The Detectives (2018) s03e07 Episode Script

The Cottage Killer

- This case will always be with me.
- I will always remember it.
Nancy Blackburn and her husband, Ian, were found in the trunk of their car Monday night.
Nancy had ligature marks consistent with strangulation.
God! He hog-tied her while she was still alive.
There is no doubt somebody was being extremely cruel for whatever reason.
We did have a series of break-ins over the winter, some guy staying in vacant summer homes.
Did you ever ID the guy? No.
We just call him the House Hermit.
As soon as I walked in the door, I hear: "Don't move or I'll shoot!" Do you think you could describe this guy to a sketch artist? Absolutely! At this point, we believe the House Hermit is the one responsible for the Blackburns' murder.
But we had no clue who he was.
If you think you see him, do not approach him.
- Clear.
- Call 911.
He is armed and extremely dangerous.
We had to find this person.
It was I think midnight or a little bit later than midnight that I got the call.
It was in the Forest Hill area in the north end of the City of Toronto.
It's not normally where you would expect to find any violent occurrence.
It was unusual.
What do we got? Two victims, Ian and Nancy Blackburn, reported missing from the Caledon OPP earlier today.
- Yeah.
- They have a cottage up there.
- Where are the bodies? - In the trunk of Nancy's car.
The bodies looked like they had been in there for a while.
The man was fully clothed, and the woman naked.
The woman obviously had ligature marks around her wrist, her legs, her ankles.
There was no doubt somebody was being extremely cruel for whatever reason to Nancy.
In the car, there was a tissue.
And the tissue appeared to have blood on it.
We weren't sure whose blood it was.
Call a forensics truck.
Tell them to take the car with the bodies still inside.
Nobody touches a thing in there, okay? You already checked the house? Yeah, just mail and newspapers from a couple of days ago.
It's probably when the crime happened.
I mean, the house is pretty clean otherwise.
Nothing seems to be missing.
- Any signs of violence? - No.
But the forensics team hasn't gotten through it yet.
So Okay.
Who found the bodies? Jamie Osborne, the nephew.
He's pretty shocked.
Jamie? Detective Doug Grady.
I understand you're the one that found them.
How long had they been missing? I I don't know.
My dad asked me to check up on them.
When I got here, I noticed the cat didn't have any food and water, and I thought that was weird.
Uh, so I I checked the car and popped the trunk.
What made you pop the trunk? My dad asked me to when I couldn't find them.
It seemed like an unusual request, you know: "Check the trunk for your aunt and uncle".
Why would anyone do this? They're good people! I don't know, Jamie, but we're gonna figure it out.
Nancy Blackburn and her husband, Ian, were found in the trunk of their car Monday night.
The car was parked outside their North Toronto home.
A relative made the grim discovery.
The Blackburns had not been seen in 6 days.
They appeared to be nice people.
Everybody seemed to like them.
Ian had a real estate business.
Nancy, on the other hand, was a public health nurse, working for the City of Toronto.
They had no children.
They lived in a nice neighbourhood.
They were your average, normal Toronto downtown people.
We would like to know the last time they were alive.
That would help us to know the time of death.
Police can't say where Mrs.
Blackburn was murdered or when.
The Blackburns owned another home in Caledon.
A second family car was found in the driveway there.
Police now say they don't know where the couple died.
Was it in Toronto, where Nancy was last seen alive, or in Caledon, where Ian went to repair the plumbing in their historic country home? Caledon is a rural area north of Toronto.
It was becoming an up-and-developing area where huge homes were being built.
Ian and Nancy's farmhouse would be treated as a cottage retreat type of place.
It was a large property.
It was quiet.
It was a nice place.
Ian never parked there, you know.
For 25 years, he parked over there.
You are? Orville Osborne.
I'm married to Ian's sister.
We share the property with them.
Your son found the victims.
Jamie? That's right.
Poor thing.
Listen, if you don't mind my asking you, why did you have him pop the trunk? Honestly, I I don't know.
We were desperate to find them.
We hadn't heard from them all week.
Then when I saw Ian's car parked there, that's when I knew something was wrong.
But I never would have imagined I'm sorry for your loss.
You know, Ian's father passed this whole area down to us after he died.
It's a special place.
See that round barn over there? That was built in 1890.
There's only 3 of them left in the whole province.
You know why they built them that way? Why? So the devil couldn't back you into a corner.
- Detective Grady.
- Excuse me.
Was there any animus between the Blackburns and Orville over the land in that huge property up in Caledon? It was a possibility.
