In Regina cold case trial, accused killer's ex-wife says she was asked to help move body
The murder trial for Joseph Thauberger resumed Thursday, with testimony from his then wife Barbara Hayes.
Thauberger stands accused of killing his brother, who was reported missing to police in 1997.
Hayes took the stand for the Crown, telling the court the events she remembered from Sept. 3 1997.
Hayes said she ran a daycare in the basement of 2721 Francis St., where she and the accused lived at the time.
On the day of the alleged incident, she said she was taking care of five children.
“I did notice James and Pat and Joe in the driveway, the windows were very large and high, they were talking. James left, Pat and Joe came in the house, went upstairs,” she told the courtroom. She believed that James was dropping Patrick off so he could take him back to the bus stop.
She remembered carrying on with the children, and at about lunchtime, she went upstairs to get something from the cupboard, and saw Patrick reclining on the couch with his arm on the back.
“We waved and said hi to each other,” she recalled.
She then testified that she went back downstairs, to take care of the children, and 10 minutes later heard a “tremendous crash, like an elephant was going to come through the ceiling.”
Hayes told court the children all looked up and asked what the noise was. She said she heard Patrick saying, ‘No, no, no.’
“I heard it very plainly, it seemed loud to me,” she said.
She said she waited 30 seconds then went up to the basement door, which was locke, something she recalled never occurred in her house before.
Hayes testified to banging on the door and asking Joseph Thauberger, “What have you done?” To which she said he responded, “Go back downstairs.”
She said she remembers waiting no more than a couple minutes before returning downstairs to care for the children.
Hayes testified that she remained in the basement for the rest of the day. She didn’t recall when the children left but remembers around the time it got dark, 8:30 p.m. she estimates, Joseph called for her.
She described him as looking like he was ready to go to the farm, with a plaid jacket and rubber boots.
"He asked me if I could help him move him,” she told the Crown. The lawyer asked, ‘Who, Pat?”
“That’s who he meant,” she said.
“Maybe I said no, maybe it was just my inside voice that said no, I just stood at the bottom of the stairs,” she told the courtroom.
She testified saying there was a blue carpet that was rolled up at the top of the stairs, and believed Patrick’s body was wrapped in the rolled up carpet.
Hayes added that Joseph had a hard time moving the carpet and testified she never saw the carpet again.
She said she went upstairs to make sure Joseph did not hit the railing, then went back downstairs.
Though the timeline she recalled was fuzzy as she stated, the occurrence of events she is sure of.
During her testimony, she said she finally went upstairs later in the night, tired and wanting sleep. She saw the cupboard door that had a gash in it that wasn’t there before and saw shoe skid marks on the floor of the kitchen.
She cannot recall when Joseph came back and what day they spoke again.
The home of Joseph Thauberger, 2721 Francis St. (Gareth Dillistone)
Later in cross-examination, Hayes said she thought maybe the crash had happened in the kitchen, since she saw the gash in the cupboard door and saw the shoe marks in the kitchen.
However, now looking at it, she is not certain it happened in the kitchen, and cannot confirm where the crash happened.
Hayes testified to a conversation in the days following, probably in the afternoon, in the kitchen where she and Joseph spoke about the incident.
She said she asked him why and how he could kill his brother.
“He pounded his chest, and said, ‘I’m proud of what I did, I put down a sick dog or animal,’” saying that his tone changed, his facial expression was grim, not angry but determined.
It made her feel “gobsmacked.”
She then asked what he did with the body, to which she testified he said, “If you run over a body with a tractor and some kind of implement I can’t remember, enough times, there’s nothing left of it,” in a neutral tone.
She told court she didn’t have the words to describe how devastated she was to think about Patrick being ground up, applied it to herself.
“I was frightened to death.”
When asked what happened after those comments she said, “I don’t remember anything for two years and three months.”
Hayes was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1999, and that is when she started remembering again.
She added that once she left Joseph in 2010, he threatened her in 2011 to not tell the cops so she wrote a letter, which she later gave to police.
During testimony, the Crown asked if Joseph and Patrick had any altercations and Hayes recalled them owning farmland together and Pat being “unwell.” He was on leave from his job at the time.
The defence asked questions in regards to the timeline, what happened and if Hayes could recall as facts, what happened, when, and how.
As to why Hayes waited years to come forward with a testimony, she said she was scared for her life and felt threatened by Joe coming home from his daughter Fran’s wedding in 2011.
She left Thaughberger in 2010 to move to Alberta and take care of her children.
On the way back to Regina from the wedding in Yorkton, Hayes recalls Joe realizing she was never coming back to him.
She testified that he said, “If I ever go to jail because of you, I will kill you, and if I can’t do it, I have people who will. You have no idea how powerful I am, don’t say no to me.”
According to Hayes, Joseph Thaughberger owned a significant amount of property, though he never had it in his name. He demanded she sign over the property he put in her name to his children and made sure it was done sometime in the year that followed.
Hayes was scared for her life, especially after that conversation, she told the courtroom.
“It seemed like a promise, not a threat.”
Because of this, she then documented everything she could remember on Sept. 3rd, 1997 and the days that followed leading to the conversation in the kitchen.
“I felt very threatened, I wrote a letter, that I kept at my house, describing everything that had happened, in the event that I should disappear,” Hayes said.
She wrote a second letter in 2014 and eventually gave it to her lawyer, whom she presumed handed it over to police at a later date.
Hayes said she thinks about the events of that day continuously and once she was arrested felt “relief that I could unburden this horrible secret.”
Hayes was never charged with accessory to murder and became a witness for the crown after her statement to police.
“Most of this has gone over in my head every day for 25 and three-quarter years,” Hayes said.
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