It seems a cruel turn of fate that the Beast of British Columbia has outlived from behind bars his nemesis. Gary Rosenfeldt (inset), a man heralded as a pioneer of victims’ rights in Canada, died this week after a battle with cancer. In 1981, Clifford Olson abducted, raped and murdered Rosenfeldt’s 16-year-old stepson, Daryn Johnsrude. Daryn was one of 11 children Olson killed before he was caught and jailed for life in 1982. Olson turned 69 on Jan. 1 and remains behind bars. Rosenfeldt was 67 when he died this week. Olson is likely to die in prison. (UPDATE: Olson died behind bars in 2011 – after the jump, read a confidential prison document outlining claims Olson had made about other unsolved child murders).
Olson is no doubt gleeful to see an old enemy gone. Rosenfeldt and his wife Sharon launched a national crusade for victims’ rights after they were plunged into the criminal justice system because of Olson’s deeds. They fought for, and won, greater access to the corrections and parole systems and cast a bright light on a dark and misunderstood process. Olson hated Rosenfeldt’s success and despised his public prominence, particularly because Rosenfeldt routinely made public appearances in which he reminded the nation that Olson was a perverted monster who had tortured, sexually abused and horribly murdered his young victims. In 1988, Olson could apparently take it no longer. He made a terrible mistake, writing to Rosenfeldt from his cell at Kingston Penitentiary, wailing that it was an attack on his character to claim that he had sexually molested his victims. The fact was true, although it was not entered as evidence when he pleaded guilty to the 11 murders. Olson wrote to Rosenfeldt, with his typically fractured syntax and misspellings. (This passage is reproduced verbatim from a copy of the letter I obtained 20 years ago.)
I have asked the Alberta Legal Aid society to appoint a lawyer to have criminal proceedings and civil laws suits filed against you personally for false statements and also for trying to expose me to hatred, contemp or ridicule me as a persons that raped and murdered 11 youngsters as you state in all your writings to news papers and others. They inform me that I have a case for Defamatory slander of reputation so smart ass we will see you in court hope you got a lot of extra monies to pay the legal bills.
Olson further fanned the public’s revulsion of him, telling Rosenfeldt that his stepson had told Olson, on the day he died, that he hated Rosenfeldt. Citizens were enraged when they learned a psychopathic serial killer was taunting the families of his victims from his prison cell. A prison crackdown on Olson’s prison missives was ordered. The warden of Kingston Penitentiary began seizing any outgoing mail from Olson directed at the families of his victims.
The Olson-Rosenfeldt feud was just one of many public spectacles inspired by the serial killer, in part, to feed his ego and keep his name in the public eye. Olson’s biggest ploy for exposure has been, and continues to be today, his insistence that he has information that will help solve other murders and catch other killers. Olson claims that he was involved in some of the killings or that he simply has details because he consorted with other murderers. The document below was completed in 1986 by a case management officer at Kingston Penitentiary who had interviewed Olson while he was imprisoned there. A copy of it was obtained by Cancrime.