Maybe there was a motive there.
Hey! Jim Hutchinson.
- Nice to meet you, Jim.
- Call me Hut.
The OPP forensic team were going through that house piece by piece, the officers basically on their hands and knees, looking at everything.
And that's when we found this.
We tested it.
It matches Nancy's blood.
Boom! That was our crime scene.
The tissue with the blood on it found in the front seat came back.
It's not our victim's, so it could be the killer.
Nancy had ligature marks consistent with strangulation, but not Ian.
He died from a different form of asphyxia.
They think he had a bag over his head.
- What about sexual assault? - No evidence of it.
God! He hog-tied her while she was still alive.
Her arms were tied behind her back and her ankles were tied to the wrist.
The severe wounds to her were such that she must have been in a lot of pain at that particular point.
The person that did it was just throwing her around like a suitcase.
So, now you basically go back and try and figure out where your victims were, what they were doing at the last point that they were alive that you know of.
All right.
Ian, last seen leaving work Tuesday night 5:00 p.
He's going to Caledon to check on the cottage.
Okay, this is Nancy's last activity.
She calls a friend from the Toronto home at 7:00 p.
that night.
She's looking for Ian.
And check this out: phone records.
Approximately one hour later, 7:56, a 5-minute phone call from the cottage to the Toronto home.
But after that, we got nothing.
So what was said during that phone call? The interesting thing is that the phone call occurred and Nancy drove up there.
We don't know if it was a request from Ian for her to come up or from the suspect.
Why did that person have to have Nancy come to the cottage? Okay, is there a lot of crime in Caledon, murders, missing persons? Not usually.
But these 2 guns, they were stolen from Blackburn's neighbour outside of Caledon.
And Caroline Case, she's a Toronto woman, she, uh, went missing after she left her shop 6 months ago.
What happened to her? 47-year-old Caroline Case was last seen at her import store on Bloor Street West in Etobicoke.
About 12 hours after she was reported missing, her wrecked Mercedes Benz station wagon was found in a ditch near Caledon, north of Metro.
We, uh, searched the area for days.
She's still missing.
We had these 2 cases: the Blackburns, who were taken from Caledon and bodies are found in Toronto.
And then we had Caroline Case abducted from Toronto and taken to Caledon.
That was something we had to investigate further.
Anything else? We did have a series of break-ins over the winter.
Some guy staying in vacant summer homes.
- Did you ever ID the guy? - Nope.
We just call him the House Hermit.
This person who was doing these break and enters It seemed to be unusual, but it didn't seem to be violent.
- We're gonna dig into that.
- Okay.
I'm gonna focus on closing out the family.
So, now we have to start answering the simple questions, Like: "Who would have a motive, opportunity or means to do this?" What you do in most investigations, you start close to the family.
There is something different about funerals where somebody is murdered.
People will sometimes look around and wonder, "Is it you? Is it you?" 'cause nobody knows.
And I attended the Blackburns' funeral to see the reaction of people.
Some people may feign remorse.
Thank you for coming, detective.
Of course.
My condolences.
My son can't shake the image of their bodies in the trunk.
And my wife is devastated.
Ian was her brother.
I don't know how to comfort them.
I've seen cases where it's put on, and it's quite obvious.
In this case, I didn't have that, because they're all decent people who, unfortunately, found themselves in an awful, awful situation.
At the same time, the officers who investigated all of these break and enters, they spoke to everybody who reported a break-in that we thought was related to the House Hermit.
We found that there was a similar incident, not in Caledon, but in a place called Tiny Township, north of Caledon.
And Sam Appleton had a cottage up there.
We were just stopping by to see how this place weathered the winter.
My wife, Rose, stayed in the car.
As soon as I walked in the door, I noticed the TV cable was running up the stairs into the bedroom.
The door was closed.
It was very warm in there, and the smell was horrible.
Then from behind me, I hear: "Don't move or I'll shoot".
And I see a gun.
And then the man said: "Don't look at me".
Can you describe the gun? I don't know, a, uh, a handgun.
Then he had me come back down the stairs and come lie down on the floor, right there.
Then he tells me he's coming back to Toronto with me.
He says he's committed a bad fraud, and he doesn't want to go to jail.
So we get in the car, me in front, driving with Rose, him in the back.
- He didn't want to drive? - No.
He insisted I drive.
I acted like nothing was wrong.
I told Rose that the guy was just getting a ride back to Toronto.
But she quickly realized what was going on.
We come to a busy intersection.
