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The men then attempted to burn the body in the car, but the fire went out quickly.
Fernandez’s body was discovered two days later. Wingert initially described his role in the murder two years after that to an undercover Calgary police officer who befriended him as part of a so-called “Mr. Big” sting.
But Wingert didn’t reach the Mr. Big stage of the operation, where a fictional crime boss has the target come clean about his past so the organization can “fix” it. Undercover officers held out the promise of bringing Wingert into their “group” but Wingert didn’t ask for details, although he “suspected it was something nefarious,” according to the appeal decision. He was homeless at the time, but had employment.
Police started looking at Wingert as a suspect after finding his DNA in the burned vehicle. They also discovered numerous phone calls between him and Fernandez just before the killing happened.
One of the undercover officers spent time socializing with Wingert over several months before they eventually took a road trip together, and during the six-hour drive Wingert told him “in excruciating detail” how he killed the victim, according to the appeal decision.
Wingert’s appeal argued he was lying to impress his new friend, but the appeal judges said neither they nor the trial judge saw that in the video of the conversation.
“The appellant confessed of his own volition in order, to use the appellant’s words, ‘to get it off his shoulders,’” they wrote. “There were no threats made or inducements offered.”