CTV News finds rape suspect, declared dead, alive
Published Saturday, June 11, 2016 6:57PM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, June 15, 2016 7:20PM PDT
The other suspect in Canada’s worst wrongful conviction case is dead, according to a B.C. Supreme Court judgement – but CTV News tracked him down and found him very much alive.
Don McRae says he’s not the man authorities should be looking for as they investigate who really committed the rapes that sent Ivan Henry to prison for decades.
He says he is guilty of just three attacks on women – the ones he was convicted of on DNA evidence – and is apologizing to the victims.
“I wouldn’t know what to say to them,” McRae told CTV News over the phone. “I’m sure I f***ed their lives up. There’s no way to apologize for that kind of sh*t.”
But he says those three attacks were the limit of his crimes – and he’s not the “Rip-off Rapist” who should have been punished for eight attacks on women living in ground-floor apartments in Vancouver in the 1980s.
“I’ve got no memory of my past,” McRae said, claiming a brain injury left him a changed man.
But he says he can remember that he didn’t commit any other crimes: “There were no other incidents,” he said.
On Wednesday, the BC Supreme Court awarded Ivan Henry $8 million after he spent 27 years in prison, convicted on ten counts related to eight sex attacks in the Mount Pleasant area of Vancouver.
The attacker was called the “Rip-off Rapist” because he told the women he was in their apartments because he was looking for someone who “ripped them off.”
The judge found that the police investigation was botched, and that the prosecution hid evidence from Henry, who was representing himself.
“Crown counsel’s wrongful non-disclosure seriously infringed Mr. Henry’s right to a fair trial, and demonstrates a shocking disregard for his rights,” Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson wrote. “If Mr. Henry had received the disclosure to which he was entitled, the likely result would have been his acquittal at his 1983 trial.”
McRae pleaded guilty to three sexual assaults from that era in 2005. Hinkson pointed out that McRae’s crimes and the crimes Henry went to prison for were similar: “This evidence and Mr. McRae’s convictions were a powerful basis for Mr. Henry’s acquittal in 2010,” the judge wrote.
But the trail ends there, according to the judge, who writes simply: “McRae died sometime thereafter.”
Former Vancouver Police officer Gord Elias investigated McRae in the early 1980s and remembers catching him in the act of opening a window to a young woman’s apartment.
“I watched him stand there for a period of time watching. Then out came a young lady from the apartment. She hopped in her car and drove away. We had a vehicle stop her and speak with her. She had been in the basement suite in the nude getting changed to go out for the evening while McRae was standing there looking through the window. That was one of the incidents he was charged with,” Elias said.
Elias was able to make charges of trespass by night and breaking and entering stick.
“In my opinion he was probably casing potential victims for the future,” said Elias. “I’ve always believed that he was responsible for more.”
Given all the evidence, Elias said he doesn’t think McRae is guilty of the crimes attributed to Henry because the two sets of crimes have some differences too.
But he thinks Henry’s acquittal means that someone else is responsible – and the VPD should find out who.
“If it hasn’t already been done, it should be,” he said.
McRae is facing no criminal charges in relation to the rapes originally attributed to Henry. He says he is glad the system considers him dead.
“That’s great. I’d like that. Maybe I’ll be left alone,” he said.
VPD told CTV News there are no plans to reopen the investigation.