Dusting off Canadian Cold Case Files From The 1970’s – Part 1

Unsolved Murders and Missing Persons

In the decade just before the phrase ‘serial killer’  would capture the popular imagination, and DNA transformed forensics – when the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit was still in its infancy and there was no national database for police to compare murders across jurisdictions – perpetrators of violence against strangers were emboldened by the anonymity and ambiguity of their heinous crimes. The public, while vaguely aware of the dangers that lurked in the streets of Canadian cities, were still mostly naïve about the risk of abduction and murder. People went to bed at night without locking their doors, women often hitchhiked alone in the dark and strangers were not yet equated with danger. But by the time the 1970’s came to a close, the likes of Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy and the BTK killer were household names. The reality of violent serial homicide began to take hold in public consciousness and studies began in haste to understand the phenomenon.

During the 1970’s an alarming number of mysterious, unsolved murders and missing persons cases emerged across Canada and with the passage of time, grew cold. This article explores a sampling of those cold cases from various Canadian cities. Its aim, an attempt to shed light on the victims stories and provoke someone out there, who knows something, to come forward with information so that justice can finally be served.

Time is of the essence, clues and leads grow hazier and ever more vague as years and decades pass.

File# 001 – A Dark Connection from Calgary to Edmonton?

The Murders of Pauline Elizabeth Brazeau, Tara Jane White, Marie Goudreau, Melissa Ann Rehorek and Barbara Jean Maclean

Calgary-late-1970s-1024x671
Calgary, Alberta circa 1976

Introduction

Between 1973 and 1981 law enforcement agencies in western Canada were confounded by a long series of unsolved sex-murders along the highways of Alberta and British Columbia. Featured here are five such cold cases from Calgary, Alberta from 1976-77 and one, quite possibly connected, that occurred in Edmonton during the same time frame.

Pauline Elizabeth Brazeau

Pauline

Described by family as beautiful, outgoing and friendly, sixteen year old Pauline Elizabeth Brazeau was a single, teenaged mom seeking a better life for herself and her 9 month-old daughter when she left her home community of Yorkton, Saskatchewan and moved to Calgary in December 1975. Her life would come to a tragic end, her daughter left motherless, only a month later.

On the evening of January 8th, 1976 Pauline was socializing and having drinks with friends and family at her aunt’s apartment on 17th Avenue in south west Calgary. After consuming what police describe as “a considerable amount of alcohol”, she and a friend went to grab a snack at a nearby pizza place. They arrived there at approximately 2:30 a.m. After they finished eating pizza the two departed and headed home. Pauline then returned to the restaurant by herself just 15 minutes later to retrieve a pair of gloves she’d forgotten. She didn’t find her gloves so she left the pizza place shortly thereafter.

Pauline’s body was found partially clothed and stabbed to death that same morning at 8:30 a.m. on January 9th, 1976 on the Jumping Pound Forestry Road 22 miles southwest of Cochrane, Alberta and approximately 25 to 30 miles west of Calgary.

6 months later…

 

 Tara Jane White

white

Originally from Banff, Alberta, nineteen year old Tara Jane White was a happy-go-lucky science student fresh off her first year of studies at the University of Calgary when she was reported missing on July 3rd, 1976. She’d been working as a waitress in the heart of the Canadian Rockies at a lodge 40 miles north of Lake Louise. On July 1st, 1976 Tara was seen leaving a residence in the Northwest Calgary neighborhood of Dalhousie. Witnesses later reported seeing her walking across a field near the Crowchild Trail. Investigators determined that she was on her way to a nearby bus station to purchase a ticket to Lake Louise when she went missing. Police believe that Tara either accepted a ride from someone at the bus depot or was picked up hitch hiking. At the time of her disappearance Tara was described as 5″1, 105 lbs., slim build, brown hair, dark complexion with hazel colored eyes. She was wearing a tan corduroy jacket, blue jeans, a white blouse and an orange backpack.

On March 24th, 1981, Tara Jane White’s skeletal remains were discovered in a shallow grave approximately 40 miles west of Calgary in a wooded area off Highway #1 near the community of Morley, Alberta. An orange backpack was discovered with the body.

1 month after Tara disappeared….

Marie Goudreau

Marie Goudreau

“We thought it would be solved soon and we were hoping that it would have been. You are always thinking some person is maybe doing this again and you certainly don’t want that to happen. It’s one of those nagging feelings you just don’t know how to handle” –  Daniel Goudreau (brother of the victim) Edmonton Sun, 2012

In August of 1976 police made a peculiar discovery on a remote rural road south of Edmonton. An abandoned blue colored Plymouth Cricket, was parked at an angle on the shoulder of the road with its headlights on. When the police stopped to inspect the vehicle they also noticed that the engine was still running. The driver side door was left open with the window partly rolled down. A leather jacket and shoes were found in the car along with a purse that lay undisturbed on the front passenger side seat. It belonged to seventeen year old Marie Goudreau of Beaumont, Alberta, a suburb on the southern outskirts of Edmonton. The name of the road at the time was route RR#244, known today as Ellerslie Road.

At approximately 10:30 p.m. on the evening of August 2nd, 1976, Marie left a friend’s house heading toward her home in Beaumont. The route along 244 was a familiar drive for Marie as she routinely traveled the same way home each night from the Southgate Mall, where she was employed at a coffee shop. While approaching Township Road 510, Marie is thought to have pulled over sometime between 10:50 and 11:10 p.m. It is believed that someone flagged Marie over – perhaps pretending to be broken down or in trouble – that person (s) quickly apprehended and abducted her as she exited her car and left without a trace. The only lead: local witnesses reported seeing a red truck idling at the side of the road at approximately 10:50 p.m. Investigators were never able to track down the truck or its driver.

Two days after Marie’s mysterious disappearance, her nude body was found in a water filled ditch 3 Km north of Devon, Alberta. The medical examiner’s report revealed that she’d been strangled to death.

Detectives would eventually note striking similarities between this case and another unsolved homicide that occurred in Calgary on February 26th, 1977. The murder of 19 year old Barbara Jean Maclean. But before that…

1 month after Marie was killed….

Melissa Ann Rehorek

rehorek

In the Spring of 1976 twenty year old Melissa Rehorek, a resident of Windsor, Ontario, packed her bags and set out for a new beginning in Western Canada. She settled down in Calgary, Alberta, where she took up residence at the local YWCA and found a job as a hotel chamber maid. According to friends and coworkers, Melissa was a frequent hitchhiker who often accepted rides from truckers when she ventured out of town. On September 15th, 1976 at approximately 9:30 p.m., Melissa left the YWCA alone and caught a transit bus traveling westbound through the city and got off at McMahon Stadium. She was never seen alive again. Investigators later learned that Melissa intended to hitchhike west along HWY 1 and spend her two days off exploring the rocky mountains.

The very next day, on Wednesday, September 16th, 1976, Melissa’s body was discovered in a ditch along a rural, gravel road approximately 23 km west of the Calgary city limits and just 2 km north of HW 1, where she’d been hitchhiking. Her death was ruled a homicide and police determined that she’d been strangled to death.

None of her belongings were missing and everything, including her money was left in her purse at the crime scene. Witnesses reported seeing a grey colored half-ton vehicle roaming the area on September 15th.

