Two years after murder conviction, Laura Babcock's family obtains death certificate
Seven years after their daughter disappeared, the parents of murder victim Laura Babcock were back in court receiving a death certificate.
The 23-year-old was murdered by Dellen Millard, her former lover, and his friend Mark Smich.
Her body was never found, but the prosecution believed it had been incinerated by the pair on Millard’s farm.
In late 2017, a jury found both men guilty of her murder, but because there was no body the family did not obtain a death certificate from the Office of the Coroner.
“This is a very unusual circumstance,” Chief Coroner of Ontario Dr. Dirk Huyer said.
“Juries decide criminal matters, my understanding when a jury decides someone has murdered somebody when there isn’t a body that would not be a finding of death.”
The Office of the Attorney General took steps this week to help the grieving Babcock family in their search for answers.
“No one wants grieving families of murder victims to have to prolong the difficult and public court process they experience,” spokesperson Brian Gray said.
The assistance comes as Babcock’s family found themselves back in the same courthouse where the trial was held, but this time they were asking for a declaration of death order.
“When Crown prosecutors became aware of this unforeseen problem that the family had encountered, they took immediate action and obtained a declaration of death order in regard to Laura Babcock from the court on Aug. 12, 2019,” Gray said.
Millard is serving three consecutive life sentences for the murders of Babcock, his father Wayne Millard and Hamilton father Time Bosma. Smich was also convicted in the murder of Bosma.
Justice Michael Code of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice said that because Babcock “disappeared in circumstances of peril” and “there is sufficient evidence to find that Babcock was murdered by Dellen Millard and Mark Smich” an order was that “Babcock is declared to have died as of July 3, 2012 for all purposes.”
Gray said efforts are being made to fix what the Babcock family had to encounter.
“In order to save families from publicly reliving their grief again after a heart-wrenching murder trial, the Ministry of the Attorney General is looking at ways of facilitating the issuance of a declaration of death in such cases upon conviction.”