Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Clifford Olson

More Disappearances

A serial killer was on the loose and the people in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley region of British Columbia were gripped with fear. In the short time span, from November 1980 to July 1981, a number of children had gone missing, and were later found dead. Parents in suburban Vancouver complained that the police were not treating reports of the missing youths seriously enough. The 200 Mounties in the Surrey detachment processed roughly 2000 missing-person cases and investigated some 18,000 criminal code offenses in those two years. Many of the juveniles turned out to be runaways, congregating on the Granville Street area downtown, while some stayed with friends or out partying past their curfew, without informing their parents. The police figured, Theyd turn up and for the most part they did.

Surrey RCMP Detachment building (Jan Bouchard-Kerr)
Surrey RCMP Detachment building
(Jan Bouchard-Kerr)

When a child of ten or less is missing for more than a day, writes Derrick Murdoch in Disappearances, it is unlikely to be from the childs own choice. In the second half of childhood the reverse is true, particularly between the ages of eleven and fourteen when the child is dealing with emerging sexuality.... The combined totals for the next age group from fifteen up are not so high.... For the police, runaways who are over the age at which they are considered juveniles in their province (sixteen, seventeen or eighteen, as the case may be) must be treated as free agents.

The book Final Payoff explains what the policing was like then: There were roughly six thousand traffic cops, fraud investigators, homicide detectives, Indian special constables, political bodyguards, analysts and administrators in the provinces law enforcement system. Each force and detachment was a separate and distinct entity with its own internal bureaucracy, but they were expected to act in concert. That rarely happened and the problems of inter-detachment and inter-force communication was one of the reasons Cpl. Les Forsythe wanted everyone who had dealt with Olson or who might have an active missing-person file at a meeting.

Unfortunately the RCMP chain of command was undergoing dramatic upheaval in the spring and summer of 1981. The West Coast ranks were experiencing widespread staff shortages and low morale, which affected daily operations that coincided with Olsons killing spree.

July 15, 1981 Olsons name was first mentioned at a law enforcement conference

As the person responsible for Ada Courts case, Forsythe continued to build a case against Olson. In a more coordinated effort, a meeting was scheduled for RCMP officers and local police departments from Vancouver and the Lower Mainland communities of Richmond, New Westminster, Surrey, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Mission, Langley, Agassiz, and Maple Ridge. He prepared a five-page profile on Olson for the July 15 meeting with the Mission Detachment investigators: It outlined Olsons known and suspected recent criminal activities, his trait of offering his intended victims a job for ten dollars per hour, his penchant for borrowed or rented cars, and his known recent addresses in Surrey and Coquitlam.

This meeting, Les explained, is simply a brainstorming session of investigators from around the Lower Mainland who have a common interest in missing persons investigations. When the story aired, viewers took note of the polices growing concern about the missing children in the Greater Vancouver area.

The police decided to consider Olson as a suspect in The Case of the Missing Lower Mainland Children. An RCMP police-briefing document took up the story of the crucial July 15 meeting. It is stressed that at this juncture, although Olson was considered a possible suspect in the disappearances/murders, a considerable picture of uncertainty existed. It was not clear whether all the children reported missing were, in fact, genuinely missing or whether foul play had been involved. The matter of whether or not the disappearances themselves could be connected or whether they individually or collectively were connected to previous unsolved murders was also open to conjecture, although under active analysis at the time. It should be stressed here that Olson had earlier been considered as a possible suspect in the Christine Ann Weller homicide (body found in Richmond 12-25-80), and that of Mary Ellen (Marney) Jamieson homicide, which occurred in the Sechelt area on 8-7-80. He was later dropped from prominence in the Weller investigation when a stronger suspect surfaced, however Olson remained of interest to our serious crime unit in the Jamieson case.

Thursday, July 23, 1981 Raymond King Jr.

Raymond King Jr., victim
Raymond King Jr.,

Theres just no way he could have run away, Raymond Kings father had said. He was not a runaway. The slight, sandy haired Ray King Jr. was enjoying his summer holidays and looking for his first real job. He made his routine trip to the Canada Manpower Youth Employment Centre, chaining his bike behind the building. Keen to do any type of work, he had come to the center so often over the summer that the staff was getting to know him.

Young Ray met Olson that day. Lured by a promise of work, Olson drove them along a route he frequently traveled, along Highway No. 7 towards Harrison Mills and Weaver Lake. Turning off the highway, he headed for the popular camping area then took a rough, back-country road that led to a B.C. Forest Service campground beside the Alpine Lake. He staved the boys head with rocks and then dumped the youngsters body off the steep, hillside trail.

The police did not think that the 15-year-old boy would have abandoned his bike. Usually if a kid is going to run, hell do one of three things with his bike; leave it at home, use it to make his getaway, or sell it to a friend for a few bucks, said Ed Cadenhead, deputy police chief of New Westminster.

The night that Olson killed the young boy, he had logged 403 kilometers in the car he rented from Metro in Port Coquitlam. Forever on the lookout for potential victims, he spoke to the Metro rental clerk: He offered me a job shampooing carpets in his apartment complex he said he owned at Lougheed Mall, she said. He only came in to get a car on the days he knew I worked. The job he offered was $16.60-an-hour, more than I get here, and I was supposed to let him know. Thank God I never did.

Just two days later, July 25th, Judy Kozmas body was found near Weaver Lake. Then, the killer struck again.




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