Dan Beckon – Murder or Suicide? Part 3

Beckon demo

Part 1 – Dan Beckon – Murder or Suicide?

Part 2 – Dan Beckon – Murder or Suicide? (Part 2)

Coroner’s Inquest Notes

• Inquest was led by Dr. James Young, Deputy Coroner for Ontario.
• Shirley Scime of Ancaster (Beckon’s aunt) re: Beckon being pressured to turn over his address book and identify someone in a photograph, Beckon said if he identified the person(s) in the photo “My life wouldn’t be worth shit.”
• Stan Won (neighbour) – found body and said initially that he saw a blue car on a nearby knoll, as though it were leaving the death scene.
• Wos later told the Toronto Star that the car was in toward the deserted farm.
• Was Beckon’s second private test drug free because the period during which cocaine had passed?
• Brian Swatuk (another jockey) was undergoing treatment for cocaine addiction.
• Beckon’s agent, Jimmy Santha, said he saw Beckon shortly before 11:30 am at Woodbine.
• The time was disputed by David Brown, the lawyer representing Beckon’s widow Diane, and he questioned whether Santha even saw Beckon at all.
• The inquest witnesses sure seem to all contradicting Santha’s testimony.
• Why did Kirkman so drastically change his timeline?
• Was he pressured to by Diane Beckon’s lawyer to point the finger at Santha?
• Outside the courtroom, after the testimony of Stan Wos and his daughter, Diane Beckon and private investigator Richard Russell visited Wos at his home on August 3, 1987.
• Diane Beckon quotes Wos as telling them he had seen the car leaving the death scene and not entering as he testified at the inquiry.
• Diane Beckon said Wos said the vehicle was not a hatchback.
• The inquest was told in 1979 and 1980 a special police unit was allowed to tap phones at Woodbine in a gambling investigation and taped 500 hours of conversations. Note: This is likely where the rumour of the phones being tapped came from.
• Dr. Richard Roelofson said there was an agreement in place on the drug testing that, “At no time would we be concerned with the legality of the drugs, and at no time to make an inquiry where they were coming from.” Note: So it’s quite possible it wasn’t dealers the Ontario Jockey Club were asking Beckon to name in the picture and in his address book. Could it be gambling and/or fixed races?
• Coroner Dr. Jim Young, who was in charge of the inquest told the jury before they were to deliberate “I cannot think of a single piece of evidence that is inconsistent with the suicide theory.”
• What is the coroner in charge doing drawing a conclusion? Shouldn’t it be left to the jury?

Coroner’s Inquest – OPP Constable James Wilde (Identification Unit)

• There were no fingerprints found on the rifle.
• There were no fingerprints on the two suicide notes.
• Only a smudge was found on one note.
• Tests were not done to determine the proximity between Beckon’s head and the gun that killed him.
• Wilde said he did not notice or photograph an exit wound on the left side of Beckon’s head at the autopsy, although one is mentioned in the pathologist’s report, measuring 2 1/2cm (1 inch).
• No test was made on Beckon’s hands to establish that he had fired the .22 calibre rifle because, due to “budget restraints” the Centre of Forensic Sciences “Won’t accept a suicide weapon for testing.”
• Trace elements of gunshot residue can stick to hands by simply holding a gun that has been fired, or by handling cartridges.
• An empty shell casing found three meters (about 10 feet) from the body was not checked for fingerprints because “There was no reason to.”
• Wilde said he found a red felt pen in the glovebox of Beckon’s truck, while a handwriting expert from the Forensic Centre testified that he had examined the suicide notes under a microscope and that they were written with a ballpoint pen. Note: Was the ballpoint pen ever found?
• Wilde says it is not unusual for no fingerprints to be found on firearms or documents. It depends on certain secretions from the body.
• Asked about a swelling on Beckon’s right cheek, Wilde testified “I would attribute nothing on his face to the traumatic effect of the gunshot wound.”
• Wilde did refer to a crack in the butt of the rifle found at the scene, saying: “The crack in the rifle butt was there, but I think you will find (out) later about it.” Note: Was the crack ever brought up again in the inquest?
• How did a bullet casing from that type of rifle travel 10 feet?
• The Forensic Centre for Examination would not have accepted the box of cartridges found in Beckon’s truck for testing because it was considered a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
• The red felt pen found in the glove box was not tested for fingerprints.
• The cartridges were found on the drivers seat.
• Other items found in the truck were a jockey’s helmet, a riding crop, a shirt and a racing form.

Coroner’s Inquest – Handwriting Expert A.A. Dreger

• When he examined the suicide notes “There is no indication of fear or duress.”

Suicide Note

Coroner’s Inquest – Leo Bertrand (in charge of jockey’s room at Woodbine)

• Said he overheard Beckon talking to Dr. Richard Roelofson, Deputy Supervisor of Thoroughbred Racing for the Ontario Racing Commission and the man responsible for random drug tests at Ontario race tracks.
• “I heard Danny tell the Doc: ‘You got to be kidding me. I’ve been a goddam good boy. It’s got to be somebody fooling around with my (urine) tests.”

Coroner’s Inquest – Emilio Davison (Beckon’s valet)

• Testified he had worked for Beckon for between 7 and 8 years.
• Davison said “I never found him under the influence of drugs, and I cleaned out the boxes and never found any drugs.”

Coroner’s Inquest – Debi Lockhurst (Trainer)

• She said Beckon had told her he occasionally went to the farm where his body was found to think and sometimes smoked marijuana there.
• Lockhurst said Beckon had told her he was under pressure to “Point a finger” at other drug users at the track and said, “Where would I start? At the top and work my way down?”

Jimmy Santha

Coroner’s Inquest – Jimmy Santha (Beckon’s agent)

• Said he talked to Beckon shortly after Beckon learned he’d tested positive.
• “I said, ‘What are you going to do now?’ He said, ‘I am going to what I should have done a long time ago. I am going to shoot myself.”
• At this point David Brown, a lawyer representing Beckon’s widow challenged Santha’s statement, saying: “I am going to suggest to you that you never saw Dan on July 2, and he never told you he was going to kill himself.”
• Important: Santha’s timeline of events differs from timeline Beckon’s mother-in-law, Myrna Bartle. She says Beckon was already home in Bolton by 11:35 am.
• Crown attorney Bill Wolski earlier had asked Santha the colour of his car, in reference to a blue vehicle that was seen at the abandoned farm at the time the body was found. Answer was?
• Outside court an infuriated Santha heatedly exclaimed: “Look what they are asking me, as if I did it or something. I wasn’t expecting this.”
• Santha said he had been playing cards in a recreation room at Woodbine race track when Beckon gestured to him through a window to go outside.
• He quoted Beckon as saying, “I got another bad test. I am tired of having them picking on me.”

Coroner’s Inquest – Pat County (Trainer)

• Says he had seen Beckon at the track between 11:00 and 11:30 am and that the rider was looking for Santha.
• County and Beckon looked in the recreation room and County suggested they check in the racing office, prompting Beckon to comment, “Any time I am looking for the son-of-a-bitch I can’t find him.”

Coroner’s Inquest – Ken Zweig (Racetrack worker at Woodbine)

• Said he saw Beckon making a phone call at a Shell gas station while he was driving by.
• He said he was “Pretty sure” the clock in the car registered 10:23 am.
• It was not unusual for track personnel to make call outside because, “A lot of people at the track think the phones (at Woodbine) are tapped.” Note: Why would employees and workers at the track feel the phones were tapped? Possibly confirmed at a later date in the inquest when the talk came to the murder of a mobster at nearby Toronto Pearson International Airport.
• The driver of the car was trainer Desmond Alderson.

Coroner’s Inquest – David Clark (Jockey)

• Said he along with Beckon and Brian Swatuk were snorting cocaine at the wedding of jockey Gary Stahlbaum in the early 1980’s.

Coroner’s Inquest – Janet Vickery (runs the Bolton Convenience store at King Rd. & Hwy. 50)

• Saw Beckon some time between 12:15 pm and 12:45 pm leaning against a lamp post across the street (North bound lanes, east side of Hwy. 50)
• Beckon then walked into her store, looking at a rack of video cassettes for a few minutes and left without speaking to her.

Coroner’s Inquest – Linda Lunys (Bank teller at Bolton branch of the Royal Bank)

• Beckon deposited $5,855.00 into his business account between 11:30 am and noon.

Coroner’s Inquest – Sid Kirkman (Beckon’s neighbour)

• Testified that Beckon spoke to him at bottom of driveway at 11:45 am saying he looked at his watch and noted the time.
• Earlier Kirkman had said the time was 12:15 pm.

Coroner’s Inquest – Stan Wos (farmer who found Beckon’s body)

• Riding a small motorcycle to the abandoned farm where Beckon’s body was found when he saw a light-blue, mid-sized car in the laneway leading to the property.
• Minutes later, he found the body.
• After returning home to phone police he went back to the scene with a farm hand and saw a signed, hand written note and personal articles through the window of the truck and these led him to conclude the body was that of Beckon.
• His 14-year-old daughter, Lisa, was a passenger on the motorcycle just before 1:00 pm.
• “We just saw a bluish car. It was too far to see the make or year. I could not make out any details.”
• “I could see the front left hood, the windshield and the left (driver’s) side,” noting he observed the vehicle “Maybe a second, two seconds, then we went over the hill and could not see it.”
• “It was a shiny colour, metallic or shiny. I could not see anyone inside or around the vehicle.”
• The car could not have turned because the laneway is too narrow, “And the only way it could have exited was to reverse.”

Beckon 2

Coroner’s Inquest – Lisa Wos (daughter of farmer Stan Wos)

• Confirmed her father’s story, saying she also saw the blue car and thought it “Wasn’t a small car, it was a fair sized car, about the size of a Monte Carlo.”
• She said she had seen cars there before and they had backed out.

Coroner’s Inquest – Roy Watts (General Manger of the Horseman’s Benevolant and Protective Association

• Testified he had seen Beckon talking to agent Jimmy Santha around 11:00 am the day he died.
• Watts said he left his office on the backstretch around 11:00 an on July2, went to the Racing Secretary’s office for a moment and when he returned he saw Beckon and Santha talking outside his office windows.

Coroner’s Inquest – Don Goldrup (Ambulance Attendant)

• Testified the body was found lying in a left side semi-fetal position with his hands and feet close together while lawyers and spectators crowded around for a better view of the demonstration.
• He showed how the muzzle of the barrel had been covered by Beckon’s body with the fingers of the left hand beneath the barrel and the right hand resting on top of it.

Coroner’s Inquest – Joe Boyes (Ambulance Attendant)

• Sent to the abandoned farm about 1:30 pm
• Beckon’s body was still warm although there were no vital signs and his eyes did not react too light.
• The ambulance arrived at the farm at 1:51 pm

Coroner’s Inquest – OPP Constable Eric Lucas

• The grass was two feet high and intact on the passenger side of the Beckon truck near the body, but was trampled on the driver’s side, possibly due to the movements of the ambulance attendant’s.
• Lucas said among the contents of the truck was a red ballpoint pen. Note: OPP investigator Wilde testified a red felt pen was found in the truck but didn’t mention a red ballpoint.

