Friday, February 14, 2014

Pressure Mounts

To my readers who are under mounds of snow, I just wanted to remind you that spring does come. I took these photos yesterday here in Vancouver.

It was a long night for police on April 12, 1921. They stopped and questioned all the young men they could find in the Downtown and West End of the city. Twelve men seemed suspicious and were taken to police headquarters for further questioning but were later released.

Dr. G.F. Curtis performed the autopsy on William Salsbury and recovered a .32 calibre bullet from the body. The bullet had entered the left side of the chest, penetrated the lungs and heart before lodging in the spinal column. It was Dr. Curtis's opinion that Salsbury died practically instantaneously.  At the inquest held the following afternoon, the jury ruled the death "Murder by a person or persons unknown".
The local newspapers gave prominent coverage to this killing. The general public were shocked and horrified by the cold-blooded killing of such a well-known and respected member of the community. People were busy speculating as to the reason for the murder. Many surmised the victim did not know his assailants - Salsbury was not known to have any enemies - and that the murder was the result of a robbery attempt. William was not the type to meekly hand over his wallet.

The police shared this theory. They considered the 'knickerbocker' description faulty and this crime was the work of local criminals, not two young boys. The police contacted informants and followed leads.

On Thursday, April 14, William Salsbury was put to rest. Vancouver's elite attended and the pall bears included members of the Howe, Boultbee and Woodward families.

The investigation continued but weeks passed with no progress. All the leads provided by informants had been investigated but the information led to nothing.

22 men were brought to the station for questioning then released. Some were brought in from outlying areas such as Port Coquitlam. The press began to criticize the police department for its failure to solve the case. The Salsbury family, disappointed and critical of the police efforts, hired a private detective. However, he wasn't successful either.

Weeks went by and it appeared that the murder would remain unsolved. Detectives Robert Shearer and W.G. Grant, who were in charge of the investigation, never gave hope though. They were confident that someday a break would come. Finally, their hopes were fulfilled.

Intrigued? You will have to wait until Monday to find out what break the detectives received. Thanks go to Joe Swan and his book POLICEBEAT for the information on this crime.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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