Steven Truscott Case Still Fascinates and Haunts Clinton, Ontario
It was 1959 when a 14-year-old boy named Steven Truscott was sentenced to death for the murder of 12-year-old Lynn Harper in Clinton, Ontario. The only evidence that secured his conviction was a number of eye-witness accounts that Steven was seen giving Lynn a ride on the cross bars of his bicycle as they headed away from their school toward County Road. It was the last time Lynn Harper was seen alive. The following day police found little Lynne dead in a wooded grove, strangled with her bra, and raped. Steven swore he dropped Lynne off at the intersection of County Road and Highway 8 and left her there, unharmed. Steven told police that when he looked back at Lynne she was in the process of getting into an unfamiliar vehicle. Three days later police arrested Steven and charged him with first degree murder under the provisions of the Juvenile Delinquents Act.
The jury found Steven guilty and as was required under Canadian law at that time, the judge sentenced Steven to death by hanging. Fortunately for Steven this sentence was commuted to life imprisonment the following year. He would eventually spend ten years behind bars in the Kingston Penitentiary and Collins Bay Penitentiary. watch Prison Television (Kingston)
Three decades later, Steven broke his silence on the program The Fifth Estate. Evidence pointed toward the police laying charges too quickly, while they dismissed some witnesses and ignored other potential suspects, including Air Force Sergeant Alexander Kalichuk. Kalichuk. was a heavy drinker, a known pedophile, and had prior convictions for sexual assaults. Ten days before Lynne`s murder Kalichuk tried to lure three little girls into his car. Shortly after Lynne`s murder he left Clinton and never returned. In 1975, Kalichuk drank himself to death.
Steven still remembered those days in a holding jail cell in Goderich, Ont., when he feared he would be hanged before his 15th birthday. “I woke up one day and somebody was building something outside the wall,” he told The Fifth Estate. “You could hear the hammering, and I thought they were building a scaffold. And it’s just kind of living in terror, and every day you expect it to be your last.” watch wrongful conviction special part 1 of 6
On October 21, 1969, Steven was released on parole and eventually settled in Guelph, Ontario under an assumed name. He married and raised three children. Many experts believe his case led to Canada abolishing the death penalty in 1976. On April 6, 2006, the body of Lynne Harper was exhumed in order to test for DNA evidence, but no usable DNA was recovered from the remains.
On August 28, 2007, Steven was finally acquitted of the charges. Lynne`s family never agreed that Steven is innocent of the murder, and in July 2008, her brother described Steven`s compensation package as “a real travesty“.
Attorney General of Ontario Michael Bryant (yes, he who killed Darcy Sheppard on Bloor Street in Toronto) apologized to Truscott on behalf of the provincial government, stating they were “truly sorry” for the miscarriage of justice (we could take this so many places, but let us stay focused on poor Steven Truscott). watch Steven Truscott gets acquitted.
The Steven Truscott case has had far-reaching effects. Laurier LaPierre, co-host of a CBC news show, This Hour Has Seven Days, was fired after shedding a tear during an interview with Steven`s mother. LaPierre’s reaction infuriated CBC president Alphonse Ouimet. The president, already a critic of the program, stated LaPierre was “unprofessional.` watch Laurier`s People Promo
Steven Truscott will not be completely exonerated without DNA evidence. Lynne Harper’s murder remains unsolved.
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