Coroner’s Inquest – David Bartle (Beckon’s brother-in-law)

• About two months before Beckon died, Bartle overheard Beckon yelling at someone on the phone: “I’ve had enough of this shit.” and that he “Wanted to get out.”
• Bartle told the court that Beckon had said he could get drugs in return for “favours” at the racetrack, although Beckon didn’t spell out what those favours were.
• Bartle said he thought the favours referred to “Side bets or something like that.”
• Regarding Beckon’s address, Bartle said Beckon told him: “(He) said if anyone got hold of it he would have his legs busted.”

Coroner’s Inquest – John Hines (Head of OPP Fingerprint Laboratory)

• Someone would have to wipe a weapon “pretty extensively” to remove all fingerprints.
• Note: Yet there were no prints on the .22 calibre rifle or the suicide note.
• Hines agreed with Beckon family lawyer, John Murray, that a person’s hands are likely to sweat more in a stressful situation.
• And if a person were about to put a gun to their head, there is an “extreme likelihood” of that sweat increasing.
• Hines said that if a gun were wiped clean, marks “may or may not” be evident because such a cleaning “sometimes leaves prints.”
• The rifle in the Beckon case was subjected to standard fingerprint tests, but not to a sophisticated laser technique used when prints are less obvious.
• One test was done by police on the suicide notes on July 2, 1987 and another on January 27, 1988.
• “At that point, the laser on the paper would not help,” adding that “extensive handling” can impede the lifting of a print from a surface.
• Hines said he had never looked at the gun.
• He testified that fingerprints may disappear in 30 minutes under certain conditions, but couldn’t think of a case in which it happened.
• He also recalled a case involving a Nazi war criminal where a set of fingerprints had remained intact for 30 years.
• Hines explained fingerprints are made up of 98.5% water and 1.5% “solid matter” which he described as salts and fat secreted from the body.
• In preparation for the inquest, Hines said he did a “quick survey” of 212 firearms that have been examined by his unit over the past 2 1/2 years, of which only 19 guns yielded fingerprints.

Coroner’s Inquest – Brian Kessel (Horse trainer and Beckon’s neighbour)

• Beckon was given drugs in the parking lot at racetracks by people to whom he gave tips.
• Beckon also told Kessel he timed his drug use to avoid testing positive in random drug tests and claimed to have “$50,000 in US bills hidden in the walls of the basement.”
• Kessel knew Beckon since 1980.
• Saying he knew that Beckon was “Good at getting things” and that “I knew he had done drugs.” Kessel quoted Beckon as once telling him, “I have three or four coloured people I tout, and I meet them after the races in the parking lot and instead of money I get drugs.”
• Beckon’s home was Whitehead Crescent in Bolton, apparently not the farm.
• Kessel quoted Beckon as saying “A blond older woman who used to be married to a jock has been betting for me. She gives it to me in cash. She gives it to me because she likes me.”
• “Occasionally, I have to kiss her and hold her hand. I don’t like it. She used to be married to a jock from the Buffalo area. He told me the lady bets a lot of money.” Is this referring to Barbara Russo who hired the PI.
• Beckon, Kessel said, would her the names of horses he liked, and he quoted the jockey as saying that “Sometimes I don’t say anything to her and she gives me money where she bet my horses.”
• Kessel added, “I asked Dan if Diane knew and he said yes, she has seen it , and there was something about throwing it (around).”
• John Murray, counsel for the Beckon family, said Diane Beckon will deny that story.
• Kessel owned an adult book shop downtown and previously had plead guilty to charges of possessing and distributing obscene material.
• Kessel told Dr. Richard Roelofson, “that Dan had been getting pressure from home, and he said he’d heard that, too.”

Coroner’s Inquest – Robert Monument (Firearms Examiner at Ontario’s Centre for Forensic Sciences

• Testifying from large colour photographs because he said he had not been given any of Beckon’s tissue to study.
• Monument said a “crusty” area seen around the bullet hole “Is fully consistent” with the wound being from a close range shot.
• He examined the muzzle of the rifle for traces of blood and tissue but could not find any.
• “That does not indicate too much because on a contact shot you do not necessarily have it (fly) back on the weapon.”
• Monument confirmed the bullet found in Beckon’s head, although badly damaged, showed markings consistent with the barrel.
• He tested the rifle by firing it from various distances to show powder patterns.
• When the rifle was fired with the muzzle touching the paper, most of the propellant powder was driven into the bullet hole.
• Dr. Zahir Moloo, the pathologist who did the autopsy on Beckon’s body said he found no soot in the skull.
• Addressing previous testimony at the inquest that a shell casing had been found 3 meters (about 9.8 feet) from the body, Monument said that in his test firings the spent shell were ejected 5 to 6 feet into the air before hitting the floor.
• In at test with the butt on the ground and the barrel angled upward, the casings fell to within 18 inches of where he was standing.

Coroner’s Inquest – Glenn Wellspring (Friend of Beckon’s)

• Loaned Beckon the gun.
• Testified that he had used the same ammunition, a low-velocity bullet made in Yugoslavia, in another rifle and the empty casings dropped at his feet on ejection.

Coroner’s Inquest – Dr. Zahir Moloo (Pathologist)

• Dr. Zahir Moloo, the pathologist who did the autopsy on Beckon’s body said he found no soot in the skull.
• Asked about a swelling noted on Beckon’s right cheek after his death, he said he had made no note of it on his autopsy report because “It appeared normal to me,” since he had not seen the jockey before and there had been no bruising on the skin.
• The trajectory of the fatal bullet travelled from front right to rear left and at a slightly upward angle.
• Sections of Beckon’s brain were preserved for further examination if required.
• Said he did not peel back the scalp to check the wound because a policeman (Constable Ken Ruttan) told him the death was a suicide.
• “The thing I was certain about was it (the gun) was not tightly held to the surface.”
• He also told the inquest he has no experience with high and low-velocity rifles.
• Moloo examined the wound from inside the skull not from the outside in.

Coroner’s Inquest – Dr. Frederick Jaffe (Pathologist Ontario Centre of Forensic Sciences)

• “This wound suggests a rifle that was either on or near right angles to the head and would be very unusual in an accidental wound.”
• Jaffe cited gaps in the evidence collected that he would have liked to examine such as:
• Tissue from the area of the bullet wound.
• Beckon’s clothing: “It would have been very interesting to have had an examination of the clothing…I am not aware that one was done.”
• His body.
• Photographs of both sides of the jockey’s face instead of the one side that was taken.
• Said he had found a black granular material in the sample of Beckon’s brain tissue but could not identify it, although he thought it was firearm residue.
• “I believe death occurred where the body was found, ‘Because the flow of blood from nose and mouth was from right to left to indicate the side on which the body was found.
• “I believe that the appearance and the bullet entrance suggest a light-contact wound.”
• He said he believed the swelling on the right side of Beckon’s face was caused by blood seepage and probably by severe damage to the facial bones.

Coroner’s Inquest – Riverside Cafe (Bolton) Owner (Harry Bidzios)

• The restaurant was a location where Beckon was well known.
• The owner had been at the cash register, a few feet from a pay phone in the restaurant, when she heard Beckon say, “In an emotional tone: ‘Rick, leave me alone. Leave me alone!’”
• Then Beckon said “Alright, I’ll meet you at the place in 30 minutes” and slammed down the phone and left without paying his bill.
• Event was corroborated by a waitress.
• The event in question was apparently from a prior day.
• “I told Ken (OPP Constable Ken Ruttan) about Beckon’s phone conversation because he’s a friend of mine and I thought it was something he might look into … it looked strange to me.”
• The OPP never took a statement from either the waitress or the owner.

Coroner’s Inquest – Neighbour of Beckon’s

• In May 1987 between 7:30 pm and 8:00 pm a late-model, expensive looking dark or metallic blue Oldsmobile or Buick slowly cruised past the Beckon home four times, as if the driver was trying to communicate with someone in the house. (Appears to refer to the house in Bolton and not the farm)
• Beckon then left the house in his pickup truck and drove down the road to meet the driver of the car.
• They parked their vehicles with the driver’s sides facing each other and talked for five to ten minutes.
• The description of the driver in the car as “a white male, in his 30’s, nice looking” with reddish-brown curly hair and about medium height.

Coroner’s Inquest – Firearms Expert

• Conducted a series of tests at the death scene with a .22 calibre rim-fire Winchester rifle, almost identical to the one found beneath Beckon’s body to determine how far it would eject a spent shell.
• He said that with the butt of the gun on the ground and using bullets identical to those found in Beckon’s pickup, the farthest the gun would eject an empty shell was 27 inches.
• With the gun held in the air, the farthest it would eject a shell was about five feet.
• A spent shell was found at the death scene near the right front wheel of Beckon’s pickup, about 10 to 12 feet from his body.

Coroner’s Inquest – Shirley Scime (Beckon’s aunt)

• Scime said Beckon said “he was under pressure at the track and … was in it up to his eyeballs and was scared,”
• Re: Beckon’s address book – “He said, ‘You know, I have this red book … and I burned it in the field for Diane’s protection’.”
• She testified Beckon said he was also under pressure over a photograph taken of him and another man in a restaurant.
• “He said it (the man in the photo) could probably be a relation of Uncle Charlie’s. My husband is Sicillian.”
• The day after Beckon died, she was at Beckon’s home with friends and family and Beckon’s agent Jimmy Santha, and she told Santha of Beckon’s concern over the photo. “Jimmy piped up and said, ’That must have been so-and-so’.”
• She was unable to recall the name mentioned.

Coroner’s Inquest – Lloyd Werden (Drug Counsellor)

• Beckon described himself as an “off and on” cocaine user, but also contradicted himself when he said he used “$1000 worth a week”.

Coroner’s Inquest – Undercover Policeman

• Overheard people say “It wasn’t just cocaine that killed Dan Beckon.”
• Infiltrated the backstretch in a drug operation.
• He said he witnessed many transactions including cocaine, hashish and marijuana.
• “Most of the large transactions I saw I believe would have been related to owners, trainers or jockeys.”

Coroner’s Inquest – Michael Hargreaves (Firearms Expert – SAS Canada)

• Fired seven test shots.
• The extractor and ejector systems of the rifle he used and the one found at the death scene were identical.
• Fired four shot with the rifle in a vertical position, butt on the ground, and found that the ejected cartridges stayed where they landed and did not roll.
• They were measured at distances of between a third of a meter (13 inches) and two-thirds of a meter (27 inches) from the butt.
• For the other three shots, the rifle was held parallel to, and 1.67 meters (5 feet, 6 inches) above the ground, and found the ejected cartridges landed at distances between 2 meters (6 feet, 6 inches) and about a meter (3 feet, 3 inches).
• Given the height of the grass at the time of Beckon’s death, he estimated that the cartridges at that time would have been about a third to thirds of a meter (12 to 24 inches) closer to the ejection point.
• His tests were consistent with tests with the actual gun.

