Shannon Murrin had been a resident of Edmonton when a little girl had been abducted and murdered in 1992. Murrin was a suspect in that crime and in several other sexual assaults resulting from his stay in Edmonton.
Several people had reported seeing a person who they identified as Shannon Murrin with a suitcase on the night of Mindy Tran's disappearance. This suspicious person was not reported to the public nor witnesses sought until months later after Murin's arrest. This was after over a dozen reports about this person had come from the Tran neighborhood.
The suitcase carrying suspect Murrin should have become the prime suspect and immediate focus
of the RCMP investigation. The driver of
the jeep should have been the focus of a public search as a witness. The
public search for both was immediately silenced and the public investigation
sidetracked into looking for a white van.
It appears that the police were initially claiming that there were several suspects. Murrin was apparently using his associates as his alibi for where he was at the time. Later, two of his associates appear to have not gone along with the alibi story. They claim that Murrin had asked them to provide an alibi for him because of his criminal record. As friends and associates, they did so at first until it became apparent that Murrin was likely the killer and had no other alibi for most of the time period in question.
The RCMP had quickly broadened the vehicle search and investigation away from
Kelowna but this opened up the possibility of the killer being from else where
and therefore, he may be involved in similar crimes else where. This focused the
attention of outside police departments with similar unsolved crimes back on
Kelowna. A police conference was organized to discuss the possibility of a
serial killer operating in Western Canada.
Mindy's body was found only blocks away from her house during
the week that these other police forces were in town. Sgt. Tidsbury at first claimed
psychic helped direct him to where to find Mindy’s body. A search and
rescue member was instructed by Gary Tidsbury where to look in the park and
subsequently found some red flagging material attached to a tree under which Mindy's body was found
10:30 A.M. on Oct/11/95. This demonstrates
that Sgt. Tidsbury had prior knowledge of where to find the body. The RCMP then
attempt to downplay this suspicious event to eliminate the possibility
that the killer himself was the psychic or supplier of this
information. This led to having to come up with another story to avoid
the implications of the "psychic" information having been provided by
the killer. Thus the
"magic divining rod" to explain how the body was found. Tidsbury knew where to find Mindy's body
and the killer would have been able to provide this information. Shannon Murrin was Tidsbury's informant. Some -one not
likely the psychic, had left the red flagging at the location where Sgt.
Tidsbury was directing the searchers to.
Someday this may become an actual tool but it is still years away in the
None of the technically advanced profiling services were ever employed to flesh
out this case. In a wide ranging critique of other cases, well respected geographic
profiler Kim Rossmo notes the unusual circumstances of the Tran investigation.
In his final wrap-up he jokingly states that members of his profession would be out of business if all investigations were conducted like this.
The beating administered to Murrin's face on the night prior
to his arranged arrest removed him from the prospect of eyewitness
identification. Murrin was taken to the crime scene for the beating thus
contaminating the crime scene for any further evidence gathering. The RCMP want
you to believe that the motive for this beating was to get a confession from
Murrin. This beating put in
doubt whether there was any real evidence against Murrin or not. Why would you
attempt to beat a confession from a suspect if you had DNA, eye witnesses, etc.
An attorney associated with this case claimed that it had been previously arranged that after Murrin
was taken in, interviewed, and released, that he was going to be formally arrested and charged with
murder on the following day. I was told
by this attorney that he
believed that Tidsbury, out of pride, and wanting the glory of solving the case,
and not another undercover detective, had arranged to beat the confession from Murrin on
the night before this arranged arrest. This motive was apparently well
advertised all over Rutland prior to the beating and the entire shift of
detectives listened from their car radios as it happened. As a result of this
beating, which disguised Murrin's face, no one was able
to identify Murrin as the suitcase suspect when he was arrested. I believe that this was
the true purpose for the beating. As Sgt. Tidsbury said, why would he beat a
confession from a suspect when this would not have been admissible in court
anyway. It was years before Murrin would be seen again without sporting a full beard. This beating has always been coupled to the motive of being done for the
purpose of extracting a confession. This beating saved Murrin from being
identified in a timely fashion and of being convicted as a result. This same end result is the only plausible motive for
the beating which is consistent with the rest of the evidence. The
manner in which this was conducted turned six well meaning cops into witnesses
for Murrin's defense and aided in his acquittal.
There was a CHBC news clip showing Murrin with a moustache on the evening news just before his beating, wearing a distinctive fisherman type cap. The suspect with the suitcase did not have a heavy moustache like this. Did Murrin grow a moustache between the time that the crime was committed and his arrest? The photo released by the RCMP following the arrest of Murrin was not a completely accurate portrayal of what Murrin looked like at the time of the crime. The mustache gives his mouth the appearance of being much narrower than it is. This photo is some what deceptive compared to what Murrin actually looked like at the time.
Murrin photo 2000 Murrin photo released 1995
Sgt. Tidsbury instigated the events that led to two of Murrin's associates attempting to beat a confession from Murrin in front of Sgt. Tidsbury? Why would Tidsbury instigate two of his most valuable witnesses into committing a criminal act, then charge them with the assault and call them liars in court. Is this standard RCMP witness development procedure?
The RCMP then washed the nuclear DNA evidence from Mindy's clothes. This was after a very thorough and painstaking effort on the part of the forensic team who had collected every possible piece of evidence available. In 1994-1999, DNA was not that unknown and these were experienced officers working the case. They were involved with cutting edge DNA technology in the form of MTDNA. It is incomprehensible to wash the confirming nuclear DNA evidence from a murder victims clothes without the evidence being preserved and confirmed. There is no acceptable explanation possible. There were several differing DNA sequences originally found on Mindy's clothes. The mitricondrial DNA results showed a 97% match to Shannon Murrin. What happened to the other sequences is unknown. This put in doubt the integrity or accuracy of any of the DNA results and made it appear that the RCMP were falsifying results to convict Murrin. Again, RCMP agent Shannon Murrin was the beneficiary of this action.
Sgt. Tidsbury coached and used a jailhouse informant in Murrin’s
trial, a man who was known to have previously perjured himself in the Thomas Sophonow case.
The DNA evidence from that case proved that this informant had perjured himself
then, a fact that both the crown and Murrin’s defense were aware of as was demonstrated
in the trial. The implications
of what the RCMP were found to be doing and the type of informants that they
were using, tainted the jury and would likely have
been foundational for a retrial had Murrin been convicted. The fifth estate
questioned why B.C. prosecutors would use this individual when the Sophonow
information was known. Again the RCMP motive was the need for a confession.
The informant "Doug Martin" even claimed that the RCMP wanted him to lie and was
being paid to do so.
As a result of Murrin's trial, a great deal of information became
available. The RCMP were forced to investigate their own members and provide
some answers. The court case against Murrin was determined to have been lost in
part due to the actions of Sgt. Tidsbury. The RCMP investigation determined that
"a few" of the RCMP brass in Kelowna were responsible for non RCMP like
The following are the newspaper stories of the events as they