Witness describes bizarre encounter with accused killer

Leading up to the discovery of a slain prostitute on the city’s outskirts, Thomas Svekla appeared "anxious" days before he stuffed a duffle bag into his car and yelled, "I didn’t kill the girl," as he sped away, court heard yesterday.

Brad Ludwick, an auto-parts dealer and business acquaintance of Svekla, testified yesterday that the accused double-killer phoned him from Sherwood Park on June 11, 2004.


"He said something bad had happened and he couldn’t talk about it over the phone," he testified.

The next day, Svekla phoned him again, explaining that he was in police custody at Franklin’s Inn.

"He said that he had found a body. A blonde woman. Maybe a prostitute. Her genitals had been cut out and she was in a state of decay," he testified.

The 39-year-old mechanic also told Ludwick that police couldn’t determine if the body was "man or woman, boy or girl," which confused him since Svekla had already told him that the body was a woman, he said.

Later that day, Svekla arrived at Ludwick’s acreage where he pulled a black duffel bag out of the bushes and "desperately" tried to stuff it into the trunk of his car.

"He wouldn’t stop to talk to me," Ludwick told court. "He drove right past me and yelled out the window, ‘I didn’t kill the girl!’"

Svekla is charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Edmonton sex-trade workers Rachel Quinney, 19, and Theresa Innes, 36.

Quinney’s body was discovered in the bushes east of Edmonton in June 2004 while Innes’s body was found in a hockey bag two years later.

Court heard earlier in the trial that Svekla had also been observed scrubbing the back of his vehicle with a powerful solvent used to clean car transmissions.


four more months

  • Svekla has pleaded not guilty to both murders. The trial is expected to last up to four months. Svekla’s charge is the only one so far coming from a police task force dedicated to Edmonton’s sex-trade workers.

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