Coroner’s Inquest – Diane Beckon

• Re: Suicide notes – said she never heard her husband use the term “You’s,” the word used in the letter to Chad.
• “I don’t believe it’s a word he would use,” adding that it would have been “out of character” for Beckon to use such long sentences.
• She said her husband was not well educated in sentence and paragraph structure (he had a Grade 6 education), yet the suicide notes were in paragraph form “Instead of one long sentence.”
• “These notes are unusual and there would normally be scratches to correct errors. He would avoid writing. In the 15 years I was with Dan, he never wrote me anything.

Coroner’s Inquest – Dr. Vincent DiMaio (Pathologist)

• Referring to a bullet wound in Beckon’s head, said from the evidence he has seen, “We must conclude it’s a distant wound (where the gun was fired from more than 18 inches away), and that has got to be homicide.”
• His testimony contradicts the Crown pathologist.
• DiMaio said the type of ammunition used was “fairly dirty” and for a distance of up to 12 inches would leave soot or powder in the wound that could be seen with the naked eye.
• However, the residue would be trapped between the skin and the outside of the skull and that such markings would not be found on the inside of the skull. Note: Dr. Zahir Moloo had testified he found soot in the skull.

Final Summation – Dr. Jim Young (Coroner in charge of Inquest)

• Coroner Dr. Jim Young, who was in charge of the inquest told the jury before they were to deliberate “I cannot think of a single piece of evidence that is inconsistent with the suicide theory.”
• What is the coroner in charge doing drawing a conclusion? Shouldn’t it be left to the jury?
• On the absence of fingerprints on the rifle he cited testimony in which the jury was told prints weren’t found in the majority of gunshot cases.
• On the gunshot wound: Two pathologists examined Beckon’s body, but did not look closely at the wound in the critical area between the skin and skull.
• Another expert from Texas that examined the evidence said he was convinced the shot was fired from at least 18 inches away “And that means its homicide.”
• Told the jury “You must resolve the issue somehow,” inviting them to “Comment if you think a wound should be checked from the skin to the skull.”
• Citing the distance between the empty shell casing found at the scene from where Beckon’s body was found, Young concluded it was consistent with test firings done with the rifle.
• Other tests by independent experts show the casing would not fly and roll further than 6 feet.
• Young then said it’s possible that the cartridge had been kicked by one of the officials at the scene or that the jockey had taken a few steps after the fatal shot.
• Also said he is “convinced” that the rifle was parallel with the ground when fired.
• The coroner concurred with the testimony of witnesses who thought the swelling on Beckon’s face was of no significance.
• On the blue car spotted at the death scene, Young said the farmer who found Beckon’s body and the farmer’s daughter, had given essentially the same testimony.
• They testified the car was facing in toward the farm and was stopped on a knoll.
• The coroner cited a demonstration staged at the scene for the jury. From the distance the farmer said he’d seen the vehicle, Young said he’d had difficulty in establishing if the witness was looking at the front of the vehicle or a Nissan pickup truck (which Beckon owned).
• “I have no trouble saying it could have been Dan’s truck, where he stopped to have a look at the farm. If someone had just murdered Dan, would they not leave the scene fast and not stop on the knoll?”
• Could the car have been looking for a place to turn around?
• Of the testimony of two witnesses who said they’d seen the jockey on the phone at a Bolton cafe telling someone named Rick or Nick to “Leave me alone,” the coroner said, “It’s difficult to know how much importance to attach to it.” He added, “Is that proof he was murdered?”

Eric Murray – Beckon Family Lawyer

• “I’m there to hear the jury’s opinion, not the coroner’s opinion. You expect a middle-of-the road direction. The coroner is wrong, in my opinion.”

Final Verdict of Inquest

• The jury returned a verdict of suicide.

• The Jockey Club and the Racing Commission may have been concerned a murder verdict would provide support for the theory that the racing authorities were responsible for Beckon’s death because they had forced him to come up with “Names” if he wished to continue racing.
• The investigation was badly flawed based on the presumption there was no foul play, an autopsy conducted on the presumption the death was a suicide and an inquest dominated by a coroner who left little doubt about the verdict he expected from the jurors.
• The initial investigation conducted by the OPP was conducted on the assumption Beckon had killed himself.
• Because of this assumption the police failed to perform the most basic tests that could have shed real light on the manner that Beckon had met his death.
• Coroner Young’s lengthy summation to the jury steadfastly rejected evidence that didn’t prove suicide. Morever, he stepped over a very important line by telling the jurors, “I cannot think of a single piece of evidence that is consistent with the murder theory.”
• And he grossly usurped the function of the jurors when he told them that he believed he manner of death was suicide .
• Young left the hearing room before the family’s lawyers could make objections about the summation. This meant he did not have the benefit of any objections from the family’s lawyers, or any recommendations to improve the charge and insure an accurate verdict, and that any errors went uncorrected.

April 1990

Ontario Divisional Court threw out the inquest jury’s verdict, sharply criticizing the coroner for his charge to the jury.

November 1990

Police laid multiple charges of drug trafficking and money laundering.

July 11, 1992

An Ontario Court of Appeal upheld the Divisional Court ruling against the suicide ruling. The death was ruled “Undetermined”.

Notes

• Beckon made out a $5,855 deposit slip for another bank in Bolton
• Wrote a $1500 cheque for his agent, Jimmy Santha
• Clearly money wasn’t an issue, so why, if he even had a little doubt he would fail the drug test, wouldn’t he just decline the test and pay the $2000 fine?
• Why would he kill himself in a location where his body might not be found for days or weeks?
• Why shoot yourself in such a way you may only seriously wound yourself?
• Were the tests used as a lever by someone to get at Beckon and back him into a corner? The Ontario Jockey Club (OJC) or Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) wanted his address book and to know who someone was in a photograph that Beckon had.
• Do police know who Beckon contacted while making a call from a pay telephone shortly after he’d been suspended?
• Did police determine if arrangements were made during the phone call to meet someone on the main street of Bolton and take them to the deserted farm for a private discussion?
• Beckon left a Bolton convenience store, as though seeing someone outside he was supposed to meet.
• Do police have any concerns that notes left by Beckon were written under some sort of duress?
• Did police take tire mark impressions and identify a blue car which was seen in the driveway of the abandoned farm shortly before Beckon’s body was discovered?
• Was there concern that Beckon had been selected three times for drug testing and that he might think it was a form of harassment and lead to suicide?
• Were police aware that Beckon’s barn was ransacked sometime in the afternoon or evening of the day he died?
• Does the OPP have the results of the independent drug tests conducted for Beckon at the Mann Testing Laboratories in Mississauga?
• Were paraffin tests conducted to determine if Beckon had fired the weapon and if ballistic results confirmed the .22 calibre rifle was actually used in the suicide? According to the testimony of OPP Constable James Wilde (Identification Unit) not tests were conducted due to budget restraints at the Centre of Forensic Sciences and they “Won’t accept a suicide weapon for testing.”
• An empty shell casing found three meters (about 10 feet) from the body was not checked for fingerprints because “There was no reason to.” Note: How did a shell casing ejected from that type of rifle travel 10 feet?
• Wilde said he found a red felt pen in the glovebox of Beckon’s truck, while a handwriting expert from the Forensic Centre testified that he had examined the suicide notes under a microscope and that they were written with a ballpoint pen. Note: Was the ballpoint pen ever found?
• Asked about a swelling on Beckon’s right cheek, Wilde testified “I would attribute nothing on his face to the traumatic effect of the gunshot wound.”
• Wilde did refer to a crack in the butt of the rifle found at the scene, saying: “The crack in the rifle butt was there, but I think you will find (out) later about it.” Note: Was the crack ever brought up again in the inquest?
• It was not unusual for track personnel to make call outside because, “A lot of people at the track think the phones (at Woodbine) are tapped.” Note: Why would employees and workers at the track feel the phones were tapped? Possibly confirmed at a later date in the inquest when the talk came to the murder of a mobster at nearby Toronto Pearson International Airport.
• Barbara Russo as of March 15, 2015 still owned racehorses (Standardbreds) running out of Buffalo Raceway trained by Neal Russo (Son?)
• Wednesday August 4, 1993 trainer Neal Russo lost his trainers licence for a month when one of his horses tested positive for illegal drugs.
• Neal Russo was also suspended from July 12, 1990 to July 16, 1990 by the New York Gaming Commission: “Let other horse pass inside”.
• There was a special law enforcement unit in 1985 or 1986 that was looking into bookmaking, loan-sharking or drug dealing at Woodbine.
• Beckon family lawyer John Murray also showed how a sealed urine bottle can be tampered with and the security of the sealed bottles can be circumvented in about 14 minutes.
• Rick Cowan was track security at Woodbine.
• Coroner Dr. Jim Young said Constable Ken Ruttan, who was in hospital at the time of the inquest with chest pains, may never be able to give evidence and ruled he doesn’t have to testify.
• There was a mysterious man who was never identified who said he information on the blue car seen at the death scene.
• The Ontario Jockey Club agreed to pay $200,000 to an anonymous man on information on the individual seen in the blue car.
• However, part of the OJC’s offer were 15 separate conditions.
• One condition said he would only get paid if his information proved useful “In a material way.”
• That meant that the man would have to be able to say whether Beckon had committed suicide or been murdered.
• He said he didn’t know that but only knew the identities of the two men seen at the scene in the blue car.
• Why would the OJC insist on that clause when it’s clear he never said he knew if they did or didn’t murder Beckon or if it was a suicide?
• Why did the Ontario Jockey Club and Ontario Racing Commission fight so hard for the inquest to declare the death a suicide?
• Beckon had two insurance policies totaling $85,000, but neither pay off in the event of a suicide verdict.

Part 1 – Dan Beckon – Murder or Suicide?

Part 2 – Dan Beckon – Murder or Suicide? (Part 2)

 

Dan Beckon – Murder or Suicide? (Part 2)

Dan Beckon – Part 2 (Pre-Inquest information)

Part 1 – Dan Beckon – Murder or Suicide?

Part 3 – Dan Beckon – Murder or Suicide? Part 3

Diane Beckon

• Claims her husband’s face was swollen, “From the cheekbone down to the jaw.”
• “The funeral director told me it was unexplainable relative to the gunshot which killed Dan. I asked the police about it. “Are you saying he got beat up?” They said, “You tell me.”
• She also said their barn was ransacked between her husbands death and nightfall.
• “I can’t deny there may have been occasional (drug) use. I say that because of what happened in May. Dan was a person who lived with pain because of injuries he had. He had to lose weight pretty well every day of his life. He had plenty of strain..”
• “He had smoked marijuana, I know. He’d once had problems with drinking. He was not a saint, okay? But as for any addiction I’d have seen a drain on our financial situation. There was none. I’d have seen a change in the man, some tell-tale signs. I didn’t.” Note: There would have been no change to the financial situation if he was being given the drugs for free in exchange for tips or other things related to races.
• “They (racetrack officials) had tried different approaches to get him out of riding altogether.”
• “Early in March (1987), he was offered a steward’s position. Nothing would be guaranteed. He’d be slotted into other jobs while learning, and waiting for an opening.”
• “After the June 21st test, he called the testing lab and had a test done privately.”
• “I asked for the autopsy report. I was told there was a backlog. Then there were people on vacation. Then there was a mixup. I finally got it, it was dated September 18.”
• The suicide note left to his son was signed “Dan Beckon”.
• The note to her specified that his assets would be left to her.
• “Yes, it’s Dan’s writing, but I don’t see the reason for the note to me. We had wills. There was no need for him to write something like that. And the way Dan felt about Chad, that’s not how he’d have signed it. It seems so cold and impersonal.”

