He gave a homeless man a place to stay. That man — Darcy Sheppard — stabbed and bludgeoned him to death, then cut up his body. On Monday, Sheppard was sentenced to life
More than two years after the homeless man he took in brutally murdered him, Kenneth Edwards will finally get a funeral.
And on Monday, Darcy Sheppard — the homeless man who betrayed Edwards’ kindness — was given a life sentence with no chance of parole for 17 years
“How was Kenneth Edwards’ act of kindness to a stranger to be repaid?” asked Superior Court Justice Dan Cornell as he sentenced Sheppard. “It resulted in his brutal death in his home by the very person Kenneth Edwards had extended his hand in friendship.
“I accept the sentence (joint sentencing submission by the Crown and defence). There is nothing to suggest that accepting the sentence will bring the administration of justice into disrepute.”
On May 28, Sheppard — who was about to go to a judge and jury trial on a first-degree murder charge for Edwards’ death — pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of second-degree murder, along with charges of arson and causing indignity to human remains.
A pre-sentence report was ordered to assist with sentencing. At that time, the court heard that a joint sentencing submission by the Crown and defence lawyer Glenn Sandberg would propose a life sentence with no chance for parole for 17 years.
On Monday, Cornell accepted the sentencing submission, issued a DNA order and lifetime weapons ban, and ordered Sheppard not to have any contact with members of the Edwards family while in custody.
“I’m very sorry for my decision and actions leading to the death of Ken: there is no excuse,” said Sheppard in a low voice when given a chance to address the court. “I’m very sorry for taking the life of Ken.”
Outside the courtroom, Edwards’ daughter, Jennifer, said she accepted the sentence and is now glad that the court appearances are finally over and her family can now go about planning a funeral.
“Nothing is going to bring my dad back,” she said. “I’m satisfied (Sheppard) is going to spend a good portion of the life he has to live in prison.”
Jennifer said she hopes to have the funeral “as soon as possible” once Greater Sudbury Police release her father’s remains, which have been held as evidence.
The daughter said her family did not know a lot about the case, but pieced together what happened as they attended court.
“The preliminary hearing is where we got a lot of the information,” said Jennifer. “Some of the information had to be released to us sooner such as the state of the house, the police trying to prepare us for what I was going to discover (inside).”
On May 28, details of the case were disclosed through an agreed statement of facts.
Greater Sudbury firefighters, responding to a shed fire at the back of a residence on Bancroft Drive about 9:05 a.m. March 11, 2017, put out the fire. They also made a gruesome discovery: body parts were amongst the charred wooden pallets, garbage and newspaper in the shed.
Greater Sudbury Police were called in and an equally gruesome scene was found inside the small bungalow on the same property. There was blood spatter on walls, blood on the living room and bathroom floors, and indications that a body had been cut up in the bathtub.
In addition to body parts, investigators also found a broken baseball bat, knife, reciprocating saw and handsaw.
Inside the home, it was a scene of “complete disarray with things thrown about, paint splattered on the floor and furniture.”
In addition, the drain was blocked by what would turn out to be pieces of human flesh.
Sheppard, meanwhile, who had been living at the home for about two weeks as Edwards’ guest, did not return there due to the police and firefighter presence and went to the Elgin Street Mission for a meal.
Sheppard then went to the home of a friend and told him that Edwards wanted to die. He said Edwards told him if helped him, he would get a $10-million winning lottery ticket.
Sheppard said he stabbed Edwards, hit him in the with a baseball bat, cut up the body and then set the fire in the shed to burn the body, as well as the clothes he was wearing at the time.
Sheppard also indicted that Edwards had hidden two bags for him behind a garbage bin on Lloyd Street and a bag near railway tracks in the Minnow Lake area.
The friend did not believe Sheppard’s story, but went to the location near the train tracks and found the hidden bag. The friend then contacted police and told officers what Sheppard had said.
Sheppard, meanwhile, was still at the friend’s home. When the friend asked him to go over what happened, Sheppard told him that after stabbing Edwards, Edwards told him “it didn’t work” so he used a baseball bat to hit Edwards in the head repeatedly. Sheppard also made a sawing motion with his hand to the friend.
Sheppard was arrested the following night and cooperated with police.
In a statement made March 13, Sheppard said it was Edwards who proposed his death.
“Kenny told him he was dying of leukemia and as a result he ‘wanted to go out with a bang,’” said assistant Crown attorney Lindsey Santerre. “He wanted his ashes to be spread on a river.”
In exchange for killing him, Sheppard said Edwards indicated a lottery ticket, which he believed to be a $10-million winner, would be his reward.
Sheppard said after he killed Edwards, he then dragged the body to the bathtub where he cut it up using saws and the knife.
The killer then said he then brought the body parts out to the shed and set wooden pallets, garbage and newspapers on fire in order to cremate the remains.
Sheppard also said a second man — Patrick Sweeney — was involved in the murder, but that was “an attempt to deflect his own involvement,” said Santerre.
Sweeney, who was arrested not long after, spent about six-and-a-half months in custody before the Crown stayed charges against him.
Sweeney was exonerated due to video showing him on Notre Dame Avenue and also staying at the Out of the Cold Shelter in the downtown core at the time of the murder.
Centre of Forensic Science reports found a mix of Edwards’ and Sheppard’s DNA on items in the residence and the fire scene, such as red construction gloves, the court heard.
A post-mortem, meanwhile, determined Edwards had been stabbed five times and that blunt force blows to the head caused significant damage, including a skull fracture.
Forensic scientist Scott Fairgrieve concluded Edwards’ skull had eight points of impact from a cylindrical object and that some of the knife wounds broke the ribs in two.
Police, meanwhile, found Sheppard’s cellphone and some prescription medication in the Edwards residence.
At the conclusion of the Crown’s evidence and agreed statement of facts, Cornell asked if Edwards did in fact suffer from a fatal disease.
Santerre told him that was not the case.
After court closed, The Sudbury Star inquired with the Crown if there had ever been a major lottery winning ticket found in connection with the case.
The answer was no.
The court heard Monday that Sheppard was on an 18-month probation order when he killed Edwards. He also had a criminal record that dated back to 2006. He had broken his father’s nose one on occasion and been involved in about 10 fights in his adult life.
In his sentencing submissions Monday, Sandberg said Sheppard told him “I did what I did and can’t undo it.”
Sandberg said Sheppard struggled with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder since he was young, and then began using street drugs in his teen years.
“So, we have a troubled mind, a dysfunctional mind,” he said. “A combination of mental illness and drug abuse for many years brings Mr. Sheppard to where he is today … Nothing that is before you can excuse his conduct just as there is nothing that can undo the damage he has done.”
In her sentencing submissions, assistant Crown attorney Kaely Whillans said “it was a brutal, horrifying and gratuitous use of violence to Mr. Edwards … Mr. Sheppard, after the fact, dismembered the body, attempted to burn the body including the murder weapons, trying to deflect responsibility and pointing the finger at another individual under the hope of winning $10 million. It’s extremely aggravating.”
Whillans also said Sheppard had a history of stopping the use of his medication, including Ritalin and methadone/suboxone, as he didn’t like the way those drugs made him feel.
“Kenneth Edwards received a death sentence in March of 2017,” she concluded. “His family received a life sentence of pain, anger and grief.”