. Here's why. On October 24th of 2000, Beverly's husband Mark Stoby reported her missing to the RCMP after he woke up from an evening nap and realized that she had never returned from a trip
Starting point is 00:01:18 to the grocery store. The following morning, Beverly's body was tragically discovered. The evidence suggesting the 42-year-old had fought for her life during a violent and brutal attack. After a long investigation, her husband Mark Stoby was charged with second-degree murder based on largely circumstantial evidence. At trial, the jury found him not guilty, meaning the prosecution failed to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. With a not guilty verdict, the RCMP confirmed they had no suspects in the case and that it
Starting point is 00:01:54 was no longer under investigation, and that is where it has stayed for more than 10 years. Beverly's family members were and remain incredibly disappointed. The events of the trial and the aftermath have almost completely overshadowed Beverly's memory and halted the quest for justice for her murder. Her family members tell me they have more to say, but for now, we're re-releasing this episode to make sure Beverly's memory is kept fresh and that she isn't forgotten. Beverly has been described by her sisters and other loved ones as fun, witty, worldly, a beautiful, strong woman with so much to offer, so much more to give.
Starting point is 00:02:39 According to her obituary quote, she had many adventures jumping from airplanes, skydiving, traveling the world and teaching in Japan. Her accomplishments included completing two university degrees and a successful career in the Saskatchewan Public Service. Her greatest accomplishment and the source of her greatest joy was her raising of wonderful sons. Today, we honor the memory of Beverly Robotham.
Starting point is 00:03:08 Please take a moment to listen to the episode. Her family will appreciate it. Thank you so much. It was October of 2000 and Beverly Robotham had a job interview to prepare for. The 42-year-old mother of two had just moved her family from Regina, Saskatchewan to Winnipeg, Manitoba. It wasn't her idea. Her husband, Mark Stoby, had built a successful career working for the Saskatchewan government
Starting point is 00:03:44 and had received a new job offer to good to pass up. When Beverly and Mark met in Regina nine years beforehand in 1991, she worked in the Human Resources field for the Saskatchewan Public Service Commission. She valued her work and was known to be very good at her job, just as Mark was. Beverly and Mark got on well and were known to be very affectionate as a couple. Two years after meeting, they got married, and in the years that followed, they had two sons. Mark's career continued to take off and he ended up as a senior adviser to then Saskatchewan Premier Roy Romano. It was a high
Starting point is 00:04:26 profile role that saw him quoted often by the media as a government spokesperson. But Mark was ready for his next challenge and was taking his time looking for the right next position. In April of 2000, he was offered a new job in the next province over, Manitoba. He would be a senior communications advisor to Premier Gary Dua, a prestigious high-profile role that required the family to move. For Beverly, this would work out well. She already had family that lived out that way, including her older sister and mother. It would be good to be closer to them.
Starting point is 00:05:06 So, they packed up and moved. Beverly and Mark, both 42, and their two young sons quickly purchased a house in St Andrews, a rural area north of Winnipeg, and moved there in late spring of 2000. By all accounts when they first arrived, everyone was happy to be there. Mark would say it was like paradise, but it didn't take long before things changed. That spring and summer was wet and rainy,
Starting point is 00:05:38 and with that came swarms of mosquitoes. So many that just going outside became a bit of a hazard. While Mark was in Winnipeg hitting the ground running with his new job, Beverly and the kids had to stay inside because of the insects, and the house itself was problematic. It was a large custom log home on almost two acres, but it proved to be a bit of a money pit. It was infested with carpenter ants, and was badly in need of repair with structural problems that caused many issues, like doors that stuck inside their frames and wouldn't budge.
Starting point is 00:06:17 Instead of enjoying exploring a new location and settling into a new neighborhood, Beverly spent her time inside looking after her two young boys aged just three and five, trying to avoid mosquitoes while organizing the various repairs needed to their house. It was just one thing after another. And she had little to no help with any of this because Mark was spending a lot of time at the office. He would be gone early in the morning and often wouldn't return until late at night. Even though Beverly had family about 10 minutes drive away, they were semi-isolated at the house and hadn't made any friends yet in the area, so it was lonely during the day. Beverly was close to her two older sisters and they noticed a change. They knew her as an
Starting point is 00:07:07 intelligent and fun person who loved to laugh and get dressed up to go dancing to the movies or out for a nice dinner. But now she was isolated and stressed. In the late summer, Beverly spoke with one of her older sisters about the predicament. She was angry because she was dealing with a lot of problems and she wasn't coping well with having to solve them all herself, while Mark worked long hours. She wanted to sell the house, but he didn't want to. But then, things seemed to get a little easier. By September, the mosquitoes were gone, they could go outside again, and the most crucial house repairs had been made. One of the boys started kindie, and Beverly
Starting point is 00:07:51 was just starting to get involved with the school and look for a job. Before long, she was able to secure a job interview in human resources, with the Manitoba Justice Department. The night of October 24, 2000, Beverly was chatting to her sister Betty on the phone about watching the boys when she went for her job interview the next morning. Betty could hear that Beverly was trying to get her kids out of the bath and into bed, and she sounded distracted and hurried, with one ear on the phone and one ear on the kids kind of breathless. And then one of the kids got out of the bathtub and Beverly told her sister she had to go. They made their plans for the next morning and hung up.
Starting point is 00:08:44 Two hours later, Betty and her husband received a phone call from Mark, who said Bev had gone on a quick grocery trip to the nearby small city of Selkirk. He said she needed to buy some mini muffins for one of the boy's nursery school Halloween party. The reason for the call was to talk about installing bathroom flooring and to ask if they had any recommendations for a contractor. After having a quick conversation, they hung up. received a phone call. She got out of bed and answered the phone and it was mark again. But this time all was not well. He told Betty that Beverly had not returned from her shopping trip and something was wrong. He called the police
Starting point is 00:09:35 and the hospitals and no one had seen her. By now Betty's husband and son had leapt out of bed and were heading to their vehicle to go and search for her. They searched the area between St Andrews and Salkirk, about 14 kilometers distance, but saw no trace of Beverly or the car. They then went back to Beverly and Mark's house. Betty was already there. She had come over to look after the sleeping boys so Mark could do whatever was needed to help with the search. Soon, the RCMP arrived and wanted to know more about Beverly and where she intended to go. They knew that around 9pm the night before, Beverly had left for a spur of the moment shopping trip to Safeway in Selkirk. Mark had dosed off. When he woke up, she hadn't returned, so he reported her missing. An RCMP officer asked Mark some questions about their
Starting point is 00:10:34 relationship, finances, and general life situation. Mark was stressed but very cooperative. They obtained a photo of Beverly and set off to investigate, firstly by seeing if she had actually made it to the safe way. Back in the house, Beverly sister Betty sat down to catch her breath and Mark said he was going out to the backyard. He was out there for quite some time and then came back in. some time and then came back in. By now, it was about 4am and Beverly hadn't been seen for some 7 hours since she left to go shopping. All of a sudden an RCMP officers phone rang with somber news.
Starting point is 00:11:17 The group were told that Bev had been found dead and a homicide investigation was being opened. But, that was all they could tell the family. There were gasps as Beverly's loved ones came to grips with their new reality. According to the RCMP officer, Mark turned kind of white and went weak. Betty helped him to a chair nearby and he placed his head down on his hands and started crying. Betty embraced her husband and son tightly, before returning to mark, holding his hand and patting his head. At this point, none of them had happened to Beverly. All they knew was that she was no longer alive. Later that morning, Mark called the RCMP to get an update and see if they could tell him anything about how Beverly had died.
