Drifter's hidden past emerges: Suspect in unsolved Calgary murder linked to 20-year trail of horrors

Calgary Herald
Thursday, March 1, 2001
Page: A1 / FRONT
Section: News
Byline: Suzanne Wilton and Jeff Lee
Dateline: WINNIPEG
Source: The Calgary Herald; The Vancouver Sun
Series: In a Predator's Wake: Part I

Disturbing new information about unsolved murders in Calgary and Winnipeg has emerged from a six-week newspaper investigation into the man police consider their prime suspect.

At the centre of a Calgary Herald- Vancouver Sun probe is Terry Samuel Arnold, 38, a violent drifter who left a trail of crime across North America.

Now doing jail time for the murder of a B.C. teenager, Arnold is a smooth-talking con man, author and master of disguise who worked in a string of odd jobs as a carnival worker, labourer and fruit picker when he wasn't living on welfare or serving prison terms.

The newspaper investigation reveals a frightening picture of a man who assumed false identities to cover his wake and manipulated his way into the confidences of women who innocently opened their homes to him.

Now, 20 years after the murder of Winnipeg teen Barbara Stoppel, investigators are finally unravelling a complete picture of Arnold's life and new details about his connections to the Stoppel case. Thomas Sophonow of Vancouver, a tavern bouncer, was wrongly convicted of the murder.

The newspaper investigation has uncovered new evidence of Arnold's activities around the time of the murder and afterward, including Arnold's new claim that he helped point a finger at the wrong guy.

``I told them (police) I might have information about Thomas Sophonow,'' Arnold said in a face-to-face interview about that case and others.

What's more disturbing is that Arnold went on to victimize many women and girls after the Stoppel strangling, until his crime spree finally ended in 1991.

Arnold spent much of his youth in Calgary and lived here as an adult for short periods during the mid-1980s. He has been named as the prime suspect in the unsolved 1987 murder of Denise Lapierre, a pretty Crescent Heights high school grad who was last seen leaving a late-night house party alone.

Her murdered body turned up in the alley behind Arnold's house.

Another former Calgary woman has come forward, claiming Arnold raped and sodomized her as the nine-year-old daughter of one of Arnold's Calgary girlfriends. The traumatized woman has spent the ensuing years fighting depression, alcoholism, working as a stripper and dealing with her anger that the man who victimized her could roam the country for so long without being caught.

Today, Terry Arnold is in a Vancouver Island jail for the slaying of Christine Browne, a 16-year-old runaway from Kimberly, B.C.

Arnold's undetected predatory trail leads back to Winnipeg 20 years ago, where his connection to the strangling of Stoppel on a cold night two days before Christmas in 1981 is being scrutinized more closely than ever.

Arnold's revelations to the Herald and Sun show police dismissed information and details linking him to the case, to the detriment of Sophonow, who police years later admitted was not the killer. Sophonow was acquitted of the killing in 1985.

Arnold lived across the street from the murder scene; he closely resembled the man who witnesses saw fleeing the scene; he even showed up at St. Boniface General Hospital to visit Stoppel as she lay dying from from her injuries, although Arnold claimed he didn't know her.

Arnold passed through the Winnipeg remand centre several times for unrelated crimes after the murder. According to court records, Arnold was being tried for assault March 12, 1982, the same day Sophonow was arrested in B.C. for the Winnipeg murder, although the two would have missed each other because Sophonow wasn't transferred until the next day.

However, a year later, when Sophonow was being held at the remand centre facing his second trial for the Stoppel murder, Arnold was being held by police for a biting attack on his ex-wife's uncle.

Arnold says he offered police information about Sophonow's supposed involvement in Stoppel's death while he was behind bars for an offence -- although he didn't specify when. And he denied ever meeting Sophonow.

The revelations come at a critical point in the Manitoba judicial inquiry into how police and prosecutors made errors in their case against Sophonow.

Former Supreme Court Justice Peter Cory is scheduled to resume his inquiry this month into the investigative tactics used by police. Winnipeg police lawyers failed in their bid to suspend the probe until investigators finish their re-investigation.

Former Justice Cory has already heard the first phase of the inquiry to determine compensation for Sophonow, who now lives in New Westminster, B.C.

The decision by Winnipeg officers to discount Arnold as a suspect 20 years ago -- despite evidence that he shared more of a connection with the murder than Sophonow -- was to have tragic implications for a number of people over the next 20 years.

Arnold, a deeply troubled man who had spent much of his adolescence in juvenile detention centres, would go on to commit a litany of serious sexual crimes that would eventually culminate in being convicted of a murder in B.C.

A joint investigation by the Calgary Herald and Vancouver Sun reveals a complex criminal with psychopathic tendencies who lives a life sandwiched between the twin needs for deception and attention.

Along the way, Arnold would be convicted of the murder of a B.C. girl, become the suspect in the murder of a Calgary teenager, and the disappearance of a second B.C. girl.

Portrait of a violent drifter: Terry Arnold leads a life of contradiction: an intelligent writer with riveting blue eyes, he's always on the move, bouncing from job to jail, preying on women unlucky enough to cross his path
Calgary Herald
Friday, March 2, 2001
Page: A7
Section: News
Byline: Suzanne Wilton, Jeff Lee
Source: The Calgary Herald; The Vancouver Sun

Like a tornado skipping and bouncing furiously across the country, Terry Arnold left a trail of destruction as he descended on one city after another.

The story about this quintessential drifter doesn't start in Winnipeg, where he's the focus for police re-investigating the 1981 murder of doughnut shop waitress Barbara Stoppel, 16, a crime that led to the wrongful conviction of Thomas Sophonow.

Nor does it end in Kelowna, where a streetwise cop's dogged attention to detail would lead to Arnold's conviction in 1999 for the first-degree murder of Christine Browne, a 16-year-old runaway.

Before and after those points in Arnold's life, and everywhere in between, lie shattered lives and crushed spirits. Almost everyone caught in his path is scarred by the experience. Few have anything good to say about him.

In a joint investigation, the Calgary Herald and Vancouver Sun used court records, interviews with dozens of witnesses and victims, and extensive jailhouse interviews with Arnold to compile a picture of a man the National Parole Board says fits the profile of a psychopath.

- - -

When investigators deal with Arnold, they have learned to start with facts they know.

One of the undisputables is that Terry Samuel Arnold was born May 31, 1962, in St. Catharines, Ont., to Donna Ethenal Gail Paton and Afton Samuel Arnold. He and his younger sister, Tracy, were uprooted early on after their parents split, with Donna taking the two children home to Winnipeg. They remained there for a few years, but later moved to Bentley, in central Alberta, after Donna married Leonard Kenyon.

Growing up, Arnold saw his father sporadically and the two, according to Arnold, are estranged.

From then on, a parade of new faces and surroundings helped mould Arnold into the drifter he became. Troubled almost from the beginning, he was first removed from his home around age six by social services. From then until adolescence, he bounced between juvenile institutions and his mother's ever-changing homes and relationships.

Arnold spent the latter part of his childhood in Winnipeg, much of it behind the locked doors of the Manitoba Youth Centre. It was there he first met the troubled young girl who would become his first bride.

His grandfather remembers Arnold as a hyperactive kid who was attracted to trouble. ``He has had problems since birth,'' says Bruce, an 83-year-old pensioner who asked that his last name not be used.

Bruce is sitting at the kitchen table inside a cramped, one-room apartment in a low-income housing complex near Winnipeg's downtown. Its once-white walls are streaked yellow from cigarette smoke. Behind him on the fridge are the smiling faces of his numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He treats a visitor like a long-lost friend, offering a coffee and a smoke, and shares details about his family.

``I haven't heard from Terry in three years,'' explains Bruce, whose eyes are the same ice blue colour as his grandson's.

