Detective Sergeant Mark Canning of the Warwick Police Department has seen the grisly results of murder in the city before – he is still hoping something new will break to help him solve the case of the 2013 murder of John “Jack” Fay, who was killed while jogging in City Park.
However, the most recent act of violence that took a life in the city occurred on an August day during the summer of 2015, when Fernando Silva – known to friends as Captain Fredy – was murdered by Troy Gunderway and Richard Baribault during an armed robbery that took place on his small boat at Warwick Cove Marina.
The murder, police investigation and subsequent confession of Gunderway – who took a plea bargain deal with the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office and was given a 35-year sentence – is to be the subject of an episode of the Investigation Discovery series “See No Evil,” which documents how murders are solved with the use of video evidence.
Canning was interviewed over the course of a week by a crew from Arrow Media, a London-based company that produces the show, and spoke with the Beacon on Wednesday to recollect working on the crime with fellow detective, then-Lieutenant Scott Robillard, as well as many other members of the Warwick Police Department, which assisted in finding and arresting the culprits.
“It went backwards. Basically we had a confession before we knew we had a crime,” Canning said. “That’s what was interesting about it.”
Canning talked about how Captain Fredy’s boat had eventually been found weeks after the murder occurred during the early morning hours on Aug. 1. Fredy was on board, but he had long since been deceased. Canning said the medical examiner would likely have been unable to determine what events led up to the cause of death.
“He was pretty much skeletonized,” Canning said. “You could have never known there was a stab wound due to the decomposition.”
However after viewing some photos of the scene, something struck Canning as odd. Certain items in the boat were knocked over – like cans and square-bottomed bottles – but others, like a thinner, cylindrical bottle of olive oil, were still standing upright. Others reasoned that the boat had been sent adrift by the infamous macroburst storm, which ravaged the state, but the fact that some items remained standing indicated to Canning some kind of struggle.
This led Canning to start talking to people from around the area, including Walter Taylor, who had witnessed somebody piloting Fredy’s boat the day after the storm. Canning followed bread crumbs from Stephen Emerson, who owned a private dock near Warwick Cove Marina and reported seeing two unidentified people sneaking through his backyard, to Donald and John Waterman – who turned out was working on a project with Gunderway.
Although his first interview with Gunderway didn’t reveal anything shocking – Gunderway said he had volunteered to try to help get Fredy’s boat engine running as an explanation for why he was down at the docks – it did lead Canning to Baribault.
When Canning went to question Baribault, he ran the license plate on his truck and found that the plates were stolen. Even further adding to his suspicions, Canning found a folding knife on Baribault as he was arresting him for the stolen plates and driving on a suspended license, which appeared to Canning to have small quantities of what could have been blood within the folding crease. The knife also looked as though it had been recently cleaned.
“We thought, ‘Could this get any easier?’” Canning recalled.
It only took a day of questioning for Canning and his fellow detectives to get Gunderway to admit to the crime and also implicate Baribault. Baribault, however, only initially admitted to driving Gunderway, and said that Gunderway was the one who went onto Fredy’s boat.
This is where video surveillance evidence helped shut the case for good.
“It [the footage] confirmed everything we needed to know,” Canning said.
From Gunderway and Baribault together on the docks going to Fredy’s boat, to Baribault’s truck being spotted going back and forth from various marinas about 14 times in a four-day period following the murder, to confirming that no other person besides Gunderway boarded Fredy’s boat in the weeks following the crime, the surveillance video footage was the evidential cherry on top.
Baribault was found guilty this past July, and was sentenced to life in prison, plus 10 years.
Now Fredy’s family has allowed the story to be displayed to a national audience, which Canning hopes will help memorialize him as a person.
“It’s going to get some exposure out there to tell who Fernando Silva was,” he said. “I think the family was willing and backed the project because they wanted him to be known as more than a victim of a crime. I think the show does a good job of telling the behind the scenes story of the victim.”
Neither Investigation Discovery nor Arrow Media would provide details on when exactly the show would air, outside of a general comment of “a few months from now,” but those interested in learning more about the story should keep an eye out for it.
Canning, although he endured many hours of filming B-roll, said he wasn’t going to be pursing a Hollywood career any time soon. He also made sure to give credit to the entire department for their work on the case.
“There was a lot of people behind the scenes,” he said. “The entirety of the detective division did good work on this case.”