Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Clifford Olson

Shadow Victims

Clifford Olson set his sights on Joan Hale at the popular Cariboo Hotel Lougheed Village pub, known locally as the Cariboo. In 1980, the Cariboos country and western décor, complete with wagon wheels mounted on the wall, muted lighting, and smoke-filled lounge atmosphere, attracted the locals from various middle class professions.

Joan did not know at first that Olson was just out of prison, but when she found out, it didnt bother her. She thought him charming and loved his beautiful brown eyes. Within an hour, she was smitten. Olson moved in with Joan three days later.

 It was something I thought I needed, Joan explained later in a courtroom defending a lawsuit against her. I needed that companionship, I thought, and I needed someone to protect me from my husband because he was coming around and bothering me. And Clifford seemed the perfect solution.

Joan became pregnant and they planned to marry. A month before the wedding, they had a son, Clifford Olson III. As his father before him, Olson also caused a ruckus just before his sons birth, getting into a shouting match at the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster. It was already a pattern. Early on, he bilked Joan of her $43,000 divorce settlement, and went on a two-month spending spree. He became violent, and even more so after the news of her pregnancy. He got drunk more often and began to beat her. In a dramatic escalation of violence, Olson had already killed three children, one five days after the birth of his son.

Incredibly, the night before the wedding, Olson babysat several children while his fiancée went out to celebrate with her girlfriends. He sent the older ones to the store to buy bubble gum while he allegedly assaulted a 5-year-old girl. Olson was asked to go to the Coquitlam RCMP detachment because the mother had complained. He went to the station and denied the incident. The child was too young to testify and the police did not have enough evidence to charge him.

The couple was married on May 15, 1981, at the Peoples Full Gospel Church in Surrey. They had regularly attended a fundamentalist church, but changed to another branch when word got out that Olson had sexually abused several of the children. He had been caught sodomizing a young boy in a sauna. No complaints were filed.

North Road & Cottonwood, around Burquitlam Plaza where Olson lived and abducted children (Jan Bouchard-Kerr)
North Road & Cottonwood,
around Burquitlam Plaza
where Olson lived and
abducted children
(Jan Bouchard-Kerr)

The Mounties would eventually find out how he was incapacitating the youngsters. Late in May, Olson was arrested for impaired driving and for contributing to juvenile delinquency. He crashed his car with his 16-year-old female passenger in Agassiz, a farming hamlet in the Valley about an hour from Vancouver. Olson had picked her up in the Cottonwood Avenue and North Road area of Coquitlam, Daryn Johnsrude and Olsons neighborhood. Although the young girl could not be convinced that Olson was a sex offender, she did tell the police that he had offered her a job, had bought her drinks and given her pills. She palmed one of the tiny emerald knock-out pills, later giving it to the police. The laboratory identified it as chloral hydrate, commonly known as knock-out drops or a Mickey Finn.

Tuesday, May 19, 1981 Sandra Lynn Wolfsteiner

Sandra Wolfsteiner, victim
Sandra Wolfsteiner,

Already on the hunt a mere four days after his wedding day, Olson picked up 16-year-old Sandra Wolfsteiner, who lived with her sister in Langley. The pretty, hazel-eyed brunette went to visit her boyfriend to take him to lunch on the Fraser Highway in Surrey. After visiting with his mother for a while, around 11:30 a.m., she made her way to the highway to hitchhike to the auto body shop up the road.

A mere 50 yards from the farmhouse, the boyfriends mother watched Sandy get picked up by a man in a silver-gray, two-door medium-sized car, probably one of Olsons rental cars. He may have offered a job to her because Sandra was seen by a friend as she closed her account at the Royal Bank in Langley. She reportedly said that she had a good job cleaning windows for $13 an hour and that she would get to drive a Trans Am.

Olson persuaded Sandy to go to his cabin in the woods, up the Valley. He drove into the dense bush just off Chilliwack Lake Road. While walking into the woods, he smashed her head from behind. Olson later said he was enraged to find that she had less than $10 in her pockets. She told me she had $100.

The police considered her to be just another runaway. At the early stage, said an RCMP briefing document, it was felt she was simply a missing youth and there was no suspicion of foul play.

They couldnt have been further from the truth.



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