Jury hears about intensive search for Shirran

Rosie
Rosie Gillingham
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Accused murderer David Folker knew where she was, but denied he did

There were dozens of officers and volunteers, as well as dogs, helicopters and boats.

An RNC surveillance photo taken in August 2010 shows David Folker walking into a wooded area in the Blackhead Road area. — Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram

In the weeks following Ann Marie Shirran’s disappearance in the summer of 2010, police used whatever manpower and time they had to try to find her.

“We utilized all methods and all resources at hand,” RNC Sgt. Hubert Hall said Friday while testifying at the murder trial of Shirran’s boyfriend, David Folker, at Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John’s.

Hall — co-ordinator of the search and rescue unit — told the jury that numerous resources were put to use for the extensive search, which began shortly after Shirran was reported missing July 18, 2010.

Hall said several RNC officers, along with volunteer Rovers and members of the Ontario Provincial Police with K-9 units, were doing ground searches, while helicopters searched from the air and marine crews scoured the ocean shoreline around Cape Spear and Shea Heights.

All along, Folker knew where she was.

He had reported the 32-year-old missing and insisted to police and her family that he didn’t know what had happened to her.

The truth was, Shirran was dead and Folker had dumped her body.

Last week, on the second day of his trial, Folker admitted she had died as a result of a physical altercation between them on July 18, 2010. He also conceded he disposed of her body in Cappahayden and her personal items in a wooded area near Blackhead Road.

However, he’s maintaining his not-guilty pleas to charges of second-degree murder and interfering with a dead human body.

On Friday, Hall told the court he was asked to get involved in the search on July 22, 2010.

He said since studies show that the majority of people reported missing from residential areas are found within a 300-metre radius, officers first scoured the area around the couple’s Kilbride apartment.

Over the next few days, the search expanded to include Bowring Park, Pitts Memorial Drive and the Cochrane Pond area, with officers checking fields, meadows and culverts.

Then, on Aug. 9, the search focused on the area of Blackhead Road and Maddox Cove, on the way to Cape Spear.

That’s after RNC surveillance unit members spotted Folker driving there several times.

Photos taken of Folker were presented in court. Some show him parked in the area, others show him walking in the woods.

Using large maps placed on an easel in the courtroom, Hall showed jurors the expansive area that was searched, including the spot where Folker was seen coming out of a densely wooded area.

Nothing of interest was found until Aug. 22, Hall said.

On that day, Rovers found two grey moving blankets and a blue recycling bag near the intersection of Blackhead Road and Maddox Cove, just south of the area they had been searching. The items were located in a wooded area, about 430 metres from the road.

Hall said search and rescue personnel were also deployed to the area of Cappahayden on Sept. 6, shortly after human remains were discovered by campers.

The trial continues Monday, when RNC forensic specialists are expected to take the stand.

rgillingham@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelyCourt

Organizations: Newfoundland Supreme Court, Ontario Provincial Police

Geographic location: Blackhead Road, Bowring Park

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