Monday, 21 March 2016

Fifty Years ago this evening, the MacLauchlans were living their last hours


Fifty years ago late this evening, Dr Robert Henry MacLauchlan and his third wife Margaret Ann (the former Margaret Ann Cunningham and before that the former Margaret Ann Herring) were murdered in their modest New Westminster bungalow at 912 Fifth Street. The execution was carried out in what newspapers of the day described as an execution Mafia style – a bullet in the face for each of them, followed similarly by one in the abdomen.

The murders followed their arrest on the previous December 22nd after investigation by a drug squad composed of members of the New Westminster, Vancouver and Royal Canadian Mounted Police forces during which heroin worth $200,000 was discovered in their possession. At the time, this was enough to buy about twenty houses in New Westminster. Their arrest was a cause celebre in New Westminster, given that previously MacLauchlan had been regarded as a harmless retired Albertan doctor and Margaret Ann as a modest, quiet and extremely capable teacher at Woodlands School for the Handicapped.

The MacLauchlans’ murder came but a few days before their trial was to start. Ken McIntosh and I have spent a few years researching these murders, for which no one was ever arrested or charged. We now have a pretty good idea who ordered the hit and have a fistful of possible suspects for the shooter. We are aiming to publish the results of our research by the end of the summer. Watch this space for further information.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Thelma Mosier: From Sechelt Society to Live-in Housekeeper for Vancouver gangland figures?