Barbara Russo

• Known at Woodbine as a punter of varying quality, but known to place some large bets.
• “A woman of independent means”.
• She was a friend of the Beckon’s since 1983 when she boarded her dog at their farm.
• She was involved in a legal wrangle with the Ontario Jockey Club.
• A member since 1978 of the exclusive Turf Club.
• She was barred from Woodbine, Fort Erie and Greenwood.
• Harold Adamson, was the former Metro Police Chief and at that point in 1987 the OJC Vice-President in charge of security.
• OJC employees had allegedly complained about having difficulty in collecting money they had given Russo for investment purposes.
• Russo had a receipt suggesting otherwise, and in fact there had been a profit.
• Russo is fighting the ban and has launched a multi-million dollar slander suit against the OJC.
• She rejected a settlement the OJC offered.
• She declined to be photographed just after Beckon’s death, saying “I don’t wish to be melodramatic, but I really fear my safety could be at stake.”

Note: Russo’s son was/is a trainer who was caught cheating in 1993
Note: Barbara Russo may have been placing bets for Beckon

Jimmy Santha – Beckon’s agent

• Santha says he told Beckon, “Don’t worry about it (failed drug test). I’ll stick by you and we’ll fight it.”
• Santha says he then asked, “What are you going to do?”
• Santha says Beckon replies, “I’m going to do what I should have done a long time ago. I’m going to shoot myself.”
• Beckon gets into his truck as Santha asks, “Do you want me to draw for you for Saturday (get him horses to ride)?” Beckon answered, “Yes.”

Gary George Alexander

A close friend of Beckon’s, Gary George Alexander, 31, of Drayton Ave. was found dead by his father on Saturday, July 4, 1987.
• Possible drug overdose.
• Walter Kent Ross, a friend of Alexander’s told police Alexander had been upset by Beckon’s death.
• He said Alexander had been drinking heavily after learning of Beckon’s death and broke down and wept on several occasions.
• Alexander was a familiar figure at Greenwood, Woodbine and Fort Erie.
• Lisa Roberts (Alexander’s girlfriend), believes Alexander killed himself.
• Alexander was an ex-jockey.
• Alexander first worked at Greenwood Racetrack as an exercise boy when he was 17.
• He knew Beckon for 15 years.
• He drifted away from horse racing.
• Worked for Metro Parks for a short time.
• Took summer of 1987 off from Parks.
• He was planning on going to Fort Erie to work as an exercise rider.

Debi Lockhurst – Trainer

• “Dan would leave the track and go home. He was devoted to that son of his. Chad was the biggest thing in his life.”
• “The backstretch is not a drug haven, but you can get them there. People don’t come to the backstretch to get drugs. But it’s there. Let’s face it. You can get drugs anywhere if you want them.”
• “He thought the officials were out to get him. He said that to me. He had to burn his address book because they were after it.”
• “He told me, ’They want me to put the finger on people. I could put the finger on a lot of people back here (on the backstretch) but I’m not going to do it.”

Ron Woods – Assistant Trainer to Debi Lockhurst

• After testing to see if Beckon could have shot himself: “Yes, it could have been done…but with difficulty.” Note: Woods assisted Dear in a test since he was virtually the identical size in height and arm length as Beckon.
• Measurements were made by measuring from the shoulder of one of Beckon’s jackets to the tip of the middle finger. Woods arm was a quarter of an inch longer than Beckon’s.
• Measurements for Beckon’s hand and finger size came from a set of Beckon’s gloves.

Sid Kirkman – Beckon’s Neighbour

• Spoke to Beckon about an hour before his body was found. “He sounded very calm and collected, not excited at all.”
• 12:15 PM “He may have been in a little bit more of a hurry than he was usually.”

Dr. Murray Miron

Professor at the University of Syracuse, N.Y., who describes himself as being a psychological linguistic analyst.

• Re: Suicide notes – “It is my judgement that they are precisely what they manifestly appear to be: namely, messages prepared in certain contemplation of suicide.
• “The content is archetypically consistent with a state of mind, at the time of their composition, of feelings of worthlessness, self-blame, shame, enduring hopelessness of circumstance and mournfulness over loss of love.”

Palmer Tunstall – (Retired F.B.I.) Document Analyst for 23 years

• Compared known samples of Beckon’s handwriting with copies of the notes.
• He said he was “Convinced beyond any doubt”, they were in Beckon’s writing.

Desmond Anderson (Former Woodbine track worker)

• One of the last people to see jockey Dan Beckon alive.
31 year-old was found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning in his car on Sunday June 12, 1988 near Wiarton.
• Less than four weeks earlier, he had testified at the inquest.
• Police said they are satisfied Alderson, who called himself “a small time trainer”, committed suicide.
• Alderson was scheduled to appear in Fort Erie provincial court on June 14, 1988 on charges of breaking and entering and sexual assault.
• Relatives said they’re mystified why his body was found almost 250 km from his Rexdale home.
• Alderson and another track worker testified at the Beckon inquest that they spotted Beckon making a phone call from a booth at a service station near Woodbine a few hours before he was found dead.
• Debi Lockhurst (Trainer) downplayed any possible connection between Alderson’s apparent suicide and Beckon’s death.
• Lockhurst said “He (Alderson) had personal problems that had nothing to do with Danny’s case.”
• Lockhurst employed Alderson off and on as a groom for the past four years.
• The criminal charges against Alderson stemmed from a May 10, 1988 incident in Fort Erie.

Part 1 – Dan Beckon – Murder or Suicide?

Part 3 – Dan Beckon – Murder or Suicide? Part 3

 

 

 

Dan Beckon – Murder or Suicide?

 

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Part 1

Part 2Dan Beckon – Murder or Suicide? (Part 2)

Part 3Dan Beckon – Murder or Suicide? Part 3

Dan Beckon

On July 2, 1987, well known Canadian horse jockey Dan Beckon’s dead body was found at a farm in Bolton, Ontario. The police ruled the matter as a suicide. The family and their lawyers called in William C. Deer of Dallas, Texas, known (arguably) to be the best Investigator in North America. The family maintained Beckon had been murdered.

On March 22, 1988, William Deer (right) and Corpa’s President, Kevin Bousquet (left) and a team of other investigators reenacted Beckon’s death.

The police investigation maintained that Beckon shot himself in the head with a Winchester .22 rifle. The spent .22 casing was measured metres away from the body. The investigative team reenacted the scene several times, both as a murder and a suicide. When reenacted as a suicide, the casings fell no further than one metre. However, when reenacted as a murder the casings landed approximately the same distance as measured by police. The conclusion of the video taped reenactment gave every indication that Beckon could not possibly have shot himself, as the casings were found too far from the body at the crime scene.

Further notes:

• Found dead beside a deserted Bolton barn from a .22 rifle shot to his right temple hours after being told he tested positive for a third time for cocaine use.
• The man (Stan Wos) who spotted the body at the same time spotted a blue car on the only road connecting the scene of Beckon’s death to the main road (Note: this appears to refer to refer to the blue car that was seen on driveway leading into the abandoned farm).
• Wos may have told Dear the car was leaving the scene while his testimony at the inquest says it was parked facing into the farm.
• Where was the exact location of the farm? Check the Caledon newspaper archives.
• There was a swelling on Beckon’s face, from the cheekbone to his jaw on the right side of his face.
• Was the swelling consistent with the gunshot wound? (Note: no, the swelling was never properly explained).
• Wos found the body accidentally when he was going to the abandoned farm with his daughter to check on some hay he had stored there.
• Some reports say the farm was six kilometers from Beckon’s farm, other’s say it was the next farm over. Possibly a big farm.
• There was a mysterious man who was never identified who said he information on the blue car seen at the death scene.
• The Ontario Jockey Club agreed to pay $200,000 to an anonymous man on information on the individual seen in the blue car.
• However, part of the OJC’s offer were 15 separate conditions.
• One condition said he would only get paid if his information proved useful “In a material way.”
• That meant that the man would have to be able to say whether Beckon had committed suicide or been murdered.
• He said he didn’t know that but only knew the identities of the two men seen at the scene in the blue car.

Woodbine and Drug Test

• Beckon had told several people he was under pressure from racing officials to furnish them with specific information
• They wanted him to identify someone in a specific photograph and to turn over his address book
• Beckon refused and told an aunt, Shirley Scime of Ancaster, that if he if identified the photography as requested, “My life wouldn’t be worth shit.”
• Upon being told of the third positive test over the phone in the Woodbine Jockey’s Room, Beckon angrily informed his valet, Leo Davison, he was off his mounts for the afternoon.
• Jimmy Santha, his agent, says he received the same news shortly afterwards on the backstretch.
• Santha has said Beckon indicated he expected to be back at work Saturday, two days later.
• Beckon apparently had been certain that the June 21st test would be negative.
• Brian Swatuk was fined $2000 by the Ontario Racing Commission for refusing to submit a urine sample. (If this was an alternative to taking the test why didn’t Beckon choose to pay the fine if he even had a hint he wouldn’t pass the test?)
• Swatuk avoided providing the urine sample on the same day Beckon was caught
• Fellow jockey Pat Souter said “You can always get cocaine around Rexdale.”
• Souter: “Cocaine is everywhere around here. The big gamblers always have it and they’re always trying to give it to the guys.”
• Jockey Lloyd Duffy said “I’ve never seen drugs in the jocks room. I’ve never seen any of the guys really high.”
• The random drugs tests are given not only to jockey’s but to exercise riders, members of the starting crew and racing officials as well.
• Dr. Richard Roelofson supervises thoroughbred racing for the Ontario Racing Commission and the drug testing
• Roelofson admits, “There have been some others who tested positive, but I’m not prepared to reveal the number.”
• Beckon’s third test was on June 21, 1987
• Beckon was one of the jockey’s who sat on a committee in 1986 that revised the rules of racing for Ontario
• Beckon’s first drug test was in October 1986
• The second test was in May 1987
• Jockey Gary Stahlbaum, “When his (Beckon’s) name was drawn for that third test on June 21, I offered to piss for him, because I knew I was clean.”
• Stahlbaum, “Danny said it wasn’t necessary because he knew he was okay.”
• Diane Beckon said her husband had said “These aren’t the names they’re looking for. I’ll start at the top … and I can go on and on.”
• Before Beckon went before the Ontario Racing Commission in May 1987, he said, “This better not be a witch hunt.”

Sampling Process:

The bottles are sealed, and the seal is signed by both the supervising guard and the jockey tested. Each bottle is put into a strongbox with two padlocks and shipped to Mann Testing Laboratories in Mississauga.

The laboratory is given only a number for each sample, never a name.

Negative results in testing can be confirmed in three hours.

To confirm a positive test takes between seven and eleven days because such samples undergo a second, confirmation test and the lab people don’t work weekends.

