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

Okanagan residents can win ride in army vehicle

A social media campaign offers the chance to win a ride in the Dragoons armoured vehicle

Reel Reviews: War from both sides of the desk

We say, “Forgive these films their faults and they will be entertaining enough.”

Residents should keep air intakes clear of snow

Silver Star Fire Department is encouraging residens to keep their air intakes clear after snowfall

Provincial program offers assistance to agricultural producers

AgriStability Enhancement Program benefits agricultural producers who saw an income decline in 2017

‘Backs game cancelled due to weather

Match-up against Merritt called off as heavy snow creates treacherous roads

Your Feb. 19 Morning Brief

Check out the top stories of the day in the Okanagan-Shuswap with Carmen Weld’s Black Press Morning Brief.

BCHL Today: Langley enjoys home ice while roller coast ride continues for Chilliwack Chiefs

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Federal government to fight solitary confinement ruling from B.C. court

B.C. Supreme Court decided to end the practice of solitary confinement in Canadian prisons

Hedley withdraws from Junos, plans to discuss ‘how we have let some people down’

Hedley was dropped by their label last week after sexual misconduct accusations

OLYMPIC ROUNDUP: B.C. takes home gold in two-man bobsleigh

Women’s hockey team beats Russia 5-0, Comox skier takes home best qualifying score

Calgary man dies in Mexico following sudden illness

Troy Black was with his wife, Lindsay, in Puerto Vallarta when he began vomiting blood on Thursday

Virtue and Moir break their own world record

Virtue and Moir break short dance record to sit first in ice dance at Olympics

Trump gets angry about election meddling, but not at Russia

‘Weirdest thing’: Trump expresses anger, but not over Russian election-meddling

Most Read