PICKERING, Ont. - When Donald Woods failed to arrive at his Toronto-area destination Thursday morning, June 22, 2006, his boss phoned his wife. By that evening Nicole Woods, her 13-year old son and he...
FAMILIAR?: If you saw a white Volvo tractor-trailer with this logo on June 21, 22 or 23, 2006, call investigators at 905-579-1520 ext. 7810 or anonymously through Durham Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
Do you know who murdered this man?
PICKERING, Ont. – When Donald Woods failed to arrive at his Toronto-area destination Thursday morning, June 22, 2006, his boss phoned his wife. By that evening Nicole Woods, her 13-year old son and her dad were on the 401, banging on truck doors, showing Donald’s photograph, looking for her man.
At 8:50 a.m., June 23, Durham police officers found his body in his white 2006 Volvo tractor and white, empty 53-foot trailer with stainless steel doors, neatly parked behind a Pickering Wal-Mart; by that time he may have already been dead for 24 hours.
Woods was buried on June 27. He was 35 year old.
By mid-September police still hadn’t cracked the case.
“There’s still that piece out there that’s missing,” says detective David Henderson, with the Durham Regional Police Service Homicide Unit.
Previously a long-distance trucker, Donald lived in Athens, just outside of Brockville, Ont. This spring he had met the owners of AK Brothers Transport in Pierrefonds, near Montreal, close to where he was born and raised in Laval. The company wanted a driver for the Montreal-Toronto corridor.
“He was away for three weeks at a time and wanted a job where he could be home more often,” Nicole tells Truck News. He signed on with AK in late May and began to settle into a new routine.
“He would come back through Brockville to have supper or go grocery shopping for the truck, even if it was only five to 10 minutes to exchange clean for dirty clothes,” Nicole recalls.
Scroll back now to the morning of June 21, on Donald’s final trip: He picks up a load in Ontario, drops it off in Boucherville, Que. on Montreal’s South Shore, then continues east on the A-20 to Drummondville.
There he backs up to a dock at Avicomax Inc, on 500 rue Labonte. A dock hand quickly loads his trailer with 13,834.9 kg of fresh chicken in 524 boxes marked with a large Avicomax chicken-in-a-circle logo and June 21 packing date, 30 boxes per pallet.
According to the timeline Henderson’s team put together, Donald then drives non-stop back to Brockville where, says Nicole, “He stopped to see me.”
It’s 9:30 p.m.
She watches him pull out of a parking lot onto the 401 eastbound into a setting sun.
Early media reports imply that Donald may have stopped at the Fifth Wheel Truck Stop in Bowmanville but, Henderson says, “We have nothing to support that he ever stopped there on this trip.”
Fact is, Donald stops at the Esso 10-Acre Truck Stop on the corner of the 401 and Exit 538 (Wallbridge Road) in Belleville, 155 km west of Brockville, just before midnight.
“He normally bunked down there,” says Nicole.
Curiously, police establish that his truck pulls out of the 10-Acre just after midnight, more than seven hours before his Thursday morning drop roughly three hours’ drive away.
By this point things may have come unglued for Donald.
“We don’t know where he stopped or if he slept. We don’t know if he was in control of the vehicle,” Henderson explains.
Where did Donald and his rig go between Belleville and Pickering, 158 km away, where his rig was spotted, possibly as early as 8 a.m. on June 22?
Was it driven by hijackers to one or more pre-arranged buyers?
Was the chicken transferred on the road, perhaps behind that Wal-Mart?
“Did this vehicle leave the 401? It could have been at a loading dock, or on a desolate road backed up to another trailer,” says Henderson, who is looking for someone who saw the rig.
Too, if someone out there knows that his company bought cargo stolen from a murdered man, or saw these boxes, a discreet call to the Durham police would be in order.
For the second time in as many hijacking cases, this writer has learned that a tractor’s GPS equipment was not on, leaving no breadcrumb trail of a rig’s movements, denying police a powerful aid to solving a crime.
“GPS might have saved my husband’s life. It would have saved that day of searching,” says Nicole.
Henderson adds, “If it were operational it would have been a great boon for us.”
On July 22 the 1,000 Island Big Rig Show and Shine in Lansdowne was dedicated to Donald’s memory. Donations to the Donald Woods Family Trust Fund can be made at any TD Canada branch: Transit # 2456; Account # 6257707.