He blames the judicial system for not keeping a tighter rein on Arnold in his younger days. ``Psychiatrists said back then he shouldn't be on the street. He shouldn't be on the street now,'' said Bruce.

Arnold's mother feared him. ``She couldn't handle him . . . she was scared of him.''

It's a statement his mother, now Donna Borchert, denies. ``He was a little boy with a lot of energy,'' Donna said, noting her son had a high IQ and was able to tear apart and reassemble an electric organ by the time he was six.

An ex-girlfriend recalls Arnold's mother saying her son was removed once from her home for trying to kill one of his half-brothers. This, too, Donna refutes. She described his errant behaviour as ``curiosity that killed the cat.''

Neither Donna nor Arnold would explain why he spent most of his childhood in juvenile homes in Calgary or what crime landed him behind bars at the Manitoba Youth Centre, and the interconnected Seven Oaks facility where he was kicked out of group therapy for bad behaviour.

Former friends and relatives say the mother and son have a love-hate relationship, with Donna dominating many aspects of her son's adult life.

Ex-girlfriends describe Arnold as a ``Momma's Boy.'' Her favourite nickname for him was ``Big Bird.''

Despite the constant upheaval in his family life, Arnold has maintained a strong bond with his mother and his sister Tracy, who has had troubles of her own. Over the years, she lost custody of all six of her children from different relationships to social services, including one removed in Calgary as a result of allegations of sexual abuse made several weeks after Arnold moved from the home. He accused his brother-in-law of the crime but no one was convicted.

- - -

Arnold's accounts of his childhood are full of fantasy and falsehood. He relates tales of terror and abuse and has told police in interviews, and recounted to friends and reporters, of being electrocuted, of fingers amputated and of scarring by cigarettes.

Allegations he was raped by an aunt at 17 and abused by a youth centre employee are uncorroborated. Arnold has told prison counsellors he was sexually, emotionally and physically abused.

Like his appearance, many of those stories change with time and circumstance. For example, in an interview with a Chilliwack police officer, Arnold said he was abused by people from his past and then later he recants, saying he ``got along great'' with them.

There's no substantiation for claims by Arnold that he was taped to a metal chair with electrified clips attached to his ears and left until he lost consciousness.

Prison psychologists have described Arnold as someone who has ``important psychopathic personality traits'' and a ``propensity for manipulation.''

There are deeper secrets Arnold doesn't want to talk about, such as the recollections by some that he abused animals.

A former girlfriend remembers him stuffing their cat's head in his mouth. Richard Kehler, a former brother-in-law, said he once witnessed Arnold ram a pencil up the rear end of his mother's cat while it was in heat. ``He was always like a bully,'' Kehler said.

- - -

The impact of Arnold's turbulent life widened around 1980, after he was released from youth prison. That's when the real trouble began.

Winnipeg police picked him up for petty offences, including break-and-enter and mischief. Within two years, he was convicted of his first serious offence, an assault on a pregnant woman whom he threw down the stairs.

There's little evidence of Arnold having a career other than a criminal one. Following in the footsteps of his half-brothers Lynn and Leonard, he sometimes worked as a travelling carnival worker. He did menial jobs such as cleaning stables, collecting eggs at a Fraser Valley duck farm or picking fruit in the Okanagan orchards. Sometimes he worked as a security guard or labourer.

It seemed he never held a job for more than a few weeks. More often, he was on welfare or collecting workers' compensation for the endless injuries he seemingly suffered.

For example, he worked as a $4-per-hour cook at the Holiday House restaurant in Orlando, Fla., under an assumed name. Records show he began collecting compensation after a month when he dropped a block of lard into a deep fryer and was splashed by hot grease.

In almost every Canadian city he visited, he got into trouble.

In Winnipeg, he was convicted of theft, mischief and assault in the early 1980s. In the years that followed, there was an assault in Quebec, where Arnold claims he met a woman with whom he had a child. There were more thefts in Ontario. There were break-ins in Nova Scotia.

One constant element in Arnold's life has been his need for female companionship. He proposed marriage to almost every woman he met, but was unable to sustain any relationship for more than a few months. He claims to have fathered four children, but never stayed in one place long enough to make an impact on their lives.

One of his earliest relationships was with Victoria Spakowski in 1980, an event that ended when his views about kinky sex with children left her so terrified she says she aborted their baby.

Spakowski, now 38, recalls meeting Arnold when she was 18, and she quickly fell in love. Within months, they moved to Calgary where they wed without a formal licence.

The relationship became strained when Arnold offered his young wife to another man for sex.

``Terry brought home another man, left this guy and went out,'' Spakowski recalled. ``I just knew.'' She refused and warned Arnold never to try that again.

It was his ideas about how they would teach their kids about sex that finally drove her away for good.

Arnold told her that if they had a daughter, he would have intercourse with her when she was old enough. If they had a boy, he said, Spakowski would sleep with him.

The prospect so alarmed her that when Spakowski discovered she was pregnant shortly after leaving Arnold in January, 1981, she says she underwent a late-term abortion.

Arnold's attraction to young children has since been verified by psychiatrists. In a 1996 hearing, the National Parole Board noted post-treatment phallometric testing done on Arnold in prison indicated his ``preference for females that are not sexually mature.''

After Spakowski broke away from Arnold, he became convinced the daughter she later had with another man was his -- something he still believes to this day.

``She's not yours,'' Spakowski told Arnold when he showed up unexpectedly on her Winnipeg doorstep in 1983.

``He started getting irate and threatened that he was going to get a shotgun and blow mine and the baby's heads off,'' she recalled.

Arnold was arrested and charged with uttering threats and later released on a peace bond.

``For all I know, I could have been victim number one -- somebody was looking down on me,'' Spakowski said.

Winnipeg police now believe victim number one was Barbara Stoppel, who was strangled and left for dead in the doughnut shop where she worked in 1981.

Arnold had returned to Winnipeg alone in January 1981, and continued to hold odd jobs. That summer, he worked at the Red River Exhibition, following in the footsteps of his half-brothers.

It would be 20 years before Arnold's links to the Stoppel case were seriously considered, and he carried on with his life, bouncing around the country, leaving a string of crimes in his wake.

- - -

Although he often appears charming and effusive, a streak of violence runs through many of Arnold's relationships.

He legally exchanged vows once, with a teenage girl he first met while behind bars at a Winnipeg detention centre. As barely a teen, Eileen Ramsey had problems of her own and was sent to the juvenile facility for petty offences. Their first encounter was nothing more than a hello, but years later they married. Ramsey was a troubled teen looking to leave home.

No one knows Arnold's explosive temper better than Ramsey, who in 1983 witnessed him attack her uncle with his teeth.

In a fight over $40 worth of cutlery which Peter Comely accused Arnold of stealing, he bit Comely's cheek so hard it left the man permanently disfigured.

Ramsey remembers when Arnold's mother berated him about everything, from what to buy, to what to do with his life. ``He would get quite upset. I've heard them argue for an hour,'' said Ramsey, now 34 and living on welfare with her boyfriend of five years. ``He would call her names and she would call him names.''

She said Arnold lied throughout their relationship, not just to Ramsey but to everyone he encountered. ``It got to the point where if he said the sky was blue, I would go outside and check.''

He once told a neighbour he was an undercover cop and showed a fake badge, ``the kind you get out of a cereal box,'' she said.

The church was a point of fascination for Arnold and he often told people he had been an ordained minister in the U.S., she said. His flirtation with religion is a recurring theme in his life and Arnold claims a deep devotion to the Bible. He gravitated to charismatic and evangelical churches.

But like so much else about him, the denomination of the church he chose was out of convenience. He was baptized at least twice -- once as a Florida Baptist and the other as a Seventh-day Adventist.

No one knew from one day to the next who he would be. Or where he was going. Or what story he might tell next.

In the late 1980s, Arnold continued to cut a destructive path across the continent.

