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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7 thoughts on “Did a serial killer stalk the streets of Halifax in the early 90’s?

  1. No that is not what I said at all. You obviously didn’t read Part 1 at all did you? If you read the article correctly, what you would notice is that I said she left work at Quinpool Road at 4:20 Pm but there were reports that she was seen at the Gardenia Flower Shop in the Penhorn Mall later on. In fact there is an entire paragraph or two in the first part dedicated to how I think it implausible that she could make it to Dartmouth without being seen by anyone. So it seems it isn’t the writing that is poor at all but rather poor reading skills on your part.

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  2. Oh and P.S. There is nothing in any of the articles that says anything about anyone ‘leaving work in Dartmouth’. Leslie might have been at the YMCA in Dartmouth which is 4Kms away from the Gardenia Flower Shop where Kimberly supposedly bought a balloon and a rose. But you’d know that if you could read.

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  3. Hi Earl, hoping to get in touch with you about this series. Could you give me a call at 902-631-2383.

    -Karo Comeau
    Producer/reporter at News 95.7

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  4. Bottle necked….by heavy traffic? Google maps shows 16 mins and 17 mins on the bridges….google also shows that date is a saturday. Heavy traffic weekdays….light.bridge traffic weekends. Just wondering, was it an inference that it was heavy traffic?

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  5. Obviously Google maps never attempted to make that drive at 4pm. It would be 16 or 17 minutes minimum in perfectly ideal traffic. I’ve made that drive several times myself and it is closer to 20-25 minutes to get to the Penhorn Mall at that time of day, even on a Saturday. The traffic lights alone are enough to slow you down. Maybe the traffic in Halifax was much lighter in 1989 but I really don’t think the time estimate given on google is accurate.

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