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Greg Fertuck found guilty of 1st-degree murder in 2015 disappearance of wife Sheree

Sheree Fertuck, a 51-year-old mother of three, vanished on Dec. 7, 2015. She was last seen leaving her mother's farm near Kenaston, south of Saskatoon, en route to a gravel pit where she worked.

Fertuck confessed to killing after elaborate police sting operation

man and woman

Greg Fertuck is guilty of first-degree murder in the disappearance of his estranged wife more than eight years ago.

Sheree Fertuck, a 51-year-old mother of three, vanished on Dec. 7, 2015. She was last seen leaving her mother's farm near Kenaston, Sask., just after 1 p.m. CST that day, en route to a gravel pit where she worked.

On Friday, 3,113 days later, Saskatchewan Court of King's Bench Justice Richard Danyliuk ruled that Fertuck went out to the gravel pit that afternoon of Dec. 7, got into a confrontation with Sheree, shot her twice, then loaded her body in his truck and dumped her in a rural area.

This is the scenario that Greg presented to undercover police posing as criminals in a sting operation years after Sheree disappeared. He later recanted that story, saying that he made it up because he was enticed by money and perks from the fictitious criminal organization the officers were pretending to be a part of.

Sheree's body has never been found.

Danyliuk said in his ruling that Fertuck went to the gravel pit with preparations to kill Sheree — a gun and heavy plastic wrap — if the conversation about finances didn't go well.

"Greg had a considered plan in place to deal with Sheree. That it was a plan that was, arguably, contingent upon the settlement conversation going poorly does not make it any less a plan," he wrote in his decision.

"Even if killing Sheree was Greg's 'Plan B' it was no less a plan for that fact. Once the event triggering the contingency occurred, Greg executed his plan and executed Sheree."

First-degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years. Fertuck's formal sentencing date is set for July 4.

Sheree's sisters say justice is served

Sheree's sisters, Michelle Kish, Teaka White and Glenda Sorotski, said on Friday morning outside the court that justice has been served.

"Honestly, I wasn't surprised. I was fully going in that he was going to be found guilty on both counts. The evidence proved all of that and he got exactly what he deserves," White said. "Justice has been served."

She said she hopes Sheree's children will be able to "somewhat move" on.

"It's not something that is ever going to be forgotten, but hopefully, they can move forward."

WATCH | Sheree Fertuck's sisters react to Greg Fertuck's murder conviction:

'He got exactly what he deserves': Sheree Fertuck's sisters react to Greg Fertuck's murder conviction

2 hours ago

Duration 2:36

A judge has found Greg Fertuck guilty of first-degree murder in the disappearance of his estranged wife, Sheree Fertuck, more than eight years ago. Sheree's sisters, Michelle Kish, Teaka White and Glenda Sorotski, said justice has been served.

Sorotski said the judgment made it clear that murder was Fertuck's intent.

"He went out there with a plan and the judge said he executed his plan and it was very clear that he had intent to commit the murder in the first degree," she said.

"The details when you have to hear those repeatedly of the callousness is still shocking."

Sorotski said the decision offers them a sense of closure and that Sheree can "now rest in peace as our parents will be able to as well".

Kish said she was surprised at the fact that Fertuck was shaking his head in court as if the decision "was unbelievable".

"How could you be in disbelief of this, like, just the evidence, just too much evidence against him," Kish said.

"I was glad that the judge put that all in such detail and talked specifically about the details of the murder and spelled it all out."

Crown prosecutor Cory Bliss said after being involved in this case for many years, a fact clearly understood was how beautiful a person Sheree was.

"Hard-working lady, but very important to her family and also a gregarious person, someone who loved to laugh. And I think when she was taken from this world by Greg Fertuck, the world lost a light," he said.

"From the Crown's perspective, the correct verdict was reached today. It's been a long time coming, but this is some measure of closure for her family, who really are the most important people in this process."

An early suspect

Police were interested in Greg as a suspect within days of his wife's disappearance. He and Sheree were involved in a contentious family law proceeding, involving divorce and property division.

At the time of her disappearance, Fertuck owed Sheree thousands of dollars in child support, couldn't access his large pension without her permission and was in financial distress, with accounts "consistently in overdraft."

