Friends of alleged attempted murder say they received alleged suicide note, cash

An Edmonton soldier stands trial on three counts of attempted murder and two counts of arson.  (Cort Sloan/CBC - photo credit)

An Edmonton soldier stands trial on three counts of attempted murder and two counts of arson. (Cort Sloan/CBC – photo credit)

WARNING: This story contains disturbing details.

When long-haul trucker Robert White opened his mail on a summer’s day in 2015, he was surprised to find a stack of cash and a letter signed by his friend, who was a soldier and a single mother in Edmonton.

White shared his memories of the day as he testified before his former boyfriend’s trial in the Court of King’s Bench on three counts of attempted murder and two counts of arson.

Prosecutors allege the 45-year-old soldier set a fire at her home on CFB’s Edmonton base on July 19, 2015, killing herself and her three children.

The accused cannot be identified due to a publication ban to protect the identity of the children. She has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

White and his wife, Bonita Dykens, became friends with the soldier after Dykens, who was also in the military, met them at work.

White, whose path sometimes took him through Edmonton, stopped and visited the mother and her children and became close with the family.

When asked by both prosecutors and the defense on what day he received the package containing the money and the letter, White said he couldn’t say for sure.

He told prosecutors it was after the fire, but later agreed with defense attorneys that it could have been before or after.

White said he never counted the money but said it was “a lot”. He called his girlfriend and told her he couldn’t keep it.

“I said to her, ‘Why are you giving it to me?’ and she said, ‘I want you to have it,'” White testified.

letter with cash

The letter that accompanied the money was handwritten on Fantasyland Hotel Stationary and signed with the defendant’s first name. The Crown claims it was written by her.

Addressed to “Bob” — that’s White’s name — the letter begins with the phrase, “By the time you get this, I’m either in jail or dead.”

The letter went on to say: “I will not be playing any more games [the accused’s ex-husband’s name] plays because I can’t watch these kids being scared and sad and so angry all the time.”

“I thought about running, but that would be too hard for the kids. So out of all the money I had, I could only get about $10,000. This is for you.”

It says an enclosed $100 gift certificate was for Dykens but told him not to tell her who it was from.

“Bob, please don’t feel bad or guilty if you think there’s anything you could have done because there wasn’t anything.”

Courtyard of King's Bench

Courtyard of King’s Bench

White was not questioned about the letter’s contents, but told the court he thought he had thrown it out.

He said he later met the defendant at a roadside shop north of Edmonton and returned the money to her.

Dykens was called after her husband as a witness and described finding the letter in her husband’s briefcase.

She said it was either late 2016 or early 2017 when the defendant’s ex-husband emailed her telling her about the letter and money White had returned to the defendant.

“He wanted me to find it and give it to him [military police]. At that point, I didn’t know anything about that letter,” she said in court.

White told her he threw the letter away, but a month or two later she cleaned out his briefcase and found it.

“As soon as I got hold of it, I started reading it and knew right away it was a suicide letter,” Dykens said.

At the time, Dykens’ friendship with the defendant ended after the defendant suggested they go on a road trip with White and sleep with him in a hotel room.

But she still felt loyalty to her friend and was torn on what to do.

“I thought maybe we could get our friendship back,” she said.

After a few months, she confided in her supervisor and gave her the letter, which turned it in to the military police on November 11, 2016.

The trial will continue on Friday.

If you or someone you know is struggling, get help here:

This guide from the Addiction and Mental Health Center describes how to talk about suicide with someone you’re worried about.


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