Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The world series game?

Bev's killer sure was tidy
Rowbotham's murderer cleaned up crime scene

By Tom Brodbeck
Saturday, March 31, 2012

Beverly Rowbotham’s killer must have been one tidy and considerate murderer.

After all, not only did he have the courtesy of removing her body from the yard where he killed her, he cleaned up after himself too.

And what a spectacularly discreet killer this must have been. While the murderer chopped at Bev’s head 16 times with a hatchet — or some similar type of weapon — and dragged her body to a nearby garage to stuff her into the family car, Bev’s husband Mark Stobbe was only a stone’s throw away in his house watching a baseball game on TV. That’s according to Stobbe’s version of events, anyway.

The World Series was on that night — the New York Mets vs. the New York Yankees in Game 3 of the “Subway Series.” Stobbe — who was found not guilty Thursday of killing his wife — testified in court that he heard no noises from the backyard that evening while he watched ball.

The former Manitoba NDP advisor even broke down and cried at one point during court proceedings, lamenting how utterly “useless” he was because he failed to save his wife from the attack when he was so close by. Not close enough to hear her being murdered, dragged to the garage and driven away in the family’s Ford Crown Victoria. But close enough to regret not doing anything about it.

Instead, Stobbe watched baseball while the Mets went up 1-0 at the bottom of the second inning.

The crime scene was cleaned up relatively well, court heard. Although the killer did miss cleaning up a few skull fragments, some of Bev’s hair clumps, and a smattering of blood found by police on the garage floor.

Those leftovers confirmed Bev was murdered in the backyard. Still, given the bloodshed that would have occurred in the backyard as a result of the killing — according to forensic evidence entered in court — the killer did do a pretty good job of cleaning up.

It’s unclear why a random killer would jump into Rowbotham’s yard, bludgeon her with a hatchet, place her body into a vehicle, clean up after the murder and drive the victim to Selkirk. But according to evidence submitted in court, that’s what happened.

And while all that was going on, Stobbe said he was watching baseball — or had fallen asleep watching ball — as the Yankees came back and went up 2-1 in the fourth.

Stobbe said he never heard a scream or the sounds of an attack in his backyard. In fact, Stobbe said he didn’t even know Bev was killed in the backyard. He only started to suspect so when police began scouring his backyard later that week.

Police investigators did conduct sound tests to see whether someone inside the River Road home in St. Andrews would be able to hear noises like an attack or a scream from the backyard. The tests were positive. A former owner of the house also testified in court that he would have been able to hear such noises in the backyard while in the house when he owned it.

But Stobbe, perhaps a deep sleeper, didn’t hear anything, he told court.

He was watching baseball, as the Mets tied it up in the sixth.

Court also heard that Bev’s sister Beth Rowbotham came to the house after Bev had gone missing that night.

Stobbe had called Beth’s home in the early morning hours asking her and her husband to come to the house because Bev had gone missing.

Betty testified that while she was in Bev’s house, Stobbe went out to the backyard for about 30 minutes for some inexplicable reason.

Betty didn’t know her sister was dead at that point. She certainly didn’t know Bev had been murdered in the backyard either. It wasn’t until an hour or so later that police found Bev’s body in the Crown Victoria in Selkirk.

Unfortunately, RCMP failed to take custody of the house until two days after the murder, an investigative gaffe that could be one the key reasons Bev’s killer is still free today.

The Mets eventually came back, scored two runs late in the game at Shea Stadium and went on to win that night. We don’t know if Stobbe watched the last two innings of the game or if he saw the final pitch by closer Armando Benitez at 11:16 p.m. Only Mark Stobbe knows the answer to that question.

And he might be the only one who will ever know.
Tom Brodbeck has lived in Winnipeg since 1990. He was first hired as the Winnipeg Sun's legislative reporter in 1996 and became its city columnist in 2001. In his spare time he manages a not-for-profit community centre.

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