Globe and Mail

Housemate lied, murder suspect says

Accuser was shoplifter, pyromaniac, Cherrylle Dell tells RCMP on tape as ERIN ANDERSSEN reports from Pembroke, Ont.

Erin Anderssen
The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, November 28, 2000

In April, 1997, knowing the police had reopened the investigation into her husband's death and that she was their main suspect, Cherrylle Dell called the Killaloe OPP detachment.

Her target: her former housemate, Nancy Fillmore, who had approached Detective Constable Ken Leppert a month earlier saying that Ms. Dell had mixed a deadly dose of antifreeze into the wine that Scott Dell consumed on the night in December, 1995, when he was thought to have committed suicide.

She is being tried on a charge of first-degree murder in his death. In a videotaped interview played in court yesterday, filmed in the same room where Ms. Fillmore had pointed the finger her way, Ms. Dell giggles and simpers through her own allegations. Did you know, she tells the detectives, that Ms. Fillmore had been banned from the local Freshmart for shoplifting, that she had credit cards in other people's names, that she lifted "old ladies' " purses from K mart? Ms. Dell says someone sawed through her brake line after the two women parted company, and she has to check underneath her car before she drives it.

The two lived together for two years. On the tape, Ms. Dell implies that they were never romantically involved.

Ms. Fillmore, she claims, is a pyromaniac, the brains behind a recent church burning: "I don't want this woman mad and setting fire to my house."

That is a startling statement because four months later, in August, 1997, Ms. Fillmore died in a house fire, which Ms. Dell is accused of ordering set. She has been charged with first-degree murder in that death too.

On the videotape, Det. Leppert and his partner lean back in their chairs, chuckling at Ms. Dell's giggles, even pretending to sympathize with her complaints.

"There are a lot of crazy people out there," Det. Leppert wryly observes at one point.

By this time, the Killaloe detective had already spent more than eight hours listening to Ms. Fillmore detail events in which Ms. Dell was charged with credit card fraud and public mischief and a description of Ms. Dell as plotting to trick her husband into drinking the poisoned wine.

Ms. Fillmore declared herself Ms. Dell's lover -- they lived together for two years -- but on her own tape, Ms. Dell implies that they were never romantically involved.

Mr. Justice James Chadwick of Ontario Superior Court will not be considering Ms. Fillmore's statements in his verdict: Last Friday, he declared them inadmissible because there was evidence of malice and she cannot be cross-examined.

In her own taped statement, Ms. Dell tells the detectives that her estranged husband was facing a death sentence from throat cancer -- a contention the prosecution is expected to contest -- and that on the night he died he phoned her several times, his voice slurry and his mood low.

They were separated, but he still loved her, she admitted. "I did care; he probably wanted more."

On the tape, she says he had stopped by earlier that night, a fact omitted from her earlier police statement, but that she was sleeping and that only Ms. Fillmore spoke to him.

Mr. Dell's body was discovered by Gay Doherty, the woman for whom his wife first deserted him.

Copyright © 2000 Globe Interactive