Thelma Mosier’s granddaughter Contacts Us
As Ken McIntosh and I have noted on more than one occasion, we have sometimes received unexpected information about the March 1966 MacLauchlan Murders in New Westminster, and about the victims and their associates. Such an incident happened a few weeks ago when Sheena Tucker from Newfoundland contacted us. She introduced herself as the granddaughter of Thelma Mosier, one of the four members of the MacLauchlan Gang busted for narcotics trafficking four months earlier. 
Frequent readers of this blog will remember Thelma as one of the women arrested on December 22, 1965 when Dr MacLauchlan was charged with trafficking, along with Margaret Ann Cunningham and Gerry Sperling, in the late afternoon of that day. 
Sheena Tucker is the daughter of Daniel Mosier, the son from Thelma Mosier’s marriage to Ben Profit, a Royal Canadian Air Force pilot lost in a bombing mission over Europe in June 1944. She introduced herself as follows:
“My dear father Daniel [passed away] from lung and liver cancer September 22, 2004. My mother, Caroline Profit, is still living close to me here in Newfoundland. She is 73 years old.”
“My father… was Benjamin James Profit’s son with Thelma, and Brad (his brother, Richard Bradley Mosier) was Richard Mosier and Thelma's son.” 
(This latter reference to Brad Mosier, who died in May 2014 in Surrey, British Columbia, clears up a misconception of Ken’s and mine: we had assumed that Richard Mosier had been married before his liaison with Thelma and that Brad had been the son from that putative earlier marriage.)
Sheena has lived up to her promise that her mother Caroline “…would have a lot of information regarding Thelma.” One of the things that Mrs. Profit’s information has done is add nuance to our previous understanding of Thelma Mosier as having been, essentially, an innocent lured into a life of crime. Given that Caroline Profit is closer to Thelma’s age than any of our previous informants and knew her when she was married to, and then divorced from, Richard Mosier back in Sechelt, BC, it is likely her information is pretty accurate. In Sheena’s words:
“Richard Mosier- Mom only remembers him as a logger. He and Thelma were divorced before my mom met my father (i.e. previous to 1963). Thelma used to always try getting money out him for Bradley. She tried to make his life miserable.”
Leaves her husband for the owner of a shingle mill
According to Sheena and Caroline, after Thelma left Richard Mosier, she became involved with a Sechelt area guy she believed had more money than her former husband. This fellow owned a shake mill but came to a bad end – either committing suicide or getting shot (Caroline is not sure which). Thelma then moved to Burnaby to stay a short while with Frances Parnell, the second wife of Burnaby resident John Albert “Andy” Anderson, the first husband of Rachel Anderson, who had left Anderson and gone cooking in logging camps in Sechelt. It was in this BC coastal community where Rachel had met Bill Kolterman, an ambitious and hardworking logger -- and the father of Thelma.
Subsequently, Thelma, after the death of her RCAF pilot husband, met and married Richard Mosier. 
Richard and Thelma Mosier first appear together in the public record in 1953, in the federal voting list for that year, when they are living on Fell Avenue in Burnaby and, again in 1957, in the federal voting list, when they are living in Half Moon Bay, near Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island. In the 1953 list Richard Mosier is listed as a truck driver and, in the 1957 one, as a logger. 
It had appeared to Ken and me that the couple had separated at some point after 1957 because, by the time of the 1965 voters list, only Thelma Mosier appears. Sheena Tucker’s information confirms our impression.
Sheena Tucker recalls that her parents lived in Merritt in 1965. Her mother remembers that Thelma (by this time separated from Mosier)  and Richard’s son Bradley came to visit in 1965 and that Thelma had a car. 
Cooking at White Spot
By this time, Thelma had found employment cooking at a White Spot, according to Sheena. At this  time, there were  two White Spots in Burnaby on Kingsway: one at the Eldorado Hotel in the Dining room at 2330 Kingsway at Victoria Drive and another at 2201 Kingsway. There was also a White Spot in New Westminster at 6th Avenue and 12th Street. Ken and I wonder which one of the three she worked at.
Before 1965, Daniel and Caroline Profit went to Vancouver to visit Thelma who was a “live-in” housekeeper for a man and woman who she had met before moving away from Sechelt. Caroline’s recollections:
“[On one occasion] Thelma was shocked that my parents came to this house unexpectedly to visit [but] they never stayed long as they were made to feel very uncomfortable. This man and woman had high priced prostitutes walking around their beautiful home.”
 According to Caroline Profit, all her mother-in-law Thelma cared about was money. After that Thelma was living in a house in North Burnaby where Sheena’s parents and her brother also visited her. Sheena:
“She asked my father to take her to the drugstore where she never bought anything but used the phone to call someone. Mom thinks she was calling to tell someone not to come over because my parents were there. Mom thinks this is when the heroin started -- in 1965.” 
“I’m in jail!”
The Profits were living by then in Quesnel, BC and early in 1966 they received a letter from Thelma saying she was in jail in Burnaby but without giving any explanation. The Profits found out via some relatives of Thelma’s by marriage that the police had taken an axe to Thelma's door and arrested her. Thelma wrote letters to the Profits but never discussed the heroin. 
Upon being released from prison, Thelma lived for a time with the Sheena’s parents, the Profits, who by this time had moved to Burnaby. An anecdote from Sheena about her mother’s recollections:
Thelma got out of jail and asked my parents to pick her up at the airport and asked to live with us. She didn't live with us for very long. A couple days after Thelma was with us she told mom she was going for a walk. Mom was watching her from the window and saw Thelma talking to a man. The next day this man contacted my father, asking him if he wanted to start making some money and get involved with him [pushing] drugs. This is the same man Thelma had worked for housekeeping. Dad said no and mom and dad never seen him again. Thelma never spoke of why she had been in jail with my parents. 
Eventually, after living with her step-sister Rachel Roberts in Harrison Hot Springs for a time, Thelma was hired to work at Seventh Step Society. Ken and I have previously reported on this blog that this facility for recently released prisoners was located in New Westminster. This is true but a recent informant, who knew Thelma back in the day, said he met her when the facility was earlier located in Port Moody. He was a recently-released convict at the time that, over the past three decades, has gone straight.
Suicide Attempts: Shame to the very end?
Sheena’s mother’s recollections indicate that Thelma never really did get over her crime and it seemed to affect her for the rest of her life:
“Thelma was starting to take medications from the guys at 7 steps society trying to end her life. Mom remembers of two times receiving calls from the hospital where she had tried to overdose. Thelma would come to our house stoned on drugs in front of us kids which upset my parents. This is when mom and dad started to give up contact with Thelma. She was always trying to manipulate my parents.”
Ken and I would like to know the following: 1. Brad Mosier, who died in May 2014, was reported to have been married to an Asian lady. If anyone knows the whereabouts of this lady, we would like to hear from them. 2. (And this is a much more remote possibility): It is reported that Thelma had met the people she was a “live-in” housekeeper for when they holidayed in Sechelt. These people sound as if they might have been in the upper echelons of the Vancouver’s crime world in the late 1950s, given the nice house and the prostitutes working out of it. Anyone with information on either of these two questions may contact us through this website. 