Investigators are adamant in their belief that Melissa’s case is connected to another unsolved Calgary area homicide, the murder of 19 year old Barbara Jean MacLean.

5 months later….

Barbara Jean MacLean

maclean2-l-g

Just a little over a month after Melissa Rehorek was found strangled to death a nineteen year old Nova Scotia teen from Inverness, made her way to Calgary, Alberta in October of 1976. Barbara Jean MacLean was described as a socially outgoing free-spirit who liked to hang out late at the local bars. By November, 1976 she had found a stable, well-paying job at the Palliser Square Branch of the Royal Bank and shared an apartment with her boyfriend.

On the evening of February 25th, 1977, Barbara was having drinks with friends and family at the Highlander Bar in Calgary. Near closing time that night, Barbara and her boyfriend got into a drunken argument in the parking lot after he’d been evicted from the establishment for causing a scene. The two exchanged heated words and after some time Barbara returned to the bar and continued drinking until closing time. Meanwhile, her boyfriend waited for her in his dark green 1970, Volvo parked just outside.

When the bar closed at 2:30 a.m., Barbara returned to the vehicle where she and her boyfriend continued fighting. The altercation escalated and the couple split. Her boyfriend stormed off in his car, leaving Barbara behind in the parking lot. She mentioned to friends that she planned to hitchhike to a house party and made the fateful decision to set off on her own.

The following day a man out walking his dog along a gravel road came across the body of a young girl who’d been strangled to death near 80th Avenue and 6th Street North East. It turned out to be Barbara MacLean. Although she was fully clothed circumstances led detectives to believe that she was sexually assaulted. A thorough examination of the crime scene also led investigators to surmise that she’d been killed at another location then moved to the gravel road some time later. Whoever gave Barbara a ride that night is in all probability, the same person who murdered her.

As noted above, police are convinced that Barbara’s murder is connected to the Melissa Rehorek case. It is also speculated that the same killer might be responsible for Marie Goudreau’s death.

While I don’t know all the circumstances, I think it is fair to at least consider the possibility that ALL of the homicides listed above are linked to one another and that Alberta was dealing with a sexually sadistic serial killer.

Here’s my reasoning….

Some Notable Similarities

  • In almost every case the victim’s body was discovered in a remote area near the Trans Canada HWY
  • Three of the five victim’s had been murdered while hitchhiking and one was abducted from her car.
  • Three of the five victim’s were strangled to death
  • There was a sexual assault element involved in at least four of the five cases. Sexual misconduct could not be confirmed in the case of Tara White because it took five years for her body to be recovered and by then, it was in a very advanced state of decomposition.
  • In four of the five cases the women involved had just recently moved to the Calgary area
  • Police strongly suspected that violent sexual offender Gary McAstocker was responsible for killing Barbara Maclean, Marie Goudreau and Melissa Rehorek. McAstocker worked for an Edmonton based moving company that made routine trips to Calgary where employees often stayed at the Highlander Motor Hotel. This is the same establishment that housed the Highlander Bar where Barbara was last seen alive. It is also very close to McMahon Stadium, where Melissa Rehorek got off the bus just before she started hitchhiking. In 1994 Gary McAstocker committed suicide just as Edmonton Police were building a case against him for another murder, that of  a 14 year old Edmonton girl named Tina McPhee.

I believe it is highly probable that all the homicides noted in this article were committed by the same person given the proximity of the geographic locations, the relatively isolated timeframe in which the murders occurred, and the similarities I’ve indicated above.

In my next installment of this series I will be returning to Halifax and the possibility of connected cold cases there from the mid 70’s.

 

If you have ANY information about ANY of the cases featured in this article please contact the South Alberta RCMP Serious Crimes Division in Airdrie, Alberta at 403-420-4900 or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477

 

 

 

 

 

Coming Soon…

I will be on a brief hiatus for a month or two due to other obligations. And with the Halifax series now complete, I thought I’d drop a preview of things to come… Here are some topics I will be writing about in the near future:

  1. The startling number of unsolved cases involving Native women across Canada
  2. The weird phenomenon of human feet in running shoes that keep turning up on the shores of British Columbia … AND a few notorious unsolved murders that have captured public attention such as:
  3. The Elizabeth Short (AKA The Black Dahlia) homicide
  4. The murder of Jonbenet Ramsey
  5. … and of course more cold cases and unsolved mysteries. I will return to Halifax again later.

More to follow…

Did a serial killer stalk the streets of Halifax in the early 90’s? Part 4

There is a startling number of unsolved murders and open missing persons files in the Halifax Region but a cluster of cold cases involving young women spanning from 1988 to 1993 are particularly unnerving. Did a serial  killer manage to elude justice in Halifax over two decades  ago? If so, why?

Exhibit E – The murders of Suzanne Elizabeth Dube and Shelley Connors

*Note if this is your first visit to the site and you are just beginning to read the article please go back and read Parts 1,2,3 first. It will make much more sense*

Of the final two cold cases presented in support of my hypothesis that there was a serial killer active in Halifax over two decades ago, one is perhaps the least likely to be connected to the other murders and disappearances. By this I mean that there is ample reason to believe that in this particular case, the victim had probably fallen prey to a different killer. Some of the clues in the Shelley Connors cold case actually point very close to her  neighborhood and suggest that someone she knew was responsible for her death.

Whereas the other cases previously discussed convey strong indications of a common perpetrator, the unsolved murder of Shelley Connors is more ambiguous and diverges from the pattern.

However, the palpable facts that this case: 1) is unsolved 2) involves a young woman who meets the signature age range and 3) falls within the time frame in question cannot go unnoticed. So the possibility that she too was murdered by the speculative ‘serial killer’ must not be entirely dismissed.

If Shelley was indeed a victim of our suspected serial killer she was also the last – at least the last in the Halifax area – because if there was indeed a serial killer, pattern would dictate that he either moved on to another location and continued killing until he was caught or he died at some point.

*Note: I will henceforth refer to the hypothesized killer as “he” because in all likelihood he was a male. Statistically, 80% of violent crimes are committed by men*

Alas if Shelley Connors was the last of our serial killer’s victims it seems Suzanne Elizabeth Dube was in all probability, his first in the Halifax region.

Here’s a look at Suzanne’s case…

Suzanne Elizabeth Dube

SuzanneDube002

In researching this article I spent a lot of time and mental energy sifting through information pertaining to myriad Nova Scotia cold cases and considering plausible and conceivable patterns. Upon lengthy consideration, I came to the conclusion that IF there was actually a serial killer at large, he started his work with Suzanne Elizabeth Dube. You could call it a semi- educated guess because I am by no means an expert and I’m basing this entirely upon the limited information that is available to me. I do not have access to all the resources sealed within the police investigations, such as autopsy reports, crime scene photos and analysis, interview transcripts and suspect lists etc.

Here’s what I do know…

On the evening of November 17th, 1988, 22 year old Suzanne Elizabeth Dube left her two children at home with a babysitter at her residence in Lower Sackville. A sprawling perimeter town located on the outskirts of Halifax. As she left her place, Suzanne told the babysitter  she “was just going to check something out” and added that she “would be back in a few minutes”.

It was the last the babysitter ever heard from her. The young mother of two never returned to her small children.

