Author Topic: 1918 MASS MURDER MYSTERY STILL PUZZLES ALBERTA.  (Read 13117 times)

jellybean

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1918 MASS MURDER MYSTERY STILL PUZZLES ALBERTA.
« on: October 16, 2014, 07:49:03 PM »
http://www2.canada.com/calgaryherald/news/story.html?id=2762bed3-4f27-4e9d-ba89-5d4815ecaaa2&p=2


1918 murder mystery still puzzles Alberta

Grande Prairie killings called murder-suicide


Jana G. Pruden, Edmonton Journal
Published: Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Jana G. Pruden, Edmonton Journal
Published: Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Amateur historian Wallace Tansem spent a decade looking into the biggest unsolved mass murder in Alberta history, a case his father and uncles had talked about for years.

As Tansem learned more about the killings near Grande Prairie in June 1918, he was haunted by one thought, the same question another man had asked an undercover police officer more than 70 years earlier.

"How is it that six men are killed and no one knows anything about it?"

Amateur historians have long tried to solve the biggest unsolved mass murder in Alberta with the use of historical files.
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Amateur historians have long tried to solve the biggest unsolved mass murder in Alberta with the use of historical files.

Rick Macwilliam, Edmonton Journal

It was first assumed to be a murder-suicide. The bodies of Joseph Snyder and his nephew, Stanley, were found in the remains of their burnt-out shack near Grande Prairie. Both had been shot, likely with the .38 revolver found near the bodies. The Snyders were quiet and had always seemed to get along well, but 1918 had been a hard year, and killings were not unheard of.

Six days later, people noticed a bad smell emanating from the farm down the road.

The first bodies were found inside the shack. Ignace Patan, the owner of the farm, lay on the floor beside John Wudwand. Both were on their stomachs, close together and fully clothed, a tarp over their bodies, the floor beneath them stained with blood. Patan was still wearing the moccasins he had made from moose skin.

Inside a wagon in the yard was Charles Zimmer, his head visible under the sacks of flour and sugar that had been piled on top of his body, recognizable to the men who found him by his dark, bushy beard and the bright gold tooth shining at the front of his dentures.

Frank Parzychowsky was found lying on his back in the log storehouse, one hand in his overall pocket, the other raised over his head as if he'd been trying to protect himself.

Patan had his throat slit. The other three men were each shot, a single bullet in the back of the head or in the eye. Three men, three shots.

Suddenly, the deaths of the Snyders took on a new significance.

The gun found at the burning Snyder shack belonged to Patan, and there were five empty shell casings inside. A ring of keys from the Patan house was also found at the Snyder farm.

"It has been the belief of the police that either Snyder or his nephew had slain the other and then committed suicide," a newspaper story noted at the time, "but this new development may throw an entirely new light on the entire series of tragedies."

The last time anyone saw Patan, Zimmer and Wudwand alive, they were about to leave for Fort Vermilion to buy a ranch. The men had saved up $5,000 for the purchase, and had withdrawn all the money in cash from the Union Bank in Grande Prairie before their trip.

The men also had some wood alcohol, and their friend Parzychowsky joined them for a drink to say goodbye.

After the murders, police found only $108 in the house. The rest of the money was gone.

The bills started showing up in September. Ones, twos, fives and 10-dollar bills, all stained unmistakably with blood. The money was traced back to the Union Bank in Grande Prairie, but the teller couldn't remember who the money had come from. Some in town thought the bloody bills could have come from the butcher, but there were just so many of them, all stained the same deep crimson.


By the spring of 1920, police still hadn't made an arrest. Even an undercover police officer sent to Grande Prairie to "get in with the foreigners" came up empty-handed.

Despite having a long list of potential suspects and a new $5,000 reward, the best Det. John Nicholson could come up with was a circumstantial case against Dan Lough, the neighbour who discovered the Snyders' bodies.

Nicholson wasn't confident about the case -especially since there was absolutely no evidence linking Lough to any of the killings -but he decided to charge Lough anyway.

A jury took less than an hour to find Lough not guilty.

Nicholson then charged another man, Richard Knechtel, with the murders, based on information he got from Lough. Those charges were dismissed after a preliminary hearing. Lough was charged again in July 1921, but the charges were quickly withdrawn.

More than 90 years later, the murders of those six men near Grande Prairie on June 18 or June 19, 1918, remain the largest unsolved mass murder in Alberta history. Provincial government historian David Leonard said he has long been intrigued by the case, describing it as the ultimate "whodunit," a mystery that will probably never be solved.

"I guess it's all just speculation," he said. "I don't see how any more information could come forward now."

Tansem, the amateur historian who started looking into the case in the early 1990s, investigated the murders for about 10 years, even working on the case in hospital right up until his death.

Tansem's wife, Doris, said her husband had his own theory about the killer or killers, but he preferred people to come to their own conclusions


capeheart

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Re: 1918 MASS MURDER MYSTERY STILL PUZZLES ALBERTA.
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2014, 10:14:48 AM »
Okay, this is my thinking on this case. I believe someone in Union Bank was responsible for the killing of the men, because $5000.00  would be an extraordinary amount of money, like a couple of hundred thousand now. I believe the clerk or someone in that bank was responsible for the murders and robbing the men.  This all could be connected, all of the murders. There could have been some kind of a conspiracy to go wrong, especially if it was known there were plans to buy a farm and withdraw thousands from the bank. I would go back to the Union Bank, the killer was an employee and knew the money was withdrawn. And isn't it strange that the clerk could not remember who was spending the money. Money in those days was darned scarce, so he's going to remember who was spending it.  That's my opinion on this long time mystery. :o :o :o :o :o :o

SAP

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Re: 1918 MASS MURDER MYSTERY STILL PUZZLES ALBERTA.
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2014, 08:12:47 PM »
That is odd about the money showing up and no one could remember who spent it. Pretty brazen. Everyone would remember blood soaked money and make note of the spender I would think. It could very well be a bank clerk.

jellybean

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Re: 1918 MASS MURDER MYSTERY STILL PUZZLES ALBERTA.
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2014, 12:15:52 AM »
WOW Cape.  You are probably right - either bank clerk, or (Bank Manager?)

That is odd about the money showing up and no one could remember who spent it. Pretty brazen. Everyone would remember blood soaked money and make note of the spender I would think. It could very well be a bank clerk.

quote from article:

The bills started showing up in September. Ones, twos, fives and 10-dollar bills, all stained unmistakably with blood. The money was traced back to the Union Bank in Grande Prairie, but the teller couldn't remember who the money had come from. Some in town thought the bloody bills could have come from the butcher, but there were just so many of them, all stained the same deep crimson. 

The bills were traced back to the Union Bank in Grand Prairie.  It sounds as tho the whole area was flooded with them.
Yes, the clerk would have to count out $5,000 in small bills to these men planning on buying land. He would not forget them, but the money would have been clean when he counted it out.

One would think that merchants would know who the money came from as well.
Did the teller, place the blood stained money in with the regular bills, having exchanged the blood stained money with clean bills for himself?
 jb

« Last Edit: October 18, 2014, 01:07:27 PM by jellybean »

capeheart

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Re: 1918 MASS MURDER MYSTERY STILL PUZZLES ALBERTA.
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2016, 05:00:36 PM »
I still believe some person in the bank that released that money, knew they had it and planned the robbery. It is definitely someone at the bank that committed this crime, I do believe. They knew it was there for the taking and maybe someone else showed up and ruined their plans and they had to kill others to get away with it. My opinion on that one.