We find ourselves back in what was once known in the 60s and 70s as the serial killer capital of the world… Forest City aka London, Ontario. As part of our ongoing series, we’ve covered some of the most infamous cases to come out of this Canadian town: The Mad Slasher (Episode 6), The Bedroom Strangler (Episode 4), and The Chambermaid Slayer (Episode 5).
As we pick up where we left off, Brianna and Dyson delve into some of the city’s unsolved cases…
In this episode
16-year-old Jacqueline Dunleavy finished her shift at the Stanley Variety Store, located at Stanley Street and Wharncliffe Road. At approximately 6:30 pm on January 9, 1968, she headed south to her usual bus stop, just 2 blocks away from the store. It would have been really dark and really cold.
Multiple witnesses reported seeing her waiting at the bus stop, but 1 witness saw a white, 4-door sedan, possibly a Chrysler, pull up, and she got in.
At around 7:00 pm, Jacqueline’s parents grew concerned because Jacqueline should have been home by then. Her mother began calling around. First, she called the variety store to see if Jacqueline was held up at work, nope, she had already left. She called the London Transit Commission to see if the buses were behind schedule – nope. Then she started calling Jacqueline’s friends to see if Jacqueline was with one of them or if they knew where she was – none of them had heard from her that evening.
With zero luck from all the phone calls, Jacqueline’s father, Constable John Dunleavy, began his own search and started driving Jacqueline’s usual route home, looking for any trace of his daughter – maybe she decided to walk, maybe she was still waiting at the bus stop, maybe there was trouble at the variety store…
At roughly 8:10 pm, 3 teenagers were headed to the London Hunt and Country Club (golf course) to go tobogganing – (it’s the 60s in January). On their way past the Katherine Harley School for Retrainable Retarded Children (wtf… at least today it’s called Matthew’s Hall Independent School), they discovered Jacqueline’s battered body. She was laying on her back in the snow, with her arms straight down along her sides and her legs were perfectly straight. Her skirt was pulled up and her blouse was torn open.
The autopsy later revealed that the left side of Jacqueline’s face and head had been severely beaten, but her cause of death was strangulation with her own scarf. There wasn’t any indication she had been sexually assaulted.
During the autopsy, a small pack of pink facial tissue was found lodged in the back of Jacqueline’s throat. Probably used as a gag during the murder, but some people think it was inserted by the murderer deliberately – like a signature. Evidence like this is typically kept as hold-back evidence for investigators, but the police told the press for whatever reason so copycat crimes happened and the public became terrified of the “Tissue Slayer”.
19-year-old Lynda White was from Burlington, ON, and had moved to London to attend Western University’s Huron College for the first year of her undergraduate program. After writing her evening French exam on November 13, 1968, she was hoping to hit up the Frosh Week festivities with friends, but everyone she asked was busy or had other plans. She decided to head home to her apartment at 34 Argyle Street, where she lived with her high school friends from Burlington. When the weather was nice, she had no problem walking the over a half-hour walk from the college to her apartment. But as the weather got colder, she started accepting rides from her 2 guy friends, but she always got dropped in the same location – 2 blocks away from her apartment (on Wharncliffe Ave – where the variety store was located that Jacqueline Dunleavy worked at).
Eyewitnesses saw her walking south from the intersection of Wharncliffe Ave and Western Road, and this is the last time she was seen alive. The next morning, her friends found her bed empty and realized she had never came home the night before. They called her brother who still lived in Burlington, and he came down to London immediately. They searched her bedroom for clues of her whereabouts or her actions the night before because they were hopeful she had left something indicative behind. They found nothing in her room, so they started searching the rest of the house. But still nothing. Her friends, family, and fellow students at the university began search efforts. The police finally got involved and began questioning people in her inner circle, including the 2 guys she usually got a ride with, but this didn’t lead to any clues either. The guys denied driving her home for 40 years, so the timeline of events wasn’t solidly established for 40 years.