Various reports placed Suzanne at a strip joint called The Load of Mischief and near the vicinity of the Club 2000 Bar on 498 Sackville Drive during the late hours of November 17th and early November 18th just before she vanished. There would be no trace of her for the next four months. Sadly, when spring rolled around the search came to a grisly conclusion when Suzanne’s severely decomposed body was discovered washed up in the Bedford Basin just outside Halifax on March 25th, 1989. The Nova Scotia medical examiner’s office concluded the cause of death was a homicide.

Bedford Basin
An aerial view of the Bedford Basin where Suzanne’s body was found

The first detail about Suzanne’s case that jumped out at me immediately was the strip club sighting. Allow me to explain….

Remember that Jean Hilda Myra’s last known address was a south end YMCA, which we’ve concluded was actually, in all likelihood, the YWCA hostel at 1239 Barrington Street? The very same place where Lesley Anne Katnick also disappeared? (See Parts 2 and 3 of this story) And remember that Jean was known to hang out in the southern part of the city near the train station… and that she was last spotted leaving a ‘tavern on the south end of Barrington Street’? Well it so happens that The Lighthouse Beverage Room, a popular Halifax strip club during the early 90’s, located at 1070 Barrington Street, and often referred to as simply ‘The Lighthouse Tavern’, was just a 5 minute walk from the YWCA. It was also located almost directly across the road from the Via Rail station… and within a 10 minute walking distance of the Halifax grain elevators where Jean Hilda Myra’s body would be discovered in April, 1990.

So why is the above information significant? Well Suzanne was at a strip club on the night she was murdered. And if you think about it, it’s quite possible that the unspecified tavern where Jean Hilda Myra was last seen was also a Halifax strip club, albeit one in another part of the city. But suppose our killer liked to frequent local bars and strip clubs and his sexual frustration sometimes turned violent on these outings? Carla Gail Strickland was out celebrating a friend’s birthday at an unnamed Halifax bar the night before she was abducted and killed. And Lesley Ann Levy had been to The Misty Moon Cabaret, also a bar on south Barrington Street, just before she had her throat slashed at Point Pleasant Park.

But why did the police release the names of some of the bars and not others? The names of the night clubs Carla Grail Strickland and Jean Hilda Myra were spotted at are not specified in the information made public. Why? Was this initially because the police were afraid that if the public realized that Suzanne, Carla and Jean had all been to a strip club on the night they were murdered the media might make a link and hit the serial killer panic button? Maybe.

In light of the circumstances it is fair to make a reasonable inference. I think these crimes were all sexually motivated and that south end Halifax was the killers favored turf, where he liked to hang out. Perhaps while roaming bars on South Barrington Street he also kept a close eye on vulnerable women at the YWCA, which also happened to be conveniently located in the same general area. The killer’s horrendous homicidal streak might have started on a cold night in November, 1988 when he was visiting an out-of-town strip club in Sackville. But The Load of Mischief was not one of his regular haunts. The bars and clubs on South Barrington were his typical stomping ground.

As we’ve seen in several other cases though, his geographic footprint has been known to span the entire Halifax region.

It’s possible that Spryfield was another neighborhood where he left his malicious mark years after Suzanne Elizabeth Dube died tragically.

The next case is sort of an anomaly when compared to the others. As I’ve stated, it is likely that Shelley Connors was murdered by a different perpetrator. It just so happens that her death occurred amidst the backdrop of a number of other unsolved cases involving young women. Nonetheless, her life was also taken from her all too soon by a scumbag who must answer for his actions.

Shelley Connors

ConnorsShelly

On Saturday afternoon May, 29, 1993 Shelley’s brother Corey answered a phone call for his sister Shelley at their family apartment on River Road in Spryfield, a neighborhood just south-west of the Halifax peninsula. In an article for Halifax Magazine by local journalist Ryan Van Horne, Corey states that the caller identified himself only as “Chad” but the family suspects the caller was using an alias to hide his identity.

Shortly after the call was placed, Shelley set out on foot in the general direction of J.L. Isley High School which is situated just behind her apartment building to the North East about a 6 minutes walk.  The fact that she left her cigarettes behind provides a strong indication that she didn’t plan to be away very long.

She never returned.

On June 1st, 1993 a police tracking dog discovered Shelley’s body in a wooded area behind the Spryfield Lions Rink, a mere 400 meters from the apartment complex where she lived. She had been murdered. Heavy rain in the days prior to the discovery contaminated the crime scene and washed away any physical evidence that might have produced a viable lead.

Police canvassed the area for witness reports and interviewed several locals. They quickly identified an unnamed suspect from Spryfield who lived on the same block. He was an older man who was known to “hang out” with Shelley and another teenage friend near the Lions rink. Police arrested and interrogated this individual in August of 1993 but due to insufficient evidence he was never charged.

Shelley was wearing black low-cut cowgirl boots and a brown leather jacket when she left her home that Saturday afternoon in May 1993. Those items were missing from the crime scene along with her house keys. None of them were ever recovered.

Shelley-Connors-locator-map-resized1
The star indicates Shelley’s apartment on River Road. The Red Square is the area where her body was discovered.

 

In all probability Shelley was murdered by the initial suspect police originally identified. In many unsolved homicides,  detectives have a strong feeling about who the killer is and their reasoning, based upon years of experience, is often very well substantiated. The problem is they can’t just simply place a suspect in custody without compiling sufficient physical and circumstantial evidence to obtain a warrant, make an arrest and garner a conviction. Because in doing so, they might run the risk of the suspect being found not guilty in court. If that were to happen the suspect would then be protected by the double jeopardy law and thus immune to further prosecution for the same crime should new evidence emerge later on.

Could the unnamed suspect in Shelley’s murder be our serial killer? If it is someone who knew her well it is possible but unlikely. Normally, the more personal the relationship between killer and victim, the more tangible are the murder and the motive. Serial Killer’s mainly target strangers or people they barely know. It is one of the reasons they are so hard to catch. Police can not easily establish any substantial connection between the victim and the killer when the two are strangers so suspects aren’t immediately obvious. While it is known that serial killers may form an ‘obsession’ with certain victims, their contact with them is mostly covert, through peeping or stalking from afar.

That said,  the answer to the above question is still not a definitive no. There are always exceptions to the norm. The unnamed suspect could have known Shelley well and still have been our postulated serial killer. Perhaps he befriended her to earn her trust. And it is still possible the police had it wrong. Shelley could have been killed by an unknown suspect, other than the person of interest the police spoke with in August, 1993. IF it was someone other than the main suspect in the police investigation, there is a pretty fair probability that it was the conjectured serial killer that murdered Shelley.

The fact that various personal items were missing from the crime scene provides one indicator that it might be the work of a serial killer. It is well documented that many serial killers are known to collect mementos from their victims. They keep them as grotesque and macabre souvenir’s to relive the experience of their murders.

But there seems to be a key difference between Shelley’s case and some of the others. If I had to make a reasoned inference based on the limited information available, I’d wager that there was no vehicle involved in the process of Shelley’s murder nor was there in the attempt to conceal her body. Shelley was killed close to home and she was likely left in the same place where the crime occurred or somewhere in close proximity. It is indeed feasible that all of the women’s bodies were left at the location of their murders. BUT – with the exception of Jean Myra and Lesley Levy – there was almost certainly an abduction and transportation involved during the course of the other crimes because the preliminary disappearances occurred in high risk public areas. And in the instances where bodies were recovered, the victims were found at sites a considerable distance away from where the initial abductions took place. This suggests that our a proposed killer normally used some form of  vehicle in his M.O.

However, while it is possible that a vehicle was involved in Jean Hilda Myra’s homicide, this is by no means conclusive and it seems unlikely that the person responsible for cutting Lesley Levy’s throat in Point Pleasant Park used a vehicle in the process of committing that crime. This is not to say that he didn’t  make his escape in a vehicle after the assault, but there is obviously no reason to believe that he attempted to abduct her or move her body, as was clearly the case with most of the others.

The applicable point is that the Jean Myra and Lesley Levy cases could potentially denote a peculiar precedence: That the killer may not always employ a vehicle in the callous operation of his heinous crimes…. And if this is so, the Shelley Connors homicide could still fit into the serial killers list of victims.

As I’ve stated above, my opinion is that IF Shelley Connors was murdered by the surmised serial killer, she was his last victim. Through the course of this series I have discussed all of the cases that I think are connected in some way. I will now expand on my analysis by discussing other more generalized aspects of the cases and offer up some theories.

Closing Statements:

The unusually high number of unsolved homicides and open missing persons cases on record with the Halifax Regional Police is a well documented issue. Several articles from various media sources have previously noted that Halifax has one of the highest unsolved murder rates in Canada. Is this in large part due to the actions of one perpetrator? Did a serial killer manage to allude detection for over two and a half decades and if so why and how?

Police Incompetence?

halifax-regional-police-headquarters
Halifax Regional Police Headquarters

Consider the following…

  • A false lead surfaced early on in the Kimberly McAndrew missing persons case that unduly hindered progress in the investigation. An unreliable RCMP ‘informant’ told detectives that Kimberly was abducted by pimps and forced into a prostitution ring. Convinced that this was true, it is believed that detectives focused too much attention on this ‘lead’ and ignored or discounted other possibilities.
  • When the Halifax Regional Police Cold Case Squad re-opened Kimberly’s file in 2004 detective Tom Martin requested a crucial piece of DNA evidence collected by the task force  in 1989. He’d hoped that advances in forensic science might lead to a breakthrough in the case. But Martin was dismayed to find that nobody knew what had happened to the DNA specimen. The only sample of physical evidence had simply disappeared from police custody and no one could account for it.
  • Martin also issued numerous requests for a copy of the RCMP’s file from the parallel investigation they’d run on the McAndrew disappearance and got no reply. He believes that the lack of cooperation in the past was due to old ‘turf wars’ of trust and jurisdiction between the RCMP and the Halifax Police Department.
  • Despite being in operation for over 15 years, the Halifax Cold Case Squad has NEVER solved a cold case. It has been speculated that this is due to poor management and under manning.
  • When the Cold Case unit was first assembled in 2001 police management said it would be composed of 5 detectives with a combined 24 years of homicide experience. Today, the police force refuses to disclose how many officers are actually working the Cold Case section.

 

A Profile of ‘The Killer’

Disclaimer: The following narrative is a speculative experiment based upon my limited knowledge of the subject matter. It is intended as a thought-provoking engagement only and should be taken with a healthy grain of salt. I am not an expert in forensic psychology or criminal behavior. Therefore this profile should not be misconstrued for an official assessment. 

With that stated, anyone can compose a profile with various degrees of accuracy from reasoned inferences based upon information available. All it requires is imagination and an understanding of human behavior. Not everyone can come up with a GOOD profile though. Mine might be way off base but I’m going to give it my best shot. Some of the first known ‘criminal profiles’ were devised by notable amateur sleuths like Edgar Allen Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle. And people from all walks of life and numerous back rounds have ‘profiled’ Jack the Ripper.

Here goes…

If there was a serial killer he was a white male between the ages of 27 and 35. He would have been considered somewhat good-looking and likely carried himself with a mild, innocuous disposition. He would have been very confident and comfortable approaching women but his social behavior , while charming, would have been slightly awkward. He likely had a girlfriend but the relationship would have been strained, dysfunctional and probably mentally or physically abusive on some level.

He had an above average IQ but under performed in school due to poor behavior and disciplinary issues. His mother was over bearing, vindictive and mentally abusive. Male role models in his life would have been inconsistent and mostly absent. He would have been defiant as a teen and likely got into trouble with the law at an early age. He likely had a criminal record as a juvenile and may have even spent time in jail for a petty crime.

He worked a menial job that involved travelling the city. Probably a cab driver, furniture mover or delivery person. He might have served in the Navy at some point. He was very familiar with the geography of Halifax and the surrounding areas and likely grew up somewhere on the peninsula. During the time of the murders he lived somewhere within a two kilometer radius of Citadel Hill, probably in the vicinity of Robie Street, Quinpool Road and southern Windsor Street.

He smoked cigarettes and drank alcohol frequently but he was not a heavy drinker. He had many social relationships but few if any close friends. People who knew him well would have heard him make misogynistic jokes and contemptuous comments about women.

He drove an older vehicle that was probably well maintained and in decent but untidy shape. It was probably a van or a station wagon. He was a bit of an outdoorsman and likely spent a lot of time in the woods camping, hunting or fishing. He liked to pick up prostitutes and was probably well known amongst the cities sex trade workers. On occasion he would have requested sadistic sexual encounters and would have become very aggressive with hookers. He likely alienated some of the girls to the point where they were afraid of him and probably avoided his proposals in the future. It’s even possible that he had one or more altercations with a pimp for being overly forceful with their girls.

He liked to lie about his profession to strangers and try to  pass himself off as being someone in a high position of trust, someone who provided an essential societal service like a police officer, a fireman or a social worker. On occasion he may have even pretended to be injured or even handicapped to draw sympathy as a ploy to make people warm up to him.

He probably favored ligature strangulation as his mode of killing.

If he is alive he is no longer in the city of Halifax and is very likely in jail for a serious offense… Or he is still active somewhere else.

The Killer had some way of gaining trust but how?

  1. The killer was a cab driver.
  2. The killer posed as an undercover cop.
  3. The killer was a cop.
  4. He feigned an injury or handicap as a ploy to draw sympathy and bypass his victims guard.
  5. He was known to and maybe even on friendly terms with, some of the victims particularly Kimberly McAndrew.
  6. He either volunteered at or hung out at the YMCA/YWCA or he was involved in some type of support or social group that was hosted at the Y.
  7. He targeted and befriended some of the women at local bars PRIOR to his attacks. So that when he later approached them in public they weren’t alarmed.

Conclusion:

A Timeline of the murders and disappearances:

  • Novermber 17th, 1988 – Suzanne Elizabeth Dube goes missing from Lower Sackville.
  • March 25th, 1989 – Suzanne Elizabeth Dube’s body is discovered in the Bedford Basin
  • August 12th, 1989 – Kimberly Ann McAndrew disappears after leaving work at the Quinpool Road Canadian Tire.
  • August 15th, 1989 – Lesley Anne Levy is viciously attacked and has her throat cut at Point Pleasant Park.
  • April 5th, 1990 – Jean Hilda Myra’s body is discovered at the grain elevator site in south end Halifax.
  • June 3rd, 1991 – The body of Carla Gail Strickland is discovered in a wooded area near Lake Mic Mac Park in Dartmouth.
  • November 4th, 1991 – Leslie Anne Katnick goes missing after turning in her key at the YMCA hostel.
  • January 1st, 1992 – Andrea Lynn King goes missing upon landing in Halifax after speaking with a her sister in B.C. from an airport payphone.
  • December 22nd, 1992 – Andrea Lynn King’s body is discovered in the woods near Sackville Business Park.
  • May 29th, 1993 – Shelley Connors disappears after leaving her Spryfield apartment.
  • June 1st, 1993 – Shelley Connors’ remains are found in the woods behind Spryfield Lions Rink  just a short distance from her residence.

Through the course of this four part series I have detailed and laid out a proposal that a serial killer was likely responsible for the above unsolved homicides and missing persons cases. I think more money, resources and man power should be committed to solving these sad, unfortunate mysteries. Somebody out there knows something that can bring closure to the poor, suffering families and rest to the unfortunate victims.  If you’re out there and you are reading this please consider coming forward.

I believe I made a reasonable case that one killer might be responsible for the span of murders and disappearances in Halifax between 1988 and 1993. But I’ve shared enough of my thoughts on the matter……….. What do you think?

 

 

If you have any information regarding the murders of Suzanne Dube, Shelley Connors or any of the cases discussed in this article please contact the Integrated RCMP/Halifax Regional Police Major Crime Unit at (902) 490-5331 or Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-TIPS. You can also visit Nova Scotia Crime Stoppers website at http://www.crimestoppers.ns.ca
The Nova Scotia Department of Justice Rewards for Major Crimes Program offers a Reward of $150,000 Dollars for any information leading to an arrest in the cold cases listed here. You can reach them at 1-888-710-9090

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did a serial killer stalk the streets of Halifax in the early 90’s? Part 3

forensic crime scene

Exhibit C – The Unsolved Murders of Andrea Lynn King and Carla Gail Strickland.

Andrea Lynn King

Andrea Lynn King

Fresh off the Christmas Holidays in 1991, 18 year old Surrey B.C. resident Andrea Lynn King boarded a plane at New Westminster Airport bound for Atlantic Canada. Her intent was to embark on a New Year journey to the East Coast. She made arrangements to work in Halifax and aspired to travel the region and seek adventure during her down time. Described as a sweet and down to earth girl, Andrea was a smart teen with a pretty face and a bubbly personality. The world should have been hers to conquer when she stepped off that plane but instead she met with a tragic fate.

Andrea arrived at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport on New Year’s Day, January 1st, 1992. She called her sister from an airport payphone shortly thereafter to inform her family that she’d arrived safely. Andrea told her sister that she was going to head to a hostel somewhere in the city and she promised to phone back later with an address after she’d settled in.

That phone call never came and Andrea Lynn King was never heard from again. She vanished from the airport sometime after speaking with her sister.

Andrea’s family reported her missing to Surrey, British Columbia RCMP on January 4th, 1992. Extensive investigations were conducted by RCMP and local police in both the Surrey/New Westminster B.C. areas and throughout the Halifax region in Nova Scotia. But police were unable to locate Andrea or identify anyone who had contact with her after she got off the plane.

Nearly a full year after her disappearance, on December 22nd, 1992, Andrea’s skeletal remains were discovered about 200 feet from a remote dead end on Glendale Drive in the Halifax suburb of Lower Sackville. The location was a densely wooded area around the Sackville Business Park not far from Highway 102, which is one of the main routes from the airport to the city outskirts of Bedford and Sackville.

The coroner at the Medical Examiner’s Office ruled her death a homicide.

The last conversation Andrea had with her sister prior to her disappearance raises a peculiar and familiar specter. What hostel was she planning to check into? Remember that Lesley Anne Katnick had checked into a YMCA just after arriving in Halifax from Montreal. It has since come to light that the Dartmouth YMCA didn’t have a hostel at the time, and according to Lesley’s sister Julia, as per a conversation I had with her on this very blog –  (See the comments section in Part 2 of this series) – Lesley checked into a YMCA ‘near the tracks’. This actually points to only one possibility: the YWCA on South Barrington Street, which is just a short walk from the Via Rail Station. This makes perfect sense if Lesley travelled from Montreal to Halifax by train.

In the 2nd installment of this series I noted that Jean Hilda Myra was known to roam the streets of South Halifax and that she was staying at a YMCA hostel at the time of her murder…..AND she was last seen at a bar on South Barrington Street. Given these circumstances it seems logical to deduce that Lesley and Jean stayed at the same place: The old YWCA at 1239 Barrington Street in South Halifax near the Via Rail Station. But if this is so, why do the Halifax Regional Police and the N.S. Department of Justice still report it as the ‘YMCA’ on their websites under Lesley and Jean’s profiles? Strange.

But more pertinent to our purpose here is this question: Did Andrea Lynn King plan to go to the very same YWCA when she told her sister that she was going to ‘stay at a hostel in Halifax’? The exact hostel was never specified. But if it was the one at 1239 Barrington Street there is a very distinct common tie between the 3 cases. If not it is still notable.

Let us suppose for the sake of argument that the YWCA on Barrington was not Andrea’s intended destination. Perhaps she was headed to a different hostel. Even if this were so, it still does not dwindle the significant fact that all 3 women either stayed at or intended to stay at a hostel somewhere in the Halifax region. And the hostel connection still suggests a possibility that someone could have been targeting women staying at such places.

YWCA
The Old YWCA Hostel on Barrington Street where Lesley and Jean likely stayed. Is this the ‘hostel’ Andrea Lynn King was referring to when she spoke with her sister?

Hostel connection aside, there are other noteworthy, unambiguous similarities between the Lesley Anne Katnick and Andrea Lynn King cases:

  1. Both women were from out of town and just arrived in Halifax.
  2. Neither of them have any substantial social contacts in the city.
  3. By all accounts there is no indication that either of them had their own vehicle or any means of transportation other than access to public transit or taxi.
  4. Lesley disappeared on November 4th, 1991 just two months prior to Andrea’s abduction on January 1st, 1992.
  5. Given that Lesley had recently travelled from Montreal, it is plausible to deduce that she too could have passed through Halifax Stanfield International Airport in the days prior to her abduction. She could have been at the airport before checking into the YMCA hostel and/or headed to the airport after leaving the hostel on the day of her disappearance November 4th, 1991. *Lesley left Montreal without saying a word to her friends or family, while police were able to track her last known where abouts to Halifax, her means of travel from Montreal to Halifax was never revealed*
… And beyond the similarities between Andrea and Lesley Katnick’s cases, consider the resemblance between Andrea Lynn King and Kimberly McAndrew:

You will point out that Lesley and Jean don’t fit the physical appearance profile surmised above because they bear little resemblance to Kimberly and Andrea. However, it is possible that this is because the killer made exceptions based on sheer opportunity and convenience in their cases. It is not difficult to conceive that while our unknown suspect, might certainly prefer victims with particular looks, physical attributes and characteristics he/she is not so selective that he would pass up an opportunity to take a victim that doesn’t fit the preferred profile, provided that victim was easy prey and readily available when the diabolical urge to kill surfaced.

Physical attributes and age aren’t the only things Kimberly and Andrea have in common, however. In the process of both investigations police stumbled upon a mutual suspect: Andrew Paul Johnson.

As reported in Part 1 of this series, Johnson who is originally from Halifax, has been incarcerated in British Columbia since 1997 for a myriad of abduction and sexual assault convictions where he posed as a police officer to lure young women. While in prison Johnson took part in a sex-offender treatment program where he wrote an essay that sounded eerily like the abduction of Kimberly McAndrew. Also, in 1989 he frequently stayed at his girlfriends apartment at Quinpool Towers, which is virtually a stones throw away from the Canadian Tire where Kimberly worked. On the heels of the disturbing essay written by Johnson in 1997, police launched a re-investigation into Kimberly’s abduction. While combing through Johnson’s belongings investigators also discovered evidence that potentially linked him to Andrea Lynn King. One such item was a make-up compact that Andrea’s mother identified as being the same as the one her daughter owned during the time of her abduction and murder.

In 2013 a joint team of forensic investigators from the RCMP and Halifax Police descended on a property along Prospect Road in rural Shad Bay, Nova Scotia, a community that sits approximately 30kms South West of downtown Halifax. The property in question is owned by Andrew Paul Johnson’s brother and it was widely reported that investigators were searching for the remains of Kimberly McAndrew. Police reported to CBC in September of 2013 that some unspecified items were seized from the property but nothing substantial ever turned up from the search.

Shad Bay
RCMP/Halifax Police joint major crime scene workers searching the Shad Bay property on Prospect Road.

But before I go too far off track, allow me to turn the focus back to Andrea. The self-evident and perennial first question that needs to be addressed in any such case is this: How was she abducted from a busy public airport without anyone noticing? The most reasonable inference is that she was somehow persuaded to go with her perpetrator willingly. But how is that so? There is no report that anyone was meeting her at the airport and by all accounts, Andrea didn’t know anyone in Halifax. One theory that I’ve mentioned earlier in passing and which I will explore in greater detail later in the last part of this series, is that the killer was possibly a cab driver. If you apply this notion to any of the previous cases I’ve discussed you will find that it fits in each set of circumstances. One of my more astute readers also suggested this idea as a possible explanation and pointed out that it is applicable for Kimberly, Lesley, Jean and Andrea (See the comments section in Part 2).

If not a taxi driver, who else could have bypassed Andrea’s guard and better judgement? It is feasible that somebody approached and befriended her at the airport and perhaps offered her a ride. Was the killer charming, cunning and persuasive like Ted Bundy and Paul Bernardo? Or was his/her approach more nuanced and subtle? Recall that Andrew Paul Johnson was known to pose as a police officer in order to lure his victims. Maybe Andrea left the airport and attempted to hitchhike to Halifax. In which case the run in with her killer was a tragic and fortuitous turn of bad luck.

There is another unsolved murder which occurred 7 months prior to Andrea King’s abduction, that fits with the taxi driver theory and provides another clue to a potential serial killer in the Halifax area during the late 80’s and early 90’s…..

Carla Gail Strickland

Carla

At 12:58 PM on June 5th, 1991 police responded to a report from a person who was out walking along the north side of Lake Mic Mac near Highway 118 in Dartmouth, NS. The concerned citizen had discovered the body of a young female in the woods near the lake and went to phone the authorities. Upon arrival at the scene investigators soon identified the deceased as Carla Gail Strickland and her death was ruled a homicide. It was thought that she was possibly murdered somewhere else and left at the site.

lake micmac

The investigation revealed that Carla spent the evening of Sunday, June 2nd, 1991 celebrating her friend’s birthday at a popular Halifax nightclub. At some point she left the bar with three unnamed males and traveled to Albro Lake Beach in Dartmouth where the four continued partying until dawn. At approximately 7:00 AM on the morning of Monday, June 3rd, 1991, one of the men she’d been hanging out with dropped her off at a Tim Horton’s on Wyse Road, Dartmouth where she said she was going to use a pay phone. It was the last place she was seen alive.

Intuition would dictate that the culprit was one of the three men she’d been with at Albro Lake Beach but you’d have to think that the Police would have honed in on them right away. So it would seem that detectives either lacked sufficient physical and circumstantial evidence to make an arrest or that the three men were ruled out as possible suspects for some unknown reason.

Who else could be a suspect? Did Carla call a cab from the pay phone? The elusive clues now diminished and buried by time, must dwell somewhere between that Wyse Road Tim Horton’s and the woods around Lake Mic Mac. Again, the case presents the same recurring and curious dilemma that keeps popping up: Surely Tim Horton’s at 7:00 AM on a Monday morning would have been a pretty busy spot. So it just isn’t conceivable that Carla was taken by force. Because if she was she probably would have screamed or someone most likely would have noticed an altercation. As with Kimberly and Andrea, we are confronted with yet another case where the victim was taken from such a busy public setting. Therefore it follows that the most logical presumption is that the victims went willingly with their perpetrator. This could have happened in Carla’s case either because:

  • A) She knew the person responsible
  • B) The killer approached and befriended her and somehow persuaded her to leave with him/her
  • C) The offender posed as someone in a position of pubic trust or…
  • D) The killer was  someone in a position of public trust. Maybe even a cop… or
  • E) A cab driver

Exhibit D – The Mysterious Assault on Lesley Ann Levy

It was only 3 days after Kimberly McAndrew mysteriously vanished after leaving work at the Quinpool Road Canadian Tire. On the morning of August 15th, 1989 a couple out for a morning stroll discovered 24 year old Lesley Anne Levy just outside Point Pleasant Park in South Halifax bleeding to death. Her throat had been slashed and she was left unconscious. The fact that she was partially dressed suggested a sexual assault.

pp park

Lesley spent the prior evening partying at the Misty Moon Cabaret in downtown Halifax. She was later seen chatting with a man on a bench inside Point Pleasant Park sometime after midnight. Lesley was rushed to hospital with severe life threatening injuries. While she survived the initial attack, the emotional scars cut far too deep to save her in the end.

Lesley Anne Levy was deeply afflicted with depression after recovering from the physical wounds she suffered during the vicious assault she endured. She died of a drug overdose 6 months after her attack.

Lesley Levy’s mother Sandra Anderson spoke with CBC in 2014 and told them that Lesley was so afraid that she never opened up to anyone about the assault. Not even family.

The police even had a psychiatrist come in and try hypnosis on her. But she was so fearful it just didn’t work.” – Sandra Anderson (Mother of Lesley Anne Levy)

Some things of note about Lesley’s case:

  • She worked at King’s Palace Restaurant on Quinpool Road. The restaurant is directly across the street from the Canadian Tire where Kimberly McAndrew went missing and on the same block as Andrew Paul Johnson’s girlfriend.
  • She was assaulted just 3 days after Kimberly disappeared.
  • Lesley’s mother told the CBC that Police said an undisclosed male subject was a suspect in both Kimberly’s abduction and Lesley’s assault.
  • The location where Lesley was found is less than 2Kms from the Grain Elevators where Jean Hilda Myra’s body was discovered 2 years later.
In the next and final part of this series I will discuss two more unsolved homicides and some roadblocks encountered when the Kimberly McAndrew cold case was re-opened in the late 1990’s. I will also attempt to play the role of forensic psychologist and offer my own amateur profile of the killer. And finally, I will go deeper into some possible theories about the crimes…. Stay Tuned.
If you have any information regarding the murders of Andrea Lynn King or Carla Gail Strickland or the assault on Lesley Anne Levy please contact the Integrated RCMP/Halifax Regional Police Major Crime Unit at (902) 490-5331 or Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-TIPS. You can also visit Nova Scotia Crime Stoppers website at http://www.crimestoppers.ns.ca
The Nova Scotia Department of Justice Rewards for Major Crimes Program offers a Reward of $150,000 Dollars for any information leading to an arrest in the cases of Andrea Lynn King or Carla Gail Strickland. You can reach them at 1-888-710-9090

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did a serial killer stalk the streets of Halifax in the early 90’s? Part 2

Exhibit B – The Disappearance of Leslie Anne Katnick, the murder of Jean Hilda Myra and the strange YMCA connection.