I said: "Either you shoot me here or get out now!" It must have scared him, because he just took our money and ran off.
Sam Appleton was a pretty gutsy individual.
But his story helped me understand what may have happened to the Blackburns.
Uh, listen, do you think you could describe this guy to a sketch artist? Absolutely! We now know the House Hermit was definitely armed.
He's brazen.
Is he a person who's now going to escalate his criminal behaviour? We had to find this person.
I finally get a call from the duty desk.
An officer had found weird garbage out by the Blackburn farmhouse.
They having a picnic? No.
But the House Hermit was.
- I wouldn't touch that.
- Why? What's in them? - Feces.
- Oh God! These bottles were filled with urine.
Urine in a bottle, fecal matter wrapped up It was totally unusual.
Take a look at these.
These are the handwritten lists he leaves behind everywhere else.
It's military equipment.
It's pretty obscure stuff.
War planes, tanks, cannons, firearms It was like somebody was playing some type of war game against themselves.
It was getting warm.
So people were gonna be around their cottages.
We were quite concerned about finding him before he could do something else.
Investigators from the OPP had found 2 people who came across a man occupying their cottage.
I hear: "Don't move or I'll shoot".
Could you describe this guy to a sketch artist? Absolutely! We now had at least a sketch of what the House Hermit may look like.
This person is out there somewhere, and we can't identify who he is.
From the Appleton incident, we had fingerprints that were directly related to the House Hermit.
We ran the prints through our national fingerprint database.
And there is no result attributing it to anybody we know.
How could his fingerprints not be on the national databank? This is somebody who's been exhibiting quite severe criminal behaviour.
At this point, we believe the House Hermit is the one responsible for the Blackburns' murder.
But we had no clue who he was.
We gotta go public with this.
- Tell them what? - Everything.
Everything about the House Hermit: the break-ins, the sketch, even the strange military lists.
I mean, somebody's gotta recognize those, right? We gotta stop this guy! We believe that the man who killed the Blackburns is also responsible for a series of cottage break-ins in the Caledon area.
He's know to camp out in these cottages for several days at a time.
So we call him the House Hermit.
He always leaves behind these handwritten military lists, like a calling card.
So for this reason, we think he's a military buff.
Now, if you think you see him or if you think you know him, do not approach him.
Call 911.
He is armed and extremely dangerous.
Usually, when you have a press conference on a major homicide case, you can get 200 calls.
In this particular case, we got one call.
There was a woman in Orangeville, 30 minutes north of Toronto, who had some information.
Alison Shaw? I'm Detective Doug Grady, Metro Police.
I understood on the phone that you know who the wanted man is in the Blackburn murders.
Uh, yeah, it's David Snow.
David ran a side business with my husband, Darris.
And last fall, he disappeared and left us saddled with debt.
And so to recoup our debt, we cleared out his stuff.
And that's when I saw the writings.
They were military entries in a journal, hundreds of them.
And the handwriting is exactly the same as what's in the paper.
And you said that he disappeared last fall.
Do you remember when exactly? Uh, some time in early October.
No one around here has seen or heard from him since.
Do you think David Snow would be capable of something like this? Oh, he is a creep.
Anything is possible with that guy.
Thanks very much.
David Snow was a friend of the family.
Alison did not like him one bit, but her husband, Darris, thought that he was a good guy, just a little odd.
We wanted to speak with Darris Shaw as soon as we could.
I just don't see it, you know? David was a weird guy, but he was no killer.
It's not what your wife thinks.
Well, we see him differently.
Did she tell you he used to babysit our kids? Our daughter calls him Uncle David.
He's just a regular, small-town guy.
He's a bit odd, sure, misunderstood, but he's not violent.
- So the two of you were close? - Yeah.
We had a business together, taking apart old frame structures, putting them back together.
The money was good too, until David took off, stuck me with $2,600 in debt.
Do you know where I might find David now? He's probably hiding out somewhere around here.
No one's seen him in months, but he can't be far.
Why is that? He just walks everywhere.
He has a pathological fear of driving.
Like I said, odd.
One we identified David Snow, we started talking to people in Orangeville.
A lot of the men said David was just a little off.
Most of the women we talked to said he was creepy, said: "There was something about him.
We didn't like being around him".
He didn't do anything aggressive, as they would say, but they just felt uncomfortable around him.
We got that intuition from a lot of different women.
He does have a record.
Orangeville charged him with fraud last summer for writing bad cheques.
That's what Appleton said.
