Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Meeting Murder

It was the evening of April 12, 1921. 8:30 p.m. and the city was already dark, the streets were wet from a recent rain. Mrs. Bailby walked along West Georgia Street when she saw a well-dressed, middle aged man walking towards her with a furled umbrella. The man approached an area of the sidewalk where it was darkened by a tree shadowing the street lights. Mrs. Bailby noticed two young men step from the shadows and stop the other man.

Nothing seemed strange about that. The man appeared relaxed, laughing and leaning on his umbrella. A few seconds later though, the woman heard the sound of a gunshot and saw the man clutch his chest and fall to the sidewalk.

The two young men bent over him before one laughed nervously and both turned and ran around a corner.

Another man happened to witness the incident and gave chase to the fleeing assailants but was unable to catch them. He returned to the scene of the crime to find a small crowd had gathered. People carefully lifted the fallen man carefully and carried him to a nearby house. Unfortunately, in a few minutes, he was dead.

The victim turned out to be William F. Salsbury - an accountant and popular local sportsman and a prominent member of the Vancouver Rowing Club. He was son of a retired Canadian Pacific Railway executive, a pioneer of Vancouver who I have written on before in this entry.

There were many witnesses to the shooting. Although Mrs. Bailby was the only person who claimed to have seen the incident happen, many heard the shot and looked up to see the two men standing over a body.

I saw this doll in someone's yard on one of my walks. Someone really has an issue with clowns! LOL

Witnesses gave similar descriptions of the two men but that wasn't much help to investigators. Both men were in their twenties with dark clothing and caps. However, Mrs. Bailby insisted the criminals were just boys and wore knickerbockers.

While some took statements from the witnesses, other officers searched the area for more evidence. And they found some.

Where the two assailants left West Georgia Street to turn onto a side street, there was an area of newly planted grass on a boulevard. A strand of barbed wire, strung about a foot off the ground, surrounded the lawn.

On that strand, the police found a small piece of cloth, which appeared to be torn from a pair of men's trousers. Could this small piece of fabric belong to one of the murderers?

 Thanks goes to Joe Swan and his book POLICEBEAT for the information on this murder. I will tell you more on Friday.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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