ONTARIO-After 14 long years of searching, the OPP has closed a case and issued a $50,000 reward for a critical tip in an unsolved fatal hit and run.
“I’ve had tips that seemed more concrete throughout the years that never panned out, so I was skeptical but guardedly optimistic,” says Detective Constable Dave Telfer.
“Being able to payout the $50,000 reward shows that people with information can truly benefit by coming forward,” adds Superintendent Jennifer Spurrell.
On Oct. 10, 2008, 18-year-old Lucas Shortreed was walking from a party sometime between 10:30 and 11:30 p.m. on Wellington Road 17 in Alma to his home in Fergus when he was struck and killed by a vehicle. The driver fled, but debris from the vehicle remained at the scene. The search began for a white 1995 Dodge Neon.
Throughout the next 14 years, detectives on the case received more than 100 tips from the public and examined several hundred vehicles trying to determine and locate the suspect vehicle and driver.
Then in June 2022 police got a break.
Tip Leads to Missing Car
A tip led to securing authorization which allowed specialized OPP teams to attend the home of David and Anastasia Halliburton where they located a white semi-trailer next to the residence according to police.
While searching the trailer, officers said they could see a plywood partition appearing to be held in place by a steel brace at the back of the trailer. Through a small gap between the partition and the wall, they could see a small, four-door white Neon
‘It wasn’t until I received the photo of the car from our Ident officers that I felt a sense of relief,’ says Telfer. ‘We were all pretty happy we finally found the car.’
The car was confiscated, and David and Anastasia were arrested.
Spurrell and Telfer immediately went to see Judie Moore, Lucas’ mother, to relay the information she had been waiting 14 years to hear.
‘At first, I was shocked,’ says Moore. ‘It didn’t feel real. I had convinced myself they would never be found, and I just tried to move on.’
Soon after, David Halliburton confessed that he was driving the car that hit and killed Lucas Shortreed while on his way home from a friend’s house according to police. Halliburton said he stopped the car briefly, looked back, then drove off – approximately five kilometres to his home. Police say he acknowledged he had been drinking.
David Halliburton was charged with Fail to Stop at Scene of Accident and Accessory After the Fact. Anastasia Halliburton was charged with Accessory After the Fact and Obstruct Justice as well as Knowledge of Unauthorized Possession of Weapon and Careless storage of Firearm, Weapon, Prohibited Device or Ammunition.
The 14-Year Cover Up
Police say David and Anastasia Halliburton purchased an identical white Neon and replaced the driver’s door with the VIN, the dashboard VIN and licence plates with those from the damaged Neon involved in the hit-and-run and then doused the car in bleach in an effort to remove any DNA and hid the damaged Neon behind a false wall in the semi-trailer parked on their property… for 14 years.
They were questioned by the OPP twice – once in 2008 and once in 2009 – and cleared both times. When asked to use his white Neon for a Crime Stoppers re-enactment of the hit and run and an OPP media campaign in 2013 to generate leads, David Halliburton said he was happy to assist”‘For 14 years, they lived in this community and lied and went on normally,’ says Moore. ‘This story is so much harder to live with.”
In September 2023, David Halliburton pleaded guilty to fail to remain at the scene of an accident causing bodily harm or death and obstruction of justice and received two-and-a-half years in prison and a three-year driving prohibition. Anastasia Halliburton pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and careless storage of a firearm and was given six months house arrest, 12 months probation and 200 hours of community service.
‘I was glad they pled guilty,’ says Telfer. ‘It saves the family from reliving the entire process again.’
Judie Moore says she feels grateful that she will no longer see the posters of her son around town, receive media attention and be waiting for the day the OPP knocks on her door.
“I feel a sense of resolution,’ says Moore. ‘It was a horrific experience, but it was also positive the way so many people supported us and showed us so much love.”
Moore expressed her appreciation toward the OPP officers who worked diligently and never gave up, and she wanted to leave a final message, “Lucas was a wonderful kid and it’s so sad not to know what he would have become, but he should never have been there in the middle of the road that night. It’s important for me that other kids know they need a plan for a safe ride home.”