We ran the prints, nothing came back.
They made a mistake.
They thought they needed a conviction before they uploaded them.
Regardless, the prints match! David Snow is the House Hermit.
Now all we need to do is find him.
We needed to talk to David Snow's mother.
I'm hoping she's gonna give us assistance in locating him.
His mother lived in a nice neighbourhood in the west end of Toronto.
Caroline Case, she ran the Jewelled Elephant on Bloor, right? 47-year-old Caroline Case was last seen at her import store on Bloor Street West in Etobicoke.
Caroline Case, she's a Toronto woman.
She, uh, went missing after she left her shop 6 months ago.
Hi! Doug Grady.
Listen, I'm staring at the Jewelled Elephant, and you will never guess who lives right nearby it.
David Snow's mother.
I've met many mothers of victims and of accused, but I've never met a mother who said what she said.
I'm terrified of him.
I'm so sorry, Mrs.
- Do you still see him? - Not really.
The last time I saw him was last fall, uh, just after his antiques business had fallen apart.
I was so scared.
Before he came I hid all the sharp knives.
Did, um, did David ever physically harm you? Yes.
That was the reason that I had to leave the house in Orangeville, the house where he still lives.
She was afraid of her own son.
She kept that house so he'd live in it, and he wouldn't come live with her.
He grew up in that house.
The whole family did.
One by one, we all left.
Everybody in the family was tiptoeing around David.
You know: "Leave him alone.
Just let him do what he's doing".
Police! We're coming in! When I left the house, it was because of the abuse.
It was a nightmare.
She had hope that he didn't kill those people.
But she didn't doubt for a second that he did.
David's mother confirmed that he attended her place in early October, the date just before Caroline Case went missing.
Hello? Mr.
Snow? - Get the kitchen.
- Yeah.
Go, go, go.
Go, go, go.
We're looking for David Snow.
I believe David Snow is the one responsible for the murders of Caroline Case and the Blackburns.
We go in his house.
It looks like somebody hasn't lived there for quite some time.
Hold this.
We found a hidden room.
You should get in here.
Oh! There's various pictures from catalogues, cut-outs of women, but not quite pornography.
It was a bit odd.
And it told us a little bit about this person's psychological side.
There's all kinds of military books with military equipment.
Ships, tanks, planes all over the house.
We don't know where he is or what he's going to do next.
He's definitely on the run.
So, we put out a Canada-wide warrant for his arrest.
Police say David Snow does not drive.
They believe he is in hiding in the Caledon area.
- He is armed and dangerous.
- As predators escalate, they become more dangerous.
And he was escalating.
So where would he go from there? "Police are looking for anyone who may have seen Christina Robinson last Friday".
And they're never gonna find you.
We just got another report on the House Hermit from Caledon.
The owners just got back from a winter in Venezuela.
This doesn't help.
None of this helps! It just confirms what we already know.
We need to know where he is now! I mean, he may still be in Ontario.
He could also be anywhere in the country.
All right, let's send out everything we have on Snow: the fingerprints, the military writings, the serial numbers of every gun he stole.
And, I mean, he's not just sitting around hiding.
We need every police agency in the country to know everything that could possibly identify him, because he's gonna do this again.
And when he does, we need to know about it.
All right.
I'm on it.
The whole time we're looking for him in the Greater Toronto Area unbeknownst to us, we find that he was out in British Columbia the entire time.
What's happening? Wait here.
Eight days ago, she closed up for work at 6:00 at this East Vancouver photography studio and disappeared.
This is a classic, unexplainable missing persons case.
There appears to be no reasonable explanation as to why this young lady has gone missing.
I found her at a video store.
You like? During that time, a video store clerk goes missing, and the RCMP find the car in Mount Seymour Park.
I've got a Beetle in Mount Seymour Park.
License plate matches the missing one.
In the car, they found a firearm that was stolen from Caledon.
That's how we knew it was David Snow who had that car and was in that area.
There's another woman! - Where? - Over there.
Hey! Are you okay? The women are rescued.
And Snow takes off further into that Mount Seymour forest.
And so, RCMP North Vancouver conducted the largest manhunt they've ever done.
They're searching the forest and its maze of trails for one suspect.
Stay there.
They brought in as many officers as they could, because this guy was now out in an area that is heavily travelled by a lot of people.
All vehicles leaving the park are being searched.
All entrances into the area are closed.
So, at the same time, I get the first plane that's flying out west and go to Vancouver.
He never untied you? Once, when he kidnapped the other woman.