Saturday, 11 July 2015

DR ROBERT HENRY MACLAUCHLAN’S NEPHEW, MICHAEL, BRIEFLY LIVED IN QUEENSBORO, NEW WESTMINSTER DURING THE EARLY 1980s

I’ve used this quote, from the movie Dr Zhivago before but I’ll use it again now. Spoken by Zhivago’s half-brother, a policeman of the early Russian revolutionary regime, it goes as follows:
 “If you want to know about a man, getting to his brother is half the battle won,” or words to that effect are spoken by Yevgraf Zhivago.
That this truth perhaps can be applied in the case of different relatives is something my colleague Ken McIntosh and I have learned a few times in our pursuit of the truths of the lives of Dr Robert Henry MacLauchlan and his third wife Margaret Ann (nee Herring). Sometimes it even applies to the results of hearing from step-relatives, as has happened recently to us, in relation to one of Dr MacLauchlan’s siblings.
About a month ago, out of the blue (as the saying goes), we received an email from a man whose mother had once been married to the son of Lieutenant Colonel Donald George MacLauchlan, a former World War II commander of the Calgary Highlanders and the younger (and only) brother of Dr Robert Henry MacLauchlan. Although we were well aware that Lieutenant Colonel MacLauchlan had married a member of the minor British aristocracy, Elizabeth Loder Johnson, during the war, we had always wondered if that coupling had resulted in any offspring. Our searches on that score had always been without results.
Then arrived the letter and it was from a man whose stepfather, Michael MacLauchlan, had been the son of the Lieutenant Colonel. According to this informant, whose name we will not reveal at the present time, Michael MacLauchlan had a previous wife who, during the middle 1980s at least, had lived in Victoria and his name was Brett MacLauchlan. 
What was very interesting about this man’s (our  source) information is that it provided us with some fascinating details about how Michael MacLauchlan’s professional and personal character differed quite substantially from those of his father and those of his father’s siblings. Educationally, at least, the accomplishments of the MacLauchlan siblings were quite impressive for their time. The brothers held high qualifications in medicine and in the military, respectively ; the several sisters were nurses and even nursing supervisors in some cases.
Michael MacLauchlan, on the other hand, seemed a bit of an under-achiever. According to his step-son, Michael was a mostly itinerate truck driver who seemed to have a hard time holding a good job. Among other failings, he appeared unable to provide his new wife and two step-sons with proper furniture or, on some occasions, a properly sympathetic parental ear. As he wrote in an email to us:
He was impatient with children and he was verbally, and at times, physically abusive with my younger brother and I. He was very frank in telling us that he didn't like children.”
In the early middle 1980s, the small family moved westward, eventually ending up, of all places, in New Westminster – on Salter Street in Queensboro, where our informant attended Queen Elizabeth School for a brief time before moving to East Vancouver.
Of importance to Ken McIntosh and me is our source’s memory of  Lieutenant Colonel MacLauchlan. We had always read, in the accounts of his WW II service as a leader of men, that he was somewhat remote and distant to his underlings in the officer and enlisted ranks. Simply put, he seemed to have been somewhat of a martinet. Contrary to these images, our source (his step grandson) remembers him this way:
“Donald was an absolute joy to be around. He was always welcoming; always smiling and joking; and was quite fond of my mother, brother and I. Every time we visited him at his … apartment in Ottawa, he had "Sesame Snaps" that he would share with my brother and I. Donald taught me how to play cribbage and how to properly tie a neck tie, all before I was through grade 4. Donald was one of the most wonderful and likable people I have ever met and I regret not having spent more time with him while he was alive, despite the fact that my mother and Michael split up after (I think) 5 years of marriage.”
What is of immediate interest to Ken and me is the fact that Michael MacLauchlan had a former wife, and a son named Brett, who lived in Victoria during the middle 1980s. We are very interested in hearing from anyone who may have known of a Brett MacLauchlan who, during the early 1980s, would have been between the ages of 10 and 14. His mother, whose name our informant does not recall ever having heard from his stepfather, would have perhaps been in her middle to late 30s. Please feel free to contact us via the information on the home page of this website.
 
