A recent article in the August 27th, 2015 edition of the Quesnel Cariboo Observer by Reporter Annie Gallant titled “Time to Take Back the Night” focused once again upon the issue of Quesnel’s missing and murdered women.
In an unpublished letter to the editor I had written:
“Observer reporter Annie Gallant states in her article that ‘The message of Take Back the Night has never been more poignant in Quesnel than this year as the community prepares to add two more names to the list of 11 murdered and missing women.’
In this same article Women’s Resource Centre administrative coordinator Sheila Norquay is quoted as saying, ‘Men must take a leadership role in changing how other men view women and thus treat women.’
Both of these statements are inappropriate and misleading given the facts surrounding the missing women here in Quesnel as well as those murdered and missing along the infamous “Highway of Tears” stretching from Prince George west to Smithers along Hwy 16.
In Quesnel there was never a more “poignant” time for resolving this longstanding issue than back sixteen years ago when, in September of 1999, 17 year old Deena Lyn Braem was murdered right here in Sugar Loaf Ball Park in West Quesnel.
The primary reason why this case (along with all the others) was never resolved was because the RCMP themselves were complicit in both the murder and its subsequent cover up.”
Sixteen years have now passed since that tragic night when both Deena Lyn Braem’s and Lonnie Gabriel Landrud’s fate were sealed. Deena died needlessly and had Lonnie Landrud not been a cigarette smoker in need of a puff his life may have ended up taking a totally different path from what it did due to the ultimately traumatic scene that he witnessed.
On route to purchase some smokes Lonnie decided to take a short cut from the trailer park where he was staying and walk over to the local 7/11 store never thinking that on his way through the park he would stumbled upon a gruesome murder scene that’s haunted, tormented and endangered his life ever since.
What Lonnie Landrud witnessed, according to his subsequent allegations, were two RCMP officers, one a female (Cst. Bev Hosker – now diseased) and the other a male (Cst. Paul Collister) in the act of murdering a young teenager by the name of Deena Lyn Braem who had recently been reported by the Missing Children Society of Canada as having gone missing on September 25th, 1999.
After the shock of what he had experienced and purchasing his smokes Lonnie returned to the trailer where he was “house sitting” and proceeded to do what he felt was the only right thing – he called 911 and reported the incident.
The outcome of that momentous decision turned into a sixteen year uphill battle with every conceivable level of government and media to try and have the incident properly investigated and the two RCMP officers involved brought to justice. It also turned into a separate and immediate struggle for Lonnie Landrud to try and stay alive for while having performed his civic duty as a Canadian citizen he now has had fourteen separate attempts on his life since that mind-altering 911 phone call back in 1999.
RadicalPress.com has covered the ongoing saga of Lonnie Landrud for a number of years beginning back in February of 2012 when his story (in video format) first appeared on the site. Subsequent articles and videos have also appeared in November of 2012 in January of 2014 and again in April of 2015. In particular the January 27th, 2014 publication of a letter sent to the following public figures outlines in great detail the laborious efforts which Mr. Landrud has undergone in order to have his concerns formally addressed:
To the Honourable Members:
Stephen Harper, Prime Minister; Thomas Mulcair, Opposition Leader; Vic Toews, Federal Public Safety Minister; Rob Nicholson, Federal Solicitor General; Christy Clark, Premier of B.C.; Adrainne Dix, Leader, B.C. Opposition Party.
As he stated then in his opening remarks, “I again find myself having to write to you the leaders of Canada and British Columbia to try and put a stop to the attempts on my life by a group of RCMP members and their paid informants.”
The determination on the part of Mr. Landrud to seek justice and stay alive while doing so is the stuff that movies were once made of.
Coupled with his ongoing efforts to secure an independent investigation was the later startling admission by Landrud that he had actually shot the RCMP officer who he swears he saw murder the young victim. When the officer in question, Cst. Paul Collister of the Quesnel RCMP detachment, attempted to break into Lonnie’s home in 2003, four years after the crime, in the process of doing so he was wounded by Landrud who shot him in the left arm with a shotgun loaded with #4 birdshot causing serious physical damage to the officer. Since that time Landrud has been doing everything humanly possible to have the shooting incident investigated and the medical records for Cst. Collister revealed in order to substantiate his claim that he actually did shoot the officer.
Until the substantial evidence which Mr. Landrud possesses has been fully and neutrally investigated by a body totally independent of the RCMP and both the federal and provincial Attorney General’s offices and any other related government body ostensibly designed to investigate police wrong-doing, the missing women of Quesnel and everywhere throughout B.C. and across Canada will continue to remain subject to this legacy of ongoing tragedy and travesty of justice.
Having recently been the subject of yet another physical attack in the form of unknown assailants attempting to shoot Lonnie while he was out working on his ranch Landrud once again tried approaching the authorities, this time public figures in his local home city, in another attempt to have this ongoing travesty of justice addressed.
I received a phone call from Mr. Landrud around the end of September. He told me that he had made arrangements to have a meeting on Monday, October 5th with Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson and the local head of the RCMP in Quesnel, Staff Sergeant Andrew Burton and City Manager Byron Johnson in the Mayor’s office at City Hall to discuss his concerns. Lonnie asked me if I would come along as a witness. I agreed to attend the meeting. As well as myself Lonnie also asked a mutual friend of ours, Mr. Frank Frost, to witness the proceedings too.
