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New Brunswick cold cases

What is a cold case?

One definition is a criminal investigation where police have exhausted all apparent leads; some police forces define a cold case as one that is not solved within one year. Usually they are homicides, sexual assaults and disappearances.

As in other jurisdictions, the province of New Brunswick has had its share of unsolved murders and other crimes. Many communities, including rural areas, have experienced unsolved homicides, missing persons and suspicious deaths. One common instance of unsolved homicide, mentioned elsewhere on this website, was infanticide. Historically, in New Brunswick and elsewhere infanticide was probably the most common type of unsolved homicide. 

In New Brunswick, police investigations remain open on a number of unsolved crimes or missing persons cases; others have been closed and all but forgotten expect by relatives and associates of the victims. In some cases confessions or technical advances in forensics have brought the perpetrators of previously unsolved crimes to justice.

A case from 1945: The murder of Percey Doak

One unsolved New Brunswick murder case dates from 1945, when storekeeper Percey Doak was shot through the door of his residence/store near midnight. The store was located at McGiveny Junction, a small community thirty miles northeast of Fredericton on the main line of the Canadian National Railways.

Doak's store, located on the highway between Fredericton and the Miramichi, was adjacent to the residence of his son Bernard. Around midnight on Oct. 1, 1945, Bernard and his wife heard gunshots and a few minutes later found Doak senior in distress. He had been shot in the stomach and shoulder.

Doak was given morphine for pain by soldiers from a local military post, but he was in bad shape. The community had no telephone link so help was summoned by railway telegraph. The victim died in hospital in Fredericton a few days later. A coroner's inquest at the York County Court House concluded that the 58-year old man had died from gunshots “inflicted by a person or persons unknown." In other words, this was a homicide.

From statements given to his son, the RCMP concluded that a person who knew the storekeeper had knocked on his door late at night. The place had been robbed in 1943 and on the evening of the shooting Doak had several hundred dollars on his person. Investigators reconstructed the following conversation between Doak and the mysterious intruder. The victim was nearsighted, and did not recognize the man's voice, but later noted that he had been wearing khaki trousers. 

Intruder: Percey, are you there?
Doak: Who is it?
Intruder: Bernie.
Doak [realizing that this was not his son Bernard] What do you want?
Intruder: The young girl is sick and I need some medicine.

Doak then opened the door and saw a man with a rifle. A struggle followed and Doak, although wounded, managed to close the door. At this point he was shot a second time. The assailant fled and Doak managed to switch on his outside light and despite his injuries tried to walk to his son's house.

Although the RCMP found the murder weapon, and questioned a number of area men, no arrest was ever made. The house in which the rifle was found was torn down years ago.

A case from 1949: The unsolved murder of William Puddington

Robberies sometimes turned violent, and victims seriously injured or killed, sometimes intentionally. Working as a taxi driver, particularly late at night, was (and remains) a potentially hazardous occupation. In 1949 veteran Saint John taxi driver William ‘Pop’ Puddington picked up two men who had called the Diamond Taxi office from the Portland Place neighbourhood and said “Send Pop.” Puddington was estimated to be carrying $26 on his person. His battered body was found on the Boar’s Head Road in the Millidgeville area near the Saint John river. He had been beaten to death with a blunt object.  Puddington’s car was found parked in another neighbourhood of the city’s north end, a block from the pay phone which had been used to book his taxi. Although they had assistance from the RCMP, the Saint John police were unable to solve this crime.

William Puddington murder

A case from 1965: The unsolved deaths of Isabelle and John Felsing

The New Brunswick RCMP lists the following cold case, still under investigation, from 1965:

On Tuesday evening, October 19, 1965, John and Isabelle Felsing were out walking their dog, as they did quite frequently. They walked along a dead end road, the Oromocto Flats Road in Lincoln, New Brunswick, which is near the riverbank. It was hunting season, and several hunters were in the area that day. But what happened this particular evening, was a most bizarre occurrence.

John and Isabelle Felsing were shot and killed, simultaneously, with one #4 shot, from a twelve gauge shotgun. The person who shot the Felsing's was standing between them and the riverbank, only fifty to seventy feet away, when they took aim, and fired. (Both shot on left side from riverbank).

Over the years, numerous suspects have been interviewed, and as a result of the investigation, no new leads have turned up. Even at this point in time, it is not known if the shooting was intentional or accidental. The only person holding this information is the one who committed the offence, or a friend who may have been hunting with them.

This tragic event took place during hunting season, and may have been an accident. The couple's dog survived. 

A case from 1974: The murder of Beatrice Redman

Still on the investigation list of New Brunswick Crime Stoppers and the Miramichi Police is the case of Beatrice Redman, of Chatham Head. In March of 1974 she attended an evening church service, then stopped in at a local store where she spoke to the clerk. Her car was spotted outside her residence later that night. The next morning, the woman's body was found at the top of a stair landing outside her residence. She had been stabbed. Her coat, hat and purse were missing.  

Currently, the RCMP and many other police agencies in Canada have Cold Case Files on their web pages, where they ask the public for tips that can help with the investigation of crimes, some of which are decades old. Cold case investigations sometimes are successful, but often rely on criminal informants or confessions.

In 2009, a prisoner serving ten years for assault, David Joseph Ouelette, confessed to the 1991 slaying of Douglas James Edgett, whose body was found near Moncton, and the death of Cheryl Pyne, who was last seen in 2004. In 2010 63-year old Raymond Joseph White confessed to strangling a Sackville woman and her teenage son in 1995.