Trial hears woman’s body buried in home mummified in mixture of cat litter, salt

Calgary man accused of killing, burying wife in home

CALGARY — The Crown says a man accused of killing his wife confessed to undercover officers that he strangled her and buried her body in the basement of the home they shared with their two children.

The trial of Allan Shyback, who is charged with second-degree murder and causing an indignity to a body, began Tuesday. He is accused of killing Lisa Mitchell, 31, who was last seen walking from her house to a convenience store in October 2012.

An undercover operation police launched in 2013 ended with Shyback’s arrest in Winnipeg a year later.

“It ended on Dec. 5, 2014, with the accused confessing to have killed Lisa Mitchell by strangling her to death,” prosecutor Heather Morris said in her opening statement.

“The accused took significant steps to cover up the death and cover up his role in the death. At the end of the day, the Crown will prove the accused intended to cause the death of Lisa Mitchell.”

Mitchell’s mother told the judge hearing the case that her daughter and Shyback had a “volatile” on-again, off-again relationship.

Peggy Mitchell said she usually talked to her daughter two or three times a week and last saw her Oct. 28, 2012. She became worried when Lisa didn’t show up for a shift at a bar in Longview, Alta., the following weekend.

Mitchell testified that Shyback told her he had gone to the store and, when he returned 20 minutes later, his wife was gone.

The mother received an email that same day saying her daughter had met someone and had to get away. 

“It seemed to make sense but it wasn’t her. It wasn’t personal. It wasn’t the way she spoke.”

Mitchell was also suspicious over a voice mail on her phone at 2:45 a.m. on Nov. 15, 2012.

“Hey, I’m OK,” a woman’s voice said on the tape. “Sometimes my weeks get crazy, you know, and it was quiet for a while, and then all of a sudden this happened and, within a half a day, I should, but he’s back now and I gotta go. Love you,” the voicemail continued.

“She wouldn’t have called me at that time. She would have called me when we maybe could have spoken,” Mitchell said.

“It was just like her words … (but) it was totally, totally off.”

Shyback admitted in an agreed statement of facts filed with the court to using previously collected recordings of his wife’s voice to create the message left on Peggy Mitchell’s phone.

Court heard a search of the crime scene that included the home’s computer revealed an Internet history on how body decomposition is affected by salt, lye, concrete, lack of air and lack of insect activity.

Alberta’s assistant medical examiner at the time said Mitchell’s body was brought into the autopsy room in two plastic tubs and appeared to be encased in white pellets.

“I believe it was a mixture of cat litter … mixed in with salt tablets,” said Dr. Jeffery Gofton.

The cause of death appeared to be a fractured thyroid cartilage, he said.

“The body was diffusely discoloured in a brown appearance. I believe it was that of mummification which typically has more of a leathery appearance or leathery texture.”

Police Const. Karl Sudyk described the eventual recovery of the body from the basement.

He said a number of containers were packed on top of a fresh cement structure.

“It (the cement) was removed with brute force … sledgehammers, picks, air chisel, hammers,” said Sudyk.

Police found a blue plastic container sitting on a blanket with Mitchell’s body inside.

Sudyk said cat litter, bleach, detergent, air freshener and a water conditioning soap were found.

— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Dumping at Shaw Road “disgusting”

CSRD praises volunteers, wants illegal dumpers prosecuted

Sicamous pulls out of CSRD economic committee

District launches its own economic development corporation on Jan. 1, 2018

Controlled burns taking place across Okanagan

That smoke you see on Okanagan hillsides is supposed to be there

Slideshow: Shuswap Stars sparkle on the dance floor

Stunning choreography raises funds for new chalet at Larch Hills

Big White to send off Olympians in style

Okanagan ski resort picked as location for official send-off of Canada’s 2018 Winter Olympic team

Video: Shuswap stars shine for Larch Hills

Competitors dance to the tune of $30,000 for the chalet expansion

Serious home invasion reported in Kamloops

Two people are in hospital with serious injuries following a home invasion

Cash donations create purchasing power

Salvation Army and food banks stretch a donated dollar a long way

B.C. reporter reflects on covering Charles Manson

Charles Manson, leader of a murderous cult, died on Sunday at 83

ICBC overbilling for crash repairs not the problem, dealers say

Collision repair shops reject union claim of inflated costs

B.C. groups to address child sex abuse in sports

viaSport is organizing a full day of education in association with Canadian Centre for Child Protection and the Coaching Association of Canada.

Silver Star opens Thursday

Vernon’s ski hill has plenty of snow and plenty of fun packed for opening weekend

Report sets exercise guidelines for young kids, including ‘tummy time’ for babies

Kids aged one to four should get at least three hours of physical activity throughout the day

Stampeders return to Grey Cup with 32-28 win over Edmonton Eskimos

The Stampeders will face the Toronto Argonauts next Sunday in Ottawa for the title

Most Read