Beckon family lawyer John Murray also showed how a sealed urine bottle can be tampered with and the security of the sealed bottles can be circumvented in about 14 minutes

Death Scene

• Beckon’s body was found near his pickup truck.
• Note: Are there any crime scene photos?
• Note: The body was removed prior to photos being taken!
• Two suicide notes were found inside Beckon’s truck written on pages from a notebook.
• Diane Beckon confirmed it’s Dan’s writing.
• Diane Beckon said, “I don’t see the reason for the note to me. We had wills. There was no need for him to write something like that.”
• The wording of the letter was strange. Written under duress?
• Beckon borrowed a .22 calibre rifle from an acquaintance in Bolton, planning to shoot a groundhog which had been digging holes around his property.
• He kept the gun in his barn, and got it during his brief visit home that morning.
• Beckon was found with a bullet wound to his right temple and a .22 calibre rifle beneath his body.
• His locked truck was between 12 and 15 feet away from his body, according to a witness.
• An empty shell casing found three meters (about 10 feet) from the body was not checked for fingerprints because “There was no reason to.”
• Wilde said he found a red felt pen in the glovebox of Beckon’s truck, while a handwriting expert from the Forensic Centre testified that he had examined the suicide notes under a microscope and that they were written with a ballpoint pen. Note: Was the ballpoint pen ever found?
• Testified the body was found lying in a left side semi-fetal position with his hands and feet close together while lawyers and spectators crowded around for a better view of the demonstration.
• He showed how the muzzle of the barrel had been covered by Beckon’s body with the fingers of the left hand beneath the barrel and the right hand resting on top of it.
• Sent to the abandoned farm about 1:30 pm
• Beckon’s body was still warm although there were no vital signs and his eyes did not react too light.
• The ambulance arrived at the farm at 1:51 pm.
• The corporal in charge of the initial OPP investigation unit failed to check whether the vehicle found at the death scene had been investigated.

Forensics

• Body wasn’t measured
• No explanation for the swelling on Beckon’s face
• A toxicology test was completed. There was no confirmation that Beckon was a heavy drug user of coke.
• Urinalysis showed trace amounts of cocaine.
• There was no indication from the autopsy report of any damage to the inside of his nose and membranes which would be evidence of a subject addicted to the use of cocaine since cocaine is usually absorbed through the nose.
• There was no indication of any puncture or needle marks on the body, including toes, indicating the use of drugs intravenously.
• Phone bill shows a private lab, Mann Testing Laboratories in Mississauga had been hired by Beckon to do an independent test after he failed the June 21st test at Woodbine. Did police receive and review the results?
• Toxicology reports shows traces of cocaine. From Mann or Addiction Research Foundation? Answer: Mann
• On June 22, 1987 Beckon took an independent urine test. Appears to be a test taken at the Addiction Research Foundation.
• There was no trace of cocaine in the independent test.
• Cocaine is detectable in a person for 48 to 72 hours after it has been taken.
• Note: Why did Beckon feel he needed to take his own independent sample for testing? Clearly he felt he was clean.
• A certificate verifying the secret test that Beckon paid for at the Ontario Government’s own Addiction Research Foundation on Russell St. in Toronto was found.
• Beckon had a prescription from the track doctor for a weight control drug that is on the banned list for Olympic athletes and college football and basketball players.
• Track doctor is Alysius Teglas
• The weight control drug was Phentermine.
• Mann Testing Laboratories Chief Chemist was Pierre Baumler.
• The Addiction Research Foundation had told Beckon he would be tested starting at 9:30 AM on June 22, 1987 as part of a rehabilitation program he had agreed to undergo.
• The Addiction Research Foundation on June 23rd, confirmed that cocaine was “not detected”. Note: Try and find the actual test results.
• On May 26, Beckon took an earlier private test at Mann Testing Laboratories and later that day was told he tested positive for cocaine. Note: Was this test actually the first Woodbine test he failed?
• Beckon said it was impossible and asked if there were any other tests that could be taken to re-check this?
• “Fingerprinting” breaks down drugs into unmistakable patterns on a chart.
• Using the “fingerprinting” technique at 4:55 PM May 26th, Beckon was told the test was now “negative”. Note: If Beckon knew the “fingerprinting” test once proved a positive sample was wrong, wouldn’t he want to use this method to fight this result?
• June 10, 1987 at 11:00 AM Beckon had a medical assessment done at the Addiction Research and was declared free of cocaine.
• Ontario Solicitor-General, Joan Smith, says the police are at a disadvantage in that “they cannot be running around the way the Star is doing (investigating).”

Rifle

• The rifle found at the scene was a Winchester Model 77 .22 calibre.
• No measurements done to see if Beckon could reach the trigger.
• No records of parafin tests conducted to determine if Beckon had fired the weapon.
• Did ballistic tests tests confirm the .22 calibre rifle was actually used in the suicide?
• Were police aware of swelling from Beckon’s cheekbone to his jaw, although it was not listed on the autopsy report, and was the injury consistent with a gunshot wound?
• Beckon was shot in the right temple.
• Pathologist did not examine the wound between the skin and the skull, critical in determining the distance from which a shot was fired.
• Police were looking for a third bullet? Why?
• Diane Beckon says the police told her the rifle wouldn’t shoot unless loaded with three bullets.
• Police report of Beckon’s possessions found at the death scene lists a box of 50 bullets with 3 missing.
• Diane Beckon says as OPP officer looked in the Beckon’s barn, shifting earth around on the floor with his foot “and said he was looking for the empty cartridge.”
• Glen Wellspring, who owned the 30-year-old Winchester, says “The police said the only way they could get it to shoot was to put three bullets in the gun.”
• Winchester at the time was known as U.S. Repeating Arms of New Haven, Connecticut.
• Winchester didn’t understand the three shot description.
• The Model 77 would have held eight bullets and would have fired if loaded with just one, according to Winchester.
• Was there a record of the police doing a test firing? Does the gun still exist?
• The rifle had been retooled by a gunsmith to a left-handed weapon from a right-handed weapon.
• An empty shell casing found three meters (about 10 feet) from the body was not checked for fingerprints because “There was no reason to.”
• Tests were not done to determine the proximity between Beckon’s head and the gun that killed him.
• OPP Constable James Wilde (Identification Unit) said he did not notice or photograph an exit wound on the left side of Beckon’s head at the autopsy, although one is mentioned in the pathologist’s report, measuring 2 1/2cm (1 inch).
• Asked about a swelling on Beckon’s right cheek, Wilde testified “I would attribute nothing on his face to the traumatic effect of the gunshot wound.”
• Wilde did refer to a crack in the butt of the rifle found at the scene, saying: “The crack in the rifle butt was there, but I think you will find (out) later about it.” Note: Was the crack ever brought up again in the inquest?
• Testified the body was found lying in a left side semi-fetal position with his hands and feet close together while lawyers and spectators crowded around for a better view of the demonstration.
• He showed how the muzzle of the barrel had been covered by Beckon’s body with the fingers of the left hand beneath the barrel and the right hand resting on top of it.

Timeline – July 2, 1987

6:30 AM                Beckon prepared to leave home to go to Woodbine racetrack. Says goodbye to wife.

7:00 – 9:40 AM     Beckon gallops horses on Woodbine backstretch. Visits trainer Debi Lockhurst and assistant trainer Ron Woods at the Lockhurst barn.

10:40 AM              Called to the phone. In angry tones , tells his valet Leo Davison he is off the afternoon mounts.

10:30 – 10:45 AM  Looking for agent Jimmy Santha on backstretch, Beckon informs trainer Pat County he is not riding that day. Gets in truck and leaves the backstretch.

10:50 – 11:10 AM  After leaving Woodbine the morning of July 2nd, Beckon was seen calling from a phone booth at a service station northwest of the track. Apparently this was because of the rumour the tracks phones had been tapped. Possibly true! Witnesses describe the conversation as animated, with frequent hand gestures.

10:50 – 11:10 AM  Dr. Richard Roeloeson, Deputy Supervisor of Thoroughbred Racing, says Beckon called him “about midday” but it is not known if this was that call from the service station.

11:15 – 11:30 AM  Agent Jimmy Santha says he and Beckon spoke in the backstretch recreation room. Santha says Beckon tells him of third positive cocaine test and automatic suspension.

Note: There is a major discrepancy in times at this juncture. Santha says he and the jockey parted company at about 11:30 AM, but Beckon’s mother-in-law says he arrived home at his farm, more than 35 kms north of the track in Bolton at 11:35 AM.

11:35 AM              Beckon arrives home according to his mother-in-law, Myrna Battle, who is babysitting the Beckon’s son, Chad, 7.

11:44 AM               Beckon calls Scotiabank, makes July 16 appointment. Note: Why kill yourself if you made this appointment?

11:45 AM               Wife phones. They again discuss attending son’s soccer game that evening. Makes out deposit slip and cheque for Santha. At inquest neighbour Sid
Kirkman said he spoke to Beckon at the bottom of the driveway as he noted the
time on his watch. (Note: Seems to be another discrepancy as prior to the
inquest Kirkman had said the time had been 12:15 PM)

11:50 AM               Drives truck up lane to his barn. Son comes out of house and follows him. Beckon picks boy up, hugs him, kisses him, says he loves him.

12:03 PM                Beckon conducts business at Royal Bank in Bolton.

12:10 – 12:15 PM   Beckon is observed standing at curb, near King Rd. and Hwy. 50 waiting, by Janet Vickery, a clerk in Bolton Milk and Variety store across the street where Beckon was a regular customer.

12:20 PM                Enters Bolton Milk and Variety store, makes no purchase and leaves suddenly.

1:10 – 1:15 PM       Beckon’s body found near an unused barn, 6.6 km from Beckon’s home, by Stan Wos. He was dead of a gunshot wound to the right temple. Wos, riding a moped, sees rifle under body and returns home to call for help. He leads an ambulance and police to scene. Body removed.

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Crime Reenactment

• Beckon was 5 foot 5 3/4 inches
• Physically could he have shot himself in the head with a .22 rifle? (Yes, it was proven he could just reach the trigger with the barrel of the gun pressed directly against his head. Note: This is an important detail and is important in relation to the forensics.)
• Conducted a series of tests at the death scene with a .22 calibre rim-fire Winchester rifle, almost identical to the one found beneath Beckon’s body to determine how far it would eject a spent shell.
• He said that with the butt of the gun on the ground and using bullets identical to those found in Beckon’s pickup, the farthest the gun would eject an empty shell was 27 inches.
• With the gun held in the air, the farthest it would eject a shell was about five feet.
• A spent shell was found at the death scene near the right front wheel of Beckon’s pickup, about 10 to 12 feet from his body.

