Details of the Mr. Big sting operation in the Castor-area triple homicide case were revealed today where court heard that Jason Klaus told undercover officers he planned the murders, but that Joshua Frank was the one who pulled the trigger.
The crown entered into a voir dire Thursday morning in regards to the Mr. Big sting to determine the admissibility of statements made by accused Klaus, who was the target of the investigation, and co-accused Frank.
Klaus has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of arson in relation to the deaths of his father Gordon Klaus, 61, his mother Sandra Klaus, 62 and his sister Monica Klaus, 40.
Frank has also been charged with three counts of first-degree murder in relation to the deaths as well as one count of arson and one count of injuring or endangering an animal in relation to the shooting death of the family dog.
The remains of Gordon and Monica were found in what was left of a burnt-out house in Castor on Dec. 8th, 2013.
The body of Sandra has never been found and during a press conference in Calgary in 2014, RCMP Insp. Tony Hamori said police believe her remains were consumed by the fire.
On Thursday, the undercover RCMP officer, who cannot be named due to a publication ban, told court details of 26 scenarios used in the Mr. Big sting which took place from April 1st, 2014 to July 21st, 2014.
“The purpose was to find out if Jason Klaus had any knowledge about the homicides,” said the officer, whose role in the operation is known as a ‘cover’ person who develops different ‘scenarios’ within the undercover operation and monitors the scenarios by listening to them live as they play out. “He was targeted due to suspicions and evidence that the homicide unit came up with.”
This particular Mr. Big sting was the shortest operation the officer has encountered, he said, adding Jason progressed the operation very quickly.
The officer said before starting the undercover operation, officers gather as much information as possible about the individual they are targeting.
“We learn about their work life, their lifestyle, who they are involved with.”
The officer added they learned that Jason was a farmer who lived in rural Alberta, he had a girlfriend and was close to one or two extended family members, but that a lot of his extended family was divided when it came to thinking whether or not Jason was involved in the murders.
In the scenarios, the officer said Jason was led to believe he was working for a supposed criminal organization. Over the course of the Mr. Big sting, Jason was given $12,430 for various reasons, with the bulk coming from rent after he allowed the organization to store vehicles and other recreational equipment on the Klaus farm.
As the sting operation progressed, Jason was told that his honesty was of utmost importance with the organization and that he needed to come clean about his past.
The officers testified that during a night in a Medicine Hat hotel room, Jason confessed to arranging the murders and to paying Frank to pull the trigger. Days later, Jason told undercover officers that he was lying when he said he arranged the murders, but eventually went back to his initial story.
The trial continues in Red Deer.