A man matching Dennis Oland's description was seen behaving strangely at Renforth wharf the day before his father's body was discovered, newly released court documents reveal.
Richard Oland, 69, a prominent businessman, was found murdered in his uptown Saint John office on July 7, 2011.
A woman told Saint John police she and her husband were in their van at Renforth wharf on July 6, 2011, when she noticed a well-dressed man, whom police identify as being Dennis, walking "very briskly" towards the wharf.
Barbara Murray said the man stopped at the beginning of the wharf and picked something up, went to the end of the wharf and sat down.
He then took something red out of a bag, wrapped the object he had picked up, put it in the bag, then walked briskly back.
“I knew it wasn’t right,” Murray told police. The way he was walking made her nervous, she said. “There was a purpose to what he was doing, a real purpose."
Police identified the man as being Dennis after Murray watched a video of news coverage of Oland's funeral, according to the redacted documents, released by New Brunswick's provincial court Chief Judge R. Leslie Jackson on Friday, following a petition by CBC News and Brunswick News.
She picked out a pallbearer, saying he looked "very similar" to the man she saw. Lead investigator Stephen Davidson recognized the man as being Dennis, the hundreds of pages of documents state.
Dennis told police he had stopped at the wharf that day, on his way home. He said he went there to see if his children were swimming.
Five divers searched the water around Renforth wharf on July 8 for an undisclosed item that "would not have been in the water for a long period of time," but "nothing suspicious in nature was located," the documents state.
The signal from the last incoming call to Oland's cell was received from the cell tower located at the nearby Riverside Country Club, according to previously released documents.
It's unclear whether the wharf is within the range of that tower.
No charges have been laid, although Police Chief Bill Reid has said he expects charges to be laid this year.
Previously-released warrants reveal police consider Dennis, 45, the prime suspect in the case.
The documents suggest a possible financial motive. He owed his father more than $500,000 and is described as being "on the edge financially."
The latest documents, a search warrant and two production orders issued last fall, and closed-door testimony by the lead investigator last summer, also reveal police are conducting a forensic audit of Dennis' finances, with the help of a forensic accountant with Government Services Canada.
Police say the accountant required Dennis' financial records for the six years prior to Oland's murder, as well as all of his financial records since that date.
There are two mortgages on Dennis' home, at 58 Gondola Point Rd. in Rothesay, the documents show. They include a collateral mortgage for $75,000, obtained in August 2010, and another for $163,000, obtained in March 2011.
Police have also reviewed one of Dennis' pay stubs from CIBC World Markets, his personal chequing account, and family court documents related to him, the documents show.
Three chequebooks in his name were seized from the glove compartment of his car and a CIBC Visa card in his name, located in the breast pocket of a jacket.
Occasional 'big fights'
The documents also reveal more details about the day Oland’s body was discovered.
Const. Duane Squires, one of the first officers on the scene, said one of the double doors of Oland's second-storey office at 52 Canterbury St. was wide open.
Squires immediately found a man, later identified as Oland, dead. "It was obvious that the male was deceased," the documents state, without elaborating.
A garbage can was tipped over on the desk.
It was Oland's long-time secretary, Maureen Adamson, who discovered the body. She told police she arrived at work at 8:45 am. to find the ground-floor door unlocked, which was unusual. She also noticed the door at the top of the stairs, which was always locked, ajar.
Adamson said the only people who had keys to Oland's Far End Corporation were her, Richard Oland, employee Bob McFadden and landlord John Ainsworth.
She said when she left work on July 6, Oland was in his office with Dennis. They were discussing family genealogy, she said.
Dennis had told police family genealogy was the one thing he and his father could have a conversation about without fighting.
"He would occasionally have big fights with Richard Oland, but they would blow over quickly," the documents state.
Dennis said he did not want to argue with his father "and cause him embarrassment, but his father had no problem embarrassing him in that way."
As Oland's only son, Dennis felt he "took most of the pressure." But as an adult, his relationship with his father had changed for the better, he said.
He described the relationship as "a blanket that he wears differently as an adult than he did as a teenager."
Dennis said Oland felt a father and son could not be friends and that Oland would never share any personal details of his life with him.
Richard Oland's long-time mistress, Diana Sedlacek, told police Oland did not have a lot of respect for Dennis and thought he was lazy.
Sedlacek said she and Oland had been in a romantic relationship for eight years and recently talked about getting married. Oland had arranged for her to see a lawyer to see how she would go about it, she said. This, despite the fact that Oland was still married to his wife of 46 years, Constance.
Family members speak
Constance told police all three of her children "had issues" with Oland, but he was "hardest" on her and Dennis.
The father-son relationship had improved recently, however, due to Dennis' work on family genealogy, she said. Dennis and Oland "developed a connection" because Oland had an interest in family history.
She does not believe Dennis "would hurt" Oland, she said.
The day Oland's body was found, Dennis told her he and Oland had a good talk about family history the evening before.
Oland's daughter, Lisa Bustin, told police he had "high expectations" of Dennis. Dennis was not able to live up to his expectations, she said.
Although Bustin said she had an unresolved argument with Oland about his affair, she said she had a good relationship with him.
He was "pure business and if you worked hard you would get his respect," she said.
Bustin said Oland "could have anyone as an enemy." He was a "hard-nosed businessman," she said.
Oland's other daughter, Jacqueline Walsh, told police her father was "the type of guy some people got along with and some people did not."
"He could be very difficult to deal with at times," and she learned to keep him at a distance, she said.
John Ainsworth, who owns the building Oland's office was located in, told police he had twice observed Oland embracing a woman in his office — an older one and a younger one.
Some of the forensic results related to the investigation are also outlined in the released documents.
Police seized several items from Dennis in the weeks following his father's murder and sent many of them away for testing.
The redacted version of the documents suggest that none of the tests revealed any incriminating evidence.
Swabs of Dennis' car and a reusable grocery bag found in the truck showed no blood, the documents state.
Several of the 57 items seized from Dennis home also tested negative for blood, including several articles of clothing, at least one of which had a dry cleaning tag attached.
The majority of the DNA tests related to the sailboat co-owned by Dennis' wife came back with "weak positive or false positive" presence for blood, according to the documents. It's unclear whose blood, but police do say no further testing is required on any of the items, with the exception of the GPS.
Divers conducted an underwater grid search of the Royal Kennebecasis Yacht Club, where the boat was moored, but "did not recover any evidence related to this incident."
Police also searched Dennis' computer from his work at CIBC but "did not find any information that was relevant to the investigation," the documents state.
Sections of the documents remain blacked out at the request of the Crown, who describes them as being hallmark evidence only the killer would know and could compromise the investigation if released.
Lawyers representing members of the Oland family have also requested some details remain redacted, primarily for privacy reasons.
The judge is expected to render a decision on whether to release any more of the information by Oct. 4.
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