Who killed Vancouver's Babes in the Woods?
Two children’s bodies, a hatchet and a cheap fur coat. Two helmets and a woman’s solitary shoe.
For more than 60 years, these clues have added up to one disturbing, unanswered question -- who murdered Vancouver’s Babes in the Woods?
Possibly the city’s most infamous unsolved murder case, on January 14, 1953 the bones of two children were found by a gardener clearing underbrush near Prospect Point in Stanley Park, six years after they’d been killed.
The investigators believed the remains to be a brother and sister, a mistake that hampered the case for the next 45 years.
Detective Brian Honeybourn took over the investigation in the 1990s and brought the bones to Dr. David Sweet at the University of British Columbia.
DNA tests showed the children were actually two brothers aged five and seven, information that couldn’t be obtained half a century ago.
“It (had) led police on a wild goose chase,” Honeybourn said. “They were walking up the streets looking for the wrong criminals.”
“The Vancouver police received a lot of information, but it was based on that they were a boy and a girl.”
Of the hundreds of tips, the account from two witnesses now stands out, who saw a family of four walking that day.
“[The witnesses] said no, it wasn’t a boy and a girl. It was two boys,” Honeybourn said. “One of them had a hatchet. We remember because he was walking along banging the hatchet along the railings of an iron fence.”
Later the witnesses spotted the man and woman again, this time alone. The kids were nowhere to be seen and the woman was wearing just one shoe, covered in blood.
Police were unable to speak to those witnesses again, and the couple was never found.
The Babes in the Woods case and other strange and infamous Vancouver murders are the focus of the Vancouver Police Museum’s 2014 lecture series "Murder, Mystery and Intrigue."
The five-part series begins March 13 with the Milkshake Murder, a case of a husband lacing his wife’s treats with arsenic. Museum director Robert Noon will tell the story of how a strand of hair led to Rene Castellani’s arrest.
For more information visit www.vancouverpolicemuseum.ca
With a report from CTV Vancouver’s St. John Alexander.