Starting point is 00:12:40 He would learn that her body had been found in the back seat of the family's car, a Crown Victoria Sedan, at an abandoned gas station car park close to the safeway that she had intended to go shopping at. She had received a blow to the head, but that was all the RCMP could tell him. Mark asked whether he should offer a reward for any information leading to an arrest, but at that point it was still early on in the investigation. After the call, some RCMP officers arrived at the house to get an official statement from Mark.
Starting point is 00:13:17 They went to the police car to record the statement since the boys were in the house. The two officers observed that Mark wasn't overly emotional or crying, but he seemed lost and out of sorts. They started off by asking him to detail exactly what happened earlier in the day, in the lead-up to Beverly leaving to go shopping. They learned that it was actually the second time Bev had gone shopping at the safeway that day. was actually the second time Bev had gone shopping at the Safeway that day. Earlier in the afternoon, she had taken one of their sons to the store, but Mark said he was playing up so she had to leave early and didn't get to finish her shop. Mark said that she planned to do a $300 or $400 shop, but she was only able to spend about
Starting point is 00:14:02 $100 on some salads and cheese. He went on telling the officers that that night, they both barged the kids and put them in bed, and then Mark put on the TV and started watching a baseball game. The RCMP would verify that there was a baseball game on that night. He told the police that Beverly said if he was just going to be watching TV, then she would go back to the safe way because it was 10% off day. So she left at around 9pm, wearing a pink sweatshirt, jean jacket and jeans. Mark said he didn't know how much gas was in the car, but it was in proper working order, a good solid car. Mark said he watched the
Starting point is 00:14:47 baseball a bit longer and then called Beverly sister to ask for that recommendation for flooring. He told police after that that his son was restless so he went and laid with him in his bed and fell asleep there. And when he woke up at about 2.30 in the morning, Bev was missing. The conversation turned to the state of their marriage. Mark said that it was pretty good, but they had a bit of a hiccup when they first moved into the house about four months beforehand, because Beverly was quite unhappy for the first month of it. She felt like she was trapped.
Starting point is 00:15:24 He described it as a miserable July. But then, when the rain stopped, the mosquitoes went away, and the school and fall activities started, she was much happier. Mark told the police that Beverly was having a really good time and they were getting along well. The officers asked if there was any tension in the marriage. Mark said not really. They had tiffs and he laughed a bit as he said he'd come to expect that she would be grumpy at a certain time each month. But other than that, he said they were happy, even though his new job had caused some stress.
Starting point is 00:16:02 The transcript of the interview details that Mark was asked if there was an insurance policy taken out on Beverly's life. He said that there was, but they cancelled it two months beforehand as it was tied to a previous employer. They talked about where Bev might have gone in her car. Would she have stopped for gas? What about to the bank to get money? Would she have gone in the direction of her sister's house? Was it possible that she was having
Starting point is 00:16:30 an affair? Mark replied, I would be the most surprised person in the world. He said they'd been married over seven years and there'd be no suspicions, no flotations, nothing. The initial statement took about 70 minutes. After lunch, a family liaison officer had been appointed and went to the home to get further information. She observed that Mark appeared calm and not upset. Although Beverly's family was still at the house and they were the same, calm. By that point, it had been nearly 12 hours since they learned the news about Beverly. The investigation continued. The next day, October 26th of 2000, RCMP officers discussed getting a warrant to search the home, but they were unable to get one quickly enough so they went back after 5pm
Starting point is 00:17:26 to ask Mark for his permission. Mark asked if they had a warrant. He was told no, they were requesting his consent. Mark then asked if he was a suspect. The RCMP officer replied that as much as they looked to find the person responsible, they were just trying to eliminate people. Mark said he was expecting it because the husband is always the first person that needs to be eliminated. He understood that they had to do their job. According to court records, the police officers there gave different accounts of Mark's demeanor. One officer said he appeared normal and calm, not upset and not angry with the police about their line of questioning. Another officer recollected that after they requested a consent search,
Starting point is 00:18:15 Mark sat down and was rubbing his face and head quite dramatically, taking deep breaths and lots of pauses. At one point he suggested they come back and search after Beverly's funeral, which was still two days away. The officer told them that they had to consider the possibility that someone was on the property stalking her and they needed to search for evidence as soon as possible. Mark was then described to be quiet for long periods of time, taking more deep breaths as he thought. He then sat down and said he wanted to call a lawyer. After more questions, he said he had two concerns. One, that his kids would see the police, and two, that the officers would make a mess of the house as they searched. The officers offered to wait until the children had left the house before they started the
Starting point is 00:19:08 search, and they promised not to make much of a mess or be disruptive. Mark said he was hoping it wouldn't come to this. He was hoping that by that point, they would have caught the person responsible. He told the police he realized they couldn't overlook him, but he didn't give his consent to search the house. That same day, the RCMP started giving some preliminary details to the press. Mark Stoby was a high-profile person in the Manitoba government and well-known in Saskatchewan too. Headlines referred to Beverly as
Starting point is 00:19:45 the wife of a communications executive with the Manitoba government. A brief summary of the autopsy report was released, which confirmed that Beverly was murdered and died as a result of trauma to the head. The RCMP wouldn't give any more specific details than this, including what kind of weapon was used, or any other evidence they found in the car.
Starting point is 00:20:10 The public already knew that Beverly went to go shopping at about 9pm and never returned. The RCMP said they had obtained the Safeway Security video, and there was no evidence that she had gone there that night. It seemed that there were only two options. She told Mark she was going to Safeway but went somewhere else, or she was murdered before she got there. As the investigation continued, Beverly's funeral was held back in Regina Saskatchewan. The press hounded them, trying to get photos of Mark and the boys. At several points,
Starting point is 00:20:51 Mark had to make concerted efforts to lose the media as he drove from the funeral to the reception. Beverly's obituary painted a picture of an adventurous woman who loved skydiving, traveling the world, and had even taught in Japan. She had completed two university degrees and had enjoyed a successful career. But it said, her greatest achievement and the source of her greatest joy was raising her two young boys who were now without a mother. A month later, on November 27th of 2000, the RCMP sent out another news release, announcing
Starting point is 00:21:38 that they had received a phone tip about a cyclist on a highway route that Beverly would likely have driven to get to the safe way. Given the time of night and the location, the sighting was deemed suspicious, and the RCMP asked for anyone who saw someone on a bike or a hitchhiker, stranded motorist or pedestrian the night of Beverly's murder to come forward. Lee's murder to come forward. It was certainly a mystery, but behind the scenes, the RCMP had been looking very closely at Mark Stoby, even closer than he expected. In the days after Beverly's body was found, they began surveilling Mark to see what he did.
Starting point is 00:22:22 Under cover officers even followed him to Saskatchewan for her funeral. At one point, they saw Mark dancing around with his two kids in a parking lot. Remember, they were only three and five years old. But other than that, they didn't observe Mark doing anything that could be considered suspicious. In the early stages of the investigation, the police's media releases were written carefully to make sure they held back certain details of Beverly's murder, details that only the killer would know. They knew that Beverly had been struck 16 times with a hatchet or axe. Her skull bore the brunt of the blows, but three of her fingers were severed, indicating
Starting point is 00:23:09 she'd put up a fight. Her wedding rings were also missing. So, there was that. And in the meantime, they had received surveillance images of Beverly shopping at Safeway earlier that day with her youngest son. But there was no evidence that she'd returned to the store for a second time. RCMP officers had asked Mark to consent to them searching the house because they couldn't get a warrant in time. While he voiced his concerns about disrupting the boys and messing up the house
Starting point is 00:23:42 and asked to speak to a lawyer, it turned out to be a moot point. Officers were able to get a search warrant the following day so they didn't need marks consent after all. But by the time they started the search, it had been three days since Beverly was last seen. That said, the search was not in vain. Forensic officers sectioned off the backyard and searched the ground on their hands and knees, and they found clumps of cut hair, as well as many tiny blood drops, bone chips and fragments, including one that was 2.5 cm long. In the garage attached to the house, there were a few more drops of blood.
