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Question:

Why are many people unwilling to provide tips to police that could solve a murder?

Author Topic: Peter Sopow & Lorraine McNab - Unsolved Murder - Pincher Creek (1997)  (Read 13876 times)

Chris

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Rifle may hold clues to slain RCMP officer
Updated Thu. Jul. 19 2001 3:50 PM ET


Ballistics experts in Calgary are hoping a rifle found in a tangled pile of junk may hold clues to the four-year-old unsolved murder of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer.

The .22-calibre rifle was found in southern Alberta on the bed of Chin Reservoir after the water dropped lower than it's been for many years. That's less than a two-hour drive from the scene of the 1997 slaying of RCMP Sgt. Peter Sopow and his girlfriend Lorraine McNab.

At the moment, this is simply a found gun, and it would be speculation only to link it to any crime, Taber/Vauxhall RCMP Sgt. Chris Griffin told the Calgary Sun.

Sopow, 52, was shot dead along with McNab, 45, on McNab's acreage. Police believe a gunman waited in ambush for them on Dec. 13, 1997.

No one has ever been charged and until now no weapon matching the murder weapon's calibre has ever been found.

http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/1027387919331_22797119//

debbiec

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This case still remains unsolved after ten years.

Chris

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This is a real mystery. I am surprised nothing has been said about this in years. Must be a POI in this though.

debbiec

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I don't know if the rifle was ever matched Des. It's funny how in 2001 there was an article that talked about trying to match the rifle and then you never hear another word about it. That's what I find about a lot of cases.   

Chris

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I guess it did not match then. Even if it did, it would be hard to figure out the owner I soppose.

Chris

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It would not suprise me if at this point, they know who probably did it, but are not able to move forward without a little more evidence. It is such a complex case yet I think the motive is easy.

Thanks for posting all this info.

Jason van Rassel

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I usually monitor the Calgary threads, but I had a little extra time today and started reading some of others.

The RCMP definitely has a POI -- and it's not a Mountie. I won't say any more because I don't know how much was ever released publicly but I know from covering the case over the years that the POI is a civilian.

Jason van Rassel

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As it turns out, one of my predecessors at the Herald, legendary crime reporter (and now crime novelist) Rick Mofina, wrote a few stories that identified the POI. I worked at the Sun in 1998, and their crime reporter at the time, Pete Smith -- something of a mentor to me -- also knew POI's identity. However, the Infomart database I have access to doesn't archive the Sun that far back, so I can't say for sure whether they published the name or not....

Double-murder probe centres on car, gun
Calgary Herald
Sun Apr 12 1998

Rick Mofina, Calgary Herald

The gunshots fired in the murders of veteran Fort Macleod Mountie Sgt. Peter Sopow, 52, and his girlfriend, Lorraine McNab, 47, a Pincher Creek kindergarten teacher, echo in the hearts and minds of investigators trying to solve the five-month-old case.

Mounties feel they are close but aren't ready to arrest anyone.

``I can't elaborate further,'' said RCMP Sgt. Perry Kuzma of the Calgary-based major-crimes south section.

But Kuzma, who heads the investigation, will confirm that RCMP are investigating a mysterious car and the disappearance of a 22.-calibre rifle as part of an exhaustive probe into one of the most sensational multiple homicides in Alberta's history -- a case Mounties are convinced is solvable.

The bodies of Sopow and McNab were found Dec. 15, locked in a horse trailer on McNab's secluded property on a majestic site in the Rocky Mountain foothills overlooking the town of Pincher Creek, about 200 kilometres southwest of Calgary.

At about 10:30 p.m. Saturday Dec. 13, the couple returned to McNab's property after having dinner with her family.

But they made it only as far as the driveway of McNab's small mobile home when someone with a .22-calibre gun shot and killed the Mountie of 32 years with the force and McNab.

``They never even made it inside,'' Kuzma said.

He would not discuss how many shots were fired or how many shell casings were recovered.

There was no break-in, no thefts from Sopow's wallet, no sexual assault. The murder weapon has not been found.

The bodies of Sopow and McNab were dragged into a nearby horse trailer. Then the trailer's gate was locked.

On Monday, the tragedy was discovered and the hunt began as 30 Mounties from across Alberta assembled to chase leads, including one that remains crucial.

At about 6:30 p.m. Dec. 12, the night before the shootings, according to a witness, a car similar to a red or maroon 1973 Mercury Cougar was seen parked near McNab's property.

It was driven by a man with a slight build, grey hair and wearing a light brown coat with a smooth finish, according to the witness.

