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The Mystery Of Stanley ParkSubmitted by rodman on Mon, 09/21/2009 - 04:32
Vancouver British Columbia. On the cities outskirts sits Stanley Park. It is one of the Cities largest Urban parks in North America. There are two active cold case files that Detectives are working here, one leading to the other. The first dates back to 1953. Homicide Detective Brian Honeybourn remembers it well. He grew up in the area and remembers "The babes in the woods" case. It is the story of the skeletons of two young children found in the woods of Stanley Park in 1953. At the time the investigators studied the bone structure of the skulls to develop a profile. They believed the children to be between 6 and 10 years of age. Little more was known about the two skulls. Nothing more was ever uncovered. Evidence was eventually packed away and put in the Vancouver Crime lab Museum. Here behind a glass case were some of the evidence found in Stanley Park. The evidence consisted of a children's lunch box, an aviator cap, and a hatchet. Along side were the two skulls.
For almost 50 year the case sat in cold storage until 1997 when Detective Honeyborne decided to reopen the old case. He removed the bones from the Museum and took them to Doctor David Sweet at the Bureau of Forensic Dentistry at the University of British Columbia so that he could have DNA Analysis done on the teeth. It is one of the few places in the world that specializes in the extraction of DNA from teeth. Dr. Sweet pulls a tooth from each of the Babes skull and drills the for DNA. Amazingly he gets a DNA profile over a half century old. What he find next is nothing short of a bombshell. He finds that the two boys are related to one another not a boy and a girl as originally thought. In an instant, DNA sweeps away four decades of investigation. But what can be done with the information? As far as catching the Babes killer, not much as he or she is probably already dead, but what about the science involved? There are other skulls found in Stanley Park. One that is found in 1990.
It has the indication of blunt force trauma. In 1998, the case crosses the desk of Cold Case Detective Al Cattley. He says they think that the skull belongs to a Native Indian teenager. Now Cattley wonders if this premise could be wrong like in the babes in the woods case. So decided to have the same DNA test done on the skull. A full DNA profile is developed and it is also a bombshell. The skull does not belong to a girl as originally thought but rather to a boy about 13 years old. For eight years the Detectives had been searching for a girl who never existed. Now they begin a new search for a boy. Working off missing person's reports from 1989 and 1990, the Detectives quickly focus on two names: Ramsey Rio and and Kenneth Lutes. In December the two boys ran away from a Foster home and disappeared into the streets of Vancouver. Cattley asks for there dental records. It turns out the skull belongs to Ramsey Rios and the question now becomes who killed him and what happened to his Kenneth Lutes?
The police believe both boys have been murdered but they must prove it and find the killer. The investigation must begin again anew. They begin where Ramsey's skull was found, in Vancouver's Stanley Park. On October 29th, 1998 the search begins. Police and over 200 volunteers begin the search for the rest of Ramsey Rios remains, Kenneth Lutes body, and clues to their killer's identity. The search team searches through 10 acres of forest turning over dirt and leaves a foot at a time. The pace and method seem random but are actually a carefully executed plan of attack consisting of two waves. In the first wave the searchers use sticks and their hands covering the forest floor. Working with them are individuals with metal detectors and dogs each making more precise spot checks of the areas. In the second wave is a team of anthropologists and cold case Detectives. As soft spots or suspicious areas are uncovered they go in and excavate. The work is painstaking and meticulous.
If any remains are found the Anthropologist's are trained to identify and process them. Buried in the woods are clues to the double homicide. The question is where. As the search continues, items begin to surface. A small piece of bone with a piece of hair attached to it is found. It turns out to be animal. A filling is found and compared to the missing boy's dental records but do not match. The search moves to higher ground where the police feel they have made a major discovery. A mail bag filled with what appears to be an odd assortment of items. Media excitement over the bag relates to it's date. In Canada, postal bags are stamped inside with the year they are put into service. This one dates from 1989, the same year the boys went missing. The mail bag is taped up and sealed as evidence. Its value is, for the time being, sealed with it. With about an hour of sunlight left, searchers make the strangest find of the day. Buried under a foot and a half of mud, a police officer finds a hockey bag.
Inside it wrapped in a white sheet is a shotgun. Whether it relates to Cattley's investigation is unclear. At dusk the police call the search to a halt without a trace of either boy. 200 volunteers have given their time to help catch a killer, but have they succeeded? The fruits of their efforts fill the back of and evidence van. The next morning at 9:00 AM Cattley and his team begin to mine the evidence collected for their secrets. Cattley is eager for a look and the searche's two major finds. The first is the Canadian postal bag. The first item out is a roll of duct tape. Along with the tape Cattley finds three different belts, all ideal for binding a victim. Next, a pair of white running shoes which both of the boys were reportedly wearing at the time of their disappearance. Could this bag belong to Ramsey's killer with the contents being the tools he used to bind the boy? At the bottom of the bag Cattley finds a bit of wet newspaper. It is dated two and a half years after the boys disappearance.
Cattley's hopes are dashed. The team moves on to its second major find, the shotgun. The shotgun has been carefully preserved, perhaps to be used again. Cattley also takes note of the sheet in which the shotgun was wrapped. It appears to have been used as a silencer. As of this moment Cattley has no reason to connect the gun to his case. However, there are other cold cases that the shotgun might be relevant. There is an open case where a woman heard a knock on her window and when she opened the drapes she was shot with a 12 gauge shotgun. If the shotgun hasn't been stolen and if it can be traced it might help in that case. The evidence found in Stanley is intriguing but not enough to sustain Cattley's investigation. Cattley's next step is to reach out to the media. In the days following the search, Cold Case Detectives find there way to West Vancouver. It is a popular place for teenagers and an ideal hunting ground for a pedophile.
The tips that have come in as a result of the media attention place Ramsey and Ken on these streets in the company of an adult male shortly before their disappearance. The story clicks with what the police are hearing about the boys from those who knew the boys best. The Detectives scour the West End looking for someone who can put a name to the male adult who was with the boys. Nine years after the fact the search turns up nothing. Cattley's investigation has hit a dead end until one November morning when he gets a call from a woodcutter. Peter Mack lives in a house alone less than a mile from Stanley Park. He often scours the wood there to find pieces of wood for his work. In 1995, he finds a skull and liked the way it looked. He put it in the basket of his bike and carried it home and forgot about it for three years until he hears about Cattley's investigation and gives him a call. Cattley takes his call and heads over to the woodcutter's house.
It is the break Cattley has been looking for or so he thinks. DNA proves that it is the skull of the second boy, Kenneth Lutes. Cattley questions the man not sure if he has a suspect or a witness. Cattley asks the woodcutter to lead him back to the exact spot where he found the skull. It is less than 70 yards from where the first skull was found. With this find Cattley will go into the woods again for a second search. On May 15th 1999, the second search begins. Again they are looking for remains only this time they are looking for those of Kenneth Lutes and answers as to where, why and by whom the boy was killed. The teams work between the sites where the two skulls were found. Speculation mounts that the boys bodies may have been dumped in two different locations. This second search is the teams only lead in a crime now ten years old. Unlike the first, it does not even turn up the whiff of a lead. If there is a killing ground here it remains inviolate to those who search for it.
For Cattley the day is frustrating. The mystery of Stanley Park remains just that - A Mystery.
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