Guilty Plea in Cold Case
Estranged Husband gets life in 2001 Kingston Murder

Ann Killingbeck waited a long time for yesterday to come.

After more than four years of speculation and investigation, her daughter's killer has been brought to justice.

Ian Esford appeared in a courtroom yesterday and pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of his estranged wife, Patty Killingbeck, who vanished on Nov. 30, 2001.

Last night, Ann Killingbeck said her family has known about the murder charge since before last Christmas.

"We're finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel," Ann said from her Kingston home. "We're getting some closure."

Details surrounding Patty's death surfaced in court.

A judge heard the couple had an argument in the early hours of Dec. 1, 2001 and Esford knocked Patty down a flight of stairs, leaving her with a broken neck and no vital signs. He hid the body upstairs in a bedroom and later buried it in a wooded area near Snow Rd., north of Sharbot Lake.

Esford was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years.


Kingston police Det. Staff Sgt. Brian Begbie said Esford talked about the murder last year with other inmates at the Quinte Detention Centre, where Esford was serving time for a domestic assault on Patty. When Esford was released last Oct. 4, officers were there to arrest him in connection with Patty's murder.

Police are gratified they were able to crack a cold case that involved a "tragic tale," Begbie said last night.

Patty, whose daughters are now 13 and 15, was a patient care assistant at the Kingston General Hospital.

Police launched a murder investigation in March 2002 after speculating that Patty's disappearance was suspicious.

About a month after Patty's disappearance, police and forensic experts searched the home she shared with her husband and two daughters.

At the time, an OPP helicopter outfitted with special equipment to find human remains joined the search, which involved about 20 Kingston police officers and volunteers.

To this day, police have not found Patty's remains.

Late last year, Esford, who is in his 50s, took police to where he buried Patty's body, but they didn't find any remains.

Begbie said they found a grave in an obviously cleared area, but forensic investigators only recovered the blanket Patty was wrapped in. Depressions in the ground suggested wild animals likely moved the remains, Begbie said. Police will be back in the spring to keep searching for the remains.

The family has yet to have a funeral for Patty.

Patty's daughters are living in Kingston with their grandparents.

"They're happy in the sense (Esford) is finally getting what he deserves," Ann said.