Author Topic: Unidentified Boys found Jan 14, 1953 in Vancouver, B.C  (Read 8147 times)


  • Member
  • Posts: 163
    • View Profile
Unidentified Boys found Jan 14, 1953 in Vancouver, B.C
« on: May 12, 2011, 03:59:23 PM »

Murdered 'babes' likely victims of prostitute mom
By Sandra Thomas
Staff writer

Half a century ago, the skeletal remains of two young children were found in Stanley Park, their bodies covered in a cheap fur coat, with a small axe and a woman's shoe lying next to them.

One skull had a wound in the back that matched the axe edge exactly. The second was fractured, likely from the axe handle. Their clothes had rotted, as had the small World War II leather flying helmets and lunch box also found at the scene.

The medical examiner working on the case concluded the children had been there since 1947 and listed them as a boy and a girl, seven to 10 years old. In fact, they were two boys, brothers-a key mistake that likely cost investigators their case.

The murders remain unsolved, although a retired Vancouver police investigator has a theory as to who killed the children, known as the Babes in the Woods.

Brian Honeybourn, a Vancouver Police Department sergeant assigned to the B.C. Unsolved Homicide Unit in 1996, says he's sure it was the children's mother, a prostitute from Mission.

"I think their mother whacked the kids because she couldn't be bothered with them anymore," he said.

In 1953, the same year the children's remains were found, police got a solid lead from a logger from Mission who said that in 1947, he had picked up a woman and two young boys hitchhiking, drove them around Stanley Park and eventually dropped them off there.

Unfortunately, the man's statement was discounted as police continued to search for details of a missing brother and sister.

"He even said they were wearing flying helmets, but because it was two little boys, that evidence was never considered," Honeybourn said.

In 1996, he investigated the Mission lead and found out the woman had been charged with vagrancy several times.

"Vagrancy C was what they called prostitution at the time," Honeybourn said. "It looks like she was Mission's town prostitute."
He dug through the records of Cedar Valley elementary school to see if two brothers had not returned to school after the Christmas break, but was unsuccessful.

"But that doesn't mean much," he said. "It's possible the youngest one wasn't attending school yet, so there would be no record of him anyway."

Investigators would have continued searching for a boy and a girl if, in 1998, Honeybourn hadn't enlisted the help of Dr. David Sweet, a dentist with the Bureau of Legal Dentistry at UBC. Sweet was able to extract pulp from the children's teeth, and DNA testing proved the Babes in the Woods were two boys.

"I don't want to disrespect medical examiners, but that's not the only time I've seen this mistake happen," he said. "When I'm talking to young guys in the field, I tell them to always get DNA. It's the only way you can know for sure."

The children's' remains had been on display at the Vancouver Police Department's Centennial Museum for years, which didn't sit well with Honeybourn. After Sweet took all the DNA samples he needed, the determined sergeant decided to give the boys a proper burial.

"I'm not overly religious but I knew that being on display in a museum wasn't a proper place for a burial," he said. "So I seized them out of the museum and had them cremated."

Honeybourn then took a police boat out in the ocean near Kits Beach where he scattered their ashes. He said the fact the annual children's festival was taking place at the time was a nice coincidence.

"I got some criticism for doing that and some people asked me why I didn't scatter their ashes in Stanley park, but I told them, 'These kids were murdered there-why would they want to be buried there?'" he said. "I guess you can't please everyone."

Despite the fact the 56-year-old Abbotsford resident retired from the force two years ago, he often still thinks about the Babes in the Woods. He said it's likely the mother is dead, but if he could find a lead on her burial site, DNA could provide the link.

"I want to give those kids a name," he said.

Honeybourn will share more secrets and stories of the Babes in the Woods Aug. 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the Alice MacKay Room at the Central Library, 350 Georgia St. The free event was organized to promote the library's One Book, One Vancouver program. This year's selection is Timothy Taylor's novel Stanley Park, which includes a subplot based on the Babes in the Woods case. Taylor will also be on hand to speak about his book.


  • Member
  • Posts: 1031
    • View Profile
Re: Unidentified Boys found Jan 14, 1953 in Vancouver, B.C
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2011, 07:33:44 PM »
Interesting MS thanks for posting that.


  • Member
  • Posts: 163
    • View Profile
Re: Unidentified Boys found Jan 14, 1953 in Vancouver, B.C
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2011, 09:57:10 PM »
Cold case files on A&E had an episode on this case as well!

Angela Ellis

  • Member
  • Posts: 139
  • Webmaster/Founder of
    • View Profile