American police face a huge black hole tracking Arnold's travels, where by his own admission he bounced around under assumed names and stolen identities. He travelled with at least one woman whose whereabouts remain a mystery, and with whom he claims to have fathered a child. He inveigled himself so well into people's lives that for a time he lived with a state trooper.

Scott Walter, a devoted Baptist and Florida State Highway Patrol homicide investigator, met Arnold around 1987. Arnold was seeking refuge from drug dealers he said he ratted out to the Orange County Sherriff's Department.

Arnold has said he routinely offered tips to police departments across Canada, revealing a fascination with police investigations.

Cpl. Walter allowed Arnold to briefly live in a camper van in his driveway. Walter quickly noticed Arnold's fascination with investigative procedures. Walter said Arnold was forever trying to pick his brain about his active cases. It was as if, he said, Arnold wanted to be a detective.

Years later, Arnold fondly recalled being taken on ride-alongs with a Florida police officer he lived with and meeting people like Shirley Temple and Arnold Palmer.

The Florida trooper doesn't remember it that way. Walter wouldn't allow Arnold in his house unescorted. Walter finally evicted him from the driveway when he found porn magazines in his possession.

Friend or foe, Arnold seemed to make no distinction between his victims. A landlord in Florida discovered Arnold not only misappropriated his credit card to buy an airline ticket to Calgary in 1987 under the landlord's name, he also used the man's U.S. voter card to get past airport security.

- - -

Just months after Arnold touched down in Calgary, a woman's body was found in an alley 50 paces from his backyard -- a murder for which he's now the main suspect.

Denise Lapierre suffered a fatal blow to the head; her battered and nude body was dumped next to a garbage can across the street from her 21st Avenue N.E. home.

Arnold was interviewed by police, along with everyone else on the street, but never seriously considered as a suspect until years later.

Months after the murder, police took statements from a young Calgary girl who alleged Arnold repeatedly raped her. She was the daughter of Arnold's girlfriend, who years later told police he asked her to lie for him about his whereabouts the night of the murder.

Arnold was never convicted of the rape.

Arnold's first conviction for sexual assault didn't come until 1988, when he pleaded guilty to molesting a young Chilliwack girl. A second charge of assaulting her sister was stayed.

The two girls had met Arnold a day after he had arrived from Kamloops on a motorcycle and moved into a riverside campground. The assaults took place in their home and involved fondling.

Arnold served three months in jail on the molestation charge, an event he apparently found unbearable.

When he came under suspicion for raping another Chilliwack girl a few months later, he told the investigating officer he had been beaten up in jail and that if he went back, ``I'll be dead whether its PC (protective custody) or population . . . I won't come out of there alive.''

As it turned out, Arnold wouldn't do time for the second Chilliwack attack. Court heard how Arnold picked up a 16-year-old local native girl and took her to his trailer. He raped her once while a shotgun lay on a nearby table.

He then took her up a deserted mountain road where he had sex with her again and then tried to kill her, she said.

Police believed her story, but the judge hearing the case, now-retired B.C. Supreme Court Justice William Selbie, wasn't so sure. Called by the judge ``a sordid little drama,'' Arnold was acquitted after Selbie said he couldn't decide who to believe -- a 16-year-old runaway or a man he said had ``the morals of an alley cat.''

After the trial, Arnold left Chilliwack and moved east to the Okanagan valley, where his crimes seemed to know no bounds.

- - -

Many of the people Arnold preyed on came from disadvantaged backgrounds like his own, according to former Kelowna RCMP Const. Arch Doody, the chief investigator in the murder of Christine Browne -- a case that would eventually put Arnold behind bars.

``He had poor self-esteem,'' Doody said. He didn't think he could attract sophisticated women. ``He didn't think he was very good looking.''

In addition to his attraction to young girls, the parole board noted years later Arnold's sexual deviancy was driven by his inability to be alone.

One of the oddest examples was his offer to take the last name of Judy Mathes, who met Arnold while he lived in Keremeos, B.C., and gave birth to one of the four children he says he fathered.

``He wanted to take my last name, he wanted to be Terry Mathes,'' she said in an interview from the Okanagan town of Olalla where she now lives. ``I never saw a guy before who wanted to take a woman's name.''

Even as recently as a year ago, Arnold was engaged to a woman who agreed to be married in a jailhouse ceremony. That ended after police spoke to her about him.

Arnold always dreamed of becoming a famous author and wrote manuscripts for several novels. But like the lies he created around his life, people who know him say much of the material he claims to have written was plagiarized from others.

Former publisher Rene Verschuren recalls how Arnold regularly copied as his own murder mystery magazine stories later reprinted in a Keremeos newspaper under the column Terry's Mystery Page during the two years he lived in the Okanagan valley.

His fan club now includes police.

Years later, Winnipeg police seized a number of finished and unfinished manuscripts from his jail cell, including such titles as Mind Shaft, a Hitchcock-style horror; Canadian Flesh, a smut novel, and Mistress of the Ark, a murder mystery set in the Second World War.

They also took a philosophy outline he wrote called Unknown Ego.

Arnold doesn't understand why they took his material, which included a romance novel he said was his biggest challenge.

``I had to write the romance novel as if I was a woman -- I will never do that again. It was the hardest thing I have ever done.''

Keremeos police have at least 25 entries in their books relating to Arnold between 1990 and 1991. Theft. Threats. Mischief. Vandalism. Causing a disturbance at the bank. Even assault by breaking an old man's cane.

In 1991, a year after he settled in, a woman complained to police that Arnold sexually assaulted her and kept her confined for four days. But the deeply religious woman, whom he met at a local church, refused to press charges, saying God would punish him. She would not talk to reporters.

- - -

It was around this time Arnold committed his first known murder.

He picked up 16-year-old Christine Browne at a local pinball parlour and took her to a mountain road near Hedley, between Penticton and Keremeos. There, according to a confession he gave to undercover police years later, he bashed her head in with a rock after raping her twice.

But that was not the end of his cross-country reign of terror.

Within days of the Hedley murder, Arnold fled to a tiny Newfoundland fishing community where his sister Tracy had moved with a new husband after losing her first four children to child protection workers.

Unable to control his voracious appetite for sex, Arnold raped two girls aged 10 and 12, and forced a 14-year-old to perform oral sex, all of them in separate incidents.

He was convicted of the Newfoundland sex crimes and sent to jail to serve a five-year, four-month term.

The National Parole Board was so worried about his ``pattern of sexually assaulting young children'' following the Newfoundland convictions that they refused to grant him early release, again, and again.

As he bided his time, waiting for his next chance at freedom, Kelowna police were setting the stage to uncover Arnold's 20-year swath of violent crimes. The destructive whirlwind of Arnold's life was about to come to an abrupt end.

It would take a fluke audit of some paperwork, a young officer's diligence about following orders, and a seasoned Mountie's refusal to shelve a nearly impossible case to bring Arnold down as a murderer.

In the end, Arnold's own favourite saying would prove prophetic: If you mess with the best, you die like the rest.

In Tomorrow's Herald: How investigators cracked the first murder case against Terry Arnold

One more unsolved mystery: Police and family search for a B.C. woman who disappeared from a campground 13 years ago. Terry Arnold was living down the road
Calgary Herald
Saturday, March 3, 2001
Page: OS04
Section: Observer
Byline: Suzanne Wilton and Jeff Lee
Dateline: CHILLIWACK, B.C.
Source: The Calgary Herald; The Vancouver Sun
Series: In a Predator's Wake

As time goes on, it becomes more difficult for police in Chilliwack, B.C., to solve the strange disappearance of Roberta Ferguson.

They admit convicted murderer Terry Samuel Arnold is a suspect in her vanishing from a Cultus Lake, B.C., campground 13 years ago, only a few hundred metres from where he was living after having just gotten out of jail for sexually assaulting a Chilliwack child that spring.

