Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Clifford Olson

'I Drive 'em Nuts!'

 It was top of the line for Clifford Robert Olson when it came to office stationery and business cards. When he ordered, he ordered nothing but the best; trouble is, he never paid for them.

In his own words.

The B.C. Penitentiary, an imposing granite fortress along the main thoroughfare between Coquitlam and New Westminster, loomed over the industrial area of the Fraser River and the Patullo Bridge that crosses over to Surrey. The system provided a second home for Olson.

When the B.C. Pen was scheduled to be torn down in 1981, the draconian buildings were opened to the public, simply for curiosity. In Profile of a Serial Killer The Clifford Robert Olson Story, an unpublished manuscript written by Olson, he explained, taking third person perspective, why he too decided to take a last look:

Olson, in spite of his many years in prison, paid a sentimental visit to the Old B.C. Penitentiary when it was opened to the public before closing down in 1981. Unfortunately for Olson this one last look at one of his old homes cost him his freedom. Olson trooped into the 102-year-old building with thousands of other sightseers for a prison tour, unaware there was a Canada-wide warrant out for his arrest. So when he peeked into the cell which had been his home for several years, he was recognized by one of these former guards and was quickly arrested by the New Westminster city police. Olson had last been in the B.C. Pen serving four years and nine months for a variety of offenses including theft, forgery and false pretences. His nostalgic return to the Old B.C. Pen cost Olson another month in the Matsqui before his sentence finally expired.

He loved to play the system maintaining, I drive em nuts! In the words of several of his custodians, they couldnt agree more. He demanded constant attention and made life tough for everyone. He was universally loathed but somehow managed to survive. Some of the law officers at Matsqui Institution characterized him as a con man, not as a killer. He was seen as a thief, a false-pretense artist, a garrulous, extroverted, egotistical kind of person, but not as a sexual offender, said a former parole worker.

Olson was adept at playing the con game, knowing his way through the system. For many years, Olson reveled in petty crime. Initially, his record showed him to be a thief and fraud artist. His early years, 1957 to 1974, from the time he was an adolescent, were riddled with break-ins, escapes, and robberies. But, it did not stop there. Olsons deviant sexual side was also developing.

Olson started exhibiting more violent behavior in and out of the penitentiary. While in B.C. Pen in 1974, he repeatedly and persistently sexually attacked a 17-year-old fellow inmate. And in 1978, while on the outside, he indecently assaulted a seven-year-old girl in Sydney, Nova Scotia. When he actually began his murderous rampage, he was on bail for sex and firearms charges with pending child abuse charges in Nova Scotia, although the warrant could not be enforced outside of the province.

Back in prison once again in 1978, a deviant sexual side started to show while serving a two-year sentence for fraud, possession of stolen property, and possession of housebreaking instruments. The Olson Murders mention his reputation while incarcerated:

During those seven years Olsons prison style changed. To some he was known as Bobo, a man who viciously muscled or buggered young inmates. To others he became knows as The Senator. This was because he honed his cell-room lawyers skills, by writing incessantly to both federal and provincial politicians with a barrage of complaints about prison conditions. He was also a `stoolie, a person who would inform on anyone for any reason. This trait made him unpopular with both inmates and guards and he eventually needed protective custody.

Olson was moved to the Super Maximum Unit (SMU), commonly known as the Penthouse, the rat and rapo unit, where the most despised cons were housed. It was here that he met accused child-killer Gary Francis Marcoux.



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