He walked me to the car and he told me to wait for him.
I was alone and untied.
And I could have walked away.
Why didn't you? I didn't know where he was.
I didn't want to get shot.
I was terrified.
I remember thinking to myself that: "This is the end".
"He's gonna kill me".
I'm so sorry I have to ask this.
Um Is this the guy? That's him.
He felt like a very sick kid and I was his toy.
I was just something for him to play with.
He had no conscience.
He had held her captive and tied up for 8 days.
I was amazed by how she had gotten through this and survived it.
She was a strong young woman.
It's believed the suspect had been camping out in this dense parkland.
Police believe he's still here, trapped within countless roadblocks.
RCMP conduct a search throughout this particular park.
And all night long, it's going on.
They have helicopters.
These are huge parks with lots of forest areas within David Snow's comfort zone.
And so he got to the Suspension Bridge restaurant, which is in the Capilano Park, and saw that there was somebody closing up the restaurant.
So he took her to the back, not knowing the police were in the area.
And the officer hears movement behind the building.
Police! David Snow was caught in the act, sexually assaulting and attempting to murder a woman.
An ambulance came, took her to the hospital right away.
And she survived this incident.
Anything to say, Mr.
Snow? Anything to say? A dramatic story unfolding in British Columbia tonight, revolving around this man, David Snow.
Police arrested him yesterday after a manhunt that chased him out of the mountains around North Vancouver.
They accused him of kidnapping 2 women and trying to kill a third.
You're not happy to see him.
It's not a job satisfaction, like, "Okay, now we've got you", because you're still working on your case all the way through.
I've already spoken to my lawyer.
I have nothing to say to you.
When you're sitting across from a murderer and you're asking questions, there's only one person in that room that knows everything, and it's not you.
So we thought: "Okay.
Let's throw everything out.
Let's just see what sticks".
Okay, but, um there's just one thing I I want to know.
Okay? What did you have Ian say to Nancy on the phone that night to convince her to come up to the cottage? All right, well, that's fine, David, because we know about everything else you did.
You've made it quite easy for us, actually.
We know that you killed Ian and Nancy Blackburn.
We had the DNA in the tissue matching up with David Snow's DNA.
It was a perfect match.
That was basically the nail in his coffin, so to speak.
Caroline Case.
We know that you spotted her after visiting your mom one day.
We know that you took her from her store.
We know you made her drive you home.
I'm gonna tell you everything, but I need a guarantee.
What guarantee? I don't get a day over 25 years.
I didn't want to make a deal with a killer and allow him a sentence that I felt was unfair for what he did, and that is life in jail, opportunity for parole after 25 years, but not an outright deal where it's 25 and done.
We're going to put you away for a long, long time, David.
We felt so adamant that we wanted to find Caroline Case and that David Snow was responsible for her murder.
There was no doubt in our mind.
He is a reasonable suspect in the Caroline Case matter.
We asked the OPP to do another search in that field where the car had been overturned.
Today, a convoy of cars carrying up to 100 officers moved into the area to conduct a blade-by-blade search of the grass.
Police found the remains to missing business woman Caroline Case.
There was an autopsy, but there wasn't enough evidence to relate back to David Snow.
I'm convinced that David Snow killed Caroline Case.
But me being convinced is not enough.
The fate of the man nicknamed the House Hermit is now in the jury's hands.
What we could do is only convict him for what we actually had.
And we had him for the Blackburns, and so that's the ones we charged him with, and that's the ones we could prove.
The Crown says the most important piece of evidence is a bloody tissue found in Nancy Blackburn's car.
The stained tissue contains Snow's DNA.
The only way we can properly speak for Ian and Nancy Blackburn is to have a conviction in the end.
As the verdict was read out, Snow had no reaction, simply staring downwards, never looking at the jury.
Life in prison with no chance of parole.
We got a conviction for Ian and Nancy.
Unfortunately, we couldn't do it for some other victims.
Asked by the judge if he had any words, Snow mumbled: "I've got nothing to say".
I don't think he feels bad about anything he's done.
He's a psychopath.
And I think feeling guilty is something he's not capable of.
I've had the occasion to be close to him and stare him right in the eye, and it's just a blank stare.
There just doesn't seem to be anything there.
Ian Blackburn's sister says: "Justice has been served".
It's been a long 6 months waiting for this to come.
And we're so thrilled that we finally have a verdict we all wanted.
It's done.
We're finished with this guy.
He's now going to a place that is better than what he deserves.
But it's finished.

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