Starting point is 00:24:27 DNA tests would need to confirm a match to Beverly of course, but the officers were now working with the theory that Beverly was murdered in her own backyard, then taken to the car and driven away. Additionally, in the garage, officers found a bloody towel and two bloody tissues which were bagged and sent for testing, and on a fridge in the garage, there was a small blood stain. They also found large stains that were a dark red colour in the garage. The police took photos and showed them to Beverly Sister Betty, who said that the stains were not there in the days before her murder.
Starting point is 00:25:08 She also said that Beverly was a neat and tidy person, and if something did cause stains like that, she would have cleaned them up. Given that the autopsy had determined the assailant hit her 16 times with an axe or hatchet, the officers were surprised that there was so little blood on the scene. When it came to the backyard, there had been a small amount of rain between Beb's murder and the search of the house, but the forensic experts didn't think it was enough to explain the lack of blood. The evidence suggested that there may have been a cleaner of the crime scene. So, while the evidence collected pointed to the fact that Beverly was most likely killed in
Starting point is 00:25:53 the backyard, officers had to wait for the forensic testing to be completed before they could take further action on that basis. Beverly's car, the Crown Victoria, had also been forensically examined. There was blood on the undercarriage of the car, indicating that blood continued to flow while the car was in motion. Her purse or handbag was located next to her body in the vehicle. It contained her credit cards, but no one had attempted to use any of them. The purse was sent for DNA testing. What was missing was her wallet, a gold watch, and her $7,000 diamond engagement ring, and the murder weapon.
Starting point is 00:26:39 While they waited for forensic testing, officers continued to investigate and gather evidence. They conducted several noise tests at the house. Mark's story was that he was watching TV or had dosed off, so if Beverly was attacked with an axe or hatchet in the backyard, and Mark was inside the house, would he have been able to hear it? One officer stayed inside the house while another went into the backyard and yelled for help. The yelling was clearly heard. The garage door was also opened and closed while an officer was in the home.
Starting point is 00:27:17 This was also clearly heard from inside the house. So if Mark was inside the house while Beverly was attacked in the backyard, why didn't he hear anything? Meanwhile, appeals to the public for help were also starting to pay off. A woman came forward to say that she heard a splash in the Red River, a river that ran close to where the Safeway was that Bev was headed to. She said the splash sounded like something the size of a baseball had been tossed in the river on what she believed was the night Bev was killed.
Starting point is 00:27:54 She spotted a vehicle driving away from the area but was unable to provide a description. Another man came forward to say he'd found a gold watch in the same area of the river's shoreline. It was Beverly's watch. And another man looking for fishing gear found a woman's wallet in the same area. There was $10 still in it, but no identification or credit cards. Luckily he found a photo of Beverly and the two boys in the wallet and recognized them from the media coverage. With these two items discarded into the river, a team of
Starting point is 00:28:33 police divers went into the water to search, but nothing else of interest was found. But there was more. Several witnesses contacted the police to say they'd seen a person peddling a bike in the area on the night of the killing, including on the highway. And one of the reasons this cyclist stood out was that he was described as very large. This was of interest to police, as Mark Stoby was a large man who weighed around 280 pounds or 130 kilograms. One witness said he made eye contact with the cyclist as they passed and described the look he got back as piercing. He said he found the whole thing very creepy.
Starting point is 00:29:24 The results of the forensic testing were in. While not all of the tiny blood and hair samples found in the backyard and garage were able to be matched, 11 of them were a match to Beverly's DNA. The pieces of bone were also a match to Beverly. The blood stain on the garage fridge had DNA from Beverly, but also an unknown male. Same thing with the bloody towel and tissues they found in the garage. It had DNA from an unknown male. And as for the purse that was located in her car, there was also unknown male DNA on the straps and zippers. The RCMP would need to get samples from Mark and their boys to compare as a first step.
Starting point is 00:30:11 While Mark had been under surveillance by an undercover team, he still hadn't done anything suspicious. It was time to step things up. RCMP officers came up with a plan. They would deliver the news to Mark and Beverly's family that the evidence showed she was most likely killed in the backyard. And at the same time, they would wiretap the house. If Mark was responsible for Beverly's murder, maybe this additional information would motivate him to say or do something suspicious,
Starting point is 00:30:46 and they wanted to be ready for it. That same day, he spoke on the phone with Beverly's sister Betty, a decompression call after they both found out that Beverly had been killed in the backyard. In the call, Betty tells Mark that police are focusing on the backyard. He sighs heavily a few times and then swears. Betty continues to talk about the backyard, and Mark can be heard uttering damn it all, and then sighed a few more times and swore again. Betty asked him if he was going to be okay. He replied, not completely, but I'll get through."
Starting point is 00:31:25 Betty remarked that there was one less thing to wonder about and added, you've always said that you always felt that. Likely she meant that Mark mentioned Beverly being murdered in the backyard as a possibility. He confirmed it, saying, well, the reason I thought that was because of all the tops in the backyard when they were doing the search of the house. Betty would tell police that Mark's behavior during the conversation, the swearing, the pauses, the loud sighs were unusual for him. Because Mark held a high-ranking provincial government position at the time, the RCMP called in a prosecutor from Alberta to review the case and decide whether there were grounds to press charges. But no charges were authorized.
Starting point is 00:32:13 They had evidence, but it was all circumstantial. They had no murder weapon, no motive, and no witnesses. In April of 2001, five months after Beverly's death, the RCMP arrived at the house with a warrant that authorized them to get a blood sample from Mark. They told him that he hadn't yet been cleared as a suspect, and they wanted to compare his DNA with the evidence seized from the crime scene. Mark was told that they knew how this happened, but their big question was who and why, and they believed it was only a matter of time before they caught the person responsible. Mark suggested they might want to talk to a neighbour, who he thought was avoiding him. Although he acknowledged that it may have
Starting point is 00:33:02 been because the neighbour had decided he was responsible for Beverly's murder. Mark didn't seem to have any concerns about giving a blood sample, and the officers observed that he was relaxed and engaged in casual conversation, at one point joking with them about whether they'd been properly trained to take the sample. properly trained to take the sample. The DNA on the bloody towel and tissues found was a match to Mark Stoby. As you remember, there was a blood stain on the garage fridge that had Beverly's DNA on it, but also had DNA belonging to an unknown male. This was also matched to Mark. The RCMP had noted that they did not notice any blood or injuries on Mark's doby when they interviewed him, but also Beverly was murdered in late October and everyone was covered
Starting point is 00:33:55 up to keep warm. The evidence was all circumstantial though, and the fact that Mark's DNA was found at his own home wasn't exactly the smoking gun. And there was one thing that remained a mystery. That unknown male DNA on the straps and zipper of Beverly's purse or handbag was not a match to either Mark or their sons. The police had some answers, but they needed more. Mark continued to protest his innocence while cooperating with police, and despite the forensic
Starting point is 00:34:34 testing and analysis and continued pleas for the public to come forward with information, the case seemed to be growing cold. There were no further public updates, other than R C M P Sgt. Steve Saunders telling the leaderpost that the investigation was still making progress, but he still couldn't disclose anything new out of concern that it might jeopardize the case. There was one thing he was able to disclose a few weeks before the one-year anniversary of Beverly's murder, and that was that one of the five key RCMP officers working the case full-time had died by suicide. Constable Melvin K. Loverley was just 45 years old, and the media would report that his
