Drifter's hidden past emerges: Suspect in unsolved Calgary
murder linked to 20-year trail of horrors
information about unsolved murders in Calgary and Winnipeg has emerged from a
six-week newspaper investigation into the man police consider their prime
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
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.
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.
disturbing is that Arnold went on to victimize many women and girls after the
Stoppel strangling, until his crime spree finally ended in 1991.
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.
body turned up in the alley behind Arnold's house.
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.
Arnold is in a Vancouver Island
jail for the slaying of Christine Browne, a 16-year-old runaway from Kimberly,
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.
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.
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.
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.
come at a critical point in the Manitoba judicial inquiry into how police and
prosecutors made errors in their case against Sophonow.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
- - -
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
Arnold saw his father sporadically and the two, according to Arnold, are
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.''
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.
and relatives say the mother and son have a love-hate relationship, with Donna
dominating many aspects of her son's adult life.
describe Arnold as a ``Momma's Boy.'' Her favourite nickname for him was ``Big
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.
- - -
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,''
- - -
The impact of
Arnold's turbulent life widened around 1980, after he was released from youth
prison. That's when the real trouble began.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
became strained when Arnold offered his young wife to another man for sex.
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
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.
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
broke away from Arnold, he became convinced the daughter she later had with
another man was his -- something he still believes to this day.
yours,'' Spakowski told Arnold when he showed up unexpectedly on her Winnipeg
doorstep in 1983.
getting irate and threatened that he was going to get a shotgun and blow mine
and the baby's heads off,'' she recalled.
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,''
now believe victim number one was Barbara Stoppel, who was strangled and left
for dead in the doughnut shop where she worked in 1981.
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
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.
- - -
often appears charming and effusive, a streak of violence runs through many of
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- - -
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.
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.
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
Arnold was never
convicted of the rape.
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
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
three months in jail on the molestation charge, an event he apparently found
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.
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
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
``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.
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.
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
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.
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.''
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.
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
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.
Herald: How investigators cracked the first murder case against Terry
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
As time goes on,
it becomes more difficult for police in Chilliwack, B.C., to solve the strange
disappearance of Roberta Ferguson.
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
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
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.
- - -
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
creeped me out,'' said Sharpe. ``The guy tried too hard to be my friend and that
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.
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.
- - -
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
``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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.''
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
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
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.
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.''
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
introduced to Arnold through her friend's uncle when he brought him to their
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
``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?''
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
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.
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
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.''
separated, Smith spends most nights at home with her two children and adoptive
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.''
- - -
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
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.
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
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.
charges can be resurrected, they usually are not unless other compelling
evidence is found.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
thereafter he moved to Kamloops and then to Chilliwack, where he was immediately
arrested for sexually assaulting a young girl.
case has worn heavily on Jones, now 22 and with a three-year-old girl.
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.''
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.
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
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.
- - -
Arnold liked to tell people that ``if you mess with the best, you die like the
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
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.
- - -
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.
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
``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.
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
- - -
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.
Arnold on June 6, 1991, at the Joysticks Arcade, a Main Street games room in
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
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.
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.
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.
body's torso was a T-shirt with a chilling message: ``Mess with the best, die
like the rest.''
- - -
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
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
When Doody held
up Browne's dental records and compared them with the set done post-mortem on
the mystery body, he was stunned.
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
- - -
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.
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.
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
``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.
went back to the spot and found a shoe matching the kind Browne wore.
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.
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
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,
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.
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
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
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
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.
conversations reveal a man obsessed with himself and his image. Charming,
chilling, persuasive and pathological -- Arnold is all of those things.
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.
- - -
Eileen Ramsey, can attest to that. If Arnold told her the sky was blue, she said
she would go outside and look.
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
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
``People die all
over the place. Coincidences do happen.''
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.
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.
prevail,'' says Arnold, who's convinced his conviction in the Browne murder will
be overturned on appeal.
meeting is, in part, to confront Arnold about the inconsistencies in his
stories. But his ability to manipulate conversations makes it difficult to get
When faced with
his own contradictions Arnold switches tracks yet again and glibly explains them
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.
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.
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
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.
aren't always as obvious.
subjects without being asked, as if he anticipates what's ahead, and then
diverts blame away from himself.
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
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.''
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
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.