On the evening of May 6, 2005, a farmer near Sherwood Park, Alta., just east of Edmonton, was preparing a stubble field for cultivation when something out of the ordinary caught his eye. Through his filthy windscreen, he spotted a pale mass in the distance, faintly illuminated by his tractor’s headlights. Unsure of what he was seeing, he got out of his tractor and stood on the tire, then clicked on his flashlight, sweeping its beam through the darkness. What he was looking at, he eventually realized, was a pair of grey sweatpants. They cloaked a partially decomposed body.
The farmer called the RCMP, then parked alongside the highway to await their arrival.
Investigators conducted a perimeter search the following morning. They placed paper bags over the head, hands and bare, dirty, straw-covered feet to preserve evidence. Two days later, the medical examiner would determine that the victim, Ellie