A public appeal by Mounties generated tips leading them to check 50 to 60 vehicles registered in Alberta and similar to the one reported by the witness. Two such vehicles are from the Pincher Creek area.

One, which turned out to be a Mustang, was cleared. The other, a red 1972 Mercury Cougar, has not been cleared, Kuzma said.

The registered owner lives in the tiny community of Cowley, 15 kilometres west of Pincher Creek. His description, according to investigators, ``is general but not inconsistent'' with the witness's description.

``The owner of that particular vehicle has not co-operated with us,'' Kuzma said.

``But we're keeping an open mind. . . . Hey, there may still be another person who occupied that vehicle that night, and maybe we haven't spoken to that person.''

Another key element is the unrecovered murder weapon.

At the outset of the case, Mounties followed the routine procedure of clearing every .22-calibre gun reported missing, lost or stolen in the area, which has involved about a dozen files. All but one have been cleared.

A .22-caliber rifle is missing from Cowley. Mounties will not confirm if the rifle and car belong to the same person, but the gun's owner was questioned on how the gun vanished.

One of the strangest twists in the case came two days after the murders were discovered. On Dec. 17, RCMP arrested and questioned -- without laying charges -- Wally Sparks, a local elementary schoolteacher who, according to his neighbors in Cowley, knew McNab.

The next day, Sparks was detained under the Alberta Mental Health Act and transferred to the psychiatric unit at Lethbridge Regional Hospital for assessment. He was released in February and lives in Cowley.

The Herald tried to interview Sparks, but he said ``I'm not interested in talking to you. I don't want to talk.''

The Herald has learned he owns, or owned, a red 1972 Mercury Cougar.


These factors are among others being studied by the investigators working in the crammed second-floor room of the Pincher Creek RCMP detachment, where the case is being co-ordinated.

Charts of data, news clippings and photos of Sopow and McNab, stare from the walls as Mounties pore over 850 files related to the case.

At least eight work exclusively on the murders.

``The toughest part is being away from home, living in a hotel all this time,'' said Const. Derwyn Lowe of the Calgary-based RCMP major-crimes south section.

Squad member Cpl. Barry Leith of the Pincher Creek detachment reached into a stuffed filing cabinet. He opens a folder as thick as the Calgary white pages.

It stems from one lead. ``It's a grinding process and all of our sympathy goes to the families. We'd like to see this come to a conclusion.''

The biggest frustration for investigators is that they have not been able to charge someone.

``Unfortunately, sometimes these investigations take time.''

But like those on his team, Kuzma believes the case can be closed.

``We do not believe this was random. We believe the murderer(s) knew the victims.''

Concerned

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Re: Peter Sopow & Lorraine McNab - Unsolved Murder - Pincher Creek (1997)
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2010, 06:14:01 AM »
Pardon me for jumping in here. But I didn't know if anyone had seen a more recent Calgary Major Crimes Unit comment on the case I find somewhat revealing, insinuating that one of the following has to happen: 1) .22-calibre rifle has to be found, 2) case will require a confession, or 3) a witness to come forward with information.  Lacking in this article that was prevalent in past articles was the hope that DNA evidence would progress to the point they could rely on it. I find that interesting since in this article they flat out state "the case is not one that will be solved through DNA evidence."  That makes me wonder what evidence they had before that they thought DNA advancements may solve, but now definitively state it won't be solved by DNA. Did something happen to that evidence? Why is the theory that DNA evidence won't solve it different now, when it was a hopeful point for decades.  Here is the direct quote and link to the recent news source:

The story can be found:
Families continue to search for answers in homicide 'cold' cases
 By Jordana Huber, Canwest News Service December 30, 2009
The Vancouver Sun
http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Families+continue+search+answers+homicide+cold+cases/2390863/story.html?id=2390863

Quote
Staff Sgt. Sandy White of the Calgary Major Crimes Unit said the case is not one that will be solved through DNA evidence but will require a confession or a witness to come forward with information.Over the past four months, investigators have conducted 14 interviews in the case, White said.

