Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Murder of the Pauls

It was 5:30 pm on July 11, 1958 when Vancouver Police Constables Engles and Reid arrived at 1014 East 53rd Avenue. The two officers were at the brown stucco home because the owners of the home had not been seen for a couple of days.

They tried knocking on the front door but received no response so Reid walked around to the back of the house. A door outside the rear sun porch was ajar and he entered. The inner door was closed but unlocked. Reid went inside and entered the neat and tidy kitchen. A woman's purse, with the contents strewn around, was on the table.

Reid walked into the hallway, calling as he did so, and nearly stumbled over the body of woman laying face down in a large pool of blood.

Reid let Engles in and both examined the woman. She was fully dressed and had been dead for some time. The Constables began a search of the rest of the house.

At the end of the hallway, in a bedroom, they discovered the body of a young girl.In the basement was the body of a middle-aged man.This was the Pauls family.

53-year-old David Pauls had been born in Russia, came to Canada in 1923 where he first lived in Saskatchewan and in 1940, he moved to British Columbia. He was a Mennonite but belonged to no particular congregation. His 47-year-old wife, Helen, was also of Russian birth. Although she wasn't a Mennonite, Helen was described as being 'aggressively religious', very strict about her daughter's up-bringing. Dorothy Pauls was just 12-years-old.

This home at 937 McLean Drive was built in 1909.

The Pauls were creatures of habit. Mr. Pauls finished work before his wife and would drive straight home where Dorothy would either be reading or doing homework. Mrs. Pauls worked the afternoon shift and would leave work around 11 pm  She would then catch the bus, which dropped her off four blocks from her home. Her husband would meet her, either on foot if the weather was suitable or in his pick-up. 

The autopsies showed that the elder Pauls had been severely beaten then shot. Dorothy had been beaten so severely that her skull was smashed. She had not been shot or sexually assaulted.

The police surmised that shortly before 11:30 pm Mr. Pauls had put on his coat, hat and rubber overshoes, since it was raining. He left the house by the side basement door and starts to for the garage to get his pick-up. Somewhere in between the door and the garage, he is accosted by a person with a .22 revolver. He is told to open the basement door and when he does, he is shot in the back of the head. 

This home is next door and was built around the same time.

The bullet passed through the brim of Pauls' hat and was deflected slightly. The man was knocked unconscious but the bullet didn't penetrate the bone. He is then dragged into the basement and a lace is taken from a pair of shoes and tied around one wrist.

Then Pauls regained consciousness and tried to struggle. His attacker beats him again and then fires two more shots into the man's head. However, he still wasn't satisfied and continues to beat the now dead man savagely around the head. The assailant used the butt of his gun or some heavier blunt instrument. 

I will continue with the story of the Pauls family murder on Friday. I am getting the information from the book, PoliceBeat by Joe Swan.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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  1. Beating a person wit the butt of the gun is referred to as pistol whipped. Sadly me husbands mothers brother was pistol whipped to death.

  2. I live a block away and the house seems like it's still there. A 1950's area nice bungalow. Does anyone know where I can find the picture of what the house used to look like?

    1. The Vancouver Police Museum has a display on the Pauls' case. There's a photo of the house taken shortly after the murders. It was a small bungalow.

    2. Thank you for that information. I have visited the Vancouver Police Museum but the photo didn't register. Of course, it was also long before I wrote this entry. I will have to go back sometime.

  3. Neither of the two photograph sites I checked had one. I don't know.

  4. Thank you Karen. I'll try to go back to the Vancouver Police Museum and snap a picture of it.

  5. The original brown stucco house stayed vacant for several years and was then torn down. Dorothy attended Moberly elementary. The only photo of her published in the Vancouver Sun was enlarged from a group class photo. My cousin Doug was standing behind her and part of his arm is seen in the photo. I was 13 and went to Mackenzie elementary, but lived in South Van. Fraser and 43rd The unsolved triple homicide shook the whole city, and especially the South Van area.

    1. thank you so much for this information. It is great to hear from someone with a closer knowledge of the incident and people involved. Thanks for commenting.