Starting point is 00:35:22 death caused a significant blow to the investigation, but at the time, Sgt Saunders assured the public that it wouldn't affect the case. That was October of 2001, and the case appeared to go cold after that. Four years later, in 2005, the RCMP cold case unit took over the investigation, although no update was given to the public about whether any progress was made. This was a high-profile case, and five years afterwards the public still knew nothing about the evidence found, the forensic testing, or the focus on Mark. Beverly Robotham's murder had become one of Manitoba's most baffling unsolved crimes, with much speculation. It was assumed that Mark had been cleared as a
Starting point is 00:36:14 suspect, but that meant an unknown killer was on the loose, which was a terrifying thought for local residents. The Winnipeg Free Press initiated a court battle to get access to search warrant documents. They were successful, and the documents revealed that Mark Stoby was the prime suspect in the case and had been from the start. But that was six years beforehand, and he was still walking free. Mark had always refused interviews, but Winnipeg Free Press reporter Mike McIntyre spoke to him through his lawyer, Tim Colleen, who said Mark was focused on raising his children, but he desperately wanted to see his wife's killer be caught and would do anything he could to assist the investigation. Mark's lawyer also suggested it was a case
Starting point is 00:37:06 of the police having tunnel vision, looking so closely at Mark's Stoby that they became blinded to other potential suspects. By this time, Mark and the two boys had moved back to Saskatchewan, where he was serving as executive director of a not-for-profit in the arts industry. There were no further updates on the case until 2008, when the RCMP started
Starting point is 00:37:32 to give some public hints that a large development on the case was coming. And then, Mark was arrested at his workplace in Saskatoon and charged with second-degree murder. His two children were in school at the time. An RCMP spokesperson told the press that although it took time, they were finally able to gather enough evidence to place the charges, and they were happy to bring a sense of relief to Beverly's family. It would later be revealed that 120 police officers had been involved in the investigation. Police had chased down more than 240 tips, and interviewed around 400 people, as well
Starting point is 00:38:16 as intercepting nearly 1,000 of Mark Stoby's phone calls in that wiretap operation. His lawyer said that the arrest was a surprise, and he had no idea what had happened to bring the case to this stage. It was all a bit of a mystery. Mark Stoby served two months in jail before he was released on $50,000 bail. After Mark's arrest, the case took three years to go to trial. In the year 2000, when Beverly was murdered, the couple were both 42. When the trial started in January of 2012, Mark was approaching his mid-50s. The Crown Prosecutor was Wendy Dawson, an independent Crown Council hired by Manitoba Justice
Starting point is 00:39:07 to avoid any issues with Mark Stoby's past with the government. She told the court that the case relied on circumstantial evidence and the testimony of more than 70 witnesses to prove what had happened to Beverly. This raised a few eyebrows, since everyone was expecting to learn about some new evidence that must have been uncovered, that had allowed the RCMP to lay charges after so long. Even Beverly's own family still had no idea what exactly had happened to her. The crown told the jury that the delay in charging Mark Stoby had no relevance to the case.
Starting point is 00:39:47 The real reason for the delay would only be revealed after the trial. The crown told the court that they would be presenting evidence that they believed proved their theory about what happened to Beverly, which was this. On the night of October 24th, 2000, Mark and Beverly had a heated argument in the back out of their house. He allegedly grabbed a hatchet, hit her in the head 16 times, and then took her into the garage, put her body into their car, and then hit her again. Then, he put a bike into the trunk of the car and drove it to the abandoned gas station in Selkirk, 14 kilometers away. He then took the bike out of the trunk and rode it back to their home in St Andrews. The crown alleged that at some point he threw Beverly's wallet and watch into the red river and removed her wedding ring,
Starting point is 00:40:45 in an attempt to suggest to investigators that she had been robbed. And once he got home, he made an attempt to clean up the scene, and then called the police and his sister-in-law. Then, after Beverly's sister Betty arrived, the crown alleged Mark went outside and hosed down the backyard. When he came back in, the RCMP arrived to deliver the news that Beverly had been found dead. So, that was the crown story. But the first thing the prosecution had to do was prove there was enough discord in the marriage that led to the heated argument. By all accounts, Beverly Robotham and Mark Stoby were a solid couple when they lived in
Starting point is 00:41:31 Regina, Saskatchewan. Bev's sister testified that they were very much in love and would be seen cuddling a lot. After getting married, they had two young children and despite the usual tips they remained close and were known to be affectionate. Mark built up his career in government communications and was instrumental in developing the strategy for the NDP that would see the party win the provincial election in 1999. The following year, Mark was offered that high-profile communications job in Winnipeg, so the family decided to pack up and move. But once they got there, in June of 2000, the problems started.
Starting point is 00:42:16 Beverly and the two young boys had a difficult summer, dealing with rain, swarms of mosquitoes that meant they couldn't go outside, an infestation of carpenter ants inside, in a house with structural issues that needed a lot of repairs. And as she dealt with all of this while taking care of her two young children, an rural community, Mark was already working hard in his new job, commuting daily from St Andrews where they lived to Winnipeg about 50 kilometres away. He would leave at around six most mornings and some days he wouldn't be home until after 11pm, something that was confirmed through the testimony of one of his other overworked colleagues. The Crown Prosecutor told the jury that over this time, the couple became increasingly distant.
Starting point is 00:43:06 Several friends of Marks testified that the couple appeared to get on fine and were still very affectionate. One of them said a few months before Beverly died, he met them for lunch and said they held hands, kissed, and appeared just as close as they normally were. Bev's best friend from Alberta testified that a month or so before her death, Bev confided in her that things, quote, weren't going well with Mark, but she was also pragmatic about the situation, telling her friend that it was par for the course in a marriage. When they spoke again a few weeks later, the friend said Beverly sounded better and more
Starting point is 00:43:48 settled, although the two didn't discuss the marriage situation. Beverly's sister Betty testified that it was a difficult adjustment, and Beverly became very annoyed with the house, so much so that she wanted to sell it. In the weeks before Beverly's death, she was very agitated and spoke about being under a lot of stress. She said she didn't know if she could do it anymore. Betty told the court that she tried to encourage her sister, reminding her that she was a farmgirl from Saskatchewan and she could do anything.
Starting point is 00:44:23 But Beverly was angry about the whole situation. Betty told the jury that her sister had quite the temper. She would yell and didn't get over arguments very quickly. Beverly sister Barb noted similar. A few months before her death, Beverly looked extremely stressed. Quote, Beverly always seemed to be tired. She had arthritis. Her fingers were frequently swollen. She had scoliosis when she was a child.
Starting point is 00:44:53 But while Beverly was stressed out with the situation, no one saw or heard about any serious marital disharmonie or arguing. Barb even said that at the time they seemed, quote, quite delighted with each other. It seemed that the main problem was that Mark was spending too much time at work, and that left Beverly feeling very isolated. The court heard that in the afternoon of October 24, 2000, Beverly Robotham went shopping with one of her sons. This was the first trip she made.
Starting point is 00:45:30 The trip that Mark said had to be cut short because their son was playing up. The jury saw surveillance footage of the shopping trip showing Beverly shopping casually, looking at Halloween costumes, bagels, and then up and down the meat aisle. As for their young son, in one image he was sitting in the grocery cart and then he was seen walking alongside it. At one point he wanted over to look at a display of candy and then return to his mother. According to the Canadian press, as Mark watched the footage in the courtroom, he was observed to remove his glasses twice and wipe his face with his hands.