Part 2 – Dan Beckon – Murder or Suicide? (Part 2)

Part 3 – Dan Beckon – Murder or Suicide? Part 3

Tracy Kundinger Cold Case

Tracy Kundinger

 

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Location: Simonston Blvd (near German Mills P.S), Thornhill
Date: Thursday, August 21, 1975

Summary: The body of Tracy Kundinger, aged 18 of Thornhill, was located in a park area adjacent to the German Mills Public School, which is located on Simonston Boulevard in Thornhill. The investigation revealed that Tracy Kundinger worked until 10 p.m. on Wednesday, August 21, 1975 as a lifeguard at the Ottawa Indoor Pool located at 650 Parliament Street, Toronto. Tracy was reported to have been wearing a blue jean jacket over a white T-shirt, blue jeans, and a pair of white shoes when she left the Ottawa Indoor Pool, shortly after 10 p.m. on August 20, 1975. Tracy was observed walking with friends to the Castlefrank Subway Station, and ultimately took a Don Mills North bus to Steeles Avenue, leaving the bus at 10:50 p.m. A man who had been the only other passenger of the bus, described as 22 to 24 years of age, 175 to 180 lbs., with sandy, collar-length wavy hair and wearing a white denim jacket and jeans, got off the bus at the same time and was seen to walking in the same general direction as Tracy. It is believed that Tracy walked northwest from the intersection of Don Mills Road and Steeles Avenue toward her residence, and across the park area that surrounded German Mills Public School and St. Michael’s Catholic Elementary School. Tracy Kundinger died as a result of asphyxiation.

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Anyone with information on this case is asked to contact the York Regional Police Homicide and Missing Persons Bureau at 1-866-876-5423 x 7865, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS, leave an anonymous tip online at www.1800222tips.com or text a tip by sending TIPYORK and a message to CRIMES (274637).

august 22, 1975 toronto star a1

At 5:30 on the afternoon of Thursday, August 21st, 1975, two young boys riding their bikes on mounds of top soil on the grounds of German Mills Public School at 61 Simonston Blvd. in Thornhill, just north of Toronto, stumbled upon the dead body of a young woman. She was 18-year-old Tracy Kundinger, who lived with her parents on nearby Monsanto Ct. She had been strangled with a piece of twine. There was no sexual assault. She had not been reported missing because her parents were away on holiday and she was home alone.

635864743326813469_original

Police believed Kundinger, returning from her summer job as a lifeguard at a pool in downtown Toronto, took a shortcut northbound through a park after getting off a Toronto Transit bus at Leslie St. and Steeles Ave. E. Wednesday night, and that her killer followed her as she made her way through the woods.

screen shot 2019-01-15 at 2.20.48 pm

A link to the above map with further details on each Point of Interest

A few days later, police issued an appeal seeking a suspect. Described as a white male in his early to mid-20s, about 5’8″ to 5’11”, with a fair complexion and well-groomed light-brown hair combed over his forehead, he was the only other passenger with Kundinger on the bus on Wednesday night, and they got off at the same stop at about 10:50 p.m.

september 10, 1975 the liberal composite sketch

Note:  A solid suspect was later arrested, a 34-year-old mental patient who had an unusual interest in the crime, but the case against him fell apart in 1977 when it was established he had been fed details of the crime by a former policeman.

Person of Interest: John Ferguson

October 15, 1976 – Toronto Star

Arrest made in murder of girl, 18

A 34-year-old Toronto man has been charged with the non-capital murder of an 18-year-old Thornhill woman whose strangled body was found in a schoolyard in August, 1975.

John Ferguson, of Gerrard St. E., was charged early today after almost 14 months of investigation by York Regional Police detectives.

He is charged with the slaying of Tracy Lynn Kundinger, of Monsanto Ct., whose body was found by children playing in a park behind the German Mills Public School on August 20, 1975.

Police say Ferguson is single, unemployed and on welfare.

October 20, 1976 – The Liberal

Toronto man charged in Thornhill murder

John Ferguson, 34, of Gerrard Street in Toronto, has been charged with non-capital murder of Tracy Kundinger, 18, of Monsanto Court in Thornhill who was killed in August of last year.

At that time, the girl’s strangled body was found by children playing in a park behind German Mills Public School.

York Regional Police have been working on the case ever since.

Crown Attoney Iain Cunningham said he recommended the accused be sent to Penetanguishene after he had refused to co-operate with police.

He said Ferguson had been examined by Dr. Gerald Cooper, a psychiatrist at York-Finch Hospital, who described his behavior as “very bizarre.”

Dr. Cooper said he felt Ferguson was unfit to stand trial.

Police said the accused was single and on welfare.

may 4, 1977 the liberal john ferguson released

april 19, 1977 toronto star a11 john ferguson

There were no other arrests made, though further rapes occurred in the area over the next few years.

august 16, 1978 the liberal steeles & leslie rape

Person of Interest: Raymond Wallace

January 13, 1978 – Toronto Star

2nd Thornhill woman accosted

A woman was accosted at knifepoint last night in an area that has seen one unsolved murder and numerous rapes and indecent assaults.

It was the second such incident in a week.

York Regional police said a 20-year-old woman was waiting for a bus on Don Mills Rd. just north of Steeles Ave. when she was approached by a man with a knife who told her to accompany him.

Police said the armed man led the woman to a townhouse construction site and as they were about to enter the woman began to struggle and escaped.

About a week ago, a 19-year-old woman was grabbed by a man who produced a knife. The assault occurred in almost exactly the same spot.

Tracy Kundinger, 18, of Thornhill, was found murdered in the same area August 21, 1975.

The Grade 13 student was strangled. Her body was found in a field near the German Mills public school. Her killer has never been found.

Police say there have been a number of other rapes and attacks on women in the same area of Thornhill and in Metro just south of Steeles Ave. over the past 18 months but there have been no arrests.

january 13, 1978 toronto a4 2nd woman accosted in thornhill

March 29, 1978 – The Liberal

Thornhill residents relieved over rape arrest

Metro Police have arrested and charged a man with rape and attempted rape and York Regional Police have reason to believe he is the same man wanted in connection with similar crimes in the Don Mills – Steeles Avenue East, area.

Detective Sergeant Robert Wilson, in charge of the York Region investigation, said if and when the accused man is released by Toronto police, he will face charges resulting from a rash of incidents not far from Markham Place Mall, Thornhill, including three counts of abduction, one count of rape, two counts of attempted rape and two counts of indecent assault.

Murray MacDonald, manager of the shopping centre, said he is relieved the situation is now under control, especially for the sake of female employees.

Noting there was constant surveillance of the community around the mall, he felt thanks to York Region Police for their efforts were in order.

Detective Sergeant Wilson said the charges of abduction arose when a man (on three occasions) grabbed women by the arm at knifepoint and led them to secluded areas of the neighborhood.

Twice, victims were able to escape but another was taken to a vacant townhouse and raped.

“Our charges are different from those Metro laid in connection with incidents in Scarborough. Those acts happened inside cars but the ones up here included taking the victims from one place to another – that’s abduction,” said the Detective Sergeant.

Charged with rape and attempted rape by Metropolitan Toronto Police is Raymond Wallace, 31, of Brookbanks Road in Don Mills.

march 29, 1978 the liberal raymond wallace

Person of Interest: Philip Young

February 2, 1980 – Toronto Star

Man jailed for trying to force woman into car

A man who tried to force a woman into his car at knife point has been sentenced to six months and placed on two years’ probation.

Philip Young, 25, of Summerhill Rd. pleaded guilty earlier to a charge of assault with intent to commit an indictable offence and was sentenced yesterday by County Court Judge William Rogers.

Crown attorney Steve Howarth told the court people like Young threaten to ruin Metro’s reputation for being a city with safe streets.

According to a police synopsis, a 25-year-old woman was walking home from a bus stop in the Don Mills Rd. and Lawrence Ave. E., area about 2:30 a.m. last February 10.

She refused to Young’s invitation to give her a ride in his car and moments later he got out, grabbed her and produced a butter knife.

He held the knife first against her stomach and then near her throat as her ordered her to get into his car.

The woman dropped her briefcase and purse, ran into the middle of the road and flagged down a passing car.

At this point, Young handed her the purse and briefcase and told her he never had a knife. He got into his car and drove off.

The woman, “crying and shaking,” got into the passerby’s car and they followed Young and then went to a police station.

When police arrested him, Young said he had been drinking.

february 2, 1980 toronto star a14 philip young

Person of Interest: Michael Kloc

July 17, 1974 – The Liberal

Thornhill Girl, 18, Escapes Midnight Roadside Attacker

An 18-year-old Thornhill girl motorist was stopped and dragged into a field in Markham near Buttonville at 11:15 pm by a would-be rapist. But she escaped serious harm when another came by and the youthful attacker fled in his (the attacker’s) vehicle, police say.

Later, following an investigation, York Regional Police Detective Sergeant John Mocrhead and Detective Dick Witteman arrested a 16-year-old youth at an office at 2205 Midland Avenue, Toronto.

Held in custody for a bail hearing at Richmond Hill Court was Michael Kloc of 162 Bayview Fairways Drive, Thornhill. Police said Kloc was already out on bail and facing a May charge of rape in a Metro court. YRP charged Kloc with attempted rape and with impersonating a police officer.

The lone girl motorist told YRP her attacker followed her in a vehicle, pulled her over and stopped her, saying he was a police office. When he got her out of her car he pulled her into the field on Concession 5 road north of Highway 7.

He was struggling with her on the ground when the other motorist came along and frightened the attacker away. The girl fortunately suffered nothing more than minor abrasions, said police, who declined to reveal her name.

At a bail hearing, Provincial Judge Russell Pearce issued a detention order for Kloc until trial, ordering that the youth be brought back to the court from Don Jail weekly. A late August trial date was expected.

Note: Kloc was likely in jail at the time of Tracy’s murder, but clearly as shown with him out already on bail while committing this crime, anything is possible in Canada’s lax justice system. He can’t be discounted until his whereabouts at the time nearly one year to the day later are confirmed. I haven’t been able to find any further information on Kloc as of yet.

Kloc lived just over 1 km from Tracy and quite possible went to school or at least knew Tracy.

Note:  Wallace was never charged with Kundinger’s murder and it’s not known if he was even considered by York Regional Police as a suspect as were any of the others.  An attempt is being made as of January 15, 2019 to verify if any of these suspects (Wallace, Young or Kloc) were ever looked at.

Further to this, a couple of tips were received about an ex-boyfriend of Tracy’s that may have been involved.  The name and the interviews are being withheld for privacy.

Below is a partial screen grab of a map showing the locations of rapes and assaults in the area from 1970 – 1980.

screen shot 2019-01-15 at 1.54.02 pm

Below is a link to a searchable Google Map showing the locations of Tracy’s murder and numerous sexual assaults and rapes in the vicinity from 1970-1980.  Clicking on the highlighted point will give you more information about each crime.

Sexual Assaults near Thornhill (1970-1980)

Christine Jessop Investigation

I wonder if York Regional Police would have been interested, let’s say, if another girl about the same age had been kidnapped from outside a Peterborough corner store and driven west towards Sunderland, and the location where Christine Jessop was found, but she had been released unharmed because the kidnappers truck had broken down? And say this breakdown occurred about 45 minutes from Sunderland and the incident occurred less than 3 weeks after the disappearance of Christine? Now say the kidnapper worked as a woodcutter, a profession that would have him traveling many backroads? I wonder if they would have looked at this, or were they focused on Morin even this early?


