What’s it like to be one of the earliest victims of a serial killer…and somehow to survive a murderous attack?
Mark Henderson knows. 19 years ago, he was assaulted by a man he knew by sight in Toronto’s gay village, the Church-Wellesley neighborhood. The man followed him into his apartment building, then beat Mark within an inch of his life right outside Mark’s own apartment door.
What followed was a long, nightmare-ridden journey of healing, of seeking justice, getting a slight taste of it, and then having to watch in horror as other men started disappearing from the same part of town where he himself was very nearly killed. And then finding out that the man who nearly killed him had not only been freed by an overly lenient and clueless judge, but even pardoned for his attempt on Mark’s life…effectively erasing his name and history from the criminal database of the very police force that was tasked with protecting the community from people like that eventually successful would-be killer, Bruce McArthur:
I’ve already noted how so many of McArthur’s victims were racialized queer men, easily overlooked or not taken seriously by a mostly-white, mostly-straight police force. Some of them were in the closet, with wives and families unaware of this side of their lives. This too contributed to their demise; homophobic cultures are woefully commonplace all around the globe. As immigrants making their way in a new land, they were easier targets for a home-grown killer. And with Toronto police history being riddled with strikingly recent episodes of homophobia and LGBT+ persecution, no doubt the cop shop and the justice system also provided McArthur with ample cover for his violent and murderous tendencies.
How much longer will our society go on enabling the Bruce McArthurs that walk undetected among us? As long as our justice system continues to turn a blind eye to the marginalized. And that means that everyone will have to learn more about privilege, and what becomes of those who lack it the most — lessons especially important for those in charge of enforcing our laws.
It was a murder that mystified Ontarians (and Canada as a whole) for over three decades. How could a little girl just vanish seemingly without a trace, and several weeks later turn up dead and partially decomposed in a remote spot, with nobody noticing a thing? And, to make matters worse: Who sexually assaulted her before strangling her and leaving her there like that?
And later on, the tragedy was compounded by scandal as a man who had nothing to do with the crime was wrongfully convicted, and spent several years in prison. Guy Paul Morin‘s story of false conviction and the long road to exoneration has been told by journalist Kirk Makin in his book, Redrum the Innocent (which, I suspect, will soon be re-issued by its publisher with an update reflecting the new discoveries mentioned in the video.)
Along the way, the wrongful conviction of Guy Paul Morin shed an embarrassing light on a dark and ugly pattern in Canadian policing: prejudice and preconceived notions leading to capture of wrong suspects, and conviction based on their non-conformity to a very narrow, WASPy ideal of “correct” behavior. As Kirk Makin found out, Guy Paul Morin became the prime suspect mainly because he was, in the words of one detective’s notes, “a weird-type guy”. Guy was a night owl and a francophone. He played the clarinet, was a beekeeper in his spare time, and had a quirky sense of humor. To the police’s mind, that combination betokened sociopathy, a trait necessary to commit the vile and sexually perverse murder of a prepubescent girl. It never occurred to them that they had the wrong man.
And this wrongful conviction was far from an isolated case. Donald Marshall and David Milgaard, two other wrongly convicted (and long-imprisoned) men, also proved their innocence and in so doing, indicted our so-called justice system, which has a demonstrable pattern of bias against outsiders.
David Milgaard was a teenage hippie who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time on a road trip with a couple of friends — a no-no in arch-conservative Saskatoon, circa 1969. The common-sense fact that he could not have done such a violent crime in the short time he was seen, too far away from the scene, somehow failed to sway the jury. It certainly didn’t impress the very right-wing Crown prosecutor, who believed that hippies were all degenerates, and that Milgaard was just another Charles Manson type. (The real killer of Gail Miller, Larry Fisher, was a conservative-looking construction worker who lived in the same neighborhood as the victim, and had a violent fetish for women in white nursing uniforms, of whom he had raped several. Naturally, his clean-cut appearance helped to cover for him, at least until DNA finally led to his unmasking and Milgaard’s exoneration.)
Most notably, Steven Truscott went to prison — and very nearly to the gallows, despite being underage — for the rape and murder of his schoolmate, Lynn Harper, which he also did not commit. At 14, he was even younger than David Milgaard, who was 16 when he was falsely accused of rape and murder ten years later. Ironically, Truscott was probably the last person, other than the killer, to have seen Lynn Harper alive — and may even have identified the car belonging to the killer when he picked up the 12-year-old hitchhiker on the highway. But who listens to innocent teenagers? Certainly not the cops, who in the 1950s and ’60s were all too eager to believe the worst about them. And who certainly didn’t keep their eyes on “respectable” adult white men who literally got away with murder. Lynn Harper’s murder is still unsolved to this day.