Fertuck's cellphone records placed him at the gravel pit around the time of Sheree's disappearance. Police also discovered a spot of Sheree's blood in the back of his truck.

In October 2017, Greg admitted to police that he had been at the gravel pit that afternoon, but insisted he didn't see Sheree.

This wasn't enough for police to arrest him for murder. But it was enough for police to launch a sophisticated undercover operation.

Project Fisten

Officers launched the undercover sting against Fertuck in 2018. They roped him into a fictitious blue-collar organization where Fertuck worked — and formed friendships — with undercover officers.

This group was meant to look like it operated in illegal circles and give Fertuck the impression it had connections that could help people get away with crimes.

The officers ran 136 separate "scenarios" over nine months, building toward manoeuvring Fertuck into disclosing what happened the day Sheree disappeared.

The sting had its share of hiccups.

On Jan. 1, 2019, six months into the operation, Fertuck slipped on a patch of ice outside a bar and smashed the back of his head. He was eventually hospitalized for a month with a brain bleed.

Undercover police later testified that the sting went into "maintenance mode" as they assessed whether it could continue.

On Feb. 16, 2019, police noted that Fertuck had quit drinking and his mobility was good. Fertuck still knew the "gang" members but forgot details about the work.

Police concluded the sting could proceed.

The sting operation reached its climax in June 2019. Plainclothes police began to tail Fertuck. They let him know he was still a suspect in Sheree's disappearance.

The Crown says undercover officers encouraged Greg to tell the "truth" to the organization's boss, because he and his guys had the power to make problems like this go away for good.

On June 21, in a secretly recorded video, Fertuck showed undercover police how he killed Sheree, using a walking stick as a prop rifle in the demonstration, with one of the officers standing in as Sheree.

"I'm going to get something for you," Fertuck is heard saying on the tape, which was played in court.

He then described how he retrieved his .22-calibre semi-automatic rifle from his truck while the couple argued.

In the recording, Fertuck says he shot Sheree in the right shoulder and she dropped to her knees. The officer standing in as Sheree in the re-enactment then kneels in front of Fertuck after pretending to be shot.

"She says 'Oh my God.' Then I went behind her and shot her in the back of the head. She fell face down," Fertuck says on the tape, standing behind the officer.

He was arrested for Sheree's murder on June 24, three days after the confession.

The trial

The judge-alone murder trial before Justice Richard Danyliuk began at Saskatoon's Court of King's Bench (then called Court of Queen's Bench) in September 2021.

The trial moved ahead in fits and starts, delayed several times for various reasons, including COVID-19 and the discovery of the alleged murder weapon.

Fertuck began representing himself in court after his lawyers withdrew from the case in October 2022. He had complained about them to the Law Society of Saskatchewan, without telling them.

In September 2023, Justice Danyliuk ruled that the evidence from the undercover police sting, including Fertuck's admission that he killed Sheree, could be admitted as evidence in the trial.

In his closing arguments, Fertuck said he had no reason to harm Sheree and suggested the judge consider others who may have. He noted that some of Sheree's work equipment had been vandalized before her disappearance.

Fertuck said he lied to the officers about killing Sheree because he was enticed by money and perks that came along with the fictitious criminal organization.

The final lap

On June 3 — 11 days before the scheduled decision — Fertuck applied to re-open the trial to call a firearms expert, and also applied for a mistrial.

Fertuck said he had seen a news story in May about a national ballistics laboratory opening at the Saskatoon police building. He said that he wanted someone at the lab to analyze the rifle that the Crown believes was used to shoot Sheree. Fertuck said there should be more rust on the rifle, given that it supposedly spent six years hidden underneath a granary.

When he appeared before Danyliuk on June 10, Fertuck dropped the application for a mistrial. Then he tried to drop the proposal to bring a new firearms expert when he learned the new lab did not do work for private individuals, and that its staff is not trained to analyze rust on metal.

On Wednesday, Danyliuk formally rejected both applications in a 26-page fiat that described them as "ill-conceived and without legal foundation," paving the way for Friday's decision.

Sheree Fertuck's disappearance, the ensuing investigation and Greg Fertuck's trial are the focus of the CBC podcast The Pit. Listen to all the episodes here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Zakreski is a reporter for CBC Saskatoon.

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