From:  Toronto Star – Tuesday, October 23, 1984 (Page A1)

Police seek abductor as girl, 6, found safe

PETERBOROUGH – Police were searching through bush near here last night for the man who abducted a 6-year-old girl and held her for 19 hours.

Lynn Serena Ferguson was taken from outside a downtown variety store and was found about 32 kilometres (20 miles) away on a country road, west of the city.

Police said the Ferguson girl hadn’t been harmed.

Although she wasn’t harmed, Peterborough Police Inspector Bob Lewis said the reason for abduction is pretty obvious “when you get a girl 6 years of age taken from a candy store.”

A search of the area where the girl was found turned up an abandoned vehicle which police speculate broke down while being operated by the abduction suspect.

Lewis said Lynn didn’t escape but had been allowed to leave and it was only a short time later when she was spotted by a passing motorist.

He said the abductor may have also panicked and be hiding somewhere in the area.

(Page A9)

Lynn was picked up at the North George One Stop Variety after walking one block from a Division St. home where her mother, Karen, was visiting friends.


Police looking for suspect in kidnapping of Peterborough girl

From:  Toronto Star – Thursday, October 25, 1984 (Page A7)

Girl, woman kidnapped at random, police say

PETERBOROUGH – A 6-year-old Peterborough girl and a 41-year-old Lakefield woman were random victims of separate kidnappers, according to police investigators.

Police said the girl; Lynn Serena Ferguson, was lured into a pickup truck Sunday by a man who offered her $2 to help him find his lost puppy.

The victims did not know the kidnappers and investigations indicate they were picked randomly.

Police haven’t yet been able to establish motives for the separate kidnappings.

Although both victims were held several hours, police said neither was sexually attacked.

Police are still hunting for the man who abducted the Ferguson girl and have issued a Canada wide warrant charging Richard Stanley James with kidnapping.

James, 35, had lived only a block from the downtown variety store where the girl was abducted but recently moved to Fraserville, south of here, where he worked as a woodcutter.


From:  Toronto Star – Tuesday, October 30, 1984 (Page A2)

Suspect in girl’s abduction gives himself up to police

Richard Stanley James, sought in connection with the October 21 abduction of 6-year-old Lynn Ferguson, is to appear in Peterborough Provincial Court today on a kidnapping charge.

James, unshaven and looking as if he had been sleeping outdoors, was accompanied by lawyer David Ross when he walked into the Peterborough police station at 10:08 a.m. yesterday.

The Ferguson girl disappeared after a visit to a variety store near her Peterborough home and was found 19 hours later, unharmed but about 32 kilometres (20 miles) away.  The Emily Township couple who had found her said she had been wandering along the little used Hog’s Back Rd. near the southwest edge of the township of Omemee.

Police said the girl had been abducted in a red pickup truck.  A disabled red truck owned by James’ employer was found abandoned not far from where she was found.

Karen Ferguson, the girl’s mother, said Lynn went to the store while she was visiting friends nearby.  James had at one time lived in the same area of Peterborough as the Fergusons, but had moved to the small community of Fraserville before the kidnapping.


Christine Jessop Murder and possible connection to a kidnapping in Peterborough 3 weeks later.

Likely routes of abductors.

October 3, 1984 Christine Jessop abducted from Queensville, Ontario (left).  Note: Final location in Sonya not exactly as shown.  The correct location is just north of Concession 4, which itself is just north of Sonya.

Queensville to Sonya
October 21, 1984 Lynn Ferguson abducted from Peterborough, Ontario (marker right).  Note: Final location in Sonya not exactly as shown.  The correct location is just north of Concession 4, which itself is just north of Sonya.

Peterborough to Sonya
December 31, 1984 Christine Jessop’s body found near Sonya, Ontario (centre).  Note: Final location in Sonya not exactly as shown.  The correct location is just north of Concession 4, which itself is just north of Sonya.

Queensville to Sonya to Peterborough

Jessop was 8 years old at the time of her abduction.
Ferguson was 6 years old at the time of her abduction.
Both were abducted from outside a corner store.

Kidnapper (Richard James) had his truck break down just south of Lindsay at the approximate area where 35 meets Hwy. 7.

Note – I don’t think James took Hwy. 7 so he could avoid police, both coming out of Peterborough and coming southeast from Lindsay.  I believe he continued straight across Parkhill Rd. and continued straight across Hwy. 7 where the road name changes to Hayes Line/Concession Rd. 1.  Hayes Line/Concession Rd. 1 ends at Ski Hill Rd. and directly across is an entrance to Hogsback Rd., which is a Township forestry road access.  Hogsback Rd. continues as a forestry road until it finally becomes a proper dirt road eventually ending at Mount Horeb Rd., 2.5 km south of Hwy. 7.  Somewhere near the point where Hogsback Rd. ends at Mount Horeb Rd. is the spot where James’ truck broke down or got stuck.  From here it’s just a 12 minute drive along Hwy. 7 to the point Hwy. 7 crosses over the north end of Lake Scugog at the south end of Lindsay.  1 minute further east of this point is Little Britain Rd.  If you continue along Little Britain Rd. for another 16 minutes to where it ends at Simcoe St., you are 900 m from the location where Christine Jessop’s body was located.  All in all, Christine Jessop was located 43 minutes or 60 kilometres from where Richard James’ truck broke down.

Considering the woods which James’ took the girl through, which would have allowed him all the privacy he wanted, yet she wasn’t assaulted, I believe he had another destination in mind as I’ve shown above.

I also included a map showing the forestry entrance of Hogsback Rd.

Hayes Line Hogsback Rd forestry entrance

Lynn Ferguson was released safely that night after being held for 19 hours and found in this area where James’ truck broke down.

James lived in Fraserville, which is just south west of Peterborough.

Note that James’ direction of travel seems to be taking him directly to Sonya, Ontario where Christine Jessop’s would be found a couple of months later and in both instances the abductors were driving away from the location of the kidnappings.


From:  Toronto Star – Thursday, May 16, 1985

Man is found guilty of abducting girl, 6

PETERBOROUGH –  A man who abducted a 6-year-old Peterborough girl last October, triggering a massive search by police and volunteers, has been found guilty of kidnapping and abduction of a person under 14.

A pre-sentence report was ordered yesterday on Richard James, 36, of nearby Fraserville.  James was the object of a Canada-wide arrest warrant until he surrendered to Peterborough police a week after the kidnapping.

Lynn Ferguson, who was kidnapped October 21, was found by a farmer the following day, walking down a deserted country road about 17 kilometres (10 miles) west of the city.

The girl told the three-day District Court trial that a man driving a red truck had lifted her into the truck and slammed the door closed.  She said he drove her into the country and they spent the night sleeping in the truck’s front seat.


The story was a quarter front page in the Toronto Star for a single day. Then relegated to the back pages a few days later when he turned himself in and back pages about 8 months later when he was convicted. That was all.  Nobody deeply interested with the Jessop case that I’ve talked to have ever heard of Richard James. The name certainly doesn’t come up in any book or the Kaufman report, thought I understand they were based on Morin. But just as the books were fixated on Morin, the police were as well.

I’ve read of people around Queensville especially, and some in the Sunderland area being looked into, but I’ve never, ever seen the name of James. Often when a detective or policeman are sent to talk to somebody, they really only do a cursory job and/or the information gets lost in all the rest of the information over time and the name just gets forgotten, especially if the investigators become fixated on a suspect as was the case with Morin. However it is still an assumption that York Regional Police even went to talk to Peterborough police at all.

Either way, it’s the only new name I’ve come across in the last 20 plus years.

As he worked as a woodcutter, that would be the kind of job that you would get to know a lot of back roads and wood lots and where the farmers entrances would be in rural areas.  I’m trying to find if any records still exist from the period of the early 1980’s of where the company was working as the Peterborough Police have misplaced the file pertaining to the kidnapping of Lynn Ferguson.


The other things is that this kidnapping in Peterborough was 100km away from Queensville, and at that time Christine’s body was yet to be found near Sonya, so even the direction of travel wouldn’t have meant anything at that moment. Only after December 31st, when she was found, would the connection of the direction towards the same location even start to make sense, and by then the police already had Morin firmly in their sight.


From page 107 of Redrum:
(this is not a direct quote – I’m paraphrasing)

Stephanie Nyznyk (Centre of Forensic Sciences) found a number of small reddish plastic chips which had adhered to either C’s socks or underwear – Nyznyk couldn’t tell which clothing item – because the chips had fallen off the garments. Nynznyk sent them to the chemistry section of the lab where they were promptly lost and never seen again.

While it’s worthless because the chips were lost, the truck that Richard James was driving (a company truck) was a red pickup.


In regards the damage done to Christine’s sternum, this (or these) injuries of both a cut and crushing of the sternum and ribs in the area, would be consistent with the damage that would be inflicted upon being struck with an axe. James, working for a woodcutter, would very likely to almost certainly have had an axe on board his work truck.


I haven’t found Richard James’ name turning up for any other arrests, and if he was arrested in 1984 and convicted in early 1985, nobody would have taken his DNA. To this day, police must have a warrant to collect someone’s DNA, and if he had no further arrests there would be no reason to collect a sample for DNA comparison.

Virtually every single second of the investigation initially was limited to the Queensville area. Many people even three weeks later (the Peterborough kidnapping) still felt that Christine had wandered off somewhere. No matter what, there was very little reason to look into the Peterborough kidnapping due to the distance.

Until you look at the Christine Jessop murder from the location of where her body was found as the starting point, you get bogged down in all the conflicting witness statements and rumours in and around Queensville. The one thing we do know for sure is that Christine was found near Sonya, Ontario (or Sunderland if you prefer). That’s the one solid, indisputable point. I obviously had to guess at the route someone would take from Queensville to Sonya, but the route I showed on the map a few posts previously seems to be the most direct and logical route. Right after abducting someone is not the time to be going site seeing.

When you look at the comparisons to the kidnapping of Lynn Ferguson in Peterborough you get very similar circumstances to the abduction of Christine Jessop.

1. The ages were similar – Christine was 8 and Lynn was 6
2. Both were last seen at or near a corner store.
3. Lynn was enticed with an offer of $2 to help find the guys lost puppy. Would this work on Christine, who loved animals? I’ll let you decide, but I sure think it would.
4. In both instances, the abductor was likely heading to Sonya. Christine we know ended up there, and in the case of Lynn, if James’ truck hadn’t broken down just south of Lindsay where Hwy. 7 crosses the north end of Lake Scugog, his route, whether it be Hwy. 7 or Little Britain Rd. heading towards Little Britain, takes him directly to 2kms north of where Christine was found if he used Hwy. 7, or if along Little Britain Rd., virtually directly across County Road 2 (Simcoe Rd.) from where Christine was found. James could have headed to his home in Fraserville but he didn’t. There is only two choices around Lake Scugog, and that’s Lindsay to the north and Port Perry to the south. He choose the northern route, and you can look for yourself on the map where that westerly direction heads towards. Of course I’m guessing at James’ ultimate destination, but by choosing the northerly route around, and we know for sure he did, the odds start narrowing. He could have assaulted Lynn right where he broke down but he didn’t, so again, I’m guessing that he had another location in mind that was west of Lindsay.

