Accused killer’s kin takes stand in murder trial

Ben Lemphers/for metro edmonton


Thomas Svekla’s sister Donna Parkinson is escorted out of court after her testimony yesterday.

The sister of accused double-killer Thomas Svekla discovered a mutilated body stuffed in a hockey bag, then notified police about her brother’s possible involvement, court heard yesterday.

In a long testimony, Donna Parkinson told court that she was afraid to be left alone with her brother, who she calls "Tommy," after she examined a large black bag he placed in the back of her truck on May 8, 2006.

She didn’t believe his story that it contained $800 worth of compost worms that were wrapped in little capsules. When she was left alone in the afternoon she decided to take a peak inside.

"I stuck in my hand and I’m squeezing the bag," she said. "I felt something and I pulled back … It almost felt like it was an elbow joint."

She could hear that her child was coming back from the park so she left the scene, but her heart was racing.

"I took a deep breath and I could barely breathe," she told court, visibly shaken.

When her husband, Jim, returned from work in the late evening, she took a second look, she said, unzipping the bag even further.

"Don’t you see? This is the head, this is the back, this is the hands, this is the knees, and these are the feet," she told her husband.

They called the police moments later. The body, wrapped in wire and three layers of plastic, was eventually identified as a missing prostitute, Theresa Innes.

Svekla, a 39-year-old mechanic, is charged with second-degree murder in the deaths of Rachel Quinney, 19, and Innes, 36. Quinney was discovered in the woods east of the city in June 2004. He’s pleaded not guilty to all charges.

She also testified that her brother had appeared upset in June 2004, days before Quinney’s body had been discovered.

"He said, ‘I did something very bad. I did a bad thing. But I can’t tell you because people are going to hate me," she said.

Svekla is the only person to face charges from Project Kare, a police task force investigating the deaths and disappearance of persons living high-risk lifestyles, including many women involved in the sex trade.

The trial continues today with the defence cross-examining Svekla’s sister.

the accused

  • During his sister’s testimony, Svekla stared straight ahead, never catching her eye, wearing a purple dress shirt and sporting a new moustache.

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