They also say he was known to drive a red hatchback car similar to the description of a car Ferguson was seen getting into when she disappeared that warm August night in 1988.

And they acknowledge she loosely fits the profile of other young women who have fallen victim to Arnold; young, pretty, sometimes aboriginal, sometimes hitchhikers, often with emotional baggage, and always naively trusting.

But the age of the case, the fact no body has been identified, the pressing caseload of current crimes and Arnold's statement to undercover police in another murder investigation that he's not responsible for other deaths, have made it tough to devote the resources needed to solve this enduring mystery. Arnold has told the National Parole Board he's responsible for sexual assaults for which he wasn't caught, but he protests his innocence when it comes to any murder.

``It is correct to say that Terry Arnold is one of a number of suspects we've got into this case,'' said Staff Sgt. Brent Bloxham, head of Chilliwack RCMP's general investigation section. ``Because of his past history and what he's been convicted of, he's definitely a person we're interested in.''

Bloxham won't talk much about the case, except to say it wasn't until 1994, when Arnold became a suspect in the murder of 16-year-old girl Christine Browne, that Arnold came up on the radar of the Chilliwack investigators.

For his part, Arnold denied in a series of jailhouse interviews he was involved in her disappearance, and says there's not even a body to prove Ferguson is dead.

In the minds of the investigators who occasionally review the file, and of Ferguson's sister Verl, there is no doubt that she's dead. No one, certainly not a 19-year-old Alberta Cree woman with strong family ties, a loving boyfriend and virtually no problems at home, could stay missing that long and still be alive.

But what exactly happened on Aug. 24, 1988, after her friends saw her talking on a pay phone at the Sunnyside Campground is unclear.

- - -

Ferguson, yearning to see her boyfriend Tom Beneteau, wanted to go home to Surrey (a Vancouver suburb) a day early from a three-day outing with friends celebrating the end of an aboriginal summer work program. But no one was willing to leave early, so, uncharacteristically, she left the group and headed for the Columbia Valley Highway. Whether or not she was heading home is not known. The last friends to hear her voice were Beneteau's parents, to whom she was talking when her camp mates saw her at the campground's roadside phone.

In the days after Roberta vanished, Verl, her siblings and Beneteau scoured the woods and abandoned logging trails that dot the mountains bordering Cultus Lake. They refused to believe she had run away, noting her disappearance was far outside her normal behaviour.

Police eventually received a tip that a girl matching her description was seen getting into a red sports-type car at the corner of Vedder Mountain Road and Columbia Valley Highway the night she disappeared.

Over the years, the tips trailed off, despite the use of the CrimeStoppers program, and eventually only the family was left to hunt for her body.

They papered the area with posters. They hired psychics. They brought in spiritual advisers from several native groups. All for naught.

The disappearance had the unintended consequence of reuniting the family with its strong spiritual native culture.

``No, I don't hope anymore, I do believe she is gone,'' Verl said in an interview as she wafted a pungent smoking California sage leaf in an attempt to cleanse her emotions. ``But I do believe her spirit is back.''

Verl, the eldest of nine children, took over guardianship after their mother died of lupus in 1983. Verl said her youngest sister never really got over the death of Roberta. At one point just before Roberta went missing, the young sister told of a dream in which she looked into the ``Book of Life.''

``She had a dream she had seen the Akasic Records, and she was looking for her name. She said `Verl, those are real names in that book,' and I started crying. It was a powerful vision.''

Verl thinks that vision was a portent of things to come. But she doesn't really know.

- - -

What police do know is that on the day Ferguson went missing, Arnold was living in a run-down trailer at the Sleepy Hollow Trailer Court, 600 metres from the phone.

He'd just moved in. On Aug. 6, only three weeks before, he'd been released from the Lower Mainland Correctional Centre after finishing a three-month sentence for sexually assaulting a Chilliwack girl in May. A second charge of sexual assaulting her sister was stayed.

The two girls had met Arnold a day after he had arrived from Kamloops on a motorcycle and moved into a riverside campground. The assaults took place in their home and involved fondling. It was Arnold's first significant conviction for sexual assault.

At the time of sentencing, he told Judge D.C. Reed he had a tentative job at a Cultus Lake riding stable. The judge jailed him instead. Reed's notes in the file indicate that at the time there were warrants out for Arnold's arrest in Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec and Ontario for a variety of property offences and assault.

But because those warrants were not enforceable in British Columbia, Arnold was released from custody after serving his sentence for the Chilliwack sexual assault. Within days, Arnold moved back to Cultus Lake, where he responded to an advertisement in a local paper for a boarder. The ad had been placed by Irene Thibert, a 61-year-old woman with mental problems who went under the name Irene Fawcett at the time. She still lives in the same white trailer with blue trim that she offered to Arnold.

Curled up under a blanket on her soiled couch inside a cluttered home that stinks of dog urine, Thibert told a reporter a wild tale about how Arnold stole her car and killed someone.

But she says Arnold also murdered her daughter, a statement not borne out by facts. (The girl was run over by a truck in what was classified by the coroner as an accident.)

Hidden in the distortions of what happened, though, are snippets of truth about Arnold's activities.

Thibert's brother, Robert Sharpe, who lives in a tidy trailer directly behind his sister's, said Arnold sometimes drove Thibert's red hatchback. He also said he had a healthy distrust for Arnold, who he thought was on some kind of medical disability because he incessantly popped pills.

``The guy creeped me out,'' said Sharpe. ``The guy tried too hard to be my friend and that scared me.''

Sharpe said he tried to convince his sister not to rent to Arnold, but she would hear none of it. He didn't know whether Arnold had a job, but Thibert's sister, who also lives in the trailer court, said he claimed he was a professional landscaper.

Sharpe said police came looking for the hatchback a few years ago, telling him they wanted to search it for DNA, but by then it had been irretrievably scrapped.

- - -

Arnold, who conducted extensive jailhouse interviews with reporters from the Calgary Herald and Vancouver Sun, was coy about his knowledge of Ferguson. He said undercover operators tried to suggest he was involved in her case, but he would have none of it.

``When they were doing the RCMP sting -- it's interesting now because I had forgotten all about it -- the day before they arrested me, that night I was at a hotel room,'' Arnold explained. ``These two undercovers came in and said: `By the way, we got some information that you're involved with somebody named Ferguson.' I said no, c'mon guys, if I knew anything else I would tell ya.''

That was the first, and last time police mentioned the case to him, he said.

``They keep throwing my name toward it like I'm the one,'' he said.

Arnold said it's only coincidence that he lived so close to where she went missing. And he said there's no proof she's dead. For all they know, she could happily be living on an Indian reservation in the U.S., he said.

``From people I've talked to, this Ferguson person was last seen getting into somebody's car, willingly, and she hasn't been seen since,'' he said. ``To classify that (as a murder) is really a stretch of the imagination. They have never found her -- to go as far as to say they've never found her body is presumptuous. There's no proof she's dead.''

Arnold did not say who these people were he talked to, and police only linked him publicly as a suspect in the Ferguson case in June 2000.

In the months after Ferguson disappeared from Cultus Lake, so too did Arnold; he moved into another woman's trailer near Rosedale, B.C., further up the Fraser Valley. In December 1988, he was charged with sexually assaulting another young girl he picked up near Chilliwack in another red car and took to his home.

He was acquitted after the judge ruled he did not know who to believe -- a 16-year-old runaway with deep emotional problems or Arnold. The judge did not know about Arnold's prior convictions. The girl subsequently received compensation as a victim of crime.

For Verl Ferguson, her sister's disappearance has left her father and seven siblings restless and unsatisfied.

- - -

A faint glimmer of hope in the discovery years ago of a portion of a skull found in a riverbed near Mission, B.C., was recently dashed.

Police and forensic investigators originally concluded the skull -- neatly sawn in half from crown to mouth -- was that of an East Indian male. But a review showed it actually came from an aboriginal woman about Ferguson's age.

