Warning: This story contains graphic details that may disturb some readers.
A B.C. Supreme Court judge has found a man guilty of manslaughter in the August 2015 death and dismembering of a Creston woman.
"The actions that he took, particularly with respect to the dismemberment of the body, were, by any measure, extreme and beyond the pale," Justice James Williams said Nov. 25.
"The act of taking the body and attacking it with a hacksaw, rendering it into a number of pieces, must necessarily have taken some time and entailed a quite determined and elaborate effort," he said. "In addition to being unspeakably gruesome, actually performing the deed would have created a real risk of being detected."
Nathaniel David Jessup was charged with the second-degree murder of Katherine McAdam, 59. He was also charged with improperly or indecently interfering with or offering an indignity to a dead human body or by dismembering her remains and leaving them in a bicycle trailer. Manslaughter is a lesser, included offence that can be determined based on intent.
The court heard that McAdam was last seen early on the morning of Aug. 15, 2015.
Neighbour Shirley Ottley said she saw Jessup later that day using the laundry. She asked where McAdam was and was told, "She's not here right now."
That afternoon, upstairs neighbour Mrs. French went to McAdam's door and found a sign, not in her handwriting; it read "Very Sick Do Not Disturb."
She said a radio was playing loudly, which continued throughout the night.
McAdam's father, Norman Gowing, dropped by but got no answer. He arrived again the next day.
"Where is my daughter? What is happening?" French heard him saying, distraught.
French investigated and found Jessup, believed to be 28, in the laundry room. He was wearing a yellow rubber kitchen glove and holding another glove in that hand.
Upstairs neighbour Mr. Abbey testified he saw Jessup put a black suitcase with a fabric handle on a green and yellow bicycle trailer attached to a bike. Jessup then left.
Ottley reported McAdam missing on Aug. 18.
Officers went to the residence and then to the hospital, where they met Jessup. Video of that meeting showed Jessup wearing a dark or black short-sleeved shirt. The court heard the shirt had two vertical stripes running down the middle of the front.
"A shirt that is similar in appearance was later found in the bike trailer containing Ms. McAdam's remains," Williams said.
Ashley Pompu testified she saw Jessup on her family property at Erickson, just outside Creston. She said he was having a fire and had a bundle of bedding next to him.
Father Darryl Pompu went and told him to douse the fire. Their recollections of the dates conflicted with either Aug. 17 or Aug. 24.
It was on Aug. 24 that McAdam's landlady went to clean up the suite and found a carpet missing. Meanwhile, Jessup went to another Creston residence, that of Wayne Kolodychuk and asked for a place to stay.
Kolodychuk noticed "a pronounced and distinct ammonia smell on the suitcase" Jessup arrived with.
"In fact, he described that there was ammonia dripping from the luggage onto the carpet," Williams said, saying photos of the suitcase were consistent with Abbey's description of the case he saw Jessup with.
Police later found a case smelling of ammonia. It had blood on it and matched McAdam's DNA profile, the court heard.
On Aug. 27, police went to the Pompu property. They found a bicycle trailer with "a strong unpleasant smell." Inside, they found bags containing McAdam's body parts.
Nearby, police found a black backpack containing various items, including a welfare receipt in Jessup's name and a utility bill in his mother's name. A hacksaw was also found. McAdam's DNA was on the blade, the court heard.
Williams said the advanced state of decomposition frustrated a pathologist's efforts to determine the cause of death.
The carpet from the suite was found on the Pompu property, while blood matching McAdam's was found in her kitchen, bathroom and laundry room.
"I find that sometime Saturday, likely by midday or not long after, Ms. McAdam was dead, and Mr. Jessup, who had been there most of the time since Friday evening, had knowledge of and some active involvement in her death, an event that involved Ms. McAdam shedding a not insignificant amount of her blood in the suite, particularly in the area of the bathroom," Williams said.
The judge concluded the dismemberment was to destroy any evidence about McAdam's death, similar to the burning of the bedding and the efforts made to clean biological evidence from the suitcase at the Kolodychuk residence.
Williams said the "outrageous extent" Jessup went to destroy the evidence could have gone a long way to provide a basis to conclude he had murderous intent. But, the judge said, the truth of the whole situation remains unknown.
The judge could not conclude there was murderous intent, a finding necessary for murder.
"I have no reservation in concluding that there was a violent assault perpetrated upon Ms. McAdam by Mr. Jessup, and the results were fatal," Williams said.
But, he said, not every assault resulting in death occurs in circumstances where the assailant intended to cause the victim's death.
"The outcomes of violent assaults are not always predictable," Williams said.