Starting point is 00:46:10 While Mark had said Beverly had to leave the shop early because their son was playing up, there was no evidence of this on the footage. They were there for a total of 45 minutes, and while only 18 minutes of it was captured on video, there was no evidence of any problems with the sun. Because Beverly was a member of Safeway's frequent shopper program, the manager was able to pull up her transaction history. The store manager testified that that afternoon, Beverly spent $ate dollars on shopping, but her previous shopping trips
Starting point is 00:46:46 had averaged about $75. It seemed strange that she would need to go back that night to finish off her shop, when she already spent more than she usually did. In the footage, Beverly is dressed in the same pink sweater and blue jeans that Mark said she wore to the second shopping trip later that day. But there was no evidence that she'd returned to the store for a second time. Not only was she not caught on any surveillance footage, but there were no more transaction
Starting point is 00:47:17 records. The mother of a young girl testified that that evening they were driving around the neighborhood doing door-to-door fundraising and her daughter approached the house at 8.45pm. The mother watched as Mark was raking leaves out the front and the girl asked if he wanted to buy a box of chocolates for three dollars. He nodded and walked to the front of the house, where a woman, presumably Beverly, came out and gave her money for the chocolates. When the girl got back in the car, she said the couple were very nice. The times aren't exact, but that was around 15 minutes before
Starting point is 00:47:59 Mark said Beverly left for the second shopping trip. So Mark's story was that Beverly made a spur of the moment shopping trip at around 9pm, despite having a fully stopped kitchen and despite the fact that she had a job interview the next morning. Mark had given two reasons for the trip to the RCMP. He said she had to get items she missed earlier when the trip was cut off early, and also she wanted to take advantage of 10% day. And he told his brother-in-law that she had to buy mini muffins for one of their kids to take to nursery school the next day. According to Mark, he fell asleep, and when he woke up, Bev was missing.
Starting point is 00:48:46 The Crown argued that this story was entirely made up. Beverly never actually went shopping. Instead, she got into a heated argument with Mark, and while it wasn't known what exactly started it, they ended up in the backyard of the rural property. The Crown asserted that the argument escalated into violence and Mark grabbed a hatchet and struck Beverly 16 times in the head. The jury heard about how brutal the attack was and how Beverly tried desperately to defend herself
Starting point is 00:49:20 and raised her hands to ward off the hatchet. But the attack was so forceful that her index finger and part of her little finger were chopped off. The court heard about the pieces of skull, clumps of hair and tiny blood stains. They saw large, blown up photos of Beverly's fractured skull. The trial was the first time that Beverly's family had heard the full details of what happened to her, and these parts were exceptionally difficult for them. Her sisters would tell the press that they had no idea that the attack was that gruesome. The crown spoke about the severity of Beverly's injuries, telling the jury they were such
Starting point is 00:50:03 that quote, you should have no difficulty in concluding that the killer, who we say as Mark Stoby, was enraged at Beverly Robotham. But what about the noises? If Mark was not responsible for killing Beverly, if he was at home either watching TV or asleep when she was killed, how did he not hear any of it? His brother-in-law, the husband of Beverly Sister, testified that at some point after the murder, Mark told him that it was difficult to hear things outside his home, like for example, a car pulling up in the driveway.
Starting point is 00:50:43 An RCMP officer testified about their experiments with noise tests at the house, and they're finding that you were able to clearly hear yelling from inside the house. And also, the opening and closing of the garage door was clearly heard while the officer was in the home. Two neighbours testified that they didn't hear or see anything suspicious the night of Beverly's death, but also the family's house was on almost two acres in a rural area, so the houses weren't as close together as they would have been in a suburban area. The former owner of the house testified that the neighborhood was quiet like a cemetery.
Starting point is 00:51:26 He said that it would have been easy to hear a woman screaming or yelling from the backyard or inside the garage, even if the TV was on at the time. Now, on cross-examination, there was another aspect to this person's testimony. The former owner of their house was a doctor who worked at an abortion clinic from 1993 to 1999 and purchased the log home a year before that in 1998. He only owned it for two years before he sold it to Beverly and Mark. The doctor said that at his previous address, he received anonymous phone threats because of his work at the abortion clinic.
Starting point is 00:52:08 This line of questioning suggested that perhaps anti-abortion protesters targeted what they thought was the doctor at his home, but because he no longer lived there, Beverly was attacked instead. But the doctor had never received any threats during the two years he spent at the log home, nor at the next place he moved to. The Crown's theory was that after the attack, Mark left his two young sons sleeping at home and put Beverly in the back seat of the family sedan, a 10-coloured crowned Victoria. The RCMP found her severed middle finger in the car, as well as more than 170 small blood stains on the back seat and rear window of the vehicle,
Starting point is 00:52:53 indicating that after Beverly was placed on the back seat, she was struck again. And as Beverly's blood continued to flow through to the car's undercarriage, Mark allegedly drove it into Selkot and parked it near the abandoned gas station. Her body was found hours later, slumped dead in the back seat with excessive head injuries. She had bare feet and a pair of white socks and slip-on shoes were found on the floor of the back seat, behind the driver's side. Beverly Sister Betty testified that it wouldn't have been usual for her to take off her shoes and socks and put them in the back of the car. The car was left with the doors open and the keys still in the ignition. The crown alleged that Mark had stashed a bike in the trunk of the car and then rode it about 14 kilometers back to their house to cover up what he'd done.
Starting point is 00:53:51 There were several witnesses to suspicious related sightings that night. A cyclist testified that on what he believed to be the same night, he was cycling home from work and saw a similar car to the Crown Victoria parked at that station with its headlights on. He said in the driver's seat was a bigger-built man who looked like he was slouched over by the steering wheel like he was looking for something or thinking of something. The cyclist said he waited for four years before going to police with this information, because he thought that what he saw that night wasn't likely relevant to Beverly's murder. But there was some uproar when the Crown asked him who he saw in the car,
Starting point is 00:54:37 and he pointed directly at Mark Stoby. Even the Crown was surprised, she said she didn't expect him to point at Mark since his previous statements to police had always been vague and never as precise as identifying the man he saw as being Mark himself. This situation led the judge to caution the jury that the case was circumstantial and not to rely on eyewitness testimony, especially in this case, were a witness claim to identify the suspect after 12 years of vague descriptions. He wasn't even certain that it was the same night that Beverly was killed. Under cross examination, the man
Starting point is 00:55:18 admitted that he wasn't wearing his glasses at the time, and the figure he saw was just a silhouette that he only saw for a brief moment on a dark night. CBC reported that when it came to the crown's claim that Mark cycled home, a dozen witnesses testified about seeing a very large shadowy figure peddling a bike in the area. As you remember, Mark was a large man who weighed about 280 pounds at the time. One of the witnesses said it wasn't the kind of person you would expect to see riding a bike, and instead of wearing reflective gear on that dark foggy night, he was wearing a three quarter length coat, which stood out. At least two witnesses said the large person on the bike
Starting point is 00:56:06 was standing up on the pedals, peddling as fast as he could. One witness said it was a large person on a small bike. The problem was that none of the witnesses identified Mark Stoby himself, and there were variations in place and time. Beverly was supposed to have left the house at 9pm and Mark called to report her missing at 2.30 in the morning, so a window of just over 5 hours. But one witness cited the large man on the bike at 8.45, the same time that Mark and Beverly were paying a young girl for chocolates at their house. Another said they saw a cyclist close to midnight, and another still said around 2am. The RCMP had conducted tests of their own.
Starting point is 00:56:57 One officer cycled the route from the gas station to the house, and told jurors it took him about 39 minutes to finish. So obviously sightings of a large man on a bike at times ranging between 8.45, midnight and 2am can't have all been the same person. While it had the potential to be compelling evidence, it was still circumstantial. and where was the bike? There were two bikes taken from the house during the surge, and an RCMP chemist compared the bikes to the trunk of the car, looking for evidence of scrapes, chip marks and paint transfer. He testified that he found no evidence that either of the bikes had been in the trunk
Starting point is 00:57:43 of the car. The crown alleged that after Mark murdered Beverly in the backyard, he made up an elaborate story to cover it up. One of his colleagues at the Manitoba government had testified that he was a, quote, brilliant strategist who was very good at market research and a pretty good writer. An RCMP blood spatter expert testified that the person who killed Beverly Robotham made an obvious attempt to clean up the crime scene. He said it was possible that Beverly was attacked while she was upright and perhaps then wrapped in a top and carried to her car.
