On May 30, 2018, twenty-seven-year-old Joshua Roy Tucker shot and killed his fifty-nine-year-old father Gordon Ernest Tucker. But, when he brutally murdered the father he was close to, he thought his dad was someone else.
The murder, on a peaceful farmyard, shook the nearby tiny resort village of Cochin, which has a population of about 148.
In the weeks leading up to the killing, Joshua shot holes in the ceiling of his home, believing people who were out to get him were living there. He cut holes in the walls and ceiling looking for surveillance bugs. His mother, Kim Ternier, to convince Joshua no one was in the attic, called the police to investigate and put his mind at ease. It didn’t.
When Joshua gave his mom an electrical piece saying he thought it was a bug, she proved to him it wasn’t by taking it to an electrician. She even ordered a device that could detect surveillance bugs. She made arrangements to install motion detectors and a security system to ease Joshua’s fears and paranoia. They were scheduled to be installed the day of Gordon’s death.
On May 5, 2018, an RCMP officer went to Joshua’s house because Joshua was convinced a squatter was living in his attic. When the officer told Joshua there was no one in the attic he was in disbelief.
On May 25, 2018, one week before the murder, the same RCMP officer responded to Darien Flett’s call for a wellness check on Joshua. Darien, Joshua’s biological mother, said she was concerned about his behaviour. She said Joshua was convinced the Tucker farm was surrounded by government clones. She said he was very down and paranoid.
As Joshua’s mental health deteriorated, Gordon insisted that Kim leave for a few days and go to British Columbia to visit family. She did.
A bloody and confused Joshua goes to RCMP detachment
On May 31, 2018, Joshua went to the RCMP detachment in North Battleford, and in a whispering tone, asked to see someone in charge of “informants.”
He told the officers he wanted a CT Scan and blood tests. He said he and his son needed protection. He asked the police to watch the farm but not to go onto the property. He told the officers his house was bugged.
An RCMP officer called Kim in B.C. She said her husband Gordon wasn’t answering any of her calls. She also said Joshua took his son to the child’s mother’s home, which Kim found unusual. Kim and Gordon had custody of the child.
Inside the detachment, RCMP officers observed Joshua. He was upset, crying. He wanted surveillance on his house and asked police to pick up his son but wouldn’t say why.
Two RCMP officers escorted Joshua to the hospital for a mental health assessment. And while Joshua was at the Battleford’s Mental Health Centre, police found Gordon Tucker’s body on the Cochin-area farmyard.
Police found a trail of blood from the garage to the barn. Gordon was shot in his garage and his body wrapped in a garage floor mat. Joshua, using the front-end loader of a tractor, moved Gordon’s body from the garage and hid it in one of the barns.
Police, during their investigation, established that Joshua made significant efforts to clean up the gruesome scene. His efforts, however, were sloppy and he left several pieces of his bloodied clothes in multiple locations.
Even though he changed his outer clothing before going to the RCMP detachment on May 31, 2018, he was wearing underwear stained with blood.
Joshua admitted that he took meth early in May 2018. The drug use increased his paranoia. He acknowledged he was associated with people who were associated with gangs but said he was never affiliated with a gang.
He met with his psychologist on May 7, 2018. The psychologist’s report said that Joshua heard voices in his attic but he couldn’t find anyone in the attic. He told the psychologist that he was using alcohol and drugs and that the things he saw could have been hallucinations caused from drug and alcohol abuse. Joshua told the psychologist that since he separated himself from gang activity he experienced an increase in hyper vigilance and paranoia related to fears of retribution from his former associates.
Days later, Joshua heard sounds from the attic and took an axe and chopped a hole in the ceiling to look for people. He didn’t find anyone so he believed his house was bugged and people were talking to him through those devices.
He thought people in TV programs were sending him messages of retaliation. He thought a bus driver was part of an organization targeting him for killing the “person” in his attic. He thought someone wanted the Tucker’s farmland. He patrolled the property at all hours of the day and night watching for intruders. He phoned his parents constantly to see if they were OK. He was worried someone had taken over their minds and bodies. Kim said in the month before Gordon’s death Joshua’s paranoia didn’t come and go like it had before over the years. It was always present.
He believed imposters or clones were killing and impersonating people he knew and that he and his son were in grave danger.
