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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
- The killer was a cab driver.
- The killer posed as an undercover cop.
- The killer was a cop.
- He feigned an injury or handicap as a ploy to draw sympathy and bypass his victims guard.
- He was known to and maybe even on friendly terms with, some of the victims particularly Kimberly McAndrew.
- 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.
- 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.
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?