Friday, January 23, 2015

The Interview

At 2 pm October 2, 1975, Roy Lowther walked into Detective Fred Menzies' office at the Vancouver Police Department. Lowther was a tall, thin man, casually dressed. His hair was grey-white and he had a white beard. He appeared nervous and he carefully weighed his words before answering questions.

Menzies asked when Lowther had last seen his wife. Lowther replied he and Pat had gone to bed the night of September 24 but when Roy woke the next day at 7 am, Pat was already awake. She had got up and left the room. Roy fell asleep for about an hour and then got the children ready for school. He noticed that his wife was not in the house. Their relationship had been strained for some time so when Pat didn't return by lunchtime, he thought she had left for good.

Lowther had a theory on what had happened to his wife. He produced two letters, which he claimed his wife had received from a male poet in Ontario. In his opinion, these letters suggested the two were lovers and Roy thought Pat had gone to Ontario to be with the other man.

After the interview, Menzies was not convinced Pat had left the home of her volition. He discussed the matter with his supervisor, Al Shepherd. Shepherd agreed the case didn't look right and assigned two homicide detectives to assist Menzies.

Roy Lowther was called back to the police station on October 7 for another interview. This time, Menzies was joined by Detectives Roy Chapman and Ken Hale. Lowther repeated the story he had told five days earlier but with one added detail. This time, he claimed he heard the front door slam around 7:15 am.

The detectives asked Lowther to take a polygraph exam but he declined, saying he didn't believe in them. He did agree to allow Hale and Chapman to view his home.  They explained it was part of any missing person case.

At 11:30, Lowther and the detectives entered his home at 566 East 46th. The detectives made a hasty inspection of the home and asked Lowther if he could determine if any of his wife's items were missing. Lowther claimed all he could find missing was an old suitcase, an off-white poncho, a pair of yellow shoes and his wife's toothbrush.

The detectives asked for a photo of his wife but Lowther said he didn't have one. When pushed, Lowther produced a book of poetry titled Mountain Day Moving. Inside was a small, unclear photo of Pat Lowther. Detective Hale glanced at a few of the poems before saying,

"This modern stuff isn't really my style. I prefer Kipling, that's more in my line." Lowther agreed with him and the detectives got the impression he didn't think highly of his wife's work. Lowther also mentioned that his children were staying on Mayne Island and he would be joining them in a couple of days.

The mystery deepens! Where is the missing poet, Pat Lowther? I will tell you more next week.

Thanks for the Joe Swan and the book Policebeat for this interesting story.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Tale of Two

When I left you on Monday, Kathy Domphousse  had reported to Detective Menzies of the Vancouver Police Department that her mother, poet Pat Lowther, was missing. Menzies had phoned Kathy's stepfather, Roy Lowther, and arranged an interview for the following day. Then he had gone to work, researching the two people.

Roy was born in Britania Beach, BC and at the time of this event, 1975, was fifty-one years old. As a child, he was described as brilliant and was admitted to university at the age of fourteen. He became a Communist and in 1946 was deported from the United States on the grounds of his political activities in the Berkley, California area.

Once home in Canada, he got married. However, in 1961 he assaulted his wife and wound up in Essondale hospital for two months. That marriage ended in divorce in 1963 - the same year he married Pat Domphousse.

Pat was 11 years younger than Roy. Like him, she was an intelligent and talented child. She had written her first verse at the age of three and won a poetry contest by the time she was ten.

At the age of 16, Pat left school and worked at a series of office jobs. She never gave up on her writing though. An early marriage had failed but left her with her daughter, Kathy Domphousse.

When Pat began to get involved in left-wing politics, she met Roy Lowther. Lowther was an avid environmentalist, before it was fashionable to be so, and this theme showed in many of his poems. He was unemployed at the time. He was managing editor of a poetry magazine for the Vancouver Writer's Guild.

According to friends of the Lowthers, the marriage started very happily. Two children were born during the early years and things looked good.

Roy taught school in Maple Ridge and Coquitlam but was later demoted to substitute teacher and, in 1971, he stopped teaching altogether.  Pat's success progressed though and the marriage began to fall apart.

Pat found solace from her unhappy marriage in her poetry and was finally being recognized for her work. In 1968, her first book was published. But her friends saw that she remained unhappy in the marriage and they suspected Roy was abusing her. Her friends offered to help her get out of her situation. They even rented a truck to help her move.

But Pat was unable to make the final break.

I would like to thank the book Policebeat and its author, Joe Swan, for the information above. I will tell you more about this case on Friday.

Once again, the photos are of the Commercial Drive area in Vancouver.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

Monday, January 19, 2015

A Missing Poet

I'm in the mood for murder so today I am referring to the book Policebeat by Joe Swan and recounting one of the cases he wrote about. 

This case came to the attention of the Vancouver Police on October 1, 1975 when Kathy  Domphousse spoke to Detective Fred Menzies of the Missing Persons Squad. Domphousse was concerned about her mother, Patricia Louise Lowther.

Kathy and her mother had seen each other on September 23 at Lowther's residence at 566 East 46th Avenue. Her mother had been in a good mood and hadn't mentioned anything about going on a trip. However, four days later, when Kathy had gone again to visit her mother, her stepfather, Roy Lowther, told the woman that her mother had left three days earlier to travel back East and he didn't know when she would return.

This didn't seem right to Miss Domphousse. Pat Lowther was a poet with three published poetry books and another to soon be releases by Oxford University Press. She was co-chairperson of the League of Canadian Poets and was organizing a major poetry workshop in Victoria. In addition, Lowther taught a senior poetry workshop at the University of British Columbia's Creative Writing Department. Why would she leave town without arranging a replacement teacher for her students?

Something had happened to the woman who Andreas Schroeder of the Vancouver Province had once described as "the uncontested number one poet in the City."

Kathy was very concerned about the whereabouts of her mother. After her talk with her stepfather, she spent the next few days contacting her mother's friends and acquaintances but none were able to help her. Why would Pat Lowther go away and not tell anyone her plans?

Detective Menzies listened to Miss Domphousse's story. He had listened to many reports about people gone missing from concerned friends and relatives. In most instances, the 'missing person' turned up safe and secure with an innocent reason why they were absent.

In this matter, Menzies had a feeling something was not right. He told Kathy Domphousse he would look into the matter and keep her informed. When she had gone, he phoned Roy Lowther. Menzies informed the other man that he had a report his wife was missing and asked him to come to the police station to discuss the situation. Lowther agreed and a meeting was set for the following afternoon at 2.

Detective Menzies hung up the phone and set about learning everything he could about the backgrounds of Roy and Pat Lowther to get ready for the upcoming interview.

The mystery deepens! Wednesday, I will tell you the history of these two and the interview. 

The photos are of the Commercial Drive area in Vancouver. I was once told that a person could eat from every corner of the world on the Drive and, as you can see, there are lots of food vendors here.

I hope you find the beauty around you.