Police who searched murder suspect Dellen Millard's farm last week have so far found "no significant connection" to a missing Toronto woman, but the head of the city's homicide squad said objects taken from the property still need to be forensically examined.
"I'm not aware of anything [from the farm] that leads us to Laura Babcock's disappearance," Staff Inspector Greg McLane told The Globe and Mail Thursday. "However, there are some things we need to further investigate that were found there to see if there's a connection."
Mr. Millard, 28, and Mark Smich, 26, face a charge of first-degree murder in relation to the death of Tim Bosma, whose charred remains were found on Mr. Millard's rural Ontario farm in May. Hamilton police seized a portable livestock incinerator, which was delivered to the property around July, 2012.
Toronto officers also searched the farm in the weeks after Mr. Bosma's death, but that effort was with regard to both Ms. Babcock – a 24-year-old friend of Mr. Millard who phoned him several times before disappearing in July, 2012 – and his father, whose death last fall was initially deemed a suicide.
Staff Insp. McLane said items taken last week from the Kitchener-area property must be examined to establish whether there's a link to Ms. Babcock, but he wouldn't say what exactly police had retrieved.
"We need to look at some things forensically, and if there's a connection, then there's a connection, and if there's not, there's not," he said. "We're going to do everything in our power to try to establish her whereabouts.… At this point in time, we don't have the answers."
Laura Babcock's mother said Toronto police called her after their search culminated Friday to let her know they hadn't found anything pertaining to her daughter – a welcome update for a family that waits anxiously by the phone for news of their vivacious loved one.
"We're pleased," Linda Babcock said. "No news is good news, as far as I'm concerned. We've been saying that all along."
Staff Insp. McLane said police wrapped up their five-day search last week because they were finished what they had set out to do. Still, he said police will return to the 100-acre farm if they obtain further information that merits another search. "We're going to continue to investigate until we're satisfied that we've done our due diligence to establish her whereabouts," he said.
For Ms. Babcock, the waiting game has inspired a mantra: "My new phrase is going to be hope and a lot of patience."