By comparison, here is an article published five years ago (and there are many others) on the topic of hopeful DNA in the case and two letters of interest:

Murder case open and active
Posted By Pincher Creek Echo
Posted 5 years ago
http://www.parisstaronline.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?archive=true&e=1956737

Quote
In the seven years since the crime, advances have been made in forensic technology that may shed new light on the case. Subjecting old evidence to new tricks is now the responsibility of RCMP Sgt .Keith Pearce of the Calgary Major Crimes Unit South. According to Pearce, the focus of the investigation will shift back to the forensic evidence seized in 1997, with an eye toward achieving more conclusive results. Sgt. Pearce takes over the case from Sgt. Perry Kuzma, who was the primary investigator until his retirement last year. The community remains hopeful that a conviction will be made, and that justice will be served. The news last week that new forensic methods were being brought to bear on the evidence is a promising step toward resolution for a painful chapter in the history of Pincher Creek. Such revelations in older cases are not unprecedented, with some cases being solved decades after the crime was committed through advanced analysis of DNA and other evidence. A cover story in last Thursday?s Calgary Sun proclaimed that due to DNA evidence, charges had been laid in a rape case that was 12 years old.
Though much in the ongoing investigation remains confidential, the RCMP admit they have long considered that the same suspect is responsible, and continue to focus on that particular individual. They do not have a murder weapon however, but know that a .22 calibre firearm was used.

Sopow, a sergeant with the Fort Macleod RCMP and his girlfriend, Canyon School kindergarten teacher McNab, were found shot to death in a locked horse trailer on McNab?s property. Evidence suggested the pair had been ambushed and killed outside, and subsequently dragged into the trailer. The couple were both previously divorced, and had been dating each other for six months. Sopow was 52 at the time of his death and McNab was 45.

The last ray of hope that fell upon this case came in 2001, when the RCMP received two anonymous, handwritten letters. The first came in August, and the second in September, from somewhere in southern Alberta. Police never revealed the contents of the letters, but were convinced the author had valuable information about the double murder. Despite guarantees of confidentiality and repeated pleas for the author to contact them again, no further letters were ever received.

Hope this helps.




« Last Edit: August 01, 2010, 06:42:53 AM by Concerned »

Chris

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Re: Peter Sopow & Lorraine McNab - Unsolved Murder - Pincher Creek (1997)
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2010, 12:57:58 PM »
Wow what a weird coincidence!

By chance I was on Cowley and Pincher Creek while you guys were posting this, and I was wondering about this case while I was in Pincher Creek.

Cowley is a small town, I am sure everyone where is aware of whom this guy is. It is amazing how he has been able to keep his mouth shut all this time.

Wonder what motive he would have had?

But if he went to the looney toons, one might suspect the man is nuts.

Carol-Lynn

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Alberta RCMP reopen probe Peter Sopow & Lorraine McNab - Pincher Creek (1997)
« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2010, 12:20:40 PM »
RCMP in southern Alberta have reopened the investigation into the 1997 shooting deaths of a Mountie and his kindergarten teacher girlfriend near Pincher Creek.
   
Sgt. Patrick Webb says the RCMP major crimes unit is doing an extensive review of the case. He says officers will use new technology and investigative methods that weren't available 13 years ago.
   
The bodies of Sgt. Peter Sopow, 52, and teacher Lorraine McNab, 45, were found on Dec. 15, 1997, in a horse trailer at McNab's home. The medical examiner determined they had been fatally shot two days earlier.

RCMP initially assigned three dozen officers to the investigation and a few years later a team of B.C. cold squad Mounties reviewed the case, but no one has ever been charged. (CJOC, ccg)

Chris

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Re: Peter Sopow & Lorraine McNab - Unsolved Murder - Pincher Creek (1997)
« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2010, 03:39:38 PM »
Great News!

wellwell

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Re: Peter Sopow & Lorraine McNab - Unsolved Murder - Pincher Creek (1997)
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2011, 01:16:37 PM »
Any news yet?

This may be completely irrelevant, but I found both the Sopow and Sophonow surnames on a Doukhobor genealogy site for Saskatchewan. The Sopow name also turned up on a genealogy site for Doukhobors in Castlegar, B.C. in the early 20th century.

DGMB

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Re: Peter Sopow & Lorraine McNab - Unsolved Murder - Pincher Creek (1997)
« Reply #13 on: August 08, 2011, 08:15:50 PM »
having lived in Pincher Creek my whole life, and talking to several people in town, all with different opinions, i have found that there was infact a connection between McNab and Sparks. everyone i have talked to has said that he was stalking Lorraine. i say this because someone asked if there was a connection. i was a student at Canyon School at the time of this event, and it shook everyone, and it still frightens me that the person who did this is still out there. i knew Lorraine well, and i miss her every day. R.I.P

Chris

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Re: Peter Sopow & Lorraine McNab - Unsolved Murder - Pincher Creek (1997)
« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2011, 11:10:10 PM »
Sorry about your friend. It is terrible the killer has gotten away with it so far. It is something I hope modern science can prove and get that killer behind bars!

 

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