Starting point is 00:58:25 There was no evidence of drag marks in the garage and officers had been surprised to find very little blood in the garage and backyard. And while there had been that small amount of rain between Bebs murder and the property search a few days later, it wasn't enough to explain the lack of blood. As you remember, Beverly Sister Betty said that when she first got to the house before Bev had been found, Mark went into the backyard, she said for around 30 to 40 minutes. Although, under cross examination, she agreed that she wasn't exactly sure how long he was gone, but it was at least more than 10 minutes.
Starting point is 00:59:09 Now Beverly's niece testified that the day after Beverly had died, she was walking in the backyard and noticed something unusual, a large patch of wet grass that was really green. And when she was asked if the rest of the lawn was wet as well, she firmly replied, no. The crown told the jury that the circumstantial evidence strongly suggested that Mark hose down the backyard in an attempt to wash away any evidence. Beverly's niece also testified that Mark seemed to need help disposing of a bag of garbage that day, and she agreed to help her uncle Ed, Betty's husband, get the task out of
Starting point is 00:59:54 the way. The niece told the jury, quote, "'Ed took Mark's garbage to help Mark, and I helped Ed by burning it.' They were just trying to help their grieving relative get something off his mind that was clearly bothering him. It's unclear as to whether Mark ever said what was in the bag of garbage or why he gave his relatives the impression that he was so intent on having a dealt with. A DNA expert testified about Beverly's DNA being found in blood, hair clumps and bone
Starting point is 01:00:36 fragments, and Mark's DNA was found on the bloody towel and tissues found in the garage. But RCMP officers didn't find any of Beverly's blood on Mark, on his clothing, or in the actual house. And during his initial interview, the RCMP officers dealing with him noticed no injuries, cuts, or anything else that indicated he'd been in any kind of struggle. There was that tiny blood stain on the fridge, which contained DNA from both Beverly and Mark. On cross examination, the defense suggested it could have come from a mosquito that bit both Mark and Beverly before it was swatted against the fridge. The DNA expert said theoretically it was a possibility.
Starting point is 01:01:26 The thing that stood out was the DNA on Beverly's purse that was found in her car. It was found to have had DNA from an unknown male on the straps and zippers of the purse, and at the time of the trial, that male was still unknown. The defense suggested that someone may have tried to rob Beverly and ask the DNA expert whether it could have come from someone grabbing at her purse. The expert said it was a possibility she couldn't say no to. The court also heard that there was a single, right hand, yellow rubber glove found in a ditch off the highway, in a location
Starting point is 01:02:06 between the Safeway and the Family Home. A location that CTV Winnipeg said was also close to one of the sightings of a large man on a bike. And, the glove had blood on it that was found to be a match to Beverly's DNA. And in the attic area of the garage, three yellow rubber gloves were found, one pair, and a left-hand glove. The three gloves were the same design as the one found near the highway, but an expert wasn't able to say whether the gloves came from the exact same package. The court also heard from the people who found Beverly's gold watch and wallet on the shore of the Red River, as well as the person who heard the splash.
Starting point is 01:02:52 According to court documents, there was one OPP expert who was brought in to review all the evidence and was going to provide an opinion that the scene was the most staged crime he had ever seen. He also believed that Beverly had not been robbed. After all, her car hadn't been stolen, there were still $10 in her wallet, and her credit cards were found in her purse and hadn't been used. And although her wedding rings were missing, the OPP expert said that in his experience during most robberies, personal jewelry wasn't taken unless it was known to be of significant value.
Starting point is 01:03:32 But the judge found his opinions too subjective and excluded this evidence from the trial. The murder weapon, believed to be a hatchet, was never recovered. But there was some testimony around that too. As you'll remember, a friend of Mark's visited the couple a few months before Beverly's murder, and he observed they were getting on just fine. He testified to this at trial, adding that he also helped Mark cut down a tree that was blocking the garage. To do this, they used a rented chainsaw and a hatchet that was in the backyard.
Starting point is 01:04:11 Afterwards, he testified that he saw Mark put the hatchet by a tree stump in the backyard, close to the spot where police believe Beverly had been killed. Her sister Betty testified that she, too, saw an axe or hatchet in the backyard a few weeks before Beverly's death, and then there was a third witness who said he saw a hatchet in the garage. So, several people had seen a hatchet at the house before Beverly's murder, but the RCMP never found a hatchet on the property. Also of interest was Bev's other sister Barb, who testified about the first time she
Starting point is 01:04:54 spoke with Mark after the murder. Barb was in the US at a conference at the time, and called Mark from there. She described the conversation as very emotional and she recalled telling Mark that it would make more sense for her to be murdered in a large city in the US than to be killed getting groceries in small town Manitoba. She described how Mark reacted to this by laughing
Starting point is 01:05:20 and saying, yes, that's pretty strange. That was the Crown's case. The Defences case was this. Mark Stoby did not kill his wife. He had no reason to kill his wife. The marriage wasn't falling apart. After Beverly's murder, Mark was surveilled and even had his phone's wire tapped.
Starting point is 01:05:44 But the police never found anything suspicious to Beverly's murder, Mark was surveilled and even had his phone's wire tapped, but the police never found anything suspicious and over a thousand calls they listened to. Mark's defense lawyer Tim Colleen said that while there was plenty suspicious about Mark's story, quote, a suspicious case is not enough to say Mr. Stoby killed his wife. Mark Stoby took to the stand in his own defence. After all, he had enjoyed a high profile career as an experienced communications professional with two provincial governments. The defence got right down to it, asking if Mark killed Beverly. He replied, no, I did not. Did he move her body? No. He said he didn't dump her body in the car at the gas station and he also didn't clean the crime
Starting point is 01:06:32 scene in his backyard. He went over their family life, their move from Saskatchewan to Manitoba and their struggles. He said that July of 2000 wasn't the best month of their marriage, but it was a month that came and went, and by September October, quote, she was back to the fundamentally cheerful, happy woman I'd known and loved for eight years. His claim was uncontested. While both Mark and several witnesses testified that there was a strain in the first few months of moving to Manitoba, he claimed things came good in the two months or so before she died. And the crown hadn't presented any evidence that there was any serious disarmony in their marriage in the weeks before her death. Not one person testified that they'd even had an argument. That didn't mean
Starting point is 01:07:26 it didn't happen, just that Mark's version was the only version on the table. On cross-examination, the Crown also asked Mark about some marriage counseling they had early on. He said that they had their occasional arguments, but their biggest one was before they were even married, so yes, they did decide to get some counseling. But he told the court that this didn't signal they had issues. It signified that they wanted to work things out. He then went through his version of the evening Beverly was murdered. This time giving more details than he'd provided in his original statement to police. He said they had dinner together
Starting point is 01:08:10 and discussed Beverly's approach to her job interview the next morning. They had to settle a dispute with their boys about which one was going to be bathed first and then they each read a story and put them to bed and then Beverly left to go grocery shopping. He said he fell asleep watching TV, and when he woke up, Beverly had not returned. The Winnipeg Free Press reported that his voice cracked with emotion, as he said,
Starting point is 01:08:38 she left, and I never saw her again. He said he assumed she had come home and just left him sleeping. He paced for a while pretty sure there was something wrong, but trying to convince himself there wasn't before arriving at the conclusion that she must have had an accident. And that's when he called the RCMP. On cross examination, the crown prosecutor pointed out
Starting point is 01:09:04 that this version of the story he told on the stand was more fleshed out than the version he gave to police straight after Beverly's death, and there were also details that were different. For example, on the stand, he said he'd fall in a sleep watching baseball on TV. But in his original police statement, he said he'd been watching TV and had heard one of his sons making restless noises, so he went and laid down with him and fell asleep there. Another example the Crown pointed out was that he told police that he'd spent most of the weekend before Beverly's murder doing general household chores.