Joshua started living in the basement of Kim and Gordon’s house instead of in his house on the Tucker’s farmland. The night before Kim left for B.C. he started talking to the people through the surveillance bugs and they told him to kill his family, the Battlefords Court of Queen’s Bench heard.
The next day Joshua believed that his son had been kidnapped and the kidnapper was impersonating Gordon. Joshua grabbed a firearm he had in the back of the truck and rushed into the house where he confronted Gordon asking him “where is my son?” Gordon turned and ran but Joshua pointed the firearm at Gordon and shot him.
Joshua heard a voice telling him to clean up the mess. He didn’t want his son to see the mess.
He picked up his son at the school bus drop off and took the child to his mother’s place. He threw the firearm into a creek and went back to the farm. He moved Gordon’s body to the barn using the tractor.
Son charged with killing father
The next morning, May 31, 2018, he drove to the RCMP Detachment in North Battleford.
On June 4, 2018, Joshua was charged with second-degree murder and breach of probation.
On June 25, 2018, the court ordered that he be assessed for fitness to stand trial and he was sent to Saskatchewan Hospital. On July 11, 2018, he was admitted to the Forensic Unit.
No motive to harm his father
Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Mansfield Mela said Joshua didn’t have a non-psychotic motive to harm Gordon. Gordon and Joshua had a positive relationship.
Kim and Gordon adopted Joshua in 1991 when he was four days old. Kim told the court that Joshua was a smart and active child but not without problems. He attended high school until Grade 10 in Battleford. He used drugs and associated with others involved in gang activities and he committed various crimes as a youth. She said she wondered if Joshua’s mental health issues had not started developing then. As an adult, in 2018, Joshua was taken into custody on a mental health warrant. Kim said Gordon and Joshua had a good relationship and if there was an argument it was generally between her and Joshua. Gordon rarely argued with Joshua. She said they had a strong relationship and Joshua helped out on the farm.
Not criminally responsible
Joshua believed the person he shot wasn’t Gordon but rather, someone else impersonating his father.
Judge G. A. Meschishnick, in his Feb. 4 written decision, said he accepted that Joshua held the irrational belief he was shooting an imposter.
“Both of the Forensic Psychiatrists were of the view that Joshua at the time he took Gordon’s life was suffering from a disease of the mind,” said Judge Meschishnick. “Dr. Mela’s diagnosis was that Joshua was suffering, among other things, from paranoid schizophrenia.
“In addition, the Crown admits that Joshua suffered from a disease of the mind. Based on the opinions of the Forensic Psychiatrists and the Crown’s admission I am satisfied that the conditions that Joshua claims to have suffered from satisfy the legal test for disease of the mind.”
Judge Meschishnick said cleaning the crime scene and moving the body are consistent with Joshua’s desire to protect his son from the details of the incident. In addition, getting rid of the firearm to prevent him from killing anyone else is an explanation for doing so.
“Post offence conduct of a person suffering from a disease of the mind may not be rational,” said Judge Meschishnick. “Nor is conduct after the incident conclusive evidence of whether a person had an operating mind capable of rational thought at the time of the incident.
“I accept that at the time of the shooting Joshua irrationally believed that his son was in danger,” he added. “I accept that when he confronted Gordon demanding to know where (his son) was that he irrationally believed that he was confronting someone who was impersonating Gordon. I accept that Joshua irrationally believed that the person impersonating Gordon was complicit in the kidnapping of (his son) and had information that could help him find (him).”
Judge Meschishnick said there is ample evidence to support conclusions that Joshua had delusions at the time of the incident. He showed a consistent pattern of irrational thought leading to the shooting. He told Kim he believed people had taken over the minds and bodies of others. Kim said that Joshua’s irrational thoughts and behaviours intensified in the weeks leading to the incident. At the heart of his delusions was the belief that he and his family were in danger from drug dealers or gang members that he or Kim had angered, or from gangsters who wanted the family’s land.
Joshua’s actions were dedicated to protecting himself and his family from the people who had bugged his home, were living in his attic, were speaking to him on TV and who had taken over the bodies of people, said Judge Meschishnick.
“He did not believe that it was Gordon. Because of his delusions his mind was incapable of ascertaining he was discharging the firearm at Gordon… Joshua had no motive to harm Gordon.”
Judge Meschishnick ruled that Joshua committed the act causing the death of Gordon Tucker but is not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder.
Joshua Tucker was remanded to the Saskatchewan Hospital for an undetermined time.
Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist