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

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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

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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.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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