Leslie Katnick

LeslieKatnick

On the 4th of November 1991, Montreal Police received a missing person report from a city resident who revealed himself as Mr. Katnick. His daughter 24 year old Leslie Anne had been residing on Rosedale Street in Montreal, Quebec where she was last seen by friends and family on November 1st. The ensuing investigation revealed that Leslie had checked into an undisclosed Halifax area YMCA on the 2nd. A record of her bank card being used in Halifax that evening also surfaced. In the morning hours of November 4th, incidentally the same day her father reported her missing, Leslie turned in her key to the YMCA and walked out the door into obscurity. No other clues or information ever surfaced in regards to her whereabouts.

Police consider her disappearance highly suspicious and foul play is suspected.

There are three notable things that particularly stand out about Leslie’s case:

1) There are palpable similarities to Kimberly McAndrew’s disappearance. Leslie and Kimberly were similar in age and both were relatively new to the city when they were abducted. There were reports that Kimberly was last seen at the Gardenia Flower Shop in the Penhorn Mall on Portland Street. This is merely a little more than 4Kms from Mic Mac Boulevard where the Dartmouth YMCA was located when Leslie vanished. Could that have been the YMCA she stayed at?

2) There are also significant differences between Leslie and Kimberly’s cases. Kimberly had family and established roots in Halifax. She lived with her sister, had a boyfriend, held a job in the city and attended university at Dalhousie. Leslie on the other hand, had just arrived in Halifax. She took up a temporary residence at a YMCA hostel that was unlikely to be an established address for any length of time. And while she may indeed have been visiting someone in Halifax or Dartmouth, those contacts are still as yet, unknown to investigators. So there is no evidence thus far to definitively suggest that she knew anyone in the city. Not that you can rule this out entirely, but it is clear that Leslie’s social network in the Halifax area differs considerably from Kimberly’s. Although these seemingly minor circumstances may differ from those surrounding Kimberly McAndrew’s case, they do bear interesting similarities to another case that I will deal with soon: The murder of Andrea Lynn King.

3) The third thing that stands out about Leslie’s disappearance is the YMCA itself. Jean Hilda Myra was murdered a year and half before Lesley vanished… and Jean had been residing at a YMCA in south Halifax.

Jean Hilda Myra

myrajeanhilda

At 10:48 am on April 5th 1990, a man walking along the west side of the Ports near South Bland Street in South Halifax phoned police to report the presence of a body he’d discovered under a staircase next to one of the grain elevators. The deceased was identified as 32 year old Jean Hilda Myra and her death was immediately ruled a homicide.

NEWhalifaxGrain

Investigators determined that Jean was a frequent patron of the bar scene around Southern Halifax, she was described as a bit of a transient figure who generally hung out on the South side of the city peninsula near the Ports, Via Rail Station and Point Pleasant Park. Jean was last seen leaving a tavern on South Barrington Street around midnight on April 4th, 1990.

And the connection…

At the time of her death, she was living at an unspecified Halifax area YMCA. In my research, I was unable to determine which YMCA she lived at but given her established pattern of life that tracks most of her movements to the southern part of the city, my guess is either the one formerly located on South Park Street, a short walk to any South Barrington Street tavern and only about 2Kms away from where her body was found. Or the YWCA which hosted a hostel AND was actually located ON south Barrington street. While Jean may not have stayed at the same YMCA as the one Leslie disappeared from, the connection is still significant because you have to wonder if someone was staking out prospective victims from local YMCA hostels. Victims who have little to no social ties or support system in the city. This theory also fits with the Andrea King abduction and murder that I will cover in the next part of this series.

Kimberly doesn’t fit the ‘transient’ or ‘vagabond’ profile but I think Kimberly was a tragic victim of opportunity. In her case, I think the killer either had an uncontrollable urge to kill and she was unfortunately in the wrong place at the wrong time or he/she’d been watching her for weeks or maybe months, waiting for the right opportunity. Perhaps the killer was in or near the store the day she disappeared and when she got off work early, he struck. Remember too that Kimberly was relatively new to the city. She was only a sophomore at Dalhousie and a month away from starting her second academic year. It is possible that she met that killer when she first arrived in Halifax but having established that she had contacts in the city the killer backed off and waited for his/her chance.

Leslie Katnick traveled to Halifax from Montreal and stayed at a YMCA hostel where she disappeared just two days later. Jean Hilda Myra was a local but she didn’t seem to have any deep family or social ties. She was a drifter who lived a transient life but she also resided at a local YMCA hostel. Coincidence? Maybe. Or perhaps not. It could be that a killer was frequenting places where he thought he might find vulnerable people and staking them out. If this is so, where else might we expect him to look for wandering, nomadic types? Well a train station for one.

Places of travel are linked to people who travel and people who travel to new places, where they have no one to stay with, reside in hotels or hostels. The most vulnerable ones would be more likely to stay in a small affordable place like the YMCA.  There are accounts that Jean was known to hang around near the area of the Via rail station, a place of travel. From this we might also surmise that the Airport could be a legitimate stalking area for the killer to target if he is looking for women new to the region.

Andrea Lynn King was new to Halifax and she was abducted from the airport. I will be covering her story in Part 3 of this article.

To Be Continued….

 

If you have any information concerning the disappearance of Leslie Anne Katnick or the unsolved murder of Jean Hilda Myra please contact the Halifax Regional Police/RCMP integrated Major Crimes Unit at (902) 490- 5016. Anonymous tips can be reported to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222- TIPS or visit the website at http://www.crimestoppers.ns.ca

The Nova Scotia Department of Justice is offering rewards of $150,000 for any information leading to an arrest in the cases of both Jean Hilda Myra and Leslie Anne Katnick. The Rewards for Major Crimes Program Toll Free Number is 1- 888- 710 – 9090

 

 

 

 

 

Did a serial killer stalk the streets of Halifax in the early 90’s?

Exhibit A – The disappearance of Kimberly McAndrew

On a fair summer day in 1989 a pretty Dalhousie University sophomore was preparing for the end of her shift at the Canadian Tire retail store at 6203 Quinpool Road in Halifax,NS. It was her boyfriend’s birthday and she was eager to celebrate that evening with friends. Kimberly Anne McAndrew was just 19 years old. Described as a sweet, friendly, slightly shy girl with braces who was liked by everyone, Kimberly was the quintessential girl next door. The bubbly good natured teen had no known enemies or quarrels. She came from a good family upbringing in rural Cape Breton and shared an apartment in Halifax with her sister not far from her place of employment. She had a great relationship with her boyfriend and made good grades in school. She had no reason to run off or disappear on that humid afternoon.

