Larue’s lawyer questions forensic evidence

No one knows how Gordon Seybold actually died. There was so little left of his body after a fire destroyed his Ibex Valley home in March 2008 that it was impossible to determine the cause of death, said Dr.

No one knows how Gordon Seybold actually died.

There was so little left of his body after a fire destroyed his Ibex Valley home in March 2008 that it was impossible to determine the cause of death, said Dr. Charles Lee, the forensic pathologist who examined his remains.

Norman Larue, 30, is facing a first-degree murder charge in connection with Seybold’s death.

The Crown alleges that Larue and his-then fiancee, Christina Asp, attacked Seybold and set fire to his home.

Asp was convicted of second-degree murder in a trial last year.

Only a small portion of Seybold’s lower abdomen, a piece of skull and some bone fragments were recovered from the burned-out wreck of his cabin.

“Probably less than 10 per cent of an entire body was there for me to examine,” said Lee.

And the remains that he did have were “very badly burned,” he said.

“At first glance it was impossible to even determine the sex of the individual.”

With so little to go on, it was impossible to determine the cause of death, although from the carbon monoxide levels found in his liver suggest Seybold was probably dead before the fire started, said Lee.

While Lee admitted that testing an organ for carbon monoxide levels is not as accurate as testing blood, there was no liquid blood to test in Seybold’s remains.

“There wasn’t enough of the body to exclude anything,” he said.

That includes a stroke or heart attack, said Lee under cross-examination by Larue’s lawyer, Ray Dieno.

Seybold had suffered a stroke in 2007, about a year before the fire, and Lee’s examination of what was left of Seybold’s torso revealed arteriosclerosis, or hardening of arteries.

With so little of his body to examine, Lee couldn’t say how severe Seybold’s condition was. However, when questioned further by Dieno, he said that the fact that Seybold had suffered a stroke indicated he likely had arteriosclerosis in other parts of his body.

Larue told an undercover RCMP officer that he and Asp killed Seybold by hitting him in the head with a baseball bat and slitting his throat.

A tape of that conversation was played for the court on the first day of the trial, but Dieno argued that Larue was simply lying to impress the officer, who he thought was member of a crime family who was considering him for a job as a bodyguard and enforcer.

A bloody bat and two rifles were found in a garbage bin at a rest stop near Seybold’s house the day of the fire.

While a badly damaged portion of Seybold’s skull was recovered, there wasn’t any evidence of blunt force trauma, said Dr. Richard Lazenby, a forensic anthropologist who examined the bones.

“All the damage seen was in my view caused by the fire,” he said.

So little of Seybold’s body was left that his remains were identified through dental records by Dr. James Severs, a forensic odontologist.

Severs used a fragment of Seybold’s jawbone and some tooth fragments recovered from the scene make his determination.

The shape of the roots and distinct signs of gum disease matched x-rays taken of Seybold while he was alive, he said.

But Dieno called Severs’ match simply a “best guess.”

Severs found himself defending, not only his work, but the entire practice of forensic odontology, which Dieno tried to paint as subjective and unscientific.

Under a barrage of questions from Dieno, Severs remained resolute that the remains that were found after the fire were those of Gordon Seybold.

Contact Josh Kerr at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Jodie Gibson has been named the 2020 Prospector of the Year by the Yukon Prospectors Association. (Submitted)
Jodie Gibson named 2020 Prospector of the Year

Annual award handed out by the Yukon Prospector’s Association

A number 55 is lit in honour of Travis Adams, who died earlier this year, at the Winter Wonderland Walk at Meadow Lakes Golf Club in Whitehorse on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
A new take on holiday traditions

Winter Wonderland Walk, virtual Stories with Santa all part of 2020 festive events in Whitehorse

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Most Read