On a scorching August day an Emergency Response Team (ERT) – a paramilitary arm of the RCMP – swiftly rolled into the tiny town of Castor, Ab., to arrest a suspect in connection with a triple homicide.
The armoured vehicle, carrying tactical members wearing heavy gear, ballistic helmets and bullet proof vests, stopped in the back alley of a house where they believed Joshua Gregory Frank, then 29, was residing. Officers, pointing rifles at the house, positioned themselves for the high-risk takedown of a suspected cold-blooded triple killer.
A confused and dazed Frank, wearing shorts, went outside and was arrested without incident in connection with the brutal murders of Monica Klaus, 40, and her parents, Gordon, 61, and Sandra, 62, Dec. 8, 2013, in their Castor area farmhouse.
Sgt. Pillay was tasked with transporting Frank and moving him back and forth from his cell to the interrogation room where he was questioned by another officer. The conversations between Sgt. Pillay and Frank were recorded.
‘Are you a monster or someone who was manipulated?’ ask police
Sgt. Pillay told Frank that police know what happened and he was trying to decide if Frank is “a monster or someone who was manipulated and put into the worst possible position of his life.”
Jason Gordon Klaus, then 39, was also arrested that day in Stettler, Ab. and charged with three counts of first degree murder and arson in connection with his sister and parents’ deaths.
On the recordings in the Red Deer RCMP detachment, Sgt. Pillay could be heard saying to Frank, “You’re not a cold calculating killer. I don’t believe it was your idea.”
Frank replied, “God no.”
He told the officer he was confused because he had passed a lie detector test at the Stettler Detachment May 5, 2014.
“I was cleared,” Frank said adding that when there were “SWAT trucks” all over Castor “never in a million years I thought it was for me. All I see are black SWAT vehicles and guys with rifles.”
Frank told Sgt. Pillay that he simply lied for Klaus, saying “I helped with the story.”
He said that Klaus paid him $400 to tell a lie to his boss, a guy who does repossessions.
“Jason called me to get together. He told me the story to tell his bosses.”
He said that he went for a drive with Klaus and Klaus told him where to point stuff out like where the gun was tossed into the Battle River and where the truck was dumped.
“I just know what he told me what he did with the truck and gun.”
Frank said he did it because he feared for his and his family’s safety.
“I didn’t kill people. I don’t want to get charged.”
Sgt. Pillay urged Frank to tell the truth and said “Jason has taken advantage of you since you were young and that’s continuing.”
Frank first met Klaus when he was nine and Klaus 19
Frank said that he first met Klaus when he was nine but started hanging out with him when he was 14, and Klaus, then an adult, asked the youth who was walking downtown Castor with a beer in hand, if he wanted to go for a ride in his truck. Klaus then asked him to do cocaine and the cocaine abuse continued every weekend throughout Frank’s high school years.
Klaus, sitting in the prisoner’s box and sometimes watching the video recording, smirked.
Frank told Sgt. Pillay that he first attempted suicide when he was 14 and again in 2013.
Sitting in the prisoner’s box, Frank wiped his eye and put his head down while this portion of the police recording played.
During police recordings played in court Nov. 2 Jason Klaus’ alleged sexual abuse of Frank was revealed in a conversation to Sgt. Pillay.
“I never told that to anybody before,” said Frank. “Not my exes. Not my brothers.”
In earlier testimony, RCMP Sgt. Dan McCullum, who administered a polygraph test to Frank, was asked by Frank’s defence lawyer, Tonii Roulston, why he asked her client how old he was when Klaus sexually abused him. Klaus’ lawyer Allan Faye, however, objected saying the sexual allegations against his client were “extremely prejudicial and damaging.”
Sgt. McCullum said that he heard an undercover officer had walked into Klaus’ hotel room while Klaus was painting his toenails. He said he thought Frank was getting drugs from Klaus in return for sexual favours.
Why would Klaus pick Frank to help with murders?
