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Listing Of Unsolved Murders & Missing People In Canada => British Columbia Unsolved Murders & Missing People => Victoria => Topic started by: victorian on April 19, 2009, 10:25:36 PM

Title: Molly Justice - Jan 18 1943- age 15 - murdered
Post by: victorian on April 19, 2009, 10:25:36 PM
This was one of the cold cases featured in the Time-Colonist.
Title: Re: Molly Justice - Jan 18 1943- age 15 - murdered
Post by: Chris on May 14, 2009, 04:52:32 AM
I guess since the suspect is dead, this will never be solved.
Title: Re: Molly Justice - Jan 18 1943- age 15 - murdered
Post by: BCID on May 15, 2009, 01:33:25 AM
I beg to differ. Though the case may be old and the older a case is, the harder it is to solve, there is still hope.

There is still hope providing the police still have kept the evidence. Someone can always check for any trace of DNA or fingerprints or anything. A story told or a deathbed confession may have been passed on and that person who received it may hold the key.

There is always options and there is always a way to solve a case. The police just have to keep working at it.

I'll use for example a story out of Victoria from the 1990's. There was a WWI vet who passed on. Before he died, he told his children (and their children) that he was not the person they knew him to be. He had been living under a false name since the war.

The name he took was that of his trench buddy who had no family to speak of. After his buddy died in battle, he assumed his identity leaving behind his real family at home.

His children, who had learned of this shocking secret, checked out the story and found it to be true. They contacted the descendants of the man who was thought deceased nearly a century before and I am not sure but I believe a correction may have been made on the deceased man's grave marker.
Title: Re: Molly Justice - Jan 18 1943- age 15 - murdered
Post by: waabzy on May 15, 2009, 05:00:20 AM
This was one of the cold cases featured in the Time-Colonist.
PLEASE when posting stories copy n paste the whole story and add the link. Oftentimes links disappear and stories are lost - especially in canada.com postings. Just because its a cold case does not mean this young girl's murder should not be recorded here.

Cold Cases: Seeking justice for Molly, 65 years later
Saanich police take new look at case of teen girl stabbed to death at Swan Lake in 1943
Lindsay Kines and Rob Shaw, Times Colonist
Published: Sunday, October 19, 2008

Homicide file #98-12253 -- the killing of Molly Justice -- sits on a metal shelf in a locked storage room at the Saanich police station.

A single brown cardboard box filled with letters, notebooks, an unidentified knife, three leather gloves and other curious bits of evidence is all that remains of one of the most famous cold cases in Victoria's history.

Last reviewed in 1996, the file officially remains open, inactive and unsolved. But Saanich police have long believed they know who killed the 15-year-old seamstress on Jan. 18, 1943; they just never got a chance to prove it.
Insp. Rob McColl, head of the Saanich police major crime section, examines evidence in the Molly Justice case.
Debra Brash, Times Colonist
"As I read the evidence at the disposal of investigators, I'm saying to myself, 'If I had that much evidence today, I think I could make that fly," Insp. Rob McColl, head of the Saanich police major crime section, said in a recent interview at his office -- which, in a case rich with irony, now overlooks the spot where a girl named Justice fell 65 years ago.

Few crimes still resonate on Vancouver Island like Molly's killing.

The Times Colonist's recent efforts to highlight cold cases of missing or murdered people prompted numerous calls from readers wondering about the status of the 65-year-old homicide.

So, at the newspaper's request, Saanich police pulled the file from a storage locker one more time and pored over the evidence.

- - -

It was just after 6 p.m. when Anneta Margaret Clive "Molly" Justice stepped off the bus on Douglas Street near Swan Lake on her way home from work at a Victoria garment factory on Jan. 18, 1943.

Taking a shortcut, the 15-year-old headed along the CN rail line at what is now the Galloping Goose Trail near Saanich municipal hall, but never made it to her home on Brett Avenue.

Her body was found beside the tracks four hours later. She had been beaten and stabbed. One of the more than 30 wounds severed her jugular vein. There were no signs of sexual assault.

Retired lawyer Cecil Branson, who spent years researching and writing an unpublished manuscript about the case, was eight years old in 1943. He still remembers the shock of reading about Molly's death.

"It was in the middle of a war where people were dying overseas, but nobody at home," he said. "It's the thing that I remember from that time, other than the war news."

For three months, the police investigation failed to turn up a suspect. Then, in May, an 11-year-old girl reported being sexually assaulted near Swan Lake by a boy who threatened to do to her what he had done to Molly Justice.

Later that day, police arrested 15-year-old Frank Hulbert, also known as Frank Pepler. But, although he was charged and convicted of the assault two weeks later, Hulbert managed to convince investigators that he was no killer.

Instead, he pointed the finger at William Mitchell, a 49-year-old former RCMP officer with no criminal record who worked with Hulbert at a Victoria paint factory. Hulbert claimed Mitchell had confessed to the crime.

Police arrested Mitchell on June 15, 1943, charged him with first-degree murder and seized a bloodstained knife from his rooming house.

