deadmonton - thomas george svekla - the andrew hanon article

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Just days after Thomas Svekla was charged with the death of Theresa Innes, the Edmonton Sun published a column by Andrew Hanon.

In the article, Hanon described his encounter with Svekla when the pair met at the Poundmaker's Lodge north of Edmonton late in 2004.

Svekla was attending a drug treatment program while Hanon worked at the facility in communications.

Update: In March 2008 Hanon appeared as a Crown witness in the double murder trial of Thomas Svekla.

Reproduced below is Hanon's article as it was published in the Edmonton Sun on May 11th, 2006.

Edmonton Sun image

Personal encounter with Svekla
Charged in the death of local prostitute

By ANDREW HANON, Staff Writer

It felt like a kick in the stomach.

When police announced second-degree murder charges this week against Thomas George Svekla in the death of prostitute Theresa Innes, I nearly retched.

Late in 2004 , Svekla sat across the desk from me, looked me in the eye and asked me to help clear his name in the death of Rachel Quinney, a teen prostitute whose body had been found in a clump of trees in Strathcona County in June the same year.

Svekla told me he was a “person of interest” in the Quinny case, which meant that he was not considered a suspect, but was still under the police microscope.

He claimed that he was under scrutiny merely because he had discovered Quinney's body but had waited a couple of days before reporting it.

He hesitated, Svekla explained, only because he had been too frightened and ashamed to come forward at first, but eventually he screwed up his courage and did the right thing.

The mild-mannered, soft-spoken Svekla – whom if you passed on the street you'd probably think was an accountant or insurance adjuster – sat with his hands folded as he spoke of the indignities inflicted upon him and his family at the hands of the Fort Saskatchewan Mounties.

Svekla didn't go into much detail about the so-called indignities, saying only that the shame of being linked to prostitute killings was humiliating for everyone close to him.

Svekla admitted that he had a crack problem, and when in the throes of his addiction he was capable of ugly, nasty, regrettable things.

He said he hated himself when he was using, and was tired of causing his loved ones pain and shame. He vowed to conquer his demons.

In fact, he had Rachel to thank for his change of heart. If there was any good to come from the unspeakable horror of her murder, Svekla wanted it to be his sobriety.

He promised that he would live a drug-free life, in honour of Rachel Quinney's memory.

Svekla told me about the night Rachel's body was literally stumbled upon.

He had been partying in the city and had picked up a prostitute in his pickup truck. He wanted to take her out to the country where they could do crack together in private.

They headed east of the city and drove around until they found a grove of trees in a secluded area.

Something went wrong, though, he said, but didn't provide many details. The prostitute, who Svekla didn't name, suddenly panicked.

He claimed a struggle ensued and that she bolted from the vehicle and ran into the trees. Svekla said he followed, hoping to calm her down so he could take her back to the city.

Svekla said as she fled, the prostitute tripped over something. When he caught up to her, Svekla said, he discovered that it was a corpse.

They raced back to the city together, Svekla said, and he went home, haunted by the grim discovery.

He said he was afraid to report it at first because he'd have to explain what he was doing there in the first place, but eventually his conscience got the better of him and he came forward.

However, Svekla said bitterly, instead of thanking him, cops treated him with suspicion.

It was the only time we met. I never heard from him again.

Wednesday, Project KARE spokesman RCMP Cpl. Wayne Oakes refused to confirm or deny any of what Svekla had told me.

When cops announced the charge against Svekla in the Innes case on Tuesday, Oakes said it would be “unfair and potentially wrong” to assume a serial killer had been caught.

“At his point, we have one person charged with one death,” he said.

Since 1975 the bodies of 25 people leading “high-risk lifestyles” have been found in and around Edmonton.

Innes is the fourth prostitute found slain since Quinney's body was discovered on June 11, 2004.

The others are:

• On January 25, 2005, the frozen corpse of Samantha Tayleen Berg, 19, was found in city trucking company's parking lot;

• On April 16, 2005, the partially burned body of Charlene Marie Gauld, 20, was found partially by an oilfield worker checking a site near the intersection of Highway 617 and Highway 623;

• On May 6, 2005, the body of Ellie-May Meyer, 33, was found in a farmer's field near Highway 21, north of Township Road 534.

© 2006 - The Edmonton Sun

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