When Sgt. Pillay asked Frank why Klaus would pick him (for the murders), Frank said he helped Klaus pick up cocaine in Edmonton a few years ago.
Sgt. Pillay told Frank that he’s not “feeling it,” that Frank is a cold-blooded murderer.
“Tell the truth. Either you didn’t do it or you’re a cold blooded killer and it doesn’t affect you.”
Frank said, “What if I was the driver?”
“I don’t know what you are,” replied Sgt. Pillay.
“I’m scared sh****** to tell the truth,” said Frank. “I’m not a gang banger. I’m not a violent person.”
“You’re committed to a story that Jason asked you to lie. It’s crumbling,” said Sgt. Pillay adding “don’t be that cold calculating killer for hire that he’s portrayed you as.”
“I’m not going down,” said Frank. “I’m not going to protect him at all.”
Sgt. Pillay told Frank, “Jason manipulated you. He metaphorically killed you. He killed his own family and now he’s killing you.”
To that Frank said “and my family’s reputation in town. That stuff too.”
The video recordings of Frank being questioned in August 2014 by Sgt. Joshua Graham show a much thinner Frank.
Frank wonders why he’s arrested and charged after he passed a polygraph test
“My world is upside down now,” Frank said in the video played in court Nov. 3. “The polygraph, I passed with flying colours next thing I know there’s SWAT. I don’t know which way is up.”
The Sgt. told Frank that his polygraph test was invalid and his results were a false positive.
“Yes at the time you passed but the investigative team did other investigations and you are involved. It’s not going to go away,” said Sgt. Graham.
“I’m dumbfounded,” said Frank.
Frank becomes drug runner for Klaus
Frank said he used to go to Edmonton to pick up cocaine for Klaus. He said Klaus always short changed the drug dealers, who had “AK 47’s” pointed at him when he met them.
Sgt. Graham said, “That’s gangster.”
Frank said he confronted Klaus about never having enough money in the envelope for the drug transactions saying to him, “What the hell you trying to do, get me killed?” Frank said Klaus’ reply was “Oh you made it.”
Klaus, in the prisoner’s box, had a smirk on his face as he watched this portion of the video. Frank sat in the prisoner’s box with no expression.
Frank talks about night of murders
Frank told investigators that the night of Dec. 7, 2013, he was in a bar in Castor with a few other people and Klaus arrived. Frank said he later went upstairs, where he lived above the bar, at about 2:30 to 3 a.m.
“I passed out. I woke up the next morning and heard sirens.”
Frank said he communicated with Klaus a few times over the phone and by text messages in the weeks after the murders to see if Klaus was okay. He said during a visit two days later that Klaus didn’t show any emotion and “it was spooky” because “Jason almost seemed relieved.” Frank said Klaus was “smiling” and Frank thought “what is wrong with this picture?”
Frank first said he was only an acquaintance of Klaus but later admitted they were friends and went quading, hunting and snow mobiling together.
“He’s a very good manipulator,” said Frank in the police video about Klaus. “He has the gift of gab and you have to sort through all the bull sh**.”
Klaus, sitting in the prisoner box, shook his head.
Frank, in the August 2014 police video recording, said that he couldn’t have committed the murders because he had an elbow injury at the time and his arm wasn’t even at “half strength.”
Frank said Klaus was looking for a jerry can for gasoline on Dec. 7 and said that he showed those text messages to police investigators.
Sgt. Pillay asked Frank what were the “rumours” in town.
Frank said that Klaus was fired from his job in Castor for stealing and that no one would hire Klaus because no one trusted him.
Frank also said that Klaus told him he was about to be forced off the family farm and taken out of the will.
The details came out during a voir dire at the trial, which is a trial within a trial to determine if statements made by Frank are admissible and voluntary. Justice E.C. Macklin will rule if the recordings can be admitted as evidence.
The trial continues in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench.
by Lisa Joy
ECA Review Reporter