Without being able to check those “red plastic chips”, it couldn’t be confirmed it came from James’ red pickup truck, but it’s one more check mark. Maybe just a check in pencil, but a check mark nonetheless.

Just going by the description of the injuries and without any medical consultation, that wound on Christine’s chest to her sternum sure sounds like it could be consistent with an axe. A woodcutter would almost certainly have an axe on his truck.


To me, it’s a crime of opportunity, along with enough knowledge of the areas of both the abduction and the site in Sonya. In the Peterborough case, James’ actually had previously lived within a kilometre of the corner store where Lynn was abducted from. Lynn had also left her mother, who was at her friends place, to go to the nearby corner store and when James’ offered her $2 to help find his lost dog, she was immediately snapped up and put in the truck. Doesn’t sound like she was targeted, it was just the wrong place at the wrong time, and somebody who was looking for a little girl to snatch. Unfortunately it can be as simple and quick as that.


One constant assumption is that whoever drove to the site where Christine was found, entered off of Concession 4. That winding path would not give you line of sight to the trailer. You wouldn’t know if anyone was there, or a farmer walking their dog, until you were nearly on top of them.

But follow that tractor trail in the opposite direction from the trailer (more of a southerly direction) and it’s leading up a small hill across an open field towards Simcoe St.. towards a farmers entrance off of Simcoe St.

Rather than enter off Concession Rd. 4, where you wouldn’t be able to see if anybody was on the property, if you came in off of Simcoe St. you would be at the top of a hill looking down onto the trailer and have a wide open view to see if anybody was around either the trailer or just walking a dog.

I lean toward someone knowing that nobody was at the trailer. It could be that they knew the trailer was only used on weekends or they may have driven by earlier in the day and checked if anybody was there. But not seeing a car parked at the trailer wouldn’t guarantee that nobody was there. A person could have been at the trailer while the other person took the car to pick up groceries or something like that. You would have to knock on the door to make sure and you sure wouldn’t want to do that with a little kid you just grabbed sitting in your truck. There was definite knowledge of the site and very likely the schedule of people using the trailer. It wasn’t picked randomly. But I do think they entered off of Simcoe St. rather than Concession Rd. 4. That would definitely give you a far better chance of seeing a farmer or somebody walking a dog eliminating at least that possibility of being disturbed.

One other possibility is that tire tracks leading to the trailer may have been visible. No tracks, no one there. Tractor tracks would be very different than tracks of road tires. Certainly if it was at all muddy you could tell if a car had gone in. From weather data for Seagrave, Ontario, which is 4km away from Sonya, Ontario, for the days of October 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, there had been 3.8mm of rain. That leads me to believe the tire tracks, or lack of, would be clearly visible. If there were no marks off of Concession 4 then you would be pretty sure that nobody had gone into the trailer. Then drive around the corner onto Simcoe St. and enter from there and see there are no farmers or dog walkers and no car at the trailer and they would be alone.


Now there’s a driveway out to Simcoe St. from the lot where Christine was found. The lot hadn’t been developed in 1984 and just had the tractor trail into the trailer, but the trail also ran well past the trailer up a small hill heading in a southerly direction. Usually farmers would have at least two entrances, especially on a larger corner lot like that. They weren’t exactly “legal” entrances, but what they would call a farmers entrance. They may have a culvert to get over the ditch, but often the ditches were shallow enough a farm vehicle or even a car or truck, could enter. Often the same farmers would be working a few lots in the area, so it would be easier to go in and out the closest entrance and certainly the one that is less muddy. With the southern portion of the lot being higher ground, it would be less muddy than the lower northern entrance off of Concession 4, and by accounts of that entrance in various books and reports, it was a well rutted entrance. Likely harder for a civilian vehicle to get in and out of.

Picture: Shows the lot as it is today, including the location of Little Britain Rd. (the distance was incorrectly marked as 700m, it should be 900m)

Jessop site


The black and white picture shows a bit better of what I’m getting at, when I say if you enter off of Simcoe St. you could see everything in front of you wide open, plus be a wider elevation. It doesn’t quite go back far enough, but it gives the basic idea quite well. You could see from up there clearly. There’s no trees blocking your view of the trailer as there is if you come in off of Concession 4.

The Body Site from RR first edition

The map picture in colour, is obviously an earlier picture than the Google Maps picture from the previous post. The driveway in this earlier picture doesn’t go back in as it does now, but you can clearly see the farmers entrance I’m referring to.

where Christine Jessop was found

If you go to Google Maps and go down to street view you can clearly see the entrance off of Concession 4 is at a far lower elevation than the entrance off of Simcoe St.

I wouldn’t come in off of Concession 4, even if you could see no tire tracks in the mud and had scouted the location to see if anyone was there earlier in the day, you couldn’t guarantee that somebody wasn’t walking a dog near the trailer or if the farmer had come in off the other entrance off of Simcoe St. because you couldn’t see them through the trees from Concession 4. From higher ground with a clear view, though you can see everything.


I filed a Freedom of Information request with Peterborough Police but it’s not looking promising for further information on the kidnapping of Lynn Ferguson in Peterborough. There’s still a chance but it seems the original files may have fallen through the cracks of digital archiving and may not be found. There are still some other options of foot work, trial transcripts, phone calls and newspaper archives, and maybe some luck the files will be found.


In regards the time to commit a murder during daylight: Christine was assumed to have been abducted about 4:00 pm. It’s 45 minutes from Queensville to Sonya. Sunset for October 3rd, 1984 in that area is 6:56 pm. Twilight was 7:25 pm. That’s a two hour window of daylight, so it is definitely possible it could be done.


I received a letter from Peterborough Police regarding my Freedom of Information request for the files pertaining to the arrest and conviction of Richard James in the kidnapping of Lynn Ferguson and it says “the search concluded that no records exist. The Peterborough Police Force automated their records system in 1987. Records prior to January 1st, 1988 are limited.”

Nothing’s easy. But, there are still searches to be done on the Peterborough Examiner archives of the era when Trent University is finished working on the library building in the spring, as well as an attempt to located the trial transcript, and more footwork in the area in the hope that someone remembers something.


From everything I can find James was never in prison prior to being convicted of the kidnapping in Peterborough, and I also can’t find any connection with him and anyone in Queensville, so I doubt very much he ever met Christine’s father. It certainly isn’t conclusive. His company and/or himself may have done work in Queensville and had direct contact with people there, even Christine’s family, but I get the feeling James was one of these “people” (I really want to use another word, but I don’t want to get in trouble) who get the urge and see a situation they can exploit.

I think it’s far more likely he was working nearby and had noticed the school was on his route home and decided to see if he could grab a little kid when the opportunity presented itself. I don’t think this was as much a thought out plan, as it was a crime of opportunity and some local knowledge of the site in Sonya and at least a very good working knowledge of the roads in and around Queensville.


I don’t think she took her bike to the store that day. She was found with her recorder with her, and as somebody pointed out, she likely was afraid she would break it while holding it and riding her bike. Certainly seems reasonable and would explain why her bike was at home. Without a bike to throw in the pickup truck box it would only take a second to grab a little kid and toss them in the truck. James used the ruse of needing help to find his lost puppy and $2 to grab Lynn Ferguson, and we know Christine loved animals so I wouldn’t doubt he used the exact same approach.

As for jobs being done in and around the area, I know there was work being done on various subdivisions and some commercial lots and on some farms and some road work. Nobody has the precise records for that time period that I’ve contacted, but every one said that at some point the lots had been cleared of scrub brush and woodcutters were hired to remove and dispose of the brush.

One thing of note is that at the time of Christine’s disappearance, Highway 404 was being extended from Bloomington to Aurora Sideroad between August 1982 and September 1985.

It just goes to show just how easy if would be for a red pickup to fit in without anyone noticing even right in the middle of Queensville.


 

Christine Jessop

Christine Jessop

Christine Jessop, 9, Queensville, Ontario, 3 Oct 1984

Basic summary of the case:

October 3, 1984. At approximately 3:50 pm, Christine Jessop got off her school bus on Leslie Street, just north of the main intersection in Queensville, Ontario. She was most likely excited about her new acquisition – a plastic recorder (a whistle-like musical instrument) given to her that day by her school teacher. She had apparently made plans to meet her classmate, Leslie Chipman at the park (just east of the main intersection and near the corner store) around 4 pm.

Christine picked up her family’s mail and bounded up the lane and into her home. No one was there. Her father (Bob) was serving time in a correctional facility. Her mother (Janet) was out running errands with Christine’s older brother (Ken).

According to witness testimony, at some point between 4:00 and 4:30 pm, Christine strolled into the convenience store located at the intersection south of her home on Leslie Street and bought some gum.

Leslie Chipman, who had apparently called Christine’s house shortly after she got off the school bus and got no answer there, went to the park to await Christine. Christine never showed up.

When Janet and Ken Jessop arrived home at about 4:10 pm, they saw Christine’s bicycle where she normally kept it – but it was in a fallen state with some minor damage. Her book bag was on the kitchen counter, as well as the mail.

Unable to find Christine, they called her friends and searched the neighbourhood and the nearby park. She was nowhere to be found. Sometime between seven and eight o’clock, Janet called police and a massive search for the little girl began.

On December 31, 1984, Christine’s body was found at the edge of a farmer’s filed near Sunderland, a community 40 km east of Queensville.

Details of the crime scene according to the “Kaufman Report” (CHAPTER V):

“Her body was on its back and decomposed. Her legs were spread apart in an unnatural position and her knees were spread outward. Animals appeared to have eaten at the legs. Her head was pointed north and her feet south. A sweater was pulled over her head. A few bones were scattered between her head and what remained of her legs, giving the appearance that her head and waist were not connected. The victim was wearing a beige turtleneck sweater, a blue pullover sweater, a blouse on which some buttons were missing and two pairs of socks. Her panties were found at her right foot. Blue corduroy pants with a belt and a pair of Nike running shoes were found just south of her feet. These clothes were subsequently identified as belonging to Christine. Her school recorder, with her name still taped on it, was found next to her body. The hand-knitted blue sweater with the zippered front and no collar, which she was last reported wearing, was not found on the body; nor was it ever located.”

Christine had been killed by multiple stab wounds to the upper body.

In 1995, DNA from the semen found on her underwear was used to exonerate a Queensville man who had been wrongly convicted of her murder (Guy Paul Morin). A subsequent inquiry into the matter revealed numerous police blunders and misconduct during the investigation, contaminated evidence, and fabricated witness testimony.

Christine Jessop’s murder remains unsolved to this day.

Margaret McWilliam

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http://globalnews.ca/video/2973496/cold-case-files-ontario-family-search-for-answers-around-daughters-death

http://globalnews.ca/video/2972116/watch-extended-interviews-with-mcwilliam-family


Some people feel that the following person was involved in the murder of Margaret McWilliam:

James Marr was convicted in 1994 of the May 16, 1992 murder of Martha Watson McKinnon. Her body had been found behind an apartment against a fence. She had been beaten, strangled and sexually assaulted.

mcwilliam

martha-mckinnon-2

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