Laura Babcock murder trial: What does it mean to have no body?

In the run-up to the Laura Babcock murder trial, which is supposed to get underway in October, I wanted to take some time to address some of the questions and issues that crop up regularly.

One of the first things people say about this case is, “But there’s no body” to which I usually respond, “Are you one of those people bothered by the fact there’s no body?” because I’m not.

To my mind, if someone disappears, and it’s completely out of character, they’re almost certainly dead. And please be clear here, I’m not talking about the classic “he went out for milk and never came back” scenario, where someone has reasons to want to start a new life. I’m talking about people who would be extremely unlikely to voluntarily disappear based on past behaviour.

I definitely think this is the case for Laura Babcock, who was close to her friends and family, even if she was having going through a rough stage in her relationship with her parents. She was a prolific texter and used social media daily. Her friends say it was very important to her to stay in touch.

By all accounts, Laura was not the type to decamp to Vegas on her own. And when you consider that, after her disappearance in the summer of 2012, that she never again used her bank and health cards, the inescapable conclusion is that she was dead.

I will admit that I find myself quite impatient with people who can’t accept this. I do understand that that most of the time their hope comes from a good place, namely not wanting to believe the worst or that something evil has happened. But in other cases, the motivation for claims that Laura Babcock is alive is far from benign. For reasons of their own, there are people who make it a habit to be contrarian in the most obtuse possible ways.

All that said, there’s no denying it’s way harder for prosecutors to prove murder without a body since a body can provide all sorts of evidence. A big piece of the puzzle is missing when there’s no body.

The special challenges of “no body” cases are the focus of this website called — what else? — — which is run by a former prosecutor, Thomas A. (Tad) DiBiase aka the “No Body” Guy. He took a special interest in the topic when he worked on a no body case. I haven’t read the site, but I’ve heard him interviewed and found his insights very helpful. If you’re curious about how no body cases proceed, you might want to check it out.

GQ’s Bitcoin article: Inside the £8 billion swindle

British-GQ-September-2016-463x600-9051798I don’t get it.

On its September 2016 cover, British GQ labels Craig Wright’s claim to be the inventor on Bitcoin a swindle, but then inside the author is still falling for parts of Wright’s con — the main one being that the late Dave Kleiman is a computer genius who could be the elusive Satoshi Nakamoto.

Pretty much everything we know about Kleiman comes from Wright and shouldn’t be trusted. There is absolutely nothing concrete to suggest Kleiman is the Bitcoin inventor. It’s almost comical when, along with the Wright claims about Kleiman, GQ cites the fact he was a guest commentator on security issues on CNN and ABC, that he had a lot of certificates from various courses he’d taken, and that he lived in the eastern US time zone as reasons for why he could well be Satoshi Nakamoto.

It’s just bizarre how much people want to believe this Wright and Kleiman tale when there’s zero proof to back it up and lots of evidence that Wright is a serial liar and a belligerent fool. As for Kleiman, I do not wish to suggest in any way that he is part of this con. He’s dead and can’t speak for himself, which makes it very easy for others, like Wright, to speak for him.

The GQ article doesn’t name Wright’s backers apart from Robert MacGregor, who seems to have been appointed as the public face of the operation. MacGregor may still be working for online gambling tycoon, Calvin Ayre, who was his boss when he was employed by Riptown Media in Vancouver last decade. Neither he nor Ayre responded to emails requesting comment about their relationship.

At this point, I still don’t know if Wright fooled Ayre and MacGregor, and if they really paid him $15 million, as the LRB maintains, and set him up with a team of 30 employees, as Wright claims in GQ. Sure Ayre’s a gambler but putting a guy who conducts himself like Wright does in charge of anything seems like a really, really stupid bet. And it’s weird that Wright says he didn’t want to come out as Satoshi while sources are telling GQ he was forced to do it by his backers. There just seems to be a whole lot of image and story crafting going on.

I’m still not sure what the real story is supposed to be, but I have a feeling it will all be told eventually. The GQ piece isn’t online yet. It’s only available in print. However, the magazine did post stunning audio of Wright’s foul mouthed tirade when he was confronted last May with the fact that his “proof” that he created Bitcoin was less than convincing.

GQ interview: Is Craig Wright the bitcoin genius? from Joseph Ingham on Vimeo.

A follow-up to the SerialDynasty podcast

Originally, I wanted to write a blog post to discuss some of the disagreements around facts that Bob and I had in his podcast. But when I started to put it together, it just seemed too long and too nit picky. Essentially, I think my views were represented fairly and I’m happy with the way things turned out. Despite the odd insult, which is par for the course with this type of thing, there’s been a lot of positive feedback and I’d like to try and keep the good vibe going.

The one big point I would like to make, however, is that I get the feeling that quite a few people think that if you understand and accept someone else’s point of view, you must also, by default, agree with it, which is definitely not the case. I see all Bob’s points, think some of them are valid, others not so much, and still remain convinced that Adnan is guilty.

So that said, If anyone has any questions in response to the podcast, I’d be happy to try to answer them preferably in the comments section here, but also on Twitter.

Facebook lets sketchy Dr. Oz Ad Use Rolling Stone’s name

The other day I clicked on this Facebook ad, chiefly because I was surprised to see Rolling Stone do a story like this:


I landed on a weird page with a Good Housekeeping logo and seemingly nothing to do with Rolling Stone. Here’s the URL:

There are all sorts of other magazine logos on the page including Vanity Fair and People, which are owned by separate companies. The whole thing made no sense.