 

Friday, 8 May 2015

ARE SOME DOTS ALONG KINGSWAY BEING CONNECTED?

Alert readers of this blog concerning the March 1966 double murder of Dr Robert Henry MacLauchlan and his wife Margaret Ann in New Westminster may remember that three months previously both had been arrested for trafficking in heroin. One of their associates, Thelma Mosier, was also picked up in the same raid (but in Burnaby) along with another one, Joe Sperling. Both Mosier and Sperling were Burnaby residents, and Mosier was variously described in press articles as either a waitress or an employee of an un-named Burnaby hotel or motel.
Seeking always to “connect the dots” between MacLauchlan’s group and the larger criminal organization that Ken and I know he must have been part of, we were pleased recently when Ken appeared to find a reference in a January 1966 issue of the Vancouver Sun newspaper to a pair of married street level heroin pushers who had been arrested in a police raid on a Kingsway motel. We have their names but, wanting to protect our information at this point in our research, let’s just say that they were not native to Vancouver but may have been from Eastern Canada via Alberta. 
Ken, being a retired police officer and thus aware of some of the intricacies of the narcotics trade during that era, is of the opinion that these two people were almost certainly linked to the MacLauchlan group. Remember, we have previously reported that Thelma Mosier was employed on occasion in motels and hotels along Kingsway.  During the era of the 1960s, Kingsway on some blocks was motel after motel after motel. In any case, we have sent an email off to our correspondent with the massive index of Canadian criminals to see if that person can find out if these two people have any “priors” or “after”, in terms of drug charges.
We invite our readers to offer their suggestions as to the least savory hostelries along Kingsway during the decade of the 1960s. Just go to our home page, check out the contact information and send us an email or a snail mail -- whatever suits you best. We always honour requests for confidentiality.
(Pictured below is one of the classier 1960s accomodations along Kingsway -- the Kingsway Motor Hotel.)

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

NEW WESTMINSTER’S ROYAL TOWERS – A DRUG AND BAGMAN TRANSFER POINT IN THE 1960s?

As I mentioned in our last blog posting on April 24th, Ken McIntosh and I have always wondered why Dr Robert Henry MacLauchlan (murdered in New Westminster, British Columbia, in a likely Mafia hit on March 21, 1966) had no big amounts of cash in his possession when he was arrested a few days before Christmas 1965. After all, according to deceased journalist Dennis Bell (who had his contacts within the police forces involved in MacLauchlan’s bust for narcotics trafficking ), MacLauchlan was the Number 2 Man in the West Coast narcotics trafficking organization. So why was no vast amount of money found in the little bungalow at 912 Fifth Street shared by the doctor and Margaret Ann Cunningham?
After all, it was reported that he had $200,000 worth of heroin in his possession when he and Margaret, along with associates Joe Sperling and Thelma Mosier, were arrested on December 22nd. However, the only money anywhere in sight on that winter afternoon was $2700 that Sperling had on him when he was taken down by Sgt Bunyk (RCMP Narcotics Squad) and Constable D L Roberts (Vancouver Narcotics Squad). None of the press reports mentioned anything about money being found by the police -- on MacLauchlan, in his possession or in the house that he and Cunningham had shared for almost a decade (first as “uncle and niece” and later as husband and wife).
Then one of our regular correspondents, a person who over the years has amassed an impressive knowledge of Canada’s criminal elements through steady and painstaking research, suggested that perhaps Ken and I have been wrong to think of MacLauchlan as being the Number 2 man in the organization in the ordinary sense.
Our correspondent wondered if, rather than being Number 2 in the west coast hierarchy, the doctor had been the Number 2 representative of the “powers that be” out of Montreal. By that phrase he was referring to such men in Montreal as Lucien Rivard, the Cotroni Brothers, and Paolo Violi. 
Somewhat contradicting such an explanation, however, is this reality: wouldn’t Sperling have had to pay for what was found on him -- “ten one ounce bundles of brown powder which analyzed as fairly good grade of 63.5 per cent heroin with the potential value of $120,000”,  as reported in the Court testimony of Sgt Bunyk?
Our correspondent counters this line of reasoning by presenting the possibility that MacLauchlan, for all his alleged stature in the organization, never had money at 912 Fifth Street. 
“Getting back to the bust at the house I think either the money was never held there or, by some twist of fate, it had already gone to pay the bill. Perhaps the money collected by [Thelma Mosier] and [Sperling] was ... kept at a remote location for some [similar] reason...” With this statement, our correspondent is referring to the fact that Thelma Mosier had no money in her possession either when she was arrested.
Our correspondent also raised another point, mentioning that, in the 1976 book Canadian Connection, Author Jean-Pierre Charbonneau relates how Greyhound was sometimes used to transport drugs from Montreal to the West Coast. He ends his letter by wondering if the New Westminster bus depot, which for years was located in the Royal Towers on Sixth Street, might have been a convenient location to send a bagman east or drugs west during the 1960s.
 
