Family, friends of slain prostitutes hope murder trial will bring closure



Ben Lemphers/for metro edmonton


Charlotte Lajimodiere, sister-in-law of slain woman Rachel Quinney, speaks with media yesterday outside the provincial courthouse in Edmonton during a break in the murder trial of Thomas Svekla.


As accused prostitute killer Thomas Svekla professed his innocence during the opening of his double-murder trial yesterday, supporters of his alleged victims gathered under windy skies wearing black, hoping for closure.

"We need an answer so nobody else goes missing, so nobody else gets murdered," said Danielle Boudreau, a long-time family friend of slain prostitute Rachel Quinney. "That number is already big enough. We don’t need any more."

Svekla pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder charges in the deaths of Quinney, 19, and Theresa Innes, 36, yesterday. But during opening remarks for the four-month trial, Crown prosecutor Ashley Finlayson admitted that the case against the 39-year-old mechanic is purely circumstantial.

There will be no eyewitnesses presented, no confessions, and the medical examiner can’t confirm what killed the two women before their bodies were found outside of the city.

Instead, the judge will be asked to make "inferences" on the evidence, including how the bodies were mutilated after death, Finlayson said.

Svekla appeared calm and showed little emotion as the prosecutor outlined the case against him, wearing a grey polo shirt with facial stubble and a short haircut.

The Crown’s evidence includes the discovery of Innes’ body on May 8, 2006, stuffed inside a hockey bag and wrapped in three distinct layers, bound with wire.

Finlayson made special mention that, although both women were working in the sex trade, "that designation should not define their lives."

Quinney’s sister-in-law, Charlotte Lajimodiere, said outside court that such a distinction is important since none of the women grew up wanting to become prostitutes.

"(She) started her life as a beautiful daughter in this world and ended up being a very young mother, a sister and an aunt," she said. "Rachel was just life, she represented so much."

Quinney’s family was part of a group wearing black hoodies embroidered in gold, stating, "In loving memory, 1984 to 2004," while others carried placards with the woman’s photo.

first one charged

  • Svekla is the only person to face murder charges in cases linked to Project Kare, a police task force investigating the disappearance of dozens of people living high-risk lifestyles, including Edmonton-area prostitutes.