KMcANDREW_000

Kimberly had arranged for her sister and some friends to pick her up at work when her shift ended at 5:00 PM but because it was a slow day for business, her supervisor told her she could punch out 40 minutes early. Her place was only a few blocks away and it was a nice afternoon so Kimberly made the fateful decision to walk instead of waiting for her ride.  She never made it home. In fact, investigators have reason to believe that she never made it beyond the parking lot. Somehow, at 4:20 PM on August 12th 1989, 19 year old Kimberly Anne McAndrew vanished without a trace in broad daylight from a densely populated commercial area in central Halifax.

When Kimberly’s sister and her friends arrived at the Canadian Tire to pick her up they were alarmed that they didn’t spot her along the route. Surely she would have been home by now or they at least would have passed her along the way. They then proceeded to drive around the nearby area in search of her.

At the time of her disappearance, she was wearing pleated, ankle-length navy cotton slacks with slash pockets in the front and one pocket in the back, a white, short-sleeved “Esprit” t-shirt with red and green squares, a navy cotton oversize cardigan, and jade green flat-heeled slip-on loafers. She was also sporting a blue knapshack.

Unsubstantiated reports surfaced that a young female matching her description purchased a balloon and a rose from the Gardenia Flower Shop located at the Penhorn Mall in Dartmouth, NS not long after Kimberly left work at the Canadian Tire store. It seems unlikely that Kimberly was abducted in Dartmouth by my logic and I will explain why shortly. Retired Halifax PD detective Tom Martin, who originally worked Kimberly’s case also shares this doubt. In a 2014 article to the CBC Martin stated “I don’t think Kim got out of the Canadian Tire parking Lot”. If it was Kimberly at the flower shop in Dartmouth there is reason to believe that she trusted her abductor. Here’s why….

Kimberly left work at Quinpool Road on foot at 4:20 in the afternoon during the peak of rush hour traffic. The commute from 6203 Quinpool Road to the Penhorn Mall on Portland Street in Dartmouth is approximately 15 to 20 minutes by car at best in light traffic and as anyone familiar with the city  knows, the route requires that you cross one of the two bridges over Halifax Harbor. Both the Mackay and MacDonald bridges would most certainly be bottle necked by heavy traffic between the hours of 4 and 5 PM and walking to the Gardenia Flower shop is unlikely because it would take at least 2 hours or more. Given that Kimberly opted to forgo the ride home, which she had arranged with her sister, if she did indeed make the trip to Dartmouth she would have had only two reasonable options available: The bus or a taxi. Now consider this: Her disappearance quickly became front page news in Nova Scotia and even garnered National media attention. Surely a cab driver or at least one fellow passenger on the bus would have remembered seeing her if she’d made the trip to Dartmouth by one of these means. You might be inclined to the think that a cab driver is a valid suspect which is a real possibility but there is another likely explanation.

halifax

 

I believe Kimberly was abducted by a perpetrator in the Canadian Tire parking lot and may have still visited the Penhorn Mall to purchase a balloon and a rose for her boyfriend’s would be birthday party. There is circumstantial evidence to support this theory. Kimberly grew up in a rural community and according to friends and family she was still uneasy in urban areas, she was extremely cautious and disliked going anywhere alone in the city. If she was approached by a stranger who attempted to forcefully abduct her in broad daylight she would have certainly screamed unless he/she subdued her with a weapon. If this were the case though,  it isn’t reasonable that she would have shown up alone at the Gardenia Flower Shop because the perpetrator wouldn’t run the risk of giving her the opportunity to escape. Unless he was sure that she would come back by her own accord. She could have been abducted in Dartmouth after buying the balloon and the rose. But if this were so how could she get from Quinpool Road to Dartmouth without being spotted by someone?

A more plausible explanation is that she knew or at least trusted the person who approached her at the Canadian Tire parking lot.  That person may or may not have taken her to the Penhorn Mall before any foul play occurred. So who could have bypassed her guard and gained her trust? What would have persuaded her to get into a car without suspecting harm could come her way? Well, a police badge is one possibility. Kimberly’s father was an RCMP officer so she would have been raised to trust cops. Someone posing as an undercover policeman could have easily gained her trust. This is actually a feasible hypothesis if you consider one of the main suspects in the case: Andrew Paul Johnson.

Johnson was convicted for abduction and other violent sex crimes in British Columbia in 1999. When he was arrested investigators recovered a rape kit which included a police badge in his possession. There were also various reports that he attempted to lure young girls into his car by posing as an undercover police officer. Further, he was living in Halifax at the time of Kimberly’s disappearance and his name came up in relation to another Halifax area cold case that I will be discussing soon: the unsolved homicide of 18 year old Andrea King.

Another suspicious detail involving Andrew Paul Johnson is that his girlfriend back in August of 1989 lived in an apartment at Quinpool Towers… a building that is literally right across the parking lot from the Canadian Tire store at 6203 Quinpool Road where Kimberly worked. But perhaps the most indicting piece of evidence came about in the form of an essay that Johnson wrote to his psychiatrist as part of his treatment while in prison during the early 2000’s. The psychiatrist noted that the ‘essay’ sounded eerily like a description of the McAndrew abduction and contacted Halifax Police.

To date there has been no charges brought against Andrew Paul Johnson in relation to Kimberly’s disappearance and there are still no leads pointing to the possible location of her remains.

There were also reports of another unnamed suspect of high interest in Kimberly’s case. The man is said to be a Halifax area resident who was allegedly obsessed with her. This individual worked in the Quinpool Road area and it was confirmed that he had been in contact with her on the day of her abduction. The man indicated to police that he might know the location of Kimberly’s body. According to The Chronicle Herald a search warrant of his home uncovered numerous photos of Kimberly and newspaper clippings pertaining to her case, a hand written book dedicated to her and a blue knapsack that resembled the one she was wearing when she was last seen. They also confiscated what was described as ‘sadistic literature’ by the Marquis De Sade, a book titled The Encyclopedia of Modern Murder, A book about forensics and newspaper clippings about the murder of Andrea King (whom I will be discussing in the second part of this article).

The disappearance of Kimberly Anne McAndrew is one case that indicates that there was possibly a serial killer operating in Halifax during the late 80’s and early 1990’s. One very likely suspect is Andrew Paul Johnson. But being a suspect doesn’t necessarily make him the person responsible. There are others.

There are also other cold cases that suggest a Halifax serial killer, I will be discussing these real soon. To be continued…

If you have any information regarding the whereabouts of Kimberly Anne McAndrew please contact the Halifax Regional Police Major Crime Unit at (902) 490- 5016 or Crime Stoppers 1-800-222-TIPS visit www.crimestoppers.ns.ca

The Nova Scotia Department of Justice is offering a $150,000 reward for any tips that lead to an arrest in this case.  You can contact them directly at 1-888-710-9090

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to The Cellar Door…

The Cellar Door is a gateway to the cold subterranean underworld where secrets rest. It is a place to unearth unsolved cases and bring them to light for further thought and consideration. It is a forum for ideas, theories and possibly tips concerning major crimes and missing persons. This is my memorial to all the victims who’ve suffered at the hands of violence. It is a place to share their tragic stories and honor their lives…. And with any luck, it is a place that might serve as one small door that leads to justice for some poor soul and their loved ones. Stay tuned…..