When anthropologists reconstructed what she might have looked like, the similarities to Roberta were so striking that Verl's son, Clayton, was stunned.

``He said mom, that's Roberta!'' Verl recalled.

After she called to report the similarities, police came in December and took DNA samples from her and her sister Carol. However, the family suffered another letdown Monday when police called with the news that the DNA was not a match.

``It was up in the air, we never knew whether it was her or not,'' said Staff Sgt. Bloxham, who didn't consider the new development a setback. ``We learn to wait for these kinds of results. We're still faced with the fact that we don't have her remains and that always makes it difficult.''

The waiting continues. The ears of the remaining family members are always tuned to the radio or television for her name. Verl, the last family member living in B.C., has resisted returning to the ancestral home in Beaver, Alta., out of a sense of duty to Roberta.

``I cannot leave until we find her body. It is so unfinished. It is so unresolved.''

Legacy of a sexual deviant: Two victims of Terry Arnold describe a lifetime of depression, substance abuse and emotional turmoil
Calgary Herald
Saturday, March 3, 2001
Page: OS03
Section: Observer
Byline: Suzanne Wilton and Jeff Lee
Dateline: CHILLIWACK, B.C.
Source: The Calgary Herald; The Vancouver Sun
Series: In a Predator's Wake

Ann Smith and Marina Jones have never met. One lives in Alberta, the other in B.C. Yet they share a common, if unwanted bond for having suffered the sexual attentions of Terry Samuel Arnold, a serial rapist and convicted murderer under investigation for at least two other murders.

Both Smith and Jones -- whose real names are protected by court order -- survived their attacks, but had their complaints of rape by Arnold dismissed by the courts.

In Smith's case, which a Chilliwack, B.C., judge called a ``sordid little drama,'' the then-teenager's allegations of nearly being killed in the course of two sex assaults was dismissed because he didn't know who to believe: a 16-year-old runaway with home problems, or a 26-year-old drifter he said had ``the morals of an alley cat.''

In Jones' case, her complaint as an adult of having been raped and sodomized by Arnold in Calgary when she was nine years old was considered unreliable in part because she ended up in a psychiatric institution.

There is no doubt in the minds of investigators that the two women were assaulted by Arnold. In Smith's case, she eventually won a small criminal injury compensation award from the province, along with a letter stating there was no doubt she had been sexually assaulted.

In Jones' case, the details revealed to Calgary police investigating him for the murder of Denise Lapierre, 17, whose battered body was dumped behind their home, jived with everything they knew about Arnold's predilections for young girls.

For both women, their encounters with Arnold and the court system have left them deeply bitter. Both do not trust the courts any more and continue to harbour hatred for men. Both have battled bouts of depression or attempts at suicide. And both have never overcome their feelings of personal inadequacy and lack of self-esteem.

Those were the very traits that allowed Arnold to target the girls.

Court transcripts and interviews with the victims show the assaults took place less than 18 months apart in 1987 and 1988 in Calgary and Chilliwack.

On a recent first trip back to the deserted mountain road where Arnold nearly killed her, Smith shuddered at an innocuous billboard message near the site that said Prepare to Meet God.

For some, it's just a religious message. But for Smith, it is reminder of how close she came to meeting her maker.

``After he was done, he put his arm around my neck,'' she said. ``He told me I wasn't coming down off the mountain that day.''

Smith, whose birth parents are aboriginal but who was adopted when she was seven, met Arnold at a friend's home on Dec. 6, 1988, a day before the attack. Unhappy with her well-to-do but strict adoptive parents, Smith had run away several months before.

She was introduced to Arnold through her friend's uncle when he brought him to their house.

Arnold offered to drive Smith to school the next day, during which he questioned her closely about why she had run away. He offered to help find her a place to live and said he knew of a teacher who lived off a mountain road 13 kilometres east of Chilliwack who was looking for a tenant.

Smith knew most of the teachers in the small town and none lived atop the mountain on Nixon Road, but she ignored the nagging feeling something was wrong.

The next morning Arnold picked her up in a red Volkswagen Bug police later said belonged to his then-girlfriend Faye Nelson. But instead of taking her to the mountain road, Arnold told Smith he wanted to stop for something to eat at the one-room trailer where he was living.

Smith acquiesced, a decision she has always regretted.

``I was really hesitant when I opened the door because it was really narrow and nowhere to go,'' she remembers. Inside the tiny holiday-type trailer was a kitchen table with a television on top within arm's reach of the bed. A pornographic video was playing on the TV and a shotgun lay on the table, like an unspoken threat.

``It was a video of a woman being raped,'' Smith said softly as she twisted a tea bag wrapper to bits during an interview at a Chilliwack restaurant. ``He told me to sit on the bed.''

Arnold carried on a pretext of making breakfast for only a few minutes before he suddenly attacked, pushing her back on the bed, she said.

It did not seem to matter to Arnold that the girl was in the middle of her menstruation cycle.

``I started to scream and he said if I continued I would get hurt. I remember he was trying to kiss me. He put his hand on my neck when I started to scream.''

Smith said she stopped struggling, and when he was done, Arnold told the girl he would take her wherever she wanted.

She asked to be dropped off at the local mall. Instead, he turned the Volkswagen in the opposite direction and headed up the mountain road. That trek to a remote mountainside would have fatal consequences for another teenage girl three years later. Arnold was convicted of killing Christine Browne, also from B.C., in a case that bears a striking resemblance to what Smith said happened to her.

Smith's fear grew as the car worked its way up the gravel road, and eventually they passed the last house. Arnold told the girl to get out of the car and he walked her up a footpath into the dense bush; the forest floor carpeted with leaves and moss. There, under the drizzling rain, he raped her again.

When he was done, he put his arm around her neck in a chokehold, and started to squeeze.

- - -

The girl begged and pleaded to be let go and promised she would not go to the police.

``I had to make him think I was his friend.'' It worked, and he eventually let go of her neck.

After Arnold walked her back down the hill to the car, he gave her a large hunting knife.

``He handed it to me and said, `this is for you, for protection against assholes like me.'''

That knife would prove central to an interview Arnold later had with RCMP Const. Bruce Hulan, to whom the case fell when Smith reported the rapes to police.

Throughout the interview, Arnold appeared to control what was said, according to the transcripts. At first he admitted he may have had sex with Smith. But then he denied it outright, and as the interview went on, his story twisted and changed. He probed Hulan, trying to find out what Smith told police, at every turn crafting an explanation. He elicited more information out of Hulan than Hulan was able to get out of him.

At one point, Arnold asked Hulan if he was married, and then, without prompting, brought up the knife.

``She's a pretty girl,'' Arnold said, according to the transcripts. ``Girls like that need protecting. Did she give you a knife by chance or show you a knife, a black knife with a big case?''

There was evidence of physical violence; a torn bra and some scratches on her body. A doctor who examined Smith also found bits of dirt and wood in her private parts. Hulan asked Arnold how that got there if she wasn't assaulted. ``Maybe she's kinky,'' Arnold replied.

When the case went to provincial court in March 1989, Judge William Selbie -- who has recently retired from the B.C. Supreme Court -- said he didn't know who to believe. Even though there was evidence of the broken bra and Arnold's behaviour indicated he had ``the morals of an alley cat,'' Selbie said it was a case of he-said, she-said, and he wasn't about to take the word of a 16-year-old runaway.

``I do not know who is telling the truth here and when I am in that situation, I must give the benefit of the doubt to you,'' he told Arnold. ``But in finding you not guilty, I want you to be assured that that does not mean I believe you or that I disbelieve her.''

Crown prosecutor Jack Gibson said in a recent interview he doesn't remember the case, but wasn't surprised at the findings. ``Back then, that often was the way these kinds of cases went, where we had allegations we couldn't independently corroborate.''