Fortunately for Mitchell, another co-worker, Lewis Kamann, testified at the trial five months later that Mitchell left work too late on the night of the murder to have been at the scene when the girl was killed. Mitchell, testifying in his own defence, said the blood on the knife was his own.

The jury believed Mitchell and Kamann over Hulbert and acquitted Mitchell, saving him from the death penalty.

For the next 25 years, the case appeared stalled, despite the fact Hulbert, on a number of occasions, reportedly admitted to killing Molly himself.

Then, in 1967, Saanich police succeeded in getting Hulbert charged with perjury for lying about Mitchell's involvement. After two trials, he was convicted and sentenced to four and half years in prison.

Police, however, were never able to convince the Crown to lay a murder charge. Hulbert died in 1996 in Port Alberni, and Saanich police subsequently announced their belief that he was Molly's killer.

The flurry of stories at the time raised new questions about whether Hulbert had escaped punishment because he was related to Eric Pepler, deputy attorney general from 1934 to 1954. To restore confidence in the justice system, then-attorney general Ujjal Dosanjh asked a former judge to investigate.

But Martin Taylor found no conclusive evidence that Pepler was related to Hulbert, let alone that he interfered in the case. Nor was Taylor able to say for sure that Hulbert was guilty.

"Before saying today that we believe on reasonable grounds that Frank Hulbert murdered Molly Justice, we would do well to remember that those responsible for the Saanich police investigation said the same thing of William Mitchell," Taylor wrote in his 147-page report.

Today, police might have been able to provide a more definitive answer, given advances in forensic techniques. Hair that was apparently found underneath Molly's fingernails could have been analyzed to obtain a DNA profile. A fingerprint recovered from the contents of her discarded purse could have been run through a databank system for a possible match.

But both those pieces of evidence have been lost to history.

"We believe all the real evidence was destroyed at some point, or it never made it back here and where it went we don't know," Saanich Sgt. John Price said.

"If we could locate the exhibits that I know of, which are limited to the print and the hair, then yes, modern technology could assist us there," added Saanich Insp. Rob McColl.

There's no paper record to show where they went for sure, but they aren't in today's police evidence box. Without them, McColl admits, investigators can only reread old letters and previous reviews of the file. All the witnesses and suspects are dead.

The Molly Justice file bears little resemblance to the meticulous work demanded of police today. In preparation for this story, Saanich police reread documents and submitted evidence to the department's forensic identification division. A set of previously unlabelled fingerprints were found to belong to Molly, taken after she was killed.

Nobody is quite sure of the significance of a small, unlabelled brown-handled knife found in an envelope in the evidence box. The forensics division determined there were no traces of blood on the blade.

"Is it the murder weapon? I don't know," said McColl.

The case appears to both frustrate and fascinate the veteran cop. But McColl said there's not enough hope of solving it to pull busy detectives off other files.

It would require new evidence, and a court order, to exhume Molly's or Hulbert's body for DNA collection, and even then there's no guarantee of finding samples or having anything to compare them to, said McColl.

For the most part, the surviving members of Molly's family say they've also moved on. Molly's sister-in-law, Marjorie, was instrumental in pushing police to review the case in 1996. She passed away last November.

"I don't think we talk about it anymore," said Ken Justice, 56, Marjorie's son and Molly's nephew. "Her feelings were that it was put to rest."

Using DNA to find evidence seems pointless, he added. "There's no real source of justice going to happen, because the fella has passed away himself."

"We've left it alone and we ourselves as a family haven't gone into it any more. It was so long ago now. But the generation of Justices is still going on, right in Victoria. Dad had six of us, four girls, myself and a brother. There's 14 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren."

The killing of Molly Justice is one of only four unsolved murders in Saanich. Pregnant teenager Cheri Lynn Smith was found dead in the bushes on Munns Road in 1990. Bobby Johal was gunned down in his Cordova Bay driveway in 2003. Realtor Lindsay Buziak, 24, was stabbed to death Feb. 2 in an empty house she was trying to sell in Gordon Head.

Molly's killing is also one of the oldest on Vancouver Island. But her case seems destined to remain officially open, partially solved, and perhaps permanently stalled.

"You can't say unequivocally that Frank Hulbert did it, and I'm not prepared to say that either," McColl said. "I think that's a matter that has to be decided by a competent court.

"However, all of the evidence would lead an ordinary, normal, common individual, a person of sound mind, to come to a reasonable conclusion that there's a strong likelihood Frank Hulbert was responsible for this homicide."

If you have information about any cold cases, or suggestions for future stories, you can reach Lindsay Kines at 250-381-7890 or lkines@tc.canwest.com and Rob Shaw at 250-380-5350 or rfshaw@tc.canwest.com.

The story of the killing of Molly Justice is part of an ongoing Times Colonist series by reporters Lindsay Kines and Rob Shaw that highlights unsolved cases of missing or murdered people from the Island, and examines new techniques being used to solve old crimes.

Times Colonist (Victoria) 2008