A couple of days later, her family made a disturbing discovery when they conducted a second search of her bedroom. They were searching through her bedding when they found a pile of clothes – the same clothes Lynda had worn to her exam. They were crumpled up into a pile and stuffed under the bedspread. Lynda’s roommates insisted to the family that they had searched her bedroom and bed on the morning they realized she never came home, and they were not there. Either they missed them, they miraculously materialized, or someone had gone back to her room and hid them in the bed. The clothes offered no clues. There were no stains or tears.
Her skeletal remains were found in a shallow grave in a tobacco field on May 9, 1973, near St. Williams, ON (Norfolk County) roughly 80 km southeast of her last known location.
Her case remained unsolved.
22-year-old single mother, Patricia Bovin, was discovered by her friend in her upper unit at 790 King Street in London, ON. A friend called Patricia on Thursday, April 24th, 1969. When she didn’t answer, her friend went by the apartment at 4:00 pm that afternoon and found her 2 sons, aged 1 and 3, sobbing over her dead body. They were dirty and hungry.
The front door that accessed the staircase was unlocked and there were no signs of forced entry. A neighbour found a blood-stained pillowcase by the front of the building. Making the front door the possible entry point.
Nothing was stolen from the apartment.
Chairs and other items were scattered around Patricia’s apartment because the children were attempting to reach food.
She was stabbed in the torse over a dozen times while she slept on the sofa. She had no defensive wounds and there was no sign of sexual assault.
Her case remains unsolved.
On Friday, August 14, 1970, Soraya O’Connell attended a community dance regularly held at a youth centre near Fanshawe Park Road and Highbury Ave in London, ON.
She left the recreation centre around 9:45 pm and this is the last time anyone would see her alive.
Her father called the police around 1 am to report her missing. A constable was dispatched to get a description of Soraya. They went to the youth centre to look for her. By the next morning, the only sign of Soraya the police had discovered was her brown and white purse. An investigation into her disappearance began immediately, and the police issued a province-wide alert to law enforcement agencies to keep their eyes peeled for Soraya.
Her remains were later found outside Stratford, ON, on May 26, 1974.
Her case remains unsolved.
On October 4th, 1969, 15-year-old Jackie English, was waitressing at The Met, on the outskirts of London, ON. She finished her shift around 10:30 pm and headed up Wellington Road to catch a bus. As she was crossing the Highway 401 overpass, a witness reported seeing Jackie get into a sedan. This was the last time anyone saw her.
5 days later, Jackie’s nude body was found by two duck hunters in Big Otter Creek. She had been sexually assaulted. Two separate semen samples were found on both her and her clothes. Her clothes were found scattered around country roads in Oxford County and Elgin County and brown penny loafers were found neatly placed beside a pond at a lover’s lane west of her body. Her cause of death was blunt force trauma from a tire iron or hammer.
The only viable clue to go off of in this case was Jackie’s diary which detailed her daily routines and was found among her belongings. Included in the diary was a photograph of a man whose identity has never been confirmed.
The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) did, however, reveal a suspect in this murder: A man named “David” who resided in Tillsonburg, a town about 50km southeast of London. Witnesses describe seeing a man who fits David’s profile inside the Metropolitan speaking with Jackie (from the OPP’s standpoint at this time, the information about David was guarded due to legalities).
More than 50 years later, Jackie’s sister, Anne, continues to preserve her memory through vigils and awareness. Anne told the London Free Press: “Whatever Jackie went through is over for her now. It’s over. But there are still people who love her, miss her, and want to know who is responsible.”
Dennis Alsop, an OPP Inspector in the 60s and 70s, is responsible for us knowing a lot of this information. He kept diaries, paperwork, documents, everything, and throughout his life he would periodically go back to them and try and connect the pieces because he truly believed the cases were solvable, and that some of them were connected. Sadly, he passed away in 2012, but when his son, Dennis Jr., was looking through his things, he discovered the huge stash, essentially a time capsule, and it all on to Michael Arntfield, knowing his work at the university with respect to unsolved homicides, so he could essentially continued Dennis’s legacy to try and bring the victims and their families justice.
The victim’s families, especially Jackie English’s, are also responsible for us knowing about their cases because they keep their loved one’s memories alive and hope every day for answers.
The OPP says all cases are still open.