Mounties seek new leads in decade-old death of Steven Hall
By LISA BROWN
COUNTY - It's been 10 years since Steven Hall was murdered and no one has ever been charged with the crime, but police haven't given up hope that sooner or later they'll catch a break in the case.
"Somebody out there has that information. It's just a matter of getting to it," Sgt. Frank Skidmore said April 27 at an RCMP news conference held on the anniversary of the young man's death.
Steven Michael Hall was 21 years old on April 27, 1996, when his younger sister dropped him off in Chester Basin. He was on his way to East Chester to visit his girlfriend that Saturday morning.
He'd spent a few months in British Columbia the previous year, then returned to Seffernsville in December and was scheduled to start a new job tuna fishing two days later.
But Steven didn't show up for work. He didn't show up anywhere. It was as if he simply vanished. For seven months, his family had no idea where he was or what had happened to him.
Then, on November 23, a hunter discovered Steven's remains in a wooded area near Hogg Lot Road off Highway 14. He'd been shot to death.
"Since that time, the investigation has been ongoing. South West Nova major crime unit as well as Chester detachment are still working on the murder and are still looking for information," Sgt. Skidmore said last week.
Investigators have never revealed whether Steven died at Hogg Lot Road or if his body was dumped there. They came as close as they've ever come to confirming he was killed there last week, when they said at one point an anonymous tipster reported hearing gunshots in that area around the time of Steven's disappearance. A light-coloured van was seen leaving the area.
That van could be the piece that will solve the entire puzzle surrounding Steven's death. Mounties know at least four people in a van were looking for Steven the previous evening.
"The only thing we can release is that they were looking for him that night," major crimes investigator Cst. Ken Snook said. "Witnesses say they were asking near the Chester arena."
Police don't have a licence plate number. They aren't even certain if it was a Nova Scotia plate.
The following day after his sister dropped him off in Chester Basin around 10:30 a.m., Steven cashed a $278 cheque at the Petro-Canada station. He walked to the Ultramar and paid off a $19 bill. He was seen talking to two people in a small red car, then hitchhiking on the Middle River hill. Police don't know if the red car is significant, but those people have never come forward.
"Again, those people must know who they are. If they chose to come forward and discuss it with us, it might prove to be helpful," Sgt. Skidmore said Thursday.
Investigators would also like to speak to the tipster who heard the gunshots near the Hogg Lot Road.
"If they have more information and would like to come forward and talk to the police, of course that would be ideal. We'd have more questions for that individual," Sgt. Skidmore said.
Whether the Hogg Lot Road is significant, no one is certain. The woods road runs between Highway 12 and Highway 14 and had only opened that day or the day before. Police say that could indicate the killers knew the area, but they also may have stumbled on the road looking for an out-of-the-way location.
As with many violent crimes where motivation is unclear, there have been rumours in the community that drugs were involved in Steven's death. Mounties neither confirm nor deny that.
"It wouldn't be fair to speculate as to whether or not drugs played any kind of a role," Sgt. Skidmore said.
"We do know that there's people out there in the community who probably know what went on and probably have a lot of other information about Steven Hall and his associates which might prove to be helpful," he added. "So anybody who has even the slightest bit of information, whether even they think it might be helpful or not, if they come forward sometimes the smallest clue can be that one clue that you're looking for that can pull the whole story together."
Although it has now been a decade since the young man was killed, Sgt. Skidmore said investigators and his family remain hopeful that the murder will be solved.
"It could still happen, there's no question," Sgt. Skidmore said. "Ten years may not make any difference. There's lots of older murders than that that do eventually get solved and usually it results from someone coming forward with some new information."