Wayne Millard was found dead in his bed in November 2012 — a bullet lodged in his brain.
The death of the 71-year-old wealthy businessman was initially ruled a suicide. Two years later, police charged his son, Dellen Millard, with first-degree murder.
The 32-year-old, who is serving two consecutive life sentences for two separate murders, has pleaded not guilty to the charge.
RELATED: Twice convicted killer Dellen Millard to be tried for father’s murder
As Dellen Millard’s murder trial gets underway Thursday, family members say they’re struggling to make sense of the ordeal.
“I’m sick over all this,” said Peter Roberts, who remembered his cousin Wayne Millard as a generous, caring man.
Roberts recalled asking the elder Millard for help when his ailing mother wanted to spend her final days in her own home. His cousin paid nearly $100,000 for round-the-clock care for about a year, Roberts said.
“It was such a delight to talk to him,” he said. “All of a sudden I have a guy to go to talk to, like a mentor. Then he’s gone.”
Wayne Millard was the owner of Millardair, an aviation company based near Waterloo, Ont., that he inherited from his father.
According to court documents and pre-trial motions, it was Dellen Millard who found his father’s body in the home the two shared in Toronto’s west end on Nov. 29, 2012. He then called his mother, Madeleine Burns — his parents had separated in 1990 and divorced in 1996 — and told her Wayne Millard was dead, court documents show.
Burns went to the house and then called 911, court documents show.
In May 2013, months after friends and family had gathered to remember Wayne Millard, his son was arrested for the murder of Tim Bosma, of Hamilton, who disappeared after leaving his house with two men who asked to test drive a truck he posted for sale online.
Soon after Dellen Millard’s arrest, police reopened the case of his father’s death. They still had the gun that was found beside his bed, court has heard. They tested the gun and found Dellen Millard’s DNA on the handle, court documents show. Last year, a gun trafficker pleaded guilty to selling Dellen Millard the revolver.
In 2016, Dellen Millard and his friend, Mark Smich, were found guilty of first-degree murder in Bosma’s death and received life sentences. The jury heard that the pair killed Bosma and burned his body in an animal incinerator.
Millard and Smich were also later convicted — and sentenced to life — in the murder of Laura Babcock, a young Toronto woman who vanished in the summer of 2012 and whose case was also reopened by police following Millard’s arrest in Bosma’s disappearance.
Millard’s third murder trial will be in front of a judge alone. Ontario’s attorney general agreed the man’s notoriety would make it difficult to find fair jurors, thus granting the rare request to hold a first-degree murder trial without a jury.
Millard’s defence, according to court documents, will be that his father killed himself. A portion of the trial is expected to focus on Wayne Millard’s state of mind at the time of his death.
The elder Millard loved aviation and animals.
In 1982, just days after he was arrested for filming baby seals being clubbed to death, he flew a small crew back into the area to get onto the ice near the beaches of P.E.I.
Wayne Millard had the means — a plane, a helicopter and money to burn — for the venture. He and Burns, who would later become his wife, were making a film about the seal hunt with the help of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society founder Paul Watson.
“He was very incensed about the seal hunt,” Watson said. “He stuck to his ground and didn’t give in. He was persistent, passionate and he was dedicated.”
Wayne Millard was a longtime Air Canada pilot before getting involved with Millardair. He once sued Air Canada because they suspended him for growing his hair too long, said Dennis Chadala, who wrote a book about his years with Millardair.
“Wayne was a kind man who trained me on many different kinds of planes and we had a kinship in that we were banded together in order to handle his father, Carl, who was a real tough boss,” Chadala said. “But he was also a rabble-rouser.”
After his father died in 2006, Wayne Millard took over Millardair, but the company wasn’t doing well. He embarked on a project to transform Millardair into a maintenance, repair and overhaul operation and secured a massive hangar at the Region of Waterloo International Airport. He told others, including his cousin Roberts, that he was doing it so his son could run it one day.
Shortly after Wayne Millard was found dead, his son fired everyone at Millardair and wound the business down.
In an obituary published in the Toronto Star in 2012, Dellen Millard called his dad a generous man.
“His hope was for a time when co-operation would be the norm and competition was only friendly,” he wrote. “He was patient and stubborn … He believed animal welfare was a humanitarian effort. He was a good man in a careless world. He was my father.”
The Canadian Press