Twenty five years after Hanna Buxbaum was dragged from her car and shot in the head three times by a masked gunman hired by her wealthy husband Helmuth (inset), the Buxbaum family is still battling in court.
The legal feud is over the final division of cash in a trust fund established for the six children of the London, Ontario couple. One sibling disputed the handling of the money, touching off a nasty and clearly bitter court fight that led to an order against one of the children today [read about that development here].
The children were essentially orphaned more than two decades ago by a murderous father. Helmuth Buxbaum had his wife killed and was sentenced to life in prison two years later though, as you can see in the rambling letters he wrote to me from prison (reproduced below), he repeatedly denied having anything to do with his wife’s murder. He signed off on some of his penitentiary correspondence with the child-like alias “I.M Innocent.”
Buxbaum was convicted of hiring hitman Gary Foshay to shoot his wife Hanna along a highway near London, Ontario, on July 5, 1984. Buxbaum pulled over at a prearranged spot. Foshay dragged Hanna from the car, threw her into a ditch and fired three shots into her head. Buxbaum’s nephew, who was in the car, and was not part of the plot, watched in horror. Foshay got life with no parole for 15 years and has since been paroled. Two years after the murder, Buxbaum was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years, after a sensational 68-day trial that exposed him as a Jekyll and Hyde creature: By day, he was a church-going community leader and successful businessman who built a small empire of nursing homes that was worth millions. By night, he was a sex-crazed cocaine addict with an insatiable appetite for prostitutes.
In prison, Buxbaum was a target of conspiracies and plots, in part, because he still had access to cash. He was injected by fellow convicts at Millhaven penitentiary with battery acid. In Kingston Penitentiary, he was part of a clumsy escape plot that was discovered by prison authorities. He married a woman he met while behind bars, Liza Dikih, but the relationship quickly fizzled when Buxbaum realized she was simply after his money. In a telephone interview with me from Kingston Pen in April 1990, at the time his first since his conviction, he lamented his romantic failure:
I’m in prison and I have to try to survive and rebuild a life eventually and she expects me to buy her diamond rings and diamond bracelets and I just can’t see that at all … I thought it was love.
Buxbaum would have been eligible to seek parole in July 2009. He died November 1, 2007, of lung cancer at age 68 while still behind bars. An inquest called to review his death, mandatory in all deaths in custody, did not produce any recommendations. The inquest jury’s report appears below.
If you want to know more about the Buxbaum case, there are two books on it, The Prodigal Husband: The Tragedy of Helmuth and Hannah Buxbaum, by Michael Harris and Conspiracy to Murder: The Helmuth Buxbaum Trial, by Heather Bird.