Sad anniversaries: 3,400 unsolved murders in Canada

Jacqueline EnglishFour decades of agonizing uncertainty. Forty years of wondering why. It’s hard to fathom the torment endured in that span by the family of Jacqueline English (inset). The 15-year-old London, Ontario, girl was abducted, raped and murdered 40 years ago. Her murderer, perhaps a serial killer who preyed on young girls in the region during that time, has not