It was a nauseating pattern in those days of growing liberalism and youth rebellion, but it carried over right up into the 1980s, when the same old mindset led to the wrongful conviction of Guy Paul Morin. Canadian cops have a lot of bungling under their belts when it comes to violent crime. The fact that they’re deeply racist is no news to anyone who’s not white; our whole justice system was built on systemic racism. But how they get it so terribly wrong, so terribly often, even when race is NOT a factor, needs to be addressed. A full reckoning is very, VERY long overdue.
It will be interesting to see what shakes out, belatedly, about Calvin Hoover, the real killer, who took his life five years ago and never saw anything resembling justice for what he did to Christine Jessop. And what new stories will now be written as this old, cold case finally can be marked as solved.
A W5 report on one of the most talked-about moments of Canadian history, and one that certainly reverberates still through the memories not only of those involved, but a whole country.
When the seeds of the FLQ began to take root, I was not yet born. I was only 3 years old when the events in this video went down. Too young to remember the kidnapping of Pierre Laporte (and his subsequent murder), or the other kidnapping — of British diplomat James Cross, who was eventually freed. Too young to remember the bombings, or the drama of the handover of James Cross and the subsequent flight to Cuba of a handful of FLQ members.
But I do remember, with increasing vividity, the rise of René Lévesque and the Parti Québécois, who came to prominence as a democratic counterweight to not only British imperialism, but also separatist terrorism. The intricacies of the PQ’s policy-formation and its back-and-forth shuffle with the federal government were far beyond me at the time, since I was still very much a kid, with a kid’s impatience for such endless blather. But I remember the two referenda that followed, and how narrowly separatist motions were defeated — particularly in 1995, when I was a graduate student in journalism at Ryerson University. Everyone in the Ryersonian newsroom was watching with crossed fingers and bated breath.
Then came the final word on separation: NO. I remember the huge sigh of relief I let out, along with the rest of the country, when the final result was announced. It was like 25 years of unspoken tension melting away in an instant. Canada was finally, unequivocally whole again.
Pierre Trudeau, Robert Bourassa, James Cross, and René Lévesque are now all in their graves. Jean Chrétien is retired from politics, and has recently been widowed with the passing of his wife, Aline. Trudeau’s eldest son, Justin, is now walking in his father’s shoes, and at times they look too big for him.
But political gains have been made, and not only by Péquistes. Socialism, for instance, as implemented in Tommy Douglas’s Saskatchewan, gave us universal single-payer medicare during my early years. The October Crisis was not the only thing that dissipated the FLQ’s support in Québec; the nonviolent revolution of socialist democracy, in fact, was well under way even before the FLQ’s inception, and its incremental gains would render the FLQ ultimately irrelevant. Even the PQ is not the force that it once was, as the 1995 referendum marked not only its climax, but the beginning of its decline. The party is still very much present, but its fangs have worn down. Separatism has lost its cachet, and that loss appears to be permanent.
We still have far to go, and there are now different terrorists (of a distinctly fascist bent) on the horizon. But ballots can still do today (and tomorrow) what bullets then could not. Democracy may be slow-moving and often tedious, but it still beats violence from either fringe of the political margins.
And that’s the biggest takeaway we have from the events of 50 years ago.
If you think the leftist protesters are thugs and goons, lawless to their core, you should hear this. A Democratic Socialist from Spokane, Washington was kidnapped in Seattle, and here’s his positively Orwellian tale of police acting…well, worse than criminals:
And it’s not just Seattle. Portland, too, is seeing a rash of out-of-uniform, badgeless cops-as-gangsters abducting antifascist protesters off the street and shoving them into unmarked vans and carting them off to God-knows-where, on the flimsiest of pretexts, for purposes unknown. Anyplace Donnie (and his henchman, Bill Barr) decides is “lawless”, gets singled out for this kind of abuse.
Come to think of it, this isn’t so much Orwellian as Phildickian. In his VALIS novel tetralogy, particularly Radio Free Albemuth, Philip K. Dick wrote of a paranoid, corrupt, fascistic US president named Ferris F. Fremont, whose followers (the Friends of the American People, or “FAPers”) pursue a “subversive” group called “Aramchek”. Nobody knew who or what Aramchek was, not even Fremont himself. Anybody at all could be accused, at any time, under any pretext, of being Aramchek, and subject to abduction without cause — “arrested” by agents unknown.
