RCMP believe slain Manitoban stole from man accused of killing him, court documents show

Police believe Eric Wildman – who was the subject of a week-long police search last year – killed his rural Manitoba neighbor in anger after catching the man robbing him, according to court documents.

Wildman fled police in June 2021, after neighbor Clifford Joseph, 40, went missing.

Joseph was later found dead, and Wildman was charged with first degree murder in his death.

This charge has not been proven in court.

Joseph’s girlfriend told police that on the last day she saw him he was planning to steal a winch from Wildman, who lived next door in the rural community of Stead, about 90 kilometers northeast of Winnipeg, according to a search warrant application filed by police. in Manitoba Provincial Court that month.

« Clifford had also stolen items from Eric’s residence, which angered Eric, » said Sgt. Richard Sherring, a member of the RCMP D Division Major Crimes Unit, wrote in the court filing.

Clifford Joseph, 40, was found dead in July 2021. Court documents suggest Joseph may have robbed Eric Wildman before he was killed. (Submitted by Manitoba RCMP)

On the morning of the last day, Joseph’s girlfriend saw him, she woke up to find him gone, so she went out to their property to look for him, she told police.

She said she found Joseph’s vehicle parked in a field behind some bushes. The doors were open and her cellphone and car keys were inside, according to court documents.

She told police she followed tire tracks that led away from Joseph’s car to the property owned by Wildman and found the shoes, hat, headlamp and tool bag. Joseph, but not Joseph, so she called the police.

During the police investigation, officers learned that Wildman was concerned about the theft of other items from his property, including catalytic converters.

Joseph’s girlfriend told police she feared Wildman was involved in Joseph’s disappearance because she had heard rumors that Wildman might have been involved in the disappearance of Vernon Karl Otto, who had disappeared from the region three years earlier. RCMP now believe Otto was the victim of a homicide.

RCMP have not identified Wildman as a suspect in Otto’s homicide.

eric wildman property
The Wildman property was searched by police in 2021. There had been a fire there before Eric Wildman escaped from the police. (Submitted by RCMP)

« I believe Eric found Clifford on his property stealing items. Eric then chased Clifford across the field in his vehicle before killing him and disposing of his body, » Sherring alleged in the filing. of the court.

Police attempted to question Wildman about Joseph’s disappearance, but he declined to provide a statement, police said in court documents.

Wildman owned many guns

Officers located a vehicle belonging to Wildman in Winnipeg and noted damage to the hood, bumper and windshield. At that time, the police seized the vehicle and obtained a search warrant.

They found firearms, police tactical gear, police patches and other items resembling police clothing, RCMP reported at the time.

Court documents say an AK-47 was among the items found, along with a 50-round drum magazine for a handgun and a basket of five loaded magazines for the AK-47 – all of which are weapons or prohibited devices.

Cpl. Mark Heathcote of the Manitoba RCMP’s National Weapons Enforcement Support Team expressed a number of concerns about Wildman’s weapons in a request for a search warrant of his property and vehicles , including the fact that he had purchased three firearms, including a restricted handgun, the month before Joseph disappeared.

guns found in eric wildman s vehicle
Firearms and ammunition were found in Eric Wildman’s vehicle. Police said in court filings that an AK-47 was also found. (Submitted by Manitoba RCMP)

“I believe Eric Wildman failed to meet the standards and requirements imposed on all gun owners in Canada,” Heathcote wrote in the court filing.

« I think it’s undesirable in the interests of the safety of … Wildman or anyone else to [him] possess firearms. »

Court documents indicate that a receipt was found in the vehicle that took officers to an auto wrecking business in the Rural Municipality of Springfield, approximately 32 km east of Winnipeg, where a person who appeared to be being Wildman was seen on a surveillance camera shopping for a new cowl. and the headlight of his vehicle and change his damaged hood there.

police gear seized from eric wildman s vehicle
Police-style gear was also seized from Eric Wildman’s vehicle. (Submitted by Manitoba RCMP)

That damaged hood was recovered and examined by an RCMP forensic reconstruction specialist, who told officers the vehicle was involved in a collision with a pedestrian who was standing at the time of impact.

The police never released Joseph’s cause of death.

The RCMP requested a search warrant to test the airbag to prove the vehicle was involved in a collision, but the warrant was denied due to incomplete information and an error in the request.

After Joseph disappeared, Wildman fled from the police.

He was arrested on June 18, 2021 at a home in Belleville, Ont., about 1,000 miles east of the area where he and Joseph were neighbors.

The following month Joseph’s remains were found in Stead.

In addition to the first-degree murder charge linked to Joseph’s death, Wildman was charged with two counts of attempted murder after police said shots were fired when they arrived at a house of Belleville to arrest him.

His trial is scheduled to take place between May 8 and June 16, 2023.


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