PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. – A conservation officer has told a first-degree murder trial in Prince George, B.C., that he followed tire tracks and footprints during a nighttime poaching investigation in November 2010 but instead found the half-naked body of a 15-year-old girl.

Conservation officer Cameron Hill testified Thursday during the trial in the northern B.C. city for 24-year-old Cody Legebokoff.

He is accused of killing 15-year-old Loren Leslie, Jill Stuchenko and Cynthia Maas, both 35, and Natasha Montgomery, 23.

Hill said he received a call at about 10:30 p.m. Nov. 27, 2010 to drive to a spot on Highway 27 where Legebokoff was seen urgently exiting a side road and had been pulled over for speeding.

With Legebokoff in the only police vehicle with four-wheel drive and because of Hill’s experience in tracking, the conservation officer said he volunteered to drive his four-wheel drive along an unused logging road that Legebokoff was seen leaving.

After getting sidetracked, Hill said he followed tire tracks for 300 to 400 metres to an old gravel pit.

Hill said he could also see where the tire tracks stopped at the south end of the pit and where there were also footprints.

“At this point, I was certain I was onto something bigger than what I first thought so I’m kind of anxious to put this behind me and find what’s there,” Hill said.

With a dimming flashlight in hand, Hill followed the footprints down a ravine to where he saw some “really peculiar tracks.”

“It looked liked someone had been kicking snow over something for quite a distance down the hill,” he said. “It looked like a sideways pushing motion to cover something up.”

Hill said he then saw a tiny bit of blood off to the side and could see where something had been dragged into the trees.

Hill said he briefly thought a trapper may have set a trap but then found the track led to very thick bush where that would be unlikely.

Hill said he struggled further trying to keep off the track marks.

“And then I could see the torso of a body, naked from what appeared to be the waist down.”

He said he called out but there was no response and had the feeling the person was dead, although he did not get any closer and did not take a pulse.

“There was no sign of life whatsoever,” Hill said. “I’m not sure how I knew, I do have a sense from a background in first aid, but I know there were no signs of life there.”

Hill said he retreated the 12 to 15 metres back to his vehicle, while trying not to contaminate the crime scene, and radioed back to Fort St. James RCMP Const. Aaron Kehler, one the officers who was with Legebokoff.

“He said ‘is it what you thought it was?’ I said ‘it’s what you guys thought it was, worst case scenario,’” Hill said, adding he told the officers an ambulance wouldn’t be needed.

The jury has been given Friday off and the trial will resume Monday at 9:30 a.m.

(Prince George Citizen)