At 1:30 p.m. we were ushered into a conference room near Mayor Simpson’s office and introductions, business cards and hand shakes were exchanged between the parties. Mayor Simpson proceeded to chair the discussions and began by explaining the city’s relationship with the RCMP informing Lonnie and Frank and myself that as Mayor his position didn’t include any official mandate to instruct or authority to make any demands upon the RCMP to act upon any of Lonnie’s requests whether he might agree with them or not. Having clarified that point he then asked Lonnie Landrud to share with those present his concerns.
Landrud began by explaining to the Mayor and Staff Sergeant Burton that he has been trying for years now to have the medical records for Cst. Paul Collister made public so that an independent body might be able to examine them. This would, according to Landrud, settle the long standing question as to whether or not the police officer in question had in fact been shot as Lonnie has stated over and over for the past twelve years. He went on to explain the predicament that he’s been in since 1999 where no level of government has been willing to investigate his claims and being unable to obtain any legal representation throughout the whole period of his relentless pursuit to have his charges investigated he’s been forced to act on his own behalf. He also explained how the mainstream media refused to cover his story and how his efforts to cooperate with the authorities always ended up with him either being maligned, threatened, beaten, harassed, ignored, or, as in a number of cases, the RCMP have attempted to murder him themselves.
After citing numerous examples of his efforts to have his allegations looked into and receiving no assistance from any level of government Mayor Simpson then offered his opinion on police commissions relating instances where the RCMP were thoroughly investigated and brought to task for any crimes that they had committed. Staff Sergeant Andrew Burton concurred with Simpson’s position stating that over the past 22 years of service he had been involved in numerous investigations into police wrong-doing and suggested to Mr. Landrud that the RCMP were tougher on crimes committed by their own officers than anyone else.
Mayor Simpson then commented that given all of Lonnie’s past attempts to have some agency take on his case and not having any success that possibly this was occurring because all of those individuals and agencies who Lonnie was contacting may not have felt that his story was credible enough to warrant any serious investigation. Given the past sixteen years of endless attempts to convince those in authority that he did have sufficient evidence and credible witnesses who would testify on his behalf plus fourteen attempts on his life that have left him with severe medical problems which the medical system refuses to address Lonnie Landrud didn’t appear to be that impressed by Mayor Simpson’s proffered explanation for why a person can publicly admit to having witnessed two police officers murdering a person and then four years later shoot one of the officers and still nothing is being done about it after such an inordinate length of time.
Having related to the group present a number of times examples of attempts on his life Mayor Simpson asked Landrud why he didn’t just leave the Quesnel and relocate elsewhere. Lonnie replied that moving wasn’t an option for him, stating, “Who would know that I had gone missing if the RCMP were successful in killing me?”. He went on to state that he had been born in Quesnel and lived here all his life and his family lived here too and there was little point in trying to run away where he would have no safety net whatsoever to fall back on.
Lonnie then brought up the issue of Deena Braem’s parents and the fact that, after the allegations were brought forth of the RCMP’s involvement in their daughter’s death they were issued with an order to not communicate with Lonnie. Staff Sergeant Andrew Burton responded by stating that he had never heard of such a thing occurring and to his way of thinking if the Braem family didn’t want to communicate with Mr. Landrud and expressed such a wish to the police then it would be Landrud who would be issued with an order prohibiting him from having any contact with Deena’s parents.
Having listened patiently to everything that Lonnie had to say concerning his efforts to seek redress for all that’s gone on since that night in the park and also the fact that Landrud told Staff Sergeant Burton that he had evidence concerning other missing women who had died along the infamous “Highway of Tears” the Sergeant then told Lonnie and everyone else present in the room that although he was new to Quesnel and didn’t know anything about Lonnie or his story that now he had been made aware of the situation he would do everything in his power to look into the matter as he too was also deeply concerned about the missing women. With regard to the suppressed medical records for Cst. Paul Collister, the alleged murder suspect, Burton told Landrud that he would look into trying to locate the records so that they could then be properly inspected.
The realization that both the Mayor of the City of Quesnel and detachment head RCMP Staff Sergeant Burton were open and receptive to listening to what Lonnie Landrud had to say and Staff Sergeant Burton was willing to actually commit, before witnesses, to try and resolve the issue was, in itself, a long overdue sign of recognition and a potential indication that Landrud’s years of being maligned, dismissed, harassed and threatened might be coming to an end. The proof of course is always in the pudding and only time will tell whether or not this latest attempt to achieve some form of closure on the matter will bear any fruit.
What is absolutely certain though is the fact that two public officials, one the Mayor of Quesnel and the other the head of the local RCMP detachment, were finally willing to take the time to sit down and listen to Lonnie Landrud’s plea for an independent inquiry into his allegations of having witnessed a brutal murder right here in Quesnel.
Given the background of the Highway of Tears, the sixty-five women who vanished from the Vancouver’s downtown eastside from 1978 to 2001 and the controversial Pickton case that followed as a result of it, the willingness on the part of Mayor Simpson and Staff Sergeant Burton to grant Lonne Landrud a hearing bodes well for the eventual resolution of delayed justice and may be the first positive step in resolving this long overdue cover-up. As such their efforts were commendable and deserving of appropriate recognition.