Starting point is 01:09:44 But at trial, his account was much more detailed and included the fact that he put away a garden hose for winter. The crown suggested that he added those details later to make it less likely that he hose down the yard. In response, Mark told the crown that he hadn't been asked for more detail at the time, and also he'd been in a state of shock. He said, quote, I was doing the best I could then, and I'm doing the best I can now. He said that after getting the news of Beverly's death, he just wanted to, quote, crawl in
Starting point is 01:10:20 a hole and die, but he knew his boys needed him. He was then asked to describe how he felt when the RCMP told him Beverly was killed in their backyard as he slept, and he broke down, describing it as confirmation of his worst fears. Quote, Amanda was 50 to 60 feet away when she was killed. What it means is I should have been able to stop it. I was completely useless in helping her. He then became so overwhelmed with emotion that Court had to take a 15-minute break.
Starting point is 01:10:54 When they returned, he apologized. The Court heard that soon after Beverly's death, Mark installed flood lights in the backyard and bought a large guard dog, as he believed someone must have been stalking the family. He said he had to do something to protect him and the boys from whatever was out there. But the crown pointed out that his efforts fell short. He didn't change the locks, and he didn't cancel the credit cards. She suggested it was because he knew his wife hadn't actually been robbed.
Starting point is 01:11:29 The crown grilled him on his whole story. Mark maintained that while his wife was being brutally murdered in the backyard, he was asleep and he didn't hear the attack or any crime scene clean up. The crown put it to him that he would have been able to hear Beverly yelling. In response, Mark said he didn't know if she did yell or if she was prevented from yelling. All he knew was that he didn't hear anything. So, what about the bike? Mark was asked about the reports of a large man cycling on the night believed to be the same night Beverly was murdered. He said that at the time, he weighed about 280 pounds or 130 kilograms.
Starting point is 01:12:14 The crown suggested that this meant Beverly would be no match for him in a physical struggle. He replied, quote, we never had a physical struggle. He called himself lazy and a slug and said that physical exertion is something he preferred to avoid. He said that he'd been on a bike only a handful of times, and the farthest he'd ever ridden while living in Manitoba was to the mailbox. Beverly's wallet, gold watch, and $7,000 diamond engagement ring were missing. Mark told the police that she would have been wearing the ring when she was murdered.
Starting point is 01:12:54 Her wallet and Goldwatch had been found, but the ring was never recovered. Mark testified about the value of the ring, and while he did try to make a claim with Manitoba public insurance for the Crown Victoria, their family sedan that Beverly was found in, he never actually put a claim in for the ring. The Crown said that it was because, quote, it wasn't stolen, you took it off her hand before you brutally killed her. Mark denied it and said he wasn't concerned about its value, only his wife's loss. She accused him of ransacking Beverly's purse to make it look like she was attacked in the middle of a robbery. Mark Stobys's cross-examination by independent Crown Prosecutor Wendy Dawson went for six
Starting point is 01:13:47 days and was described as intense. During questioning, she attempted to get Mark to admit that Beverly was under extreme stress before her death and accused him of lying to the jury about the state of his marriage. But Mark said it was just that he was working too much and she wanted him home more. He admitted that Beverly felt isolated and a bit trapped in their new house and that she would often yell and could be blunt and difficult. Again, he brought up her monthly period. He said she was just upset that
Starting point is 01:14:21 he worked such long hours and didn't do more around the house, but she also understood the demands of his career. He testified that she often left a list of chores that she instructed him to do. The crown suggested he was upset at being bossed around by his wife, but he disagreed. According to the Canadian press, at one point during questioning about his wife being stressed, Mark chuckled. When he was asked why he was laughing, he said, quote, it's your determination to put a spin on what I think has been put clearly by myself. The crown also accused him of writing their family cards new Manitoba number plate down on a business card that was found.
Starting point is 01:15:07 And suggested the reason he did it was so he would remember the number plate when he reported his wife missing. He denied it, saying he had no idea who wrote that on the back of his business card. He was asked about whether he'd chopped wood in the backyard with a hatchet. He confirmed that he did, and then joked that he was often scared he was going to not be careful enough and lose a finger. The crown showed Mark that towel with a small blood stains that matched his DNA, that police took from his garage. He said that he used it to wipe up a shaving cut.
Starting point is 01:15:46 The crown suggested that the cut wasn't from shaving, it was from injuries he sustained while chopping at his wife's head with a hatchet. Mark was quick with his reply. Quote, I sustained no injury chopping at my wife's head with a hatchet, for the very simple reason that I never chopped at my wife's head with a hatchet, for the very simple reason that I never chopped at my wife's head with a hatchet. The crown pointed out that Mark had testified about what Beverly was wearing that day in great detail, and suggested there was only one reason for that level of detail. Quote, you remember what she was wearing that night because you murdered her and moved
Starting point is 01:16:22 her body to the car. All media outlets covering the case reported on how the court was extremely tense because of this long and intense cross-examination. At one point, Mark described himself as feeling like, quote, goldilocks's porridge. The crown accused him of making up his entire story. Beverly had a job interview the next morning. She usually went to bed at 10pm and she spent more money on a weekly shop than she usually did. So why did she need to go out again? Mark admitted they had plenty of groceries in the home, but stated,
Starting point is 01:17:01 quote, I've concocted no story. On the fifth day of cross-examination, the judge warned her that her questioning was dangerously close to being abusive. It was getting to be too much, and although the judge could see that she was hoping Mark would break down and confess, after five days it was highly unlikely. Things wrapped up on day six. Inclusing arguments, defense lawyer Tim Colleen reiterated the evidence was all circumstantial and ended their case with his own theory, which was,
Starting point is 01:17:36 someone else, maybe an intruder or a drugged up stranger, came across Beverly in the backyard, then covered her mouth to stop her screaming and bludgeoned her 16 times with the hatchet, then moved her into the garage, put her in the car and hit her again, made an attempt to clean up the garage and then drove the car to the gas station. The defense told the jury that the unknown male DNA found on her purse that didn't match Mark or their sons was likely from the real killer. And because of this, the jury should return a verdict
Starting point is 01:18:12 of not guilty. Quote, at the end of the day, I don't know who did this. I don't know what happened or whose DNA was on that purse. Nobody does. The world unfortunately is full of bizarre people. We really have no idea what occurred here. In the Crowns closing arguments, Prosecutor Wendy Dawson called it a near-perfect murder. When Mark was able to use his intelligence, strategic know-how, communications experience and ability to stay calm under pressure to cover up the killing. While no motor weapon was ever found, there were no eye witnesses to the killing and it was an overwhelmingly circumstantial case, the crown said it was still anchored by forensic evidence. As for motive, she said there was none, but there were numerous stress factors which likely triggered the deadly attack.
Starting point is 01:19:09 Quote, in October 2000, all was not rosy. She was not the happy, cheerful person Mr. Stoby claimed her to be. So he allegedly attacked Beverly with a hatchet and a fit of rage, and while she tried to fight him off, three of her fingers were severed. The crown said that as for the unknown DNA on the purse, it was just trace DNA and could have come from casual contact from anyone. She betrayed Mark as being dishonest, highly strategic, and trying to manipulate at every turn. honest, highly strategic and trying to manipulate at every turn. Quote, when you consider all the circumstantial evidence being weaved together, one with the other, layer upon layer, you may find that guilt is the only logical conclusion. The trial lasted for eight weeks and heard from about 80 witnesses.
Starting point is 01:20:07 The jury found him not guilty. 54-year-old Mark Stoby was a free man. The judge took the time to tell him that his sons resembled him and he should make them his priority to quote, honor her memory for them. Outside court, Mark said he was relieved by the verdict, but he was also expecting the jury to find him not guilty once they heard the full story. He said he felt like he had a fair trial and acknowledged that there were likely some people who still feel he got away with murder.
