The trial of the young Canadian psychopath I first wrote about in my Highway of Tears story for Outside Magazine’s TheVanishing and for CBS 48 Hours, is finally over.
It’s been a bizarre, creepy and at times horrifying event that began with Cody Legebokoff, 24, showing up in court looking like a corn-fed version of Walter White from Breaking Bad, complete with shaved head and a chinstrapped goatee—strange choice for someone pleading not guilty.
In a strange twist at the very end of the trial, Legebokoff, who was charged with four counts of first-degree murder, tried to end run the system and plead guilty to second-degree murder.
However, the crown prosecutor didn’t accept the plea, and with good reason. By Legebokoff’s own admission, he was present and involved in the murders of all three women from Prince George, as well as a legally blind 15-year old whose family came from the same small BC town his did.
(To clarify: None of these victims were on the official Highway of Tears list, though the teenager, Loren Leslie, probably would have been if Legebokoff hadn't been immediately tied to the crime and subsequently cleared of other Tears murders. I've followed this case because Legebokoff was caught while I was working the Highway of Tears story and because these murders all happened in towns I visited along the infamous Highway 16.)
For his defense, Legebokoff—who was 19 at the time of the first murder—took the stand and in stilted, barely literate, and cold-hearted testimony described each of the murders.
He told the jury that the three Prince George women—Jill Stuchenko, 35, Cynthia Maas, 35, and 23-year old Natasha Montgomery—were all drug users deep in debt to their dealers. He claimed it was their dealer (who he identified only as “X” because he definitely didn’t want to be known as a “rat”) who actually killed them.
All Legebokoff said he was responsible for was letting X, along with his friends, Y and Z, kill the women in his apartment. Oh, and he provided and handed them the murder weapons, which included a picaroon—a wicked-looking logging tool that would be right at home on a Medieval battlefield. And, of course, Legebokoff also said he watched throats get slit, heads get bashed, and lots of blood get spilled on his couch and splattered on his walls. And he did nothing to stop it, because, you know, he's a party guy.
The Crown prosecutors rebutted his version with blood spatter and other physical evidence that was inconsistent with Legebokoff’s tale, as well as all the inconsistencies and obvious lies he’d fed to police investigators from the start.
Legebokoff’s own attorneys told the jurors that they didn’t expect them to believe every word of their client’s testimony.
The creepiest and most cold-blooded part of Legebokoff’s testimony detailed the death of the teenager, Loren Leslie. As her father, Doug, told me, Loren was a sensitive, talented, over-trusting 10th grader who never let her vision problems slow her down. She even studied martial arts, though that wouldn’t have helped this small, nearly blind young girl fight back against the 6’2” 220-pound former hockey player when they were parked on an abandoned logging road way out in the sticks on a pitch black, snowy night.
Though their grandparents grew up together, Legebokoff found Loren while trolling social media looking for sex. He pressed her to meet in person, though their text messages showed she explicitly wasn’t interested in anything “sexual.”
On a frigid northern BC Saturday night, November 27, 2010, a young mountie named Aaron Kehler saw a black pickup come skidding out of the woods near the town of Vanderhoof. As the truck sped down the road, constable Kehler lit it up and pulled it over. When he got a look at the driver, he knew something was wrong. It was only good timing and good police instincts that led to Legebokoff’s capture near the scene of Loren’s slaying.
Kehler testified that Legebokoff, then 20, had blood on his face and legs, and that there was a pool of blood in the truck. Legebokoff began flinging bullshit, first saying he and a friend had been poaching deer, and volunteering the disturbing fun fact that after his friend had shot the deer, Cody finished it off by repeatedly whacking the injured animal with a pipe.
While detaining Legebokoff in his car, the mountie called in a wildlife officer to hike up the logging road and check for the deer. He obviously sensed there was something way off about the kid’s story—and way off about the kid—because he also told the wildlife officer to be prepared to find something much worse than a dead deer. Up the road, he found Loren Leslie, bludgeoned and slashed to death, and with her pants around her ankles.
Caught literally red-handed, Legebokoff then tried hitting the cops with a whole stockyard of bullshit. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you, when I was whacking the deer, I happened to find a dead girl up there on the skid road. I grabbed her monkey backpack and her phone, then I touched her, which got some of her blood on me.
Legebokoff said he didn’t know Loren… then he did. But no way did he have sex with her… then he did, twice. But absolutely no way did he kill her! In fact, he said, she killed herself, probably because she wasn’t happy about having had sex with him, but mainly, he said, because she was crazy.
No matter that forensics showed the great number of blows and stabs Loren suffered before she died, a couple of days after his arrest, Legebokoff told investigators: “The bitch went fucking psycho” and starting hitting herself and stabbing her own throat.
He said that after she attacked herself, instead of trying to help, he stood there for several minutes and watched her die.
During the trial, a woman who says she was Legebokoff’s girlfriend at the time testified that he told her Loren had beaten and stabbed herself, but that he had “put her out of her misery” by smashing her skull a couple of times with a pipe wrench.
Right now, the Legebokoff jury is deliberating. If they determine that he planned any of the murders, or committed them in relation to a sexual assault, he’ll be found guilty of first-degree murder. They can also find him guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter for each of the charges.
Of course they could also find him not guilty, but that’s not going to happen, especially with this animal whose main priority seems to be that he not be known of as a rat.
That would be an insult to rats.