News / Calgary

Calgary man pleads guilty to killing, burying actress Shannon Madill

Joshua Burgess has pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of his common-law wife. Burgess also admitted to hiding her body outside the home they shared.

This photo, from Joshua Burgess' Facebook and OKCupid accounts, show him and Shannon Burgess (nee Madill). Shannon Madill, 25, was reported missing on Dec. 1, 2014, after failing to show up for a family event.

FACEBOOK/ FILE

This photo, from Joshua Burgess' Facebook and OKCupid accounts, show him and Shannon Burgess (nee Madill). Shannon Madill, 25, was reported missing on Dec. 1, 2014, after failing to show up for a family event.

CALGARY — A man has been sentenced to life in prison for killing his wife because he wanted her to "stop talking" before hiding her body outside the home they shared.

Joshua Burgess, 31, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Monday on what was supposed to be the first day of his trial in Calgary.

Comedian and aspiring actress Shannon Madill, who was 25, was reported missing Dec. 1, 2014, after failing to show up for a family event.

Crown prosecutor Susan Pepper told court the couple had dated for four years before getting married, but it wasn't long before the marriage was in trouble.

She said Madill and Burgess were separated and dating other people in November 2014 and Madill was packing up her belongings for a "dream job" in Edmonton.

Pepper said Burgess came in after midnight on Nov. 27 and the two started talking and had sex on the couch. But it wasn't long before the pair were arguing.

"Shannon said things to the accused that night that he did not want to hear. She told him that she regretted marrying him and she did not need him," Pepper read from an agreed statement of facts.

"In an attempt to get her to stop talking, the accused put his hand over Shannon's mouth. This did not work and she bit him. The accused then got on top of Shannon and strangled her with both of his hands so that she could not speak or scream."

Court heard Burgess put Madill's body into a plastic container and moved it to the patio of their home where it remained until spring. That's when he buried her in the front yard and covered the spot with dirt, branches and cement slabs.

He admitted what he had done when officers arrived on July 2, 2015, with a search warrant for the home.

"I killed Shannon," he said to police.

Several members of Madill's family detailed the pain they felt upon hearing that she had been murdered and that Burgess had pretended not to have any idea why she was missing.

"The ability to look a person in the eyes, knowing you're the cause of all the pain and suffering that you see, and act like you know nothing. No amount of time will ever be enough to make up for what he's taken from us," said the victim's brother, Tyler Madill.

David Madill told court he felt he had failed his daughter by not keeping her safe, but never thought Burgess was a threat.

"I feel a significant amount of betrayal. Josh was not some stranger on the street, but rather someone we had welcomed into the family," Madill said as he choked back tears.

Lisa Madill said there isn't a day that she doesn't relive the horror of her daughter's disappearance and death.

"There is a hole in my heart that will never heal," she said. "He kept us dangling in limbo for seven horrible months."

Burgess read an apology to the family members prior to his sentencing for the "anguish and pain" that he had caused.

"They put trust in me that I did not deserve and I failed all of you in that."

Justice Patrick Sullivan accepted a joint recommendation from the Crown and defence that Burgess be eligible for parole after 10 years.

"As a result of the guilty plea, the Madill family will not have to bear witness to the excruciating details of this crime," Sullivan said.

"The details are gruesome, painful and undignified, and the Crown recognizes the significance of the guilty plea in reducing the period of parole ineligibility."

— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said Madill was the common-law wife of Burgess.

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