 
 

Friday, 24 April 2015

TRACKING VANCOUVER’S 1960S DRUG CRIMINALS

One of the things that Ken McIntosh and I have been trying to do in our investigation of the MacLauchlan Murders is to establish a factual link between Dr Robert Henry MacLauchlan and the 1960s West Coast drug trafficking organization that supplied him. According to deceased print and television journalist Dennis Bell, off-the- record police sources had told him (Bell) that MacLauchlan had been the Number 2 man in the West Coast drug trade. When he was arrested in late December 1965, MacLauchlan had been in possession of about $200,000 worth of heroin. Two of MacLauchlan’s underlings/accomplices (and we believe there were probably more) were Joseph Sperling and Burnaby waitress Thelma Mosier. Unlike Sperling who had a previous criminal record for drug-related offences, Mrs. Mosier’s arrest was the first time she had been in trouble with the law.
In a news report concerning her sentencing to seven years on March 3, 1966, it was reported in the Burnaby Courier that one of the people that Mosier had been selling to was a well-known trafficker and drug addict, who in the several weeks previous had been sentenced to a lengthy term in prison. Thus far, Ken and I have searched in vain for a newspaper report giving the name of this “well-known” (at the time) felon.

Our readers might be interested to know that, in our search for this possible link between MacLauchlan and Vancouver’s criminal underworld of the 1960s, we tracked the crimes and misdemeanours of approximately 250 criminals who had been active at various levels of the drug trade. By carefully reading old newspapers – and with the aid of one of our faithful blog readers – we have managed to establish that more than 100 of these men (plus a few women) had connections through other criminals that led upward to a certain gentleman who, in Vancouver during the 1960s, was reputed to be a major and influential figure in various criminal activities in the Metropolitan area. This man began his criminal career in the very early 1950s, pursued it right up to the 1980s and served time in prison several times. Given that this man (now quite elderly) has served his time, Ken and I feel that he might be a very good “off the record” source of information on the background to the MacLauchlan Murders.  


Friday, 17 April 2015

OUR AUDIENCE – SOME FACTS AND QUESTIONS

The blog that Ken McIntosh and I have created to popularize, and to attract comment and support about our research toward our book on the murder of Dr Robert Henry MacLauchlan and his wife Margaret Ann on March 21, 1966 in New Westminster, BC has now been in existence since October 2013 – nearly 18 months. During that time, we have attracted a certain amount of attention on the Internet and our total numbers of page visitors approaches a few thousand. From that few thousand viewers we have received several dozen queries and tips, which have led us further into our story.
Ken and I always expected to get most of our viewers from the United States and Canada. After all, the Mafia-linked murders of which we are writing took place in Canada and, during the time they occurred, many of the criminal organizations that were thought to be responsible had their centres of influence in the United States. So when our statistics began to show that nearly 90% of visitors to our site were from Canada and the USA, we were not surprised. 
What has been surprising are the rather significant numbers of visitors from other countries in Western Europe (Germany, France and the United Kingdom), Eastern Europe (Poland, Russia, Romania and Ukraine), Asia (Taiwan) and even Oceania (Australia). Several hundred of our regular visitors come from these four geographic areas. This particular blog is addressed to them: we would like to know what led you to our website, what you find interesting (or not) about it, and if there is anything you would like to know about the MacLauchlan Murders that Ken and I have not mentioned. Feel free to drop us an email. Our contact information is listed on our home page.