By Don Plant
The Daily Courier
Shannon Murrin is suspected of killing a little girl in Edmonton but he may
never be charged.
Murrin, 49, was on day parole in the Alberta capital when Corinne (Punky)
Gustavson, 6, was abducted outside her family's rented townhouse Sept. 6,
1992. He was living in a halfway house after serving time for armed robbery
"He has not been eliminated as a suspect," said Sgt. Bryan Boulanger
Edmonton Police Services. "We know he was living in Edmonton at the time
Corinne Gustvason was abducted and murdered."
Edmonton police received scalp hair, pubic hair and a blood sample from
Murrin as a result of investigating another sexual assault. They agreed to
turn the items over to the Kelowna Mounties, who intended to compare them
to hairs found at the Mindy Tran crime scene.
Murrin refused to take a lie-detector test when Edmonton police visited him
at Matsqui Institution in the Fraser Valley, where he was held in
segregation to protect him from other prisoners.
Corinne was last seen playing with a friend in a common area outside her
family's townhouse. Her body was found two days later lying face-down
between two semi-trailers in a trucking yard about a 15-minute drive away.
She'd been sexually assaulted. A police report said she died of "soft
Corinne's playmate told police that a dark-haired man with a patch of blond
hair and three earrings in his left ear picked up Corinne, hugged her and
carried her off.
Edmonton police and Kelowna Mounties compared notes on the murders of
Corinne and Mindy because of the similarities in the crimes.
The person who dumped Corinne's body was wearing small-sized Mitre brand
baseball cleat shoes, Edmonton police revealed months after the murder. The
prints at the scene where the body was found matched a men's size-6 shoe.
"We have members here, full-grown men, that can wear these," Const.
Ball said in 1992. He added they could have been worn by a woman.
Edmonton police have refused to say whether the English lab that analysed
Murrin's DNA samples for the Mindy Tran case had matched Murrin's DNA with
samples collected from Corinne.
"We're not prepared to go there because we still have an open homicide
investigation," said Boulanger. "What we say today can't prejudice a
Corinne's mother is upset police have failed to name a suspect in more than
seven years. Two detectives and a constable specializing in criminal
intelligence analysis are working on the case but they can't comment on
their progress, said Boulanger.
"We know the family has suffered a loss far greater than we can imagine.
Our job is to conduct an investigation within the parameters of the law,"
he said. "We've said to the family, 'you'll be angry with us because we
can't share information with you.'"
Some reaction from lawyers and people close to the Shannon Murrin
E.S. Holmes, wife of Rob Holmes (one of three men charged with beating
Murrin at Mindy's gravesite on Jan. 5, 1995): "We are so devastated he
(Murrin) got off scot free. Son of a gun. It makes me want to throw up.
He'll end up being the richest man in the world.
"I've got to look forward to him threatening to kill us because we told
police where his clothes are. (Rob) is so sick of it. He's getting all
kinds of news media calling."
Lawyer and former Mountie Neville McDougall: "Based on the evidence that
was reported in the media, how could they (the jury) not have reasonable
doubt? I expected the verdict and I'm just not so sure that he (Murrin) did
"I think a jury expects and demands police give evidence in a forthright
and honest manner. When you have officers saying the police haven't told
the truth, that bothers a jury and it may have assisted Murrin in being
Lawyer Grant Gray: "No doubt, there were a lot of contradictions in the
evidence. When you take a jailhouse informant who's convicted of perjury,
most intelligent people will look at that with suspicion.
"(The jury) took their instructions to heart from the judge. They went out
and deliberated with great care and rendered the decision they did."
Click Up for links to the full story of Punky Gustavson.