Substitute in Donnie Drumpf for Ferris Fremont, and Antifa(scists) for Aramchek, and you pretty much get the same tale. And it’s all happening on the streets of many a so-called progressive city in the United States of Drumpf’s Amnesia, TODAY. Enabled by the right, which — let’s face it — has never met a fascist they couldn’t blindly follow, whether into Gulf War II or, as here, something that’s already Nazi Germany. All that’s missing is the swastikas. And even so, you’ll see them on a lot of the “boogaloo boys” mentioned in the video above.
Folks, please give it up for Officer Smallcock — clearly the most sensitive man on the force, who just can’t handle a journalist showing how calm the streets are, and how unnecessary it is to enforce an also-unnecessary curfew:
He also tells her to “calm down” when she’s clearly already calm.
BTW, this is in Kenosha, Wisconsin…yup, THAT Kenosha. The place where the cops need to compensate so badly, they get “help” from out-of-state juvenile offenders.
And thank heaven for small mercies, the cops actually did their fucking JOB for once:
Brett’s snark here is, sadly, no joke. But very much on point. Here’s the story:
Matthew D. Krueger, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced Thursday he filed federal charges against two Hartville, Mo. men with firearms charges after they traveled to the Kenosha area.
Michael M. Karmo, 40, and Cody E. Smith, 33 face charges of illegal possession of firearms. Authorities arrested them at a hotel Wednesday in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.
As alleged in the criminal complaint, on September 1, the Kenosha Police Department advised FBI a law enforcement agency in Iowa received a tip Karmo and an unidentified male were in possession of firearms and traveling from Missouri to Kenosha, Wisconsin. After receiving consent to search Karmo and Smith’s vehicle and hotel room, FBI agents recovered an Armory AR-15 assault rifle, a Mossberg 500 AB 12-Gauge shotgun, two handguns, a silencer, ammunition, body armor, a drone, and other materials. Karmo has prior felony convictions. Smith has a prior misdemeanor domestic battery conviction. Consequently, both Karmo and Smith were prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition on September 1.
A federal complaint says the men are roommates in Hartville. It says a person who had been in contact with the men told law enforcement officers the men said they were going to Kenosha to loot and possibly “pick people off.”
They went to loot. Louder for the white supremacists at the back, the ones who think such crimes are only done by blacks, and whites on the left: THEY WENT TO LOOT. THESE FUCKING RIGHT WINGERS WENT TO LOOT.
And that’s not all they went for:
Karmo told investigators the men were part of the 417 Second Amendment Militia, and decided to drive to Kenosha to “see for themselves” what was going on. It says Karmo stopped in Iowa to visit someone he knew, and he was offended that person commented that Karmo and Smith looked like they were going to Kenosha to shoot people.
Well, look who finally exited stage right. Ms. Alternative Facts herself:
And of course, she’ll be “focusing more on family”, as they all say they’re going to do when they finally rotate out of that ol’ revolving door in politics — which, in this case, happens to be the one from Donnie’s Shite House. (No, that was NOT a misspelling. The place has gone to caca in every sense of the word since the trashiest first family ever infested that place. Even the Rose Garden is looking like the toilets at Mussolini’s mausoleum since Tacky Onassis got her hands on it, and clawed JFK’s beautiful crabapple trees out of the dirt. But that’s grist for another day’s grousing.)
So, what WAS the family issue that got Kellyanne leaping like a rat from the poop deck? Well, surprise, it actually WAS family. Her 15-year-old daughter, Claudia, called both her parents the fuck out. Behold:
These should be read from the bottom up to get the true chronological order, but I think you get the picture. Claudia is having NONE of her mom’s nonsense — oh sorry, “alternative facts”. And she’s not shy about why, either:
I’m not going to get into the trauma-and-abuse aspect of what she said, because (a) I don’t know what all she’s gone through, and (b) she has asked for privacy, and I respect that. I do, however, wish her all the best. (Not Kellyanne, though; she can go to hell, and let the door hit her several times.)
Claudia, you’re a badass. I hope you land on both feet, and in a good place. Stay safe and well.
Fear doesn't travel well; just as it can warp judgment, its absence can diminish memory's truth. What terrifies one generation is likely to bring only a puzzled smile to the next.
--Arthur Miller, "Why I Wrote 'The Crucible'", The New Yorker, October 21, 1996
All opinions here are the brain-wrackings of Sabina C. Becker, unless otherwise credited. If you cite them, please give credit where due.