Friday, January 30, 2015

Visiting the Island

These photos are from the displays at the Justice Institute in New Westminster.

While the identification of the body was going on, detectives conducted their own investigation as if they already knew the body was that of Pat Lowther.  On October 15, Roy Chapman and Ken Hale travelled to Mayne Island to see Roy Lowther.

They informed Lowther of the body found in Furry Creek and their suspicions it was his wife. The man appeared to be distressed and said, "That would be her, she had a thing about Furry Creek. We used to picnic up there How did she get up there? That's not going East. Maybe she wanted to see if before she went."

Detective Hale asked Lowther about something the officers had discovered when they had searched the home at East 46th for his wife's fingerprints. There were no mattresses on the beds. What happened to them?

Roy said the mattresses were there, on the island. But when the detectives checked, they only found those belonging to the children so they asked where the mattresses for the double bed were. Lowther replied those were at 'Sleepy Hollow', a cottage on the property. Detective Chapman found a yellow mattress, which was heavily stained on both sides and leaning against a wall. It appeared to have been washed recently and was still wet.

Chapman asked if that mattress was his and Lowther said yes. He was then asked why there were reddish stains on it and why it had been washed. Lowther claimed to know nothing about it. He claimed his wife must have washed it before it left. Then, after it was pointed out to him that his wife was gone for three weeks, he replied, "I don't know, maybe it was dew."

Roy Lowther was then asked if he had brought any tools to the island with him. He said yes and was asked to produce them. The detectives examined them and took a hammer. Lowther was also asked about a letter he had left for Pat.  It read:

"Pat, I hope you return soon and are well. Some sort of solution will have to be worked out, for this problem, with legal aid... Everyone has been extremely worried about your disappearance. Please contact us. Roy"

The wording of the letter was strange. The letter was there because Lowther felt as if his wife was going to return. If that were so, why didn't he write, "I'm glad you are back," instead of "I hope you return soon.'

Lowther thought a moment before stating, "I guess I'm a suspect." Chapman asked, "Roy, did you murder your wife?"

Roy jumped out of his chair, walked to window and looked out before returning to his chair. "No, I didn't kill my wife."

Thanks to the book Policebeat and its author, Joe Swan, for the above information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Identifying the Body

The autopsy of the body found in Furry Creek was performed the night of October 13, 1975, by City Pathologist, Doctor Harmon who was assisted by Coroner's Technician, Ian Marshall. Detective Sergeant Sam Andrews; Detectives Hale and Chapman; Constable Culic and Sergeant Randall of the Squamish R.C.M.P. were all in attendance.

Although detectives were fairly certain the body was that of missing Pat Lowther, a positive identification had not been made. The body was of a middle-aged woman. The top of her skull was missing, the facial features were distorted by decomposition and as a result of laying in the water.

Dr. Harmon discovered death had been caused by a severe blow to the back of the head. The blow was struck with such force that the back of the skull was indented.

There was no way that a visual identification of the body could be done. Because the body was in the water for so long, fingerprint impressions were difficult to obtain. And Mrs. Lowther had no criminal record so even if they could get the prints, there was nothing to compare them to.

Constable Hugh Campbell of the Vancouver identification section did manage to get fingerprints. Since those prints lacked the fine ridge detail needed for comparison so the skin was removed from the fingertips and chemically treated. These prints were compared to ones found in the house Pat and Roy Lowther, and their children, shared. Unfortunately, although some of the prints matched, all that proved was that the deceased woman had been in the house at 566 East 46th, not that it was Pat Lowther.

The dead woman wore a dental plate in her upper jaw. The plate had broken and half of it remained in place. The dentist for the Lowther family was contacted and although he was able to say the plate was similar to the one provided for Pat, he wasn't able to say it was definitely the one. Nor was he able to provide x-rays of her jaw.

So what to do now? This was before the time of DNA testing or many of the scientific advancements we see on television shows today. The detectives tried something else.

They checked with the Associated Diagnostic Radiologists office in Vancouver, hoping Pat Lowther had x-rays on file. The association examined their records and discovered copies of x-rays taken of Pat's skull in 1970. The x-rays showed the lower jawbone and some dental fillings.

The jawbone of the body was then x-rayed. Dr. Cheevers, a senior Vancouver dental surgeon confirmed they were identical and a second comparison was later conducted at the University of British Columbia.

This was the body of poet, Pat Lowther.

More about this intriguing case on Friday. Once again, I am getting the information from the book, Policebeat by Joe Swan.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Finding Pat Lowther

Detectives Hale and Chapman followed up on the lead that Roy Lowther had given them. They checked airlines, railroads and bus companies to see if his wife, Pat, had travelled. Nothing was found, They managed to contact the poet in Ontario - the one Roy thought his wife was having an affair with - but he had not seen the missing woman in almost a year. The two were good friends and had collaborated on a a book in the past.

On October 13, 1975, Mr. Robert Kourvoisier and his family were going out to spend the day hiking and fishing. They drove their car along the Squamish Highway and pulled off the road at Furry Creek, two and half miles from Britannia Beach. Leaving the car, the family hiked through the woods for the next hour or so.

It was a beautiful fall day, nature was showing off her autumn colours. The Kourvoisier family got back to their car and Robert decided he wanted to explore a small creek. He followed the creek to a train bridge. Crossing the bridge, he happened to look down and saw a body lying face down in the water. The head and shoulders were jammed under a log.

After telling his children to stay back, Robert hurried up the road to a nearby service station where he called the police. Constable Dennis Culic of the R.C. M. P. (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) met Kourvoisier on the side of the road and the two men climbed down to where the body was located.

Once Culic was satisfied the remains were that of a body and not a store mannequin, he returned to his vehicle and radioed his detachment office in Squamish, informing them of the situation. In twenty minutes, an ambulance and a photographer arrived.

Photographs were taken, a plan of the area drawn and the body was removed from the water. The badly decomposed remains were determined to be those of a female who had been in the water for two or three weeks. She was taken to the Lions Gate Hospital.

News of the find spread quickly. Only the bare essentials were broadcast over the local radio stations but one person who head the broadcast was Detective Ken Hale of the Vancouver Police Homicide squad.

Hale arrived at the hospital at 9 pm to view the body. The condition of the victim made identification difficult but the body matched the general physical similarity to the description of the missing woman. Detective Hale notified his office and was joined by Detective Sergeant Sam Andrews and Detective Chapman.

Chapman and Andrews brought the missing person's report filed by Kathy Domphousse. She stated in the report that her mother had a scar on her knee. So did the unidentified corpse. Now, the detectives were even more sure this was the missing Pat Lowther.

Thanks to Joe Swan and the book Policebeat for the information above.

I hope you find the beauty around you.