Globe and Mail

Probe Dell's death, doctor urged

Globe and Mail Update
Friday, December 01, 2000

Pembroke, Ont. — When Scott Dell was discovered dead and half-naked in his Ottawa Valley farmhouse a few days before New Year's in 1995, the theory at first was that he'd had a heart attack after shovelling snow off his roof.

The cause of death was next thought to be cancer: His estranged wife, Cherrylle Dell, suggested to police and to his shocked family that his throat tumours had returned and that he'd been told there'd be no surviving them.

By the time the authorities got around to naming his death a suicide — the result of drinking antifreeze — the cancer theory stuck. Mr. Dell was thought to have ended his life in despair over his deteriorating health.

As late as April, 1997, just as the police were taking a skeptical look at her, Ms. Dell was still holding to that theory. Her husband had been told his cancer was out of remission, she informed detectives in an interview. Nothing more could be done. "He said he wanted to stay home and die at the farm."

The trouble with that, according to his cancer specialist, who testified yesterday at Ms. Dell's first-degree murder trial, is that Scott Dell appeared to have beaten his disease.

Just two weeks before his death, Dr. Paul O'Dell said, he sent his tumour-free patient home with good news and not a death sentence but a prospect of recovery "considerably higher" than the 50 per cent given before treatment began.

When he heard from Mr. Dell's family that they'd been told he died of cancer, Dr. O'Dell urged them to get a court order to stop the cremation and run toxicology tests. That was how they found the antifreeze, which Ms. Dell is now accused of pouring into a bottle of wine and giving to her husband to drink.

Mr. Dell had a troubled marriage, but court documents showed that he had the upper hand in the custody battle over his children.

He'd been dumped recently by his girlfriend, but evidence suggests he was still infatuated with Ms. Dell. His family and his doctor have said he was strong and positive and keen to live for the sake of his young children.

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