UPDATE April 12, 2016: The verdict is in. Todd Howley has been found guilty of murdering Toronto businessman Paul Maasland. After one day of deliberation, the jury found Howley guilty of first degree murder. The decision was read in court on Saturday, April 9. Howley was sentenced on Tuesday, April 12 to life in prison with no parole for at least 25 years.
Crown links anonymous letter with seized computer at Bracebridge murder trial
(March 11, 2016) Crown evidence linking an anonymous letter with a computer seized during the Paul Maasland murder investigation has been presented to jurors.
Oakville businessman Todd Howley’s first degree murder trial continued Wednesday in Bracebridge Superior Court with testimony from retired Detective Sgt Jim Falconer of the OPP’s Tech Crimes Unit.
Falconer testified he looked at several computers collected by police during the course of their investigation, but on a Dell laptop hard drive seized at 2390 Wyecroft Road Unit 7 in Oakville, he said he discovered a deleted file that contained portions of wording found in the letter sent to Bracebridge OPP after Maasland’s body was found.
The Wyecroft Road location is a warehouse which was rented by Howley while he worked on an Algae fuel technology. Maasland, a Toronto Investor, had been funding the project before he mysteriously disappeared.
The anonymous letter, which can be read here, purports to explain how Maasland died.
Falconer testified that the laptop in question had last been shut down September 3rd 2010 at 11:37am, while the last logon occurred September 6th 2010 at 6:57pm. The letter arrived at the Bracebridge OPP detachment on September 10th 2010.
In the computer’s recycle bin Falconer found a Microsoft Word document called “toto.doc” which had been deleted from the computer’s “my documents” on September 3rd 2010 at 11:27am.
At first glance he said it didn’t contain any writing in its body, but its properties title contained the words ‘To Whom it may concern’ – the same opening words found in the anonymous letter, with the same capitalized T and W.
Falconer then conducted a more extensive search, utilizing specialized forensic software.
Searching for keywords that were present in the letter received by police, he testified he was able to link them with portions of text found on the computer’s hard drive.
“The reason I searched for many keywords is this (letter) is a relatively long document and so I wanted to ensure I was searching for different paragraphs and sentences throughout it,” said Falconer. “As a result of running those keyword searches I found four different findings that appeared associated with the anonymous letter.”
Maasland’s body was discovered wrapped in garbage bags at the Morrow Drive public boat launch in Bracebridge on August 30th, 2010.
Howley’s fingerprints were not found on the letter. Other fingerprints, which remain a mystery to this day, were.
Falconer also testified that six USB devices which had been used over time with the Dell laptop seized at the warehouse had also been used with a computer seized at Howley’s home at 2115 Nightingale Way in Oakville.
The trial continues.