Pair sentenced for their roles in disposing of Megan Gallagher's body
The pain of a family who didn't know what had happened to a loved one for nearly two years reverberated through a Saskatoon courtroom on Wednesday.
The friends and family of Megan Gallagher spoke directly to two of the people who helped dispose of her body after she was killed in a Saskatoon garage on Sept. 20, 2020.
John Wayne Sanderson and Jessica Faye Badger (Sutherland) were in court to be sentenced for offering an indignity to human remains. Sanderson, 44, used his truck to drive Gallagher's body out of the city, and Badger, 43, provided gas money.
"There were people out there who had answers, who had information … who knew where Megan was and what had happened to her," Gallagher's father, Brian Gallagher, said in court. "The secrets both of you kept inflicted deeper and deeper pain. Each day added to the pain."
In an agreed statement of facts she read in court, Crown prosecutor Tyla Olenchuk outlined what happened after Gallagher's death. The circumstances of Gallagher's death have not been made public, as multiple accused are still awaiting trial.
Gallagher, 30, was reported missing on Sept. 20, 2020. During their investigation, police received information that Gallagher had been killed in a garage at 709 Weldon Ave., Olenchuk said. Further witness statements indicated Gallagher had been tied to a chair and killed in a back room.
Badger was present when another individual contacted Sanderson after Gallagher's death, because Sanderson had a truck. Sanderson came to the garage on Weldon Avenue and loaded Gallagher's body into his truck, Olenchuk said. Badger e-transferred $120 to Sanderson to pay for fuel for the truck.
Sanderson drove to the Gabriel Dumont bridge on the South Saskatchewan River where he planned to dump Gallagher's body, but was spooked by a vehicle, Olenchuk continued. He drove on to the St. Louis bridge and dumped her body there.
After police had information about where the body was dumped, they searched the area. On the first day of the search, in September 2022, they found human remains, Olenchuk said. DNA testing later confirmed they were Gallagher's.
Even though Sanderson and Badger were not directly involved in killing Gallagher, their actions — and especially their silence afterward — caused immeasurable pain to Gallagher's family members.
Lindsey Bishop, Gallagher's sister, described the two years between her sister's disappearance and finding her remains as filled with "endless hope and despair."
"Hope that one day I would wake up to her walking into my home with a coffee in hand and ready to take over my kitchen to make us breakfast," Bishop said. "But every day, I woke up and was heartbroken again … For two years, you had answers that would stop that endless loop."
Gallagher's aunt, Wendy Sekulich, asked Sanderson and Bishop whether their hearts hurt for those two years while Gallagher's family searched for her.
"She was a beautiful human being that you threw away like you would discard trash," she said. "My life will always have a piece missing, and that was thrown off a bridge by you."
The family members also spoke about the pain the court process has caused and continues causing.
Brian Gallagher said he has counted more than 100 times that they've gone to court to bear witness to all the accused in the case, and there are still many emotional days to come.
Nine people have been charged in Gallagher's death, including four people charged with first-degree murder: Summer-Sky Henry, Roderick William Sutherland, Robert James Thomas and Cheyann Crystal Peeteetuce.
Thomas Richard Sutherland and Robin Tyler John are charged with unlawful confinement and aggravated assault.
Sanderson, Badger and a third person, Ernest Vernon Whitehead, were charged with offering an indignity to human remains. Whitehead has pleaded guilty and is scheduled for sentencing on May 17.
Following a joint submission from the Crown and defence lawyers, Judge Sanjeev Anand sentenced Sanderson to three years in prison. Minus credit for his time already in custody, Sanderson has roughly two years and one month left to serve.
Badger received a community sentence order of two years less a day, followed by 18 months of probation. During the first year of her sentence, she must abide by a 24-hour curfew.