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Greg and Sheree Fertuck 'locked in money dispute': Court

'She's going to take me to the cleaners,' Greg Fertuck tells undercover officers during Mr. Big sting.
Greg Fertuck and Sheree Fertuck.

Greg Fertuck killed his estranged wife 51-year-old Sheree Fertuck at the height of their fight over money during their bitter divorce battle, court heard.

On June 14, in Saskatoon Court of King’s Bench, Justice Richard Danyliuk found Greg Fertuck guilty of first-degree murder and interfering with human remains. First-degree murder conviction means an automatic life sentence with no parole eligibility for 25 years. He will be sentenced in July.

“By all accounts the marriage of Greg and Sheree Fertuck was a rocky one,” said Justice Danyliuk in his written decision.

“There were arguments, fights, even physical altercations. Their disputes were formalized in the context of a family law action commenced in this court, an action which was unresolved at the time Sheree Fertuck disappeared.”

Their ongoing dispute had heated up over Sheree Fertuck’s refusal to allow Greg Fertuck to withdraw money from his Canadian National Railway pension to meet some financial obligations, court heard. Greg Fertuck had asked to access money from his pension funds to pay some pressing debts but he needed Sheree Fertuck’s consent to do so.

“Sheree refused,” said Justice Danyliuk.

“His primary pension asset at that time was valued at about $427,000 and he was only seeking $15,000 but Sheree maintained her refusal,” said Justice Danyliuk.

“Greg was upset. Despite a long career with the railway, his finances were in disrepair. He still had to work. In December 2015 his bank account was in an overdraft. He had missed some loan payments and he did not always meet his financial obligations.”

Greg Fertuck’s recreational property, a boat, trailer, snowmobile, and an ATV were locked up at Sheree Fertuck’s parent's farm and he didn’t have access to them, court heard.

This was a further frustration for him, said Justice Danyliuk. In addition, his firearms had been seized by authorities and he was unable to hunt, which he enjoyed doing.

Sheree Fertuck’s family lawyer had testified during Greg Fertuck’s trial that he was asking to take out $15,000 from his pension. Sheree Fertuck’s lawyer had advised her that this was a reasonable request and advised her to agree. There was plenty of equity to cover the effects of the $15,000 disbursal.

Her lawyer told the court that “Sheree was inflexible and she said she would not agree to Greg seeing one cent until the overall property matter was resolved.”

Greg Fertuck’s investment advisor testified that he had a worker’s compensation issue and needed $7,000. His pension had been rolled into a LIRA account worth about $427,000. He needed Sheree Fertuck’s consent but told the investment advisor that she wouldn’t give it.

The advisor described Greg Fertuck as quite frustrated on the phone and spoke in a rough and vulgar fashion about “my money.”

“The totality of the evidence satisfies that as of December 2015 the ongoing family law dispute was ongoing and had heated up over Sheree’s refusal to allow Greg to withdraw money from his [pension] to meet some financial obligations,” said Justice Danyliuk.

The confession

Greg Fertuck was arrested June 24, 2016, near Saskatoon and charged with first-degree murder after he told an undercover officer posing as a crime boss in a Mr. Big sting that he had shot his estranged wife twice with a .22 calibre rifle and put her body in the gravel pit, court heard. 

Mr. Big stings are covert operations used by the RCMP where undercover police pose as fictitious criminal organizations to gain a confession.

During the Mr. Big Sting, Greg Fertuck told undercover officers that he and Sheree Fertuck were “locked in a money dispute and that she was going to take him to the cleaners.”

He told the undercover officers that he went to the pit to discuss finalizing a property division with Sheree Fertuck, including his recreational items that were at the Sorotski family farm. He said that Sheree Fertuck wouldn’t give him the boat or quad because she wanted those items, as well as the family home in Saskatoon, and half of his pension. Family court documents confirm what he told the undercover officers.

Greg Fertuck told the undercover officer, “I asked her why, why would you want to do all this stuff to me.”

“So you’re yelling at her loud?” asked the officer.

“No. I was actually talking in a calm voice and she was sort of talking in a calm voice and she said ‘well I’m going to take you for everything you got.’”

He then told her he had to go to his truck and get something for her, court heard.

He walked back to his truck, took out the loaded rifle from the back seat and walked back to where Sheree Fertuck’s semi was parked.

“I told her, I says, 'seriously you want to go this route?' And she says 'definitely.'”

He said her hands were down by her side.

“I shot her in the shoulder, she fell. On her knees.”

He shot her from about 10 feet away, court heard.

“She says ‘oh my god’… so I went behind her and shot her. She was looking down, so I shot her in the back of the head. Put her out of her misery.

“That’s when I got the plastic and laid it down there and rolled her onto the plastic and rolled her up.”

Justice Danyliuk said the first shot only wounded Sheree Fertuck and he could have helped her but instead shot her a second time.

What’s shocking about this case is the “absolute callousness” of how he dealt with Sheree’s remains, said Justice Danyliuk.

“Greg once said he loved Sheree. They built a life together. They had three children together. While it all fell apart, to try to solve financial and personal issues through the most extreme form of violence and then unthinkingly dispose of Sheree as if she was a nuisance is a form of spousal abuse. It is the highest form of such abuse.”

Justice Danyliuk said he spent countless hours not only writing, but thinking about this case.

“I spent nights, weekends, even holidays pouring through this evidence, through my notes. I sifted through everything, every scrap.

“But I kept getting drawn back to the one thing: The Pit. The Pit. What an apt name for the site of such things, such a callous killing. Even after I came to my decision and concluded writing my verdict and these reasons for that verdict, I continued to look at maps and diagrams and photographs of the Pit. It is a location I have never visited, never seen personally, yet I suspect it will occupy a place in my mind for the rest of my time on earth. The Pit.”

Sheree hardworking, stable, dependable

“I heard significant evidence about Sheree Fertuck,” said Justice Danyliuk. “She was a hard worker, punctual, diligent. She maintained a disciplined routine. Family was everything and as of December 2015 she had three adult children, one grandchild and her dog. All three of her children were Crown witnesses. All three have terminated their relationships with Greg.

“Sheree Fertuck had no known substance abuse issues, other addictions, mental health problems, or illnesses. She was financially stable and was independent both personally and professionally.

“Sheree Fertuck was many things to many people. She was a mother, a grandmother, daughter, a sister. She was a wife. She was a businessperson. She was tough and hardworking. She was loyal. She was not just a name, she was a real person, important to many people.

“Sheree was a devoted mother and daughter. She was protective of her children and adored her grandchild.”

On Dec. 7, 2015, Sheree Fertuck had lunch with her mother, Julianne Sorotski, and her brother, Darren Sorotski, at the family farm. This would be the last time any of her family would see her alive.

Her family went to look for her and found her semi unit and attached trailer, as well as a loader, at the Kenaston gravel pit. The semi was sitting with its clearance lights on and the keys in the ignition.

RCMP took this photo of Sheree Fertuck's semi and loader, which were left at the Kenaston gravel pit where she was last seen. Court exhibit photo

Inside the cab were her jacket and cell phone. There were no signs of an accident or foul play, said Justice Danyliuk.

Police found a cellphone and jacket inside Sheree Fertuck's semi at the Kenaston gravel pit on Dec. 7, 2015. Court exhibit photo

RCMP treated her disappearance as a missing person case but it soon turned into a homicide investigation.

Police checked her finances and personal travel documents. Her bank accounts had not been accessed. None of her credit or debit cards had been used, nor her passport.

“Police quickly discerned Sheree had vanished without a trace,” said Justice Danyliuk.

The evidence

Greg Fertuck became a suspect in Sheree Fertuck’s death within days, by Dec. 10, 2015. On Dec. 14, 2015, an RCMP Sergeant told Sheree Fertuck’s family that the police viewed her disappearance as a homicide and it was unlikely she was still alive.

The evidence provided a strong link between Greg Fertuck and the killing of Sheree Fertuck, said Justice Danyliuk.

The police investigation into her disappearance had gone cold so police used a major crimes undercover investigative technique called a Mr. Big operation, he added. On June 28, 2018, the RCMP received approval from Ottawa to conduct the Mr. Big operation.

The undercover operation resulted in Greg Fertuck giving statements to the undercover officer in June 2019.

“During the Mr. Big sting Greg never once denied his presence at the pit or that he killed Sheree there,” said Justice Danyliuk. “He admitted it and described it consistently to Mr. Big.”

His cell phone records of Dec. 7, 2015, confirm the route he took home on Highway 16 and the route he said he took westward to get rid of the rifle, court heard. Those records don’t confirm what he told RCMP at the start of the initial investigation into her disappearance, but they confirm what he told Mr. Big.

“They confirm his admission he was there, in that area, on that date and in the time frame that Sheree went missing,” said Justice Danyliuk.

Blood was discovered in the box of Greg Fertuck's truck and it matched Sheree Fertuck’s DNA.

“It shows she was in the box of his Dodge truck at some point and that she bled,” said Justice Danyliuk. “It doesn’t show the date but the blood was present even after Greg washed the box of his truck on Dec 7. It confirms what he said to Mr. Big that he killed Sheree. He wrapped her in heavy plastic and loaded her into the box of his half-ton truck. As well as Greg’s admission as to that heavy plastic confirms why there was so little of Sheree’s blood in his vehicle.”

The fact that he took plastic and a loaded .22 rifle with him to the pit to talk to his estranged wife is important in assessing that her murder was planned and deliberate.

“It speaks to forethought," said Justice Danyliuk.

A presumptive test for blood was conducted on the bucket of the loader. The test result was positive.

“Greg said he used the loader to put Sheree’s dead body into the box of his truck,” said Justice Danyliuk.

During the Mr. Big sting, Greg Fertuck told the undercover officers that the police had seized the wrong boots and that he still had the boots he had worn on the day he killed Sheree. Those boots were subsequently seized and matched the boot prints in the box of his truck.

Greg Fertuck told the undercover officer he used a Ruger 10/22 not registered to him to kill Sheree Fertuck, that he travelled west of Saskatoon to get rid of that rifle, he used OxiClean and bleach and detergent to clean his boots and clothing, and that he acted alone in killing her.

“The impact of the confession cannot be understated,” said Justice Danyliuk. “Greg Fertuck said he did it. He said he killed Sheree Fertuck. He explained, in detail, when and where and how he killed her. He said it directly to two undercover police officers.

“That is a highly significant piece of Crown evidence. The probative value of his confession increases considerably when the confirmatory, derivative and supporting evidence is considered.”

Greg Fertuck drew a map and diagrams for the undercover officers and his drawings connect to the actual scene in the pit as recorded by RCMP in reports and photos.

“Only the killer would know such details,” said Justice Danyliuk.

Greg Fertuck drew this map for an undercover officer when he met with whom he thought was a crime boss during the RCMP Mr. Big Sting. Court exhibit photo

“Greg’s confession is a powerful piece of evidence, a significant indicator of guilt. It was voluntary. He did not have to tell [undercover officers] anything. Instead he gave a detailed account of killing Sheree that is supported by many, many pieces of other evidence.  As a result, I have placed large weight upon Greg’s confession in my deliberations on this matter.”

Two expended .22 shells were found in the exact location where Sheree Fertuck’s semi was found. The type and number of shells, later tied to that rifle by the Crown's firearms ballistics expert, matched his confession, said Justice Danyliuk.

The two spent .22 calibre shell casings close to where Sheree Fertuck's truck had been left were the RCMP’s hold-back evidence.

“Neither the existence of these shell casings nor their calibre were disclosed to the public,” said Justice Danyliuk.

A shell casing that police found in April 2016 at the gravel pit. Greg Fertuck told undercover officers that he shot Sheree Fertuck twice at the pit. Police found two shell casings at the gravel pit. Court exhibit photo

The rifle Greg Fertuck used to kill Sheree Fertuck was found by Dean and Courtney Williams near Perdue in November 2021. It was found shoved under an old square granary the couple had purchased and were moving off land in a rural location about 30 minutes west of Saskatoon, court heard.

On Jan. 17, 2022, Dean Williams handed the rifle in to the Biggar RCMP.

The rifle ended up being the same make and model that Greg Fertuck had told undercover officers he had used to shoot Sheree Fertuck twice.

The fact that the rifle had never been registered to Greg Fertuck also matched his confession.

There were numerous delays in the trial. It started in September 2021 and was adjourned several times, mostly at defence's request.

“Ironically it is that defence delay that allowed the rifle to be found in time to be put into evidence during the currency of this trial,” said Justice Danyliuk.

Dark Cowboy

“For some reason with the undercover officers Greg would call himself the dark cowboy,” said Justice Danyliuk. “Sure, he wore black a lot and sometimes sported a cowboy hat. But there is no evidence anyone else called him that name. It was a moniker, an affectation. From some perspectives it is risible. However, it is revelatory in a sense.

“Greg did have a dark side. He was a misogynist, regarding women as ‘only good for one thing.’ He clearly saw women as inferior. He clearly believed women should obey him. His comments about women with undercover operatives were beyond rude; they were vulgar and often disgusting. He harboured violent thoughts.”

He had a history of solving problems through intimidation, threats and violence.

“It shows his track record of violence toward Sheree,” said Justice Danyliuk. “It shows motive. It fits within his confession, and the details of how he came to kill Sheree.”

Evidence also established that Greg Fertuck was an alcoholic, an abusive person, husband and father.

“When someone else was seeing his side girlfriend he wanted ‘The Paki’ killed,” said Justice Danyliuk. “Violence was always a viable solution for Greg with respect to problems in his interpersonal relationships. He treated Doris [Larocque] shabbily. He had no relationship left with his children. He berated and belittled Sheree. He struck Sheree. His children heard Greg threaten to kill Sheree. He demanded that he have his way, whether the request was personal or financial.

"Even post separation his demands continued," added Justice Danyliuk. "He made further demands of Sheree in the pit on Dec 7, 2015, and when she would not comply by his own admission he went to his truck, got his rifle, shot her in the shoulder, then coldly shot her in the head. He killed her in cold blood. He loaded her into his truck and got rid of the body so well that over eight years later, Sheree Fertuck still has not been found.

“Dark Cowboy indeed,” said Justice Danyliuk.

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