Starting point is 01:20:41 Quote, I wouldn't wish this on anybody, there will always be some who are unconvinced, the decision speaks for itself. When asked about who he thought the real killer was, he said he'd like to know, but the judge said it's not his job to investigate so he has no plans to search himself. When asked about what he has planned next, he said, quote, Get on with my life, raising my children, you know, one lives. He said he was very proud of his sons and knows that their mother would be too. But, there is another side to this. Beverly's family, represented by her older sister's Betty Robotham and Barb Kilpatrick.
Starting point is 01:21:31 At first just said they were shocked and saddened by the verdict because they'd waited 12 years for justice. Several days later, they held a press conference to discuss it, and Betty nodded towards a display of photos of Beverly. Her sisters said it was clear who they thought the real killer was. They expected Mark Stoby to be found guilty by the jury, so the verdict caught the family off guard.
Starting point is 01:21:59 Barb said they were shocked that a jury of intelligent people came to that conclusion. Quote, I mean, look at the evidence did somebody travel from space land in the backyard and do this? The sisters called Marks a Quittle a Travesty and said domestic violence must be stopped. Betty added, quote, Here's our little sister, a beautiful strong woman, with so much to offer and so much to give, and not only is she chopped up and murdered, but she's callously thrown in the backseat of a car like a broken old doll.
Starting point is 01:22:34 Betty said she began to suspect Mark when no progress was being made to catch her sister's killer. Quote, I started thinking, this is a man who makes things happen in his profession and in his life and nothing was happening in terms of finding the killer of moving the case forward. The sisters said the circumstances, namely the fact that Beverly was killed in her own backyard, as well as the killer's efforts to clean up and transport the body to another location, all pointed to Mark Stoby. As for Mark's repeated denials while on the stand, Barb dismissed it as trickery and said his words and actions were not that of a grieving husband.
Starting point is 01:23:19 He was also described as too talkative and laughing at times. That said, the sisters praised the work of the RCMP and the Crown prosecutors who were able to bring the matter to trial after so many years. As for further action, the sisters said they would like to see an appeal but would leave that decision to the Crown. When asked if they felt a sense of closure now, Betty said she doesn't think closure is ever possible. Quote, Beav is always going to be dead. She is not coming back.
Starting point is 01:23:54 What we do hope is that there's going to be some accountability. She said that they don't have direct contact with Mark himself anymore. But moving forward, their biggest priority was to keep Beverly's memory alive and make sure her two boys remembered her. Quote, we want them to know that she liked to dance, that she loved cats, and that she was a good auntie. After the trial, the Winnipeg Free Press revealed that the trial itself had issues before it even began. And this is why there was such a long time, eight years, between the murder and Mark Stoby's arrest. Before the trial, people believed there must have been some new smoking gun evidence that had been uncovered
Starting point is 01:24:44 that allowed the charges to be laid. But there was no additional evidence and this isn't what happened at all. As you remember, because of potential conflicts of interest with Mark having worked for the government, Manitoba Justice decided to hire out-of-proven prosecutors to lay charges. But behind the scenes, several prosecutors from Alberta decided they didn't believe the evidence was strong enough to even charge Mark Stoby in the first place. So, the case was taken to a fifth crown prosecutor from British Columbia who reviewed the exact same evidence and recommended a charge of second degree murder.
Starting point is 01:25:26 So there was no new evidence, and even the lawyer who ended up prosecuting the case was upfront about the fact that the case against Mark was entirely circumstantial, or be it backed by forensic evidence. The Crown announced that after careful consideration, they decided there were no grounds for appeal of the not guilty verdict. This decision devastated Beverly's family, who sister Barb told the press that the appeal was their last hope. Quote, there's no justice for Bev.
Starting point is 01:26:00 But at the same time, they understood, and they thanked the Crown prosecutors, the community, and their family and friends for their support. Mark Stoby went on to write a book about his two-month stint in jail before he was released on bail. The book was released in March of 2013. By this time, he was living in Saskatchewan with his two teenage sons, and he said he'd never returned to his job with the arts organization and had been unemployed since his acquittal. He described himself as essentially unemployable and broke from the legal bills. He said he sold the family home and drained his government pension plan to pay for his defense. He said he briefly considered seeking compensation, but was advised that it only applied to people
Starting point is 01:26:52 wrongfully convicted. As for the boys, he said they've coped well and should be allowed to just go and live their life. In 2018, he would tell the Winnipeg Free Press that he believed the high-profile nature of the case was the reason he was arrested, because there was pressure on the justice system. He also said that he had moved on from the trial and wasn't interested in discussing memories of his wife. Quote, I'm actually not going to do that. I've learned whenever I do that, the haters come out of the woodwork. According to the Winnipeg Free Press, as of 2018, Mark
Starting point is 01:27:33 Stoby had remarried. He also returned to university, completed his PhD and teacher's sociology. In recent years, he's written several more books about the Canadian criminal justice system and has been active in promoting it online, including in the old Canadian True Crime Facebook discussion group. It's surprising to see that one thing he hasn't been active at promoting is any kind of call for justice for the heinous murder of Beverly Robotham, his wife, and mother of his two sons. After the trial and the not guilty verdict, the Winnipeg son had published a column titled
Starting point is 01:28:17 Beav's Killer Shaw Was Tidy, where author Tom Broadbeck pointed out what a spectacularly discreet killer this must have been. Quote, after all, not only did he have the courtesy of removing her body from the yard where he killed her, he cleaned up after himself too. The author went on to write, quote, it's unclear why a random killer would jump into Robotham's yard. Bloods in her with a hatchet place her body into a vehicle, clean up after the murder, and drive the victim to cellcook. But according to evidence submitted in court, that's what happened. End quote. The RCMP confirmed that they had no suspects in the case and that it was no longer under investigation.
Starting point is 01:29:05 And that is how it remains. On the 18th anniversary of Beverly's murder in 2018, her sisters Betty and Barb gave their own update to the Winnipeg Free Press. They spoke about the bond that they shared as three sisters, a bond that started when Bev was the baby of the family and continued into adulthood. Barb described Beverly as just a good, kind, caring person. They said that every fall or autumn is difficult because the season brings about the anniversary of Beverly's death.
Starting point is 01:29:46 Something they described as a quote, crime of real violence, it was a crime of rage. They described Beverly as a very intelligent woman, someone who was so passionate about what she believed in, and one of the things she was passionate about was the issue of violence against women. Quote, when the E. Cole Polytechnic massacre happened, that really affected her. And she really became a champion for women because she found violence against women appalling.
Starting point is 01:30:16 She would have been uphold that she was a victim of violence because that is something that's so horrified her. because that is something that's so horrified her. Today marks the 23rd anniversary of the murder of Beverly Robotham. Her headstone reads, forever loved, forever remembered. membered. Thanks for listening. As well as court documents, this episode has relied on the reporting of the Winnipeg Free Press, CTV Manitoba, CBC Manitoba, and Global News. For full credits and resources, see the page for this episode
Starting point is 01:31:07 at slash episodes. We donate regularly to Canadian organizations helping those who have experienced injustice. And this month, we're donating in Beverly Robotham's name to a cause that she likely would have supported too. The Alpha House project provides safe, long-term housing and programming to women and children who have experienced domestic or family violence in Winnipeg. This is an important service and causes like these need our donations more than ever
Starting point is 01:31:39 right now. To learn about this one, visit There's a link in the show notes. Thanks to the host of True for voicing the disclaimer, and also to We Talk of Dreams, who composed the theme song. I'll be back soon with another Canadian True Crime Story. See you then. you

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