Monday, June 25, 2012

Babes in the Woods

January 15, 1953 is a day that remains in the memories of many people. On that winter day, a park Board employee found a cheap, woman's raincoat and when Albert Tong moved the garment, he made a horrifying discovery. Beneath the shelter of the fabric were two skeletons.

Tong had worked for the Parks Board for fifteen years and on this day, he and a gang of workers were busy clearing brush from the area near Beaver Lake in Stanley Park. The employees were working about 100 yards off the main park driveway and 500 yards from the causeway.

Brush and leaves covered the skeletons although it wasn't apparent to Tong whether the remains had been buried. The skeletons were thought to be either a woman and a child or perhaps two children. One skeleton, the larger of the two, wore an aviator type helmet such as the type a boy would wear.

Found near the skeletons were a few items. A small, broken hatchet, a man's shoe, a lunch bucket, a child's belt, a woman's shoe, a child shoe. Not much that could lead to the identity of the skeletons.

The bones were taken to the city morgue where they were examined by the coroner's pathologist, Dr. T.R. Harmon, the coroner, Dr. John Whitbread, and detectives. Due to the discovery of a hole in the head of one of the victims, this is now a murder and the hatchet believed to be the murder weapon.

At the time of the discovery, the skeletons were labelled a boy and a girl and thought to have been in the area for about a year, maybe two. Police started scouring missing person's reports for a boy and a girl but the case remained unsolved.

In 1997, Detective Brian Honeyborne decided to reopen the cold case. He took the bones from storage and took them to Dr. David Sweet at the Bureau of Forensic Dentistry at UBC. Dr. Sweet removed teeth from each skeleton and drilled them for DNA. Remarkably, he was able to gather DNA and test it. That's when the case of the Babes in the Woods was turned on its ear.

It was long thought that the remains were that of a boy and a girl but DNA proved that theory wrong. The skeletons were actually half brothers.

Dr. David Honeyborne has since retired though I did read an article in which he speaks of how this case has haunted him.  He would still like to find an answer to the question of who killed those babes.

It is likely that the murderer, or most of those who were directly involved in this murder, are dead now. It is also more than likely that this case will probably never solved. Yet we can hope that one day a secret will be revealed and this cold case will be solved.

I found a great blog with some photos of the evidence and the original newspaper articles. If you are interested, visit The "Babes in the Woods" blog. There is also information all over the web. Just do a search for Babes in the Woods Vancouver.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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  1. Thanks for great information you write it very clean. I am very lucky to get this tips from you.

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  2. I work in Landscaping on Condominium Complexes and on one Complex lives the Original VPD Detective who worked on the Babes In The Woods case.

    When I told him what I found out about the case, he informed me that when the lead of the Red Headed Vagrant Prostitute was traced down, a Suspect was found in a Retirement Home in Eastern Canada in 1998 and a DNA Test proved that was the Mother of the Babes In The Woods.

    But she was had Alzeimers Disease so badly that she was not competent to Stand Trial, so they had to stay the proceedings. She then Passed Away shortly afterwards and the remains of the Children were Cremated and given an Official Decent Burial at Sea in English Bay.

    The Retired Detective informed me because of these developments, the case is now marked 'Solved'.


    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my entry and update the information. I appreciate the contribution.