For his part, Arnold denied in jailhouse interviews he'd done any of those things, and threatened to sue if any reference was made to the Chilliwack case.

``I was acquitted of that,'' said Arnold, who years later was convicted of sexual assault on three young Newfoundland girls. During parole hearings held while he was serving time for that offence, Arnold admitted he had committed sexual assaults for which he was never caught.

The years since have not been kind to Smith. She received a $4,800 settlement from the province's criminal injury compensation program after an RCMP officer in Kelowna, who discovered her case while investigating Arnold for the murder of Browne, wrote a supporting letter. Yet she remains terribly bitter at the courts.

``I wish it could have been redone because I feel like I was treated like dirt. I try not to think about it, but I do. I wish I understood why the court is so lenient on these people.''

She tried to get counselling, but never finished the sessions.

``I thought I was fine. I'm not, and I suppose I should go and get the counselling I need. I'm not over this. I'm just starting to deal with this.''

Recently separated, Smith spends most nights at home with her two children and adoptive family.

But she's always looking over her shoulder and shudders when she sees anyone resembling Arnold.

``I'm not really good at knowing my feelings,'' she said. ``I think it's really made me despise men. I guess I'm still trying to fight my demons.''

- - -

Demons too regularly call upon Jones, who has never recovered from the deep abuse she said she suffered from Arnold when he lived with her mother in Calgary in 1987.

Now 21, Jones has travelled a personal road of hell in those intervening years, stripping for men, flirting with suicide and depression and drinking so heavily that she passed on to her own child the fetal alcohol syndrome from which she herself suffers.

In 1997, she briefly hoped to begin a new life by telling police about Arnold's predation. They had come calling upon her four years ago looking for evidence in their investigation into the murder of Lapierre.

By that time, Arnold was already behind bars awaiting trial for Christine Browne's murder near Penticton, and he was now the focus of separate homicide investigations in Calgary and Winnipeg.

Jones could not offer anything about the death of Lapierre, whose nude and battered body was found just metres from the back door of the 21st Ave. N.E. rented bungalow she and her mother shared with Arnold.

Instead, she offered another story of sexual abuse, one with familiar connotations for those who encountered Arnold over the years. She told how, when she was nine years old, he repeatedly raped, fondled and sodomized her, often in her basement bedroom.

Calgary police charged Arnold with three counts, including one of buggery, on the Grade 3 student. But the buggery count was dropped after a preliminary trial in 1998, and a year later a second count of sexual assault was stayed. In 1999, the case was shelved when the last count was stayed.

Although stayed charges can be resurrected, they usually are not unless other compelling evidence is found.

According to transcripts of the preliminary trial, Jones said the abuse started with spankings that left red welts on her bottom and progressed to sexual intercourse. Her mother testified to witnessing welts, and to finding a note that said ``Daddy rapped (sic) me.''

``I lost my virginity to him,'' Jones said in her testimony, graphically describing the sex acts she said she was forced to perform.

``There was a lot of fondling . . . he was so cruel with the needs of his sexual life,'' she told the court.

Jones' mother told the court she once caught Arnold and her daughter naked in the tub, but didn't make much of it because as a child she too had bathed with her father, although she had been much younger.

Three months after they moved in with Arnold, mother and daughter both came down with a yeast infection. A short time later, Arnold came down with the same problem.

Strikingly, like the case of Smith, a shotgun played into this tale of abuse as well. Jones told the court he kept a shotgun in the house and threatened to use it on her and her mother if she told anyone what was going on.

The relationship between the two adults ended in February 1988 when Arnold left Jones and her mother stranded at a women's shelter in Vancouver without any money or identification.

Shortly thereafter he moved to Kamloops and then to Chilliwack, where he was immediately arrested for sexually assaulting a young girl.

The abandoned case has worn heavily on Jones, now 22 and with a three-year-old girl.

``The prosecutor and the cops did me wrong. Their main focus was the murder investigation. They used me as a stepping stone. I had dealt with it and closed it. When the cops promised me justice and failed, it hurt.''

In subsequent years, Jones flirted with trouble and ended up in a series of foster homes. She tried to kill herself several times, and by the age of 16 had dropped out of school and was criss-crossing Canada on the stripper circuit.

At 18 she became pregnant by a man she met through telepersonal ads, and left him after he wouldn't stop sniffing glue in a backyard shed. Her daughter was born with FAS.

Today, she's a single mother reliant on the same government system she said failed to bring Arnold to justice. A trustee handles her money and an in-home worker helps her care for her daughter.

Arnold, she said, ripped her life to shreds. ``I teach my daughter that all men are monsters. I survived the nightmares but everybody got their justice but me.''

Caught!: How investigators uncovered key evidence, then got Terry Arnold to admit to murder
Calgary Herald
Saturday, March 3, 2001
Page: OS01 / FRONT
Section: Observer
Byline: Suzanne Wilton and Jeff Lee
Dateline: KEREMEOS, B.C.
Source: The Calgary Herald; The Vancouver Sun
Series: In a Predator's Wake

Calgary Herald reporter Suzanne Wilton and Vancouver Sun reporter Jeff Lee used court records and interviews with dozens of witnesses and victims to build a picture of the turbulent life of Terry Arnold. A former Calgarian who's been convicted of rape and murder, Arnold is now a suspect in a wider range of criminal activities across Canada.

- - -

Terry Samuel Arnold liked to tell people that ``if you mess with the best, you die like the rest.''

It was a saying Arnold, a writer, used with friends and victims alike. It would become prophetic for a man who also liked to tease readers here with brain-twister murder mysteries he wrote for a local newspaper.

Few knew about Arnold's much darker side, but years later he became the main character in a murder mystery of his own. And the story's ending would be more chilling than any Arnold ever wrote.

It would take a fluke audit of some paperwork, a young officer's diligence about following orders and a seasoned Mountie's refusal to shelve a nearly impossible case to bring Arnold down as a murderer.

Were it not for a nameless RCMP auditor in Kimberley, B.C., in 1994 who insisted a ``wanted'' file on 16-year-old Christine Browne be re-entered in a police database as a ``missing person,'' Const. Arch Doody might have had to wait another three years to identify the remains of her body found dumped beside a mountain road near Hedley, B.C.

And were it not for rookie Const. Dean Hamm's newly learned response to always copy names down in his notebook when investigating even the most benign event, he might never have noted Browne being in the company of Arnold on virtually the last day she was seen alive.

But those two events did happen, and in such a way that Doody was able to crack a case that led not only to the conviction of Arnold for first-degree murder, but also provided information to police stumped on two other murders and the disappearance of another girl.

- - -

Keremeos was almost the last stop on Arnold's 20-year cross-country rampage that left victims scattered from British Columbia to Newfoundland and from Calgary to Florida. Most of them suffered petty crimes and assaults. But others had more grievous things done to them.

Arnold blew into Keremeos in the fall of 1989. Two years later, when Arnold jumped into his old green Mazda, abandoned Keremeos and slipped quietly into the U.S., he left many things behind. Arnold left a town divided over just who he was -- saint or devil -- and it is possible 10 years later to find people on both sides who have things to say about him.

For some members of the local Seventh-day Adventist Church, he was a delight they still miss.

``We were impressed with his sincerity -- he was so honest,'' said 70-year-old Rose Mutch, who, like the other faithful, never knew about Arnold's troubled past.

He was so well liked that he was once asked to give an inspirational talk to the congregation on the topic of gossip.

``It was about looking at people for who they are -- not for what other people say they are,'' added Mutch. ``It was so inspirational.''

Betz Rahme, a local writer who found herself being usurped by Arnold as he overtook space in The Local Telegraph to flog heavily plagiarized mysteries -- many of them featuring a detective modelled after himself -- remembers him with less fondness.

