A Tofield area woman admitted in court Thursday that she killed her husband and submerged his body in a dugout near their farm.
Helen Naslund, 58, pleaded guilty to manslaughter for the 2011 shooting death of Miles Naslund, 49.
The couple’s son, Neil, 28, pleaded guilty to offering an indignity to human remains.
Both were originally charged with first-degree murder and offering an indignity to human remains.
But Edmonton Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Sterling Sanderman on Thursday accepted the guilty pleas to the lesser offences.
Court was told the Naslunds 27-year marriage was marred by physical and emotional abuse. Her use of alcohol had increased and she struggled with depression. She attempted suicide and nearly succeeded in the spring of 2003.
Miles Naslund also drank too much and many family members reported seeing him handle firearms on the family farm while he was heavily intoxicated.
Shot twice in the head
By the fall of 2011, the family farm was financially at risk.
On Sept. 4, 2011, Miles Naslund got very drunk, according to an agreed statement of facts. He ordered his wife and youngest son, Neil, to complete the farm chores.
The next day, a haying machine broke down while Helen was operating it. Her husband was furious.
“Miles became so angered that he threw a number of wrenches at the accused during an angry tirade,” the court document said.
The anger came to a head during Sunday dinner.
Miles told his wife she would “pay dearly for damaging the equipment, then violently cleared the fully set dinner table onto the floor indicating the meal was not fit for a dog.”
In the middle of the night, after her husband passed out, Helen shot him twice in the back of the head with his .22-calibre pistol.
The next morning, she and her son dragged the body outside.
They put the body in a large toolbox designed to fit in the bed of a pickup truck.
They drilled holes in the box, put tractor weights inside and welded the lid shut, the court document said.
That evening, they took the toolbox to a nearby dugout and dumped it in the water.
They used a borrowed excavating machine to dig a large hole behind a shop on the farm. The victim’s car, a Chevrolet Cavalier, was crushed by the bucket of the excavator and covered up with dirt.
The two guns Miles Naslund owned were dropped into a slough.
Helen Naslund cleaned up the bedroom, and burned an area rug, mattress and bedding.
She and her sons made a pact to never reveal the truth.
The next day, Helen reported her husband missing. She told RCMP he had left the house in his car and failed to return.
‘You know we killed him, right?’
The Naslund family secret stayed hidden for six years.
Over the years, Helen expressed concern about the lack of progress in the investigation and even criticized RCMP for not finding her husband.
The secret came out when a long-time family friend went to the farm to get some car parts and had drinks with Neil and Helen.
That’s when Neil said, “You know we killed him, right?”
Around the same time, according to the agreed statement of facts, several people told the RCMP that another son had talked about the killing.
The Major Crimes Unit took over the investigation and ultimately got a search warrant for the dugout.
An RCMP underwater recovery team recovered the toolbox with the partially decomposed body inside. The car was discovered buried in a separate location.
When RCMP interviewed them, Helen and Neil confessed to the crimes.
Mother and son are scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 30 They are free on bail.