In a video interview played in Red Deer’s Court of Queen’s Bench, Jason Klaus told investigators that Joshua Frank admitted to killing Klaus’ family in December 2013.
Klaus has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of arson in relation to the deaths of his father Gordon Klaus, 61, his mother Sandra Klaus, 62 and his sister Monica Klaus, 40.
Frank has also been charged with three counts of first-degree murder in relation to the deaths as well as one count of arson and one count of injuring or endangering an animal in relation to the shooting death of the family dog.
The remains of Gordon and Monica were found in what was left of a burnt-out house in Castor on Dec. 8th, 2013.
The body of Sandra has never been found and during a press conference in Calgary in 2014, RCMP Insp. Tony Hamori said police believe her remains were consumed by the fire.
On Monday, court continued to watch hours of videotaped footage – this time after Jason was arrested on Aug. 16th, 2014. About five hours into the interview with police, Jason said Frank killed Jason’s family.
“He said he was the one who murdered my parents and sister,” Jason told Staff Sgt. Michael McCauley at the Red Deer RCMP detachment. “I got that out of him two or three different times.”
Jason said he tricked Frank into confessing.
“I told him that I had a bush camera set up and I caught him on my camera. He proceeded to tell me that he was the one that did it,” he said. “There was one incident with Monica and he could see I was upset – it was nothing out of the ordinary – he said he did this to free me up.”
McCauley asked Jason how he felt.
“I was very upset. I wanted to hurt him,” said Jason. “He threatened me that if I ratted him out that I would be next.”
Jason added Frank was also extorting him asking Jason to, “Pay up”, because he knew Jason was about to get some money.
“He said if I don’t give him money, I will be next. I was scared,” said Jason, adding Frank confessed to the murders a second time. “I recorded it but it didn’t come out very well.”
Earlier in Monday’s proceedings, Jason told investigators that he had been hearing from spirits – specifically from Monica. Jason spoke with Wendy Barry, the former wife of an uncle, and said Monica told him his family was at peace and all together and that they were dead before the fire.
Jason added the spirits also told him how his family died – Monica had to be shot twice and Gordon and Sandra were shot in their bed.
Sgt. Robert Kropp questioned Jason as to why he had not come forward with this information before then as they had interacted on many occasions since Dec. 8th, 2013.
“I talked to you numerous times and you never said you knew how they died,” Kropp said.
Meanwhile, in evidence heard late last week, months after the deaths, Jason continued to refuse a polygraph exam as requested by investigators.
Kropp could be seen interviewing Jason on Feb. 16th, 2014. He asked Jason if he would consent to taking a polygraph exam at that time. Jason indicated he would not take an exam that day as he was following his lawyer’s instructions and he had been battling the flu for a number of days prior.
Kropp then introduced Jason to Sgt. Daniel McCullum, a polygraph examiner, and left the two to talk alone.
McCullum told Jason he had his equipment in another room and they could proceed with a polygraph exam if Jason consented. Again, Jason said he would not do the exam that day, but he did want to do it down the road.
“I want to talk to my lawyer. I still want to take it if it helps me carry on and takes me out of the picture, great,” said Jason.
McCullum asked Jason what he thought happened the night of the fire.
“Whatever happened was not planned that night,” said Jason. “I believe my deer head was taken (which Jason said was worth $200,000-$300,000 previously during recordings played at the trial). But why shoot the family dog? I can’t get over that. She would have protected if anyone was in danger, I’m sure of that.”
Later in his discussion with Jason, McCullum said police intended to get data and photographs from Google Earth and the government to see what traffic was in the area before, during and after the fire.
“It would be one more thing to corroborate strength for your alibi,” said McCullum.
McCullum then left the room and Kropp re-entered asking Jason again if he would be willing to take the polygraph exam that day.
“The longer the delay the more our attention is mis-focused,” Kropp said. “We want to eliminate people as quickly as possible.”
Jason said he would not take the exam that day, “But I’m pretty sure I’m going to go through with it.”
In addition, court also heard the next interaction between Kropp and Jason – an audio recording on April 2nd, 2014. Kropp attended Jason’s residence with another officer asking if Jason would provide a DNA sample by consent.
“How have you been holding up?” Kropp asked. Jason replied, “Terrible. I just got off the phone with someone and I was crying in relation to my mom missing,” before questioning Kropp as to why he hadn’t heard from him regarding updates on the investigation.
“I talked to you about getting a polygraph but I thought you needed space,” said Kropp, adding investigators had found DNA evidence at the scene and asked Jason if he would provide his DNA.
“I’m not going to do anything without my lawyer. I am willing to cooperate but I’m not going to do anything without my lawyer – that is what I was advised,” said Jason.
The trial continues in Red Deer.