The Montreal Police have destroyed all physical evidence in the unsolved murder of Katherine Hawkes.
A relative of Katherine’s recently contacted the Montreal police to receive an update on the “investigation”. The SPVM confirmed that the case is still an active investigation. When asked about the physical evidence the investigator responded,
“… there is no usable evidence at this point.”
Interpret “usable” as anything of Katherine’s that might have come into physical contact with her assailant, or anything left behind by the assailant, so:
- The beige sock
- The bra
- Her sweater
- Her brown coat
- The bags containing hair rollers and Pepsodant toothpaste
- Sperm samples
- The three strands of hair clutched in Katherine’s hand
It’s all gone. The police disposed of all of it.
And then there were five
This brings the confirmed number of cases from this era where evidence was destroyed to five (5), and adds the Montreal police to the growing list of police forces that engaged in this practice. The cases are:
Sharron Prior (Longeueil police)
Manon Dube (Surete du Quebec)
Theresa Allore (Surete du Quebec)
Roxanne Luce (Longeueil police)
Katherine Hawkes (Montreal police)
Recall that these three forces have the lowest homicide clearance rates in the country over a 30 year period, a measure that is not likely to improve if they continue to engage in this practice (we suspect there are many more cases where evidence was destroyed).
And how is this relevant to today? Just yesterday the case of a 44 year old St-Laurent man accused of the sexual assault and attempted murder of an 11 year old girl was almost tossed out of court because Montreal police made the catastrophic error of destroying the physical evidence during the trial:
“The trial was derailed, however, after it came to light a Montreal police sergeant had destroyed the skipping rope, the girl’s torn bra and about eight other pieces of evidence. The officer in question had confused the case with another in which the evidence had been ordered destroyed. “
When question a Montreal police spokesperson responded that ” procedures have been “reviewed and corrected” in an effort to prevent such an error from happening again.”
Excuse me, but over a 40 year period how many chances are the Quebec police going to receive to offset their systemic blunders?
Contrast this with news that broke yesterday of the identification of a 47 year old cold case in Los Angeles, California. Jane Doe #59 was stabbed 150 times in Laurel Canyon. It has long been suspected that Jane Doe #59 may have been a victim of the Mason Family Murders, but with no identification police were not able to advance the case. Recently Kristian Gravenor over at the blog Coolopolis was deftly able to put the pieces together and identified Jane Doe #59 as former Montrealer, Reet Jurvetson who left the city for LA in 1969. Police were then able to match DNA from Jane Doe #59 with DNA from Reet’s sister, and made a positive identification.
Of course this successful outcome was only possible because the LAPD kept Jane Doe #59’s DNA on file for 47 years. To our minds this only seems logical: if a case is not solved, you keep the evidence.
God only knows what seems logical to the Quebec police.
Here’s another thing. This wasn’t a case of a family hanging on for 47 years in the pursuit of justice. Reet’s parents are long deceased. They never even filed a missing persons report. The case was solved because the police – with the assistance of some very able websleuths – were determined to never give up on Jane Doe #59.
No one deserved the horrible fate of Reet Jurvetson. But if she had to die, it was fortunate that this Montrealer met her end in a place where law enforcement respect their duties and responsibilities.
If she had died in Montreal under the same circumstances Reet Jurvetson would never have been identified.