``I don't have anything good to say about him, so I guess I don't have anything to say about him at all,'' Rahme said in a home cluttered with the trappings of decades of writing. ``He wasn't someone I ever trusted, and he was pushy, pushy, pushy.''

On and off for two years, Arnold tried to settle in this orchard-surrounded town. At first he picked fruit, but later wrote his column for the paper.

Arnold also took up relations with at least two deeply religious women, one of them Judy Mathes. Mathes, who now works as a clown and lives in nearby Olalla, remembers Arnold with some fondness, but also recalls he stiffed her for a big credit card bill.

The couple lived together for two brief periods of time, the last ending just before he fled in June 1991, when Mathes booted him out because he was becoming volatile and aggressive, and one of her sons was having a conflict with him. Already a mother of two, Mathes bore Arnold a son he has never seen since.

Arnold also had affections for a woman he met through the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

That woman, who doesn't want to talk about her time with Arnold, was allegedly confined for four days and repeatedly raped by him. She complained to police but told them she didn't want to press charges because she believed God would punish Terry Samuel Arnold in a way no one else could.

Arnold escaped Keremeos and headed for Newfoundland, armed with the proceeds of his last welfare cheque and a cellphone he'd stolen at the local rodeo.

En route, he stopped long enough to call his last girlfriend in Keremeos, the alleged rape victim, to tell her he was going to California where he would ``take care'' of her sister before coming back to Keremeos to finish her off.

It was in nearby Penticton just days before he left for Atlantic Canada where a pretty, young brunette named Christine Browne had the tragic misfortune to cross Arnold's path.

- - -

The 16-year-old Browne had arrived in the Okanagan after quitting work with a travelling carnival, West Coast Amusements. She was presumably headed back to her home in Kimberley but never made it.

Browne met Arnold on June 6, 1991, at the Joysticks Arcade, a Main Street games room in Penticton.

Their brief time together didn't go completely unnoticed. Const. Dean Hamm was called to the arcade that night to investigate an assault and window-breaking incident near the arcade.

Years later, during the murder investigation, Hamm underwent hypnosis to recall why he questioned the two, but his notebook clearly showed the two of them were together when he wrote down their names and addresses.

His diligence had sweeping ramifications. Unwittingly, Const. Hamm -- now a corporal posted in Calgary -- had noted Browne being in the company of Arnold on the last day she was seen alive.

In October, 1992, more than a year after Browne disappeared, four hunters stumbled upon the remains of a partially clad body off Lower Nickel Plate Road near Hedley, just a ways down the Crowsnest Highway from Keremeos.

Covering the body's torso was a T-shirt with a chilling message: ``Mess with the best, die like the rest.''

- - -

Const. Doody, now 46, remembers how tough it was to determine the identity of the body. There were no missing person reports fitting the description, and without such, there was little to go on other than the shirt and a few other items. The dental records -- including a unique filling shaped like a map of the United States -- and reconstruction of the face by an artist showing a young caucasian girl were of no immediate help. Even appeals through the media did not help.

Police knew foul play brought this girl to her death somewhere near this lonely road; her head had been bashed in with a blunt object.

``We were pretty stumped,'' said Doody, a Newfoundlander whose East Coast brogue is still strong after nearly 20 years in the West. ``We would work on this case, and not get very far. Eventually, it went down to just one person, myself, checking leads when I could.''

But someone had indeed reported Browne missing. Her parents in Kimberley had complained to police in 1991 that she left them with an unpaid bill. The information was entered into a computer as a ``person wanted'' case, a distinction that would keep her identity hidden for nearly three years simply because Browne wasn't considered missing, she just was wanted. As such, Doody was never alerted to her during regular check-backs in the computer for missing girls fitting his body's description.

``When an auditor in Kimberley said well, maybe you better enter this wanted name in as a missing person, that's when we got a call that we might have a match,'' Doody recalled.

When Doody held up Browne's dental records and compared them with the set done post-mortem on the mystery body, he was stunned.

``You didn't need a forensic examiner to know we had the right person,'' he said. ``That filling was so distinctive you could see the similarities a mile away.''

Now police had a name, but they still didn't know how she ended up in Hedley. They found she was last seen in Penticton on June 6, 1991 -- she'd left some belongings with a friend when she quit West Coast Amusements. But she didn't show up on any databases in the Penticton area, even for vagrancy.

In a moment of frustration, Doody asked all the beat cops to check their notebooks for any reference to her name, even entries they hadn't computerized.

He got a call a few days later from Hamm, who discovered his chance note of Browne and Arnold's names scribbled down during that broken-window incident.

A link had been made.

- - -

When Doody ran Arnold's name through the Canadian Police Information Computer, he discovered his man was sitting in Dorchester Penitentiary for the sexual assaults of three Newfoundland girls. The assaults had taken place only days after Arnold had left Keremeos in June, the same month he was seen with Browne.

The case had now come nearly full circle back to Arnold. But much remained to prove he was indeed her killer. In a prison interview, Arnold told Doody he didn't know the girl.

Doody discovered police in Newfoundland had recovered forensic evidence from Arnold's car for their own investigation, including a cell phone, a brassiere, semen, blood and hair. But the human bits were all destroyed after the sex assaults trial.

Believing it might still hold evidence that Browne had been with Arnold, Doody then tracked down the old car in a Newfoundland scrap yard. By then it had been stripped of its motor and repainted and was sitting under another car. Efforts to recover any DNA failed.

But when Doody interviewed the three young Newfoundland victims, he discovered a bombshell. Each one independently recounted how Arnold would tell them his favourite saying:

``Mess with the best, die like the rest.''

Armed with this chilling new information and other material, Doody prepared an undercover sting for when Arnold would be mandatorily released from Dorchester in 1997.

From the moment Arnold was out, police had him under surveillance 24 hours a day. He moved into a Moncton house with a young Seventh-day Adventist mother who worked as a volunteer prison counsellor at Dorchester.

Using a scenario that involved a fictitious biker gang, undercover officers enlisted Arnold's help on various errands and then told him he needed to clean up unsolved crimes if he were to gain full status in the gang. The ruse worked so well that Arnold, in a taped confession, told the fake bikers he'd killed Browne by hitting her in the head with a rock after he'd had sex twice. He then took two ``bikers'' back to Hedley where he showed them the rough spot where he dumped her body and threw her shoes in the bush.

Police later went back to the spot and found a shoe matching the kind Browne wore.

Doody arrested Arnold and charged him with the murder. The fact that the murder occurred in the commission of another crime -- the sex acts -- led to the first-degree charge.

There is another variation on how Browne came to be killed. One was that another terrible man, Robin Douglas, who would be jailed several years later for sexually assaulting two babysitters near Calgary, was present during the killing. He was an occasional companion of Arnold's and another writer at The Local Telegraph.

Arnold testified Douglas killed Browne, but said he admitted to the killing because he was scared of the bikers and didn't want them to think he would ``rat'' on another person.

But it's a statement that isn't consistent with his past behaviour. He told reporters recently that he had offered to give Winnipeg police information about Thomas Sophonow, who was then suspected in the 1981 murder of Barbara Stoppel. After nearly 20 years of protesting his innocence, Sophonow was exonerated of the crime in 1999 and Arnold has now become the prime suspect in that murder as well.

Arnold's trial for killing Browne was fraught with problems. There was a lengthy voir dire or trial within a trial, to determine whether the jury should hear some evidence. Kevin McCullough, Arnold's defence lawyer from Victoria, filed an application for mistrial after the Crown failed to disclose three late statements,

The Crown's lawyers, Martin Nadon and David Ruse, agreed there should be a mistrial. But Judge Stewart disagreed, saying the potential harm to Arnold was ``not great.''

After three days of deliberation, the jury returned a guilty verdict and McCullough immediately said he would appeal on the grounds a mistrial should have been declared.

