Man who took drive with Millard and Smich before Bosma murder cheers vedict
Published Friday, June 17, 2016 4:41PM EDT Last Updated Friday, June 17, 2016 5:09PM EDT
TORONTO -- A Toronto man who escaped Tim Bosma's grisly fate cheered Friday when he learned of the first-degree murder convictions of his two killers and described himself as "lucky" for having spooked them with his military background.
Igor Tumanenko, a former Israeli soldier by way of the Soviet Union, became an integral part of the police investigation into the disappearance of Bosma on May 6, 2013 because he went on a test drive with Dellen Millard and Mark Smich just a day earlier.
On Friday, a 12-member jury found both men guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Bosma, whose remains were burned beyond recognition in an incinerator dubbed "The Eliminator" on Millard's farm near Waterloo, Ont.
"Opa!" Tumanenko told The Canadian Press. "I'm feeling lucky man, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky."
Without Tumanenko's information, the intense investigation into Bosma's disappearance likely would have taken far longer. The two men contacted Tumanenko about the Dodge Ram truck -- similar to Bosma's -- that he'd advertised online.
One of the lead detectives on the case testified during the trial that they'd found Tumanenko because he was contacted by the same Toronto-area phone number as Bosma had been.
Tumanenko testified seeing the word "ambition" tattooed on the taller man's wrist "where a watch would be" and that the "shorter guy" in the back was "quiet as a fish."
That tattoo led police directly to hone in on Millard, and days later Tumanenko identified Smich in a photo lineup.
Now, he said he celebrates a new birthday. Every May 5, he celebrates his "rebirth" with his wife and children. His outlook has changed since he found out Bosma was killed a day later by the same two men who were in his truck.
"When it's too bad in life and it's complicated, just remember it's life, I'm still alive, and God bless," Tumanenko said.
"I'm truly sorry for the Tim Bosma family, the guy went for nothing. Tim Bosma is always in my prayers. I'm telling you, I could have been there."
He didn't know the test drive would turn out to be such a life-changing moment since it was so banal. But when he told the two men about his past in the Israeli army, it seemed to "change the temperature" inside the truck.
In court, Tumanenko testified that he told the men he was familiar with the truck's diesel engine from his days in the army.
"There was a pause when he sit in driver seat," Tumanenko said, referring to Millard, who was behind the wheel of his truck nearing Highway 407, just north of Toronto.
"Shorter guy (in the back) asked 'What did you do in Israel army?"' Tumanenko told court. "I look at him and said: 'You don't want to know what I did there."'
That's when the dynamic changed in the truck, he told court. When the test drive ended, Millard said the price was a little over his budget, Tumanenko testified, and the pair left.
"The plan was to target and kill Igor if the conditions were right, but he was too much to handle," the Crown attorney told the jury in his closing arguments. "It would have been Igor, but he was too much at 6'4, 220 pounds and too much military."