The article itself started off fairly normally for a women’s magazine, although not at all like something you’d see in Rolling Stone, and then it took a strange turn into botox territory.

The plot thickened as Dr. Oz got into the act.


All I can say is that this has to be a violation of Facebook’s terms of service and if I were Rolling Stone or any of the other publishers, I would be mad as hell. If Facebook’s going to play in the big publishing leagues, it can’t be doing things like this.

Janette Bertrand, Wealthy McGill Muslims and the Eaton’s Sales Lady

LOL. Everyone on Twitter’s mocking Janette Bertrand. The ancient 89-year-old feminist imagines hordes of rich McGill students taking over the swimming pool in her building and booting her out, which — ROFL — is why she’s pro charter and voting PQ.

ZOMG, what a freaking xenophobe. No wonder those guys didn’t want to swim with a dementia-ridden racist like that. PQ be cray. Do they seriously think rich McGill muslims are going to take over Montreal pools? Reminds me of that old story about the Eaton’s (apostrophe intentional) sales lady, #Qc2014.

Except, here’s the thing. Much of what Janette Bertrand is actually right.

For some time now, McGill and Concordia have been on a major and successful campaign to attract foreign students who pay very high tuition fees relative to the heavily subsidized locals. Unsurprisingly, these foreign students are often quite wealthy. As a result, they have gravitated toward buildings that Canadian students typically can not afford and do not inhabit, including condos and very high-end rental units.

As anyone who’s ever lived in a building with lots of students knows, when students start to make up a critical mass, it changes things.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s the dive-iest apartment building in the McGill ghetto or a brand new condo with spectacular views from the rooftop pool.

So yes, those wealthy students that Quebec universities went out of their way to attract, are having a noticeable impact. Just like when yuppies start gentrifying neighbourhoods.

Janette Bertrand is not imagining rich McGill students in places they didn’t used to be. It’s reality. And here’s more reality, those foreign students are coming largely from two places — China and the middle east.

And, cough, cough, immigrants from the middle east have been raising swimming pool “accommodation” issues for years all over Canada. Toronto dads were told last year they can’t watch their daughters‘ swim classes.  Calgary pools moved to allow head scarves, saris and other religious attire a few years back.  And, in Quebec, there have been gender-segregated swimming debates before.

This is not a ludicrously far-fetched outlier non-issue. In fact, it’s pretty typical of the problems that force us to think about how we define “reasonable accommodation” and how far we’re prepared to go. Now, I know some people will disagree with me here but I think reasonable people can disagree on what constitutes reasonable accommodation.

The Twitter mocking of Bertrand is mindless and mean. If you’re pro Burkhas in pools and segregated swimming, fine, but say so and explain why. Just don’t LOL and ROFL yourself into pretending it’s a non-issue that men in Bertrand’s apartment building — who may very well be wealthy McGill students, as she seems to think — object to swimming with women.

Personally, I don’t think it’s reasonable to have Burkhas in pools. I could probably be talked into girl-only swimming classes, but I don’t like the idea of banning fathers from watching. And I would vociferously protest if anyone in my building advocated for gender-segregated swims.

As for the Quebec charter, I don’t like it but I don’t get a say. I left my home province in 2008 and have never looked back. I voted “no” in two referendums. (LMAO, M. Parizeau). I’m not a fan of small-minded nationalism and the demagoguery that comes along with it. But I also don’t like shutting down discussion of how to make a multicultural society work nor am I in favour of ridiculing 89-year-old women, who have made major contributions to society.

What I find especially ironic is that the wealthy McGill students are now being equated — including by Franco Quebecers of all people — with that mythical Eaton’s sales lady, the one who ordered everyone to speak English or, worse yet, to “speak white.” In all the years and decades that she was held over my normally skeptical Anglo head, I never once doubted her existence. Sure, I thought she might have been a composite character, but she represented the reality of my childhood.

The fact that the Eaton’s lady is long gone doesn’t mean she didn’t exist. She did and so do the men at the swimming pool. Denial doesn’t change reality. It just makes it easy to laugh at an old woman, who doesn’t deserve to be treated that way.

Screen shot 2014-03-30 at 9.22.39 PM
Another Quebec swimming pool with a middle east connection

Globe has new info on Dellen MIllard’s incinerator and more

Things I learned from today’s Globe and Mail article about the investigation into Tim Bosma’s murder:

  1. An employee of Millardair handled the purchase of Dellen Millard’s incinerator around July of last year and said it would be used to dispose of dead farm animals. “Since police seized the incinerator from Mr. Millard’s farm, investigators have been in regular contact with both (the Manitoba-based distributor) and SuperNova Manufacturing in Georgia. Tim Cook, a manager there, said police asked ‘how it operates and how long it takes for cremation and things like that.’”
  2. Dellen Millard “studied 3D games animation at Humber College in 2002 but was once ‘caught red-handed’ plagiarizing the work of his classmates, according to a source at the college.”
  3. “After starting a 500-mile off-road race on Mexico’s Baja peninsula two years ago, (Dellen Millard) and his friend pulled their yellow Jeep TJ out of the race at the sixth mile, a competitor said.”