On the advice of defence lawyer McCullough and Richard Peck, who is handling the Crown's case on Arnold's appeal of his conviction, Judge Allan Stewart refused to allow access to the trial records for reporters preparing this story. Peck and McCullough argued such access might interfere with the appeal, even though the material had been disclosed in open court during the first trial.

The Crown also blocked attempts by the media to pay for trial transcripts.

- - -

Doody, who now works as a daytime bartender at The Pier Pub in Kelowna, said it was a highlight of his career to arrest Arnold and charge him with the murder.

``I once said that I would retire after we got Terry for this murder. We got him on his own confession and I did retire,'' said Doody.

``It took seven years from the time Christine was killed, but in the end we were able to put a name to the body and find her killer. It was a wonderful feeling.''

Doody says he doesn't really miss his job as a homicide investigator. After 27 years in the service, he wanted a less-stressful job and plans to open a bar of his own.

``The only stress I have now is making sure enough lemons are cut for the night shift,'' he said. ``I don't really miss the work. I am just glad I got to end it this way with Arnold's conviction. It doesn't really matter if he appeals it. He was convicted, and I know, and now the world knows, what he did.''

Face to face with a killer: From his prison cell, Terry Arnold talks about his image, psychopathic tendencies and belief that police persecute him
Calgary Herald
Saturday, March 3, 2001
Page: A1 / FRONT
Section: News
Byline: Suzanne Wilton, Jeff Lee
Dateline: WILLIAM HEAD INSTITUTION, Vancouver Island
Source: Calgary Herald; Vancouver Sun
Series: In a Predator's Wake

Do you bite? It seems like a reasonable question to ask convicted killer Terry Samuel Arnold, considering he once took a chunk out of another man's face during a fight.

To Arnold, it's funny and he lets out a belly laugh.

``I don't bite people,'' he says between giggles, his piercing blue eyes never breaking their gaze.

Actually, he does. And when reminded of his conviction for such an incident, he suddenly recovers some of the memory he says he lost to diabetes-induced amnesia. He now ``vaguely'' remembers the incident but ``doesn't make a habit of biting people.''

Yet at other times, his memory is like a steel trap. He remembers what time he went to bed 14 years ago when a Calgary teen's body was found in the alley behind his home. That's an important point for him because it's part of his alibi and one of the ones he wants to talk about during a face-to-face interview at this oceanside medium security prison near Victoria. He's here serving 25 years to life for the murder of a B.C. girl.

This is the culmination of dozens of telephone interviews done over the last year, conversations Arnold wanted kept from his own lawyer. He knows he should keep quiet, but can't help himself and likes to call and talk.

His main goal, it seems, is to try and make sure any story written about him reflects the good things -- such as his claim he didn't kill Christine Browne, the B.C. girl.

The conversations reveal a man obsessed with himself and his image. Charming, chilling, persuasive and pathological -- Arnold is all of those things.

The convicted killer himself admits he has psychopathic tendencies. ``I rated right up there,'' he boasts of the test scores calculated by psychologists at New Brunswick's Dorchester Penitentiary where he spent more than five years for sex attacks on three young girls.

Woven into most of his stories are elements of truth. But unlike Pinocchio, the children's character who incongruously comes to mind, it's almost impossible to tell the difference between fact and fantasy.

- - -

His ex-wife, Eileen Ramsey, can attest to that. If Arnold told her the sky was blue, she said she would go outside and look.

When confronted with indisputable facts about everything from his long list of criminal convictions to the reasons he's being investigated by police for at least two more murders, Arnold has an explanation. He seems to have an explanation for everything.

He steers conversations with the precision of a professional race car driver, keeping himself on track whenever the facts of his troubled life threaten to become obstacles. When he wants to change lanes, he veers off toward unrelated anecdotes about his life.

How does he explain having known or lived near three girls who ended up dead, and another who vanished?

``People die all over the place. Coincidences do happen.''

Coincidences, it seems, have a way of happening to Arnold.

In Winnipeg, he lived across from the store where Barbara Stoppel was attacked. In Calgary, Denise Lapierre's body was found 50 paces from his backyard. Roberta Ferguson, who has never been found, disappeared from a Chilliwack campground just down the road from his trailer.

Like a chameleon, Arnold's image now is nothing like the photo previously released in Calgary. There are many different images in police files.

Today, he has short, brown hair peppered with grey, and wears a scruffy beard to cover acne scars. He's heavier than usual, he says, and his large belly hangs over his prison jeans. There's not much room for exercise in the tiny segregation cell where he has been confined 23 hours a day for more than a year.

He appears less menacing in person that he does in a police mug shot, although he has a penetrating, unwavering stare which breaks only with the occasional, oddly timed giggle -- usually when a question hits too close to home.

He stands about five-foot-11. He has an average build but his hands are big. He's quick to show off the stubby tops of three fingers of his right hand, which he claims were amputated by someone from his past, although his explanations of how it was done vary from fan, air compressor back to fan belt. He downplays the tattoos on the fingers of his left hand, which have the letters E,S,U,K etched on the tops with India ink. He never finished carving the letters on fingers of his other hand, which when laced together would have been an invitation for sex.

- - -

Just about the only thing that has remained constant over time are his claims of innocence -- on nearly every aspect of his criminal life, including his murder conviction.

``Justice will prevail,'' says Arnold, who's convinced his conviction in the Browne murder will be overturned on appeal.

This final meeting is, in part, to confront Arnold about the inconsistencies in his stories. But his ability to manipulate conversations makes it difficult to get straight answers.

When faced with his own contradictions Arnold switches tracks yet again and glibly explains them away.

In the Winnipeg murder, Arnold says he was approached by police to help them put away Thomas Sophonow, who was later wrongly convicted for the crime.

Arnold says investigators wanted him to testify against Sophonow and planned to provide him with information and pay him as an informant. He says they were even going to fix records to show he was in the same jail cell block with the man.

But like many of his other explanations, it doesn't add up.

Arnold first says he was questioned by police only once about the case, after his aunt told police he resembled a composite sketch. He says that occurred soon after Stoppel was attacked but before he tried to visit her in hospital. She lived for six days on life support after the strangling.

It was during that one conversation he says he had with police that they asked him to inform on Sophonow. But Sophonow wasn't arrested for the crime until two months after the incident.

When faced with the impossibility of there being jail cell records to fix when Sophonow wasn't even in custody, Arnold changes his story yet again. He misunderstood the question, he says. It was actually three times they talked to him, he offers, not once as he first said.

Other slips aren't always as obvious.

He raises subjects without being asked, as if he anticipates what's ahead, and then diverts blame away from himself.

For example, before being asked about allegations he abused animals, Arnold pipes up about his love for the many pets he had as a kid, including Pretty Peter, the bird who rode around on his shoulder.

Before there's a chance to ask about allegations he set fire to cats when he was young, Arnold passes it off as a rumour. He offers, instead, another story that he witnessed another boy pour turpentine on a cat and ignite it.

Cats, he says, are his favourite animals and he was never without one, and he is extreme in his efforts to show he is the compassionate animal lover, and not the abuser former family and friends recall.

- - -

When accused of being a bald-faced liar, Arnold becomes defensive and the volume in the interview goes up. A guard supervising the visit briefly allows emotions to escalate before issuing a warning to settle down. Within minutes, Arnold is as affable as ever.

As the interview draws to a close, he's asked to describe himself and his answer is true to his ways.

``I characterize myself as someone who has a heart, who does care, who has done terrible things that I regret very much,'' he says with as much sincerity as he can muster. ``I'm not being specific. . . . That has come full circle.''

When it's explained that the facts aren't in his favour; his criminal life and convictions are impossible to ignore, he shrugs, and nods with understanding as if it's what he expected all along.

As Arnold stands up, he stretches out his hand in a bid goodbye. ``Write if you have any more questions.''

The truth is more elusive today than it was a year ago when our conversations began. He promises to one day tell the whole story -- a vow that invites a shiver.