Rope found on victim's neck
The body of a woman who was the long-time
mistress of a former Toronto police officer had
"two distinct lines" on her neck from a skipping
rope, a murder trial in Newmarket has heard.
Det. Rod Fraser, a forensics specialist with
the York Regional police, testified yesterday
that the rope was wrapped "snug" around the neck
of Linda Mariani, about as tight as a man's tie.
It's the theory of the crown that Richard
Wills, 50, murdered his lover of nine years
because Mariani, 40, refused to leave her
husband after he had left his wife. He then
stuffed her body into the 60-gallon container in
February 2002, and walled up the bin in a crawl
space underneath the basement stairs of his
Richmond Hill home.
Wills plans to take the stand and tell the
six men and six women deciding his fate that
Mariani was walking up some stairs to get a
Valentine's Day gift when she lost her footing
and fell backwards, hitting her head on the
ceramic tile floor and dying, defence lawyer Raj
Napal told the court earlier.
The retired police officer had a "love pact"
with Mariani that they would be buried together,
and so he kept the body until he could take her
remains to a cottage in Muskoka to bury her, the
But Wills surrendered to police four months
after she vanished.
Detectives found her body in the bin at the
foot of the basement stairs. Scuff marks on the
floor led back to the crawl space under the
stairs where part of a wall had just been taken
down, the court has heard.
During cross-examination yesterday by Napal,
Fraser denied that he or others at the morgue
"re-arranged the rope" around Mariani's neck.
Jurors were shown a series of pictures in
which the skipping rope was wrapped tightly
around her neck in one picture, and loosely on
her chin in others.
Fraser said the rope moved when morgue
attendants shifted and unclothed her body in
getting it ready for the autopsy.
Prosecutor Jeffrey Pearson told the jurors in
his opening address that Mariani had a fractured
skull after she was hit on the head with a
Wills then strangled her with a skipping
rope, before stuffing her body in the bin,
according to the Crown's theory.
In several of the pictures shown to the
jurors, Mariani's mouth was wide open after her
body was pulled from the barrel. Fraser
described the opened mouth as "puckered."
Jurors were shown video of the garage in
Wills' house where detectives found seven
baseball bats. It's the crown's theory that
Wills hit Mariani on the head with a Louisville
Slugger, an aluminum bat found in the bin, along
with items such as blood-stained men's clothing.
The court heard that Wills bought the garbage
bin a week before Mariani died. Prosecutor
Harold Dale played a video to the court showing
officers walking through Wills'messy garage.
"How many garbage cans do you count?" asked
Dale. "Seven," replied Fraser.
The trial resumes Tuesday and Justice
Michelle Fuerst told jurors they will hear the
testimony of a woman who died after testifying
at the preliminary hearing.