CALGARY — Police collected more than 20 cellphones, tablets and cameras during a five-day search of a rural property east of Calgary where a man allegedly took some of the women he's accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting, say court documents released Friday.
Officers also found women's clothing in a dark blue BMW the man allegedly drove to Quebec, cleaned and left in his mother's yard, the documents say.
Richard Robert Mantha, 59, faces numerous charges involving five women. They include kidnapping, forcible confinement, sexual assault with a weapon, sexual assault causing bodily harm and administering a noxious substance.
Police have said the women allege they were approached by a man, then drugged and taken to another location, where they were physically and sexually assaulted.
Mantha was charged after officers cordoned off a property near Calgary in April and brought in cadaver dogs, but police said at the time that no bodies were found.
The latest details from search warrants and production orders were unsealed and released to media Friday after a court challenge. One of the documents remains sealed.
The documents provide additional details from the women, some who police said worked in the sex trade. Their names are protected by a publication ban.
In December 2021, one woman was allegedly held at gunpoint by a man she believed to be Mantha, also known as Poncho, after meeting up with him on a weekly basis, say the documents. On her final date with him, she reported seeing a pig mask and a gun in the vehicle before she got scared and fled.
The documents say another woman reported going to do some construction work with a man named Poncho at a rural property, where he beat her, choked her and stomped on her back. The documents say she was found covered in mud by passersby in a ditch near Strathmore, Alta., with swollen knuckles, a swollen neck and back, and a bloody nose.
According to the documents, a third woman was at a bus stop early one morning when a man driving a truck stopped and asked her if she needed a ride. It was rainy and cold, so she agreed. The documents allege the woman became unconscious and woke up in a trailer, where she saw a shirtless man in front of her and realized her pants had been removed.
The documents note two other woman also filed police reports about Mantha.
Police said they believed seized phones, other electronic devices and the BMW could contain evidence, including data, blood or bodily fluids, related to the alleged offences, say the documents.
"Mantha thoroughly cleaned the BMW when he arrived in Quebec," says one of the documents. "He left the BMW in Quebec and flew back to Calgary."
The documents say that a search conducted by Quebec provincial police found a pellet pistol, women's clothing, women's boots and a woman's purse.
"I believe it is reasonable that Mantha was trying to clean up something in the BMW," say the documents. "I believe it is reasonable for this to be bodily substances including but not limited to blood and DNA."
Similar allegations were made in earlier search warrants for the BMW and the property where Mantha rented a Quonset hut and parked his trailer.
The documents say police searched for firearms and ammunition, a pig mask, bodily substances including but not limited to blood and DNA, a Samsung phone, clothing and human remains.
Mantha is in custody and a bail hearing continues for him later this month.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 9, 2023.
Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press