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Former wife testifies in Thauberger murder trial

"I put down a sick dog," accused allegedly told witness.

REGINA — “They’d always been best friends.”

That was how Barbara Hayes, former wife of Joseph Thauberger, described his relationship with brother Patrick Thauberger. Hayes gave her testimony during the second day of a murder trail where Joseph – who appeared in court via video from his home - is alleged to have killed his brother in 1997. Patrick’s body wasn’t discovered until late 2020, and Joseph was eventually arrested in relation to the murder.

Court proceedings on June 8 began with Crown prosecutor Andrew Campbell asking Hayes to recall the events of the day in question – Sept. 3, 1997.

“I had a daycare in the basement of our home,” Hayes explained, adding that she was caring for five toddlers that day and noticed brothers James, Patrick and Joe Thauberger in the driveway. After talking together for a few moments, James left, and the remaining two brothers entered the house.

Hayes went upstairs to retrieve items from the kitchen cupboard and noticed Patrick reclining on the couch. The two exchanged waves, and Hayes returned to the basement with the children.

“It was about 12:15 or 12:30 p.m., we heard this tremendous crash,” she recalled, describing the noise as though an elephant was going to come through the ceiling. “It sounded as though it was right above us and it was going to go through the ceiling almost. I heard ‘no, no, no,’ and then silence.”

Hayes confirmed in court that the voice pleading “no” was that of her brother-in-law, Patrick.

Shocked, Hayes recalled standing in place for around 30 seconds before running upstairs – only to find the door leading to the kitchen locked.

“That door is never locked, it’s never even closed,” Hayes said, adding that she pounded on the door, to which Joe replied for her to go back downstairs.

After sitting on the stairs for a few minutes, Hayes again returned to the children in the basement; unsure of what would happen next or if they were safe in the house. Hayes recalled staying in the basement even after the parents picked up their children, which usually occurred between 5-5:30 p.m.

“It was after dark, and Joe came to the top of the stairs and called me, and asked if I could help move him,” Hayes said. She did not assist in moving Patrick’s body, which had been wrapped in a carpet.

“Then, he came dragging the blue carpet out that he wrapped Pat up in,” Hayes explained. “And I knew it was heavy - as it hit the steps, it made a ‘thump, thump’ sound; the end of the carpet going down the steps.”

The carpet was removed from the basement weeks earlier and placed near the couch in the living room of their Francis Street home. Instead of bringing his brother to the Regina bus station as planned, Hayes told the Court Joseph transported Patrick’s body through the home, wrapped in a carpet.

Hayes didn’t recall seeing Joseph again that evening but had confronted him about the incident in the days that followed.

“I don’t know if it was the next day or subsequent days, but at one point I asked him how he could do that,” she said. “How could he kill his brother. And he said, ‘I’m proud of what I did, I put down a sick dog’.”

Hayes recalled him explaining the results of running someone over with a disc cultivator “there’s nothing left;” a detail she noted “that broke me.”

Campbell asked a series of questions about Patrick’s employment at the time and how Hayes knew him. Hayes explained that Patrick had been suspended from work at the time and had been working in the justice system before the suspension.

“He had two PhDs in Psychology and Pharmacology, but he was not well in 1996/1997,” she said, adding that Patrick was her professor during her first year studying psychology.                

When asked if the brothers owned property together, Hayes noted Joseph was “always very private about business matters,” but she knew they had a partnership related to farming. According to Hayes, Joseph was engaged in “day trading commodities,” but also put in sweat equity in farming activities.

Campbell also asked if the topic of what happened to Patrick ever came up again between Joseph and Barbara. Years later, in 2011, Hayes and Joseph were attending a wedding in Yorkton when an angry threat was voiced sometime during the return trip.

“He said, ‘if I ever go to jail because of you, I will kill you. If I can’t do it, I have people who will. You have no idea how powerful I am, don’t say no to me’,” Hayes recalled. “There was no doubt in my mind that he was angry.”

Hayes believed the threat rose from a discussion on transferring titled land in her name to Joseph’s children. While reluctant to advise police of the incident, Hayes did write a letter shortly after the event, then another in 2014.

“I wrote a letter that I kept at my house for a while,” she said. “It was describing everything that had happened in the event that I should disappear. If I disappeared, I thought perhaps it would get justice for Pat, if not for me.” The letters were eventually handed over to a lawyer, then shared with police after Patrick’s body was discovered.

It would 2020 before Hayes had an opportunity to speak with police - when they brought her into custody after Patrick’s remains were discovered.

“They arrested me, came up to my house, picked me up, went to the police station and we had a long chat,” she said. “They said that Joe had been arrested and it was time to tell what happened.”

Defense counsel attempted to poke holes in Hayes’ memory, asking for specific details regarding her testimony. Thauberger’s lawyer Tyne Hagey asked Hayes what pieces of that day were fuzzy. Hayes admitted that events of the morning with the daycare children, and the afternoon were not clear, but those event that she testified in court today were sharp.

“Most of this has gone over in my head every day for 25 and three-quarter years,” Hayes told Hagey.

A point Hagey lingered on with the witness was whether or not Patrick was wearing shoes. Initially, Hayes told police in an interview back on Nov. 29, 2020 that she believed she saw a shoe from the end of the rolled carpet. Ultimately, Hayes recanted that memory, confirming the sound of the body being transported down the four stairs between the kitchen and entrance landing led her to believe Patrick was wearing shoes. She also qualified that being interviewed by police was a very stressful situation.

Hagey challenged some statements Hayes made earlier in the day, including wiping up blood but not telling police or her lawyer for fear of being charged in relation to the incident.

“I did not clean up any blood anywhere,” Hayes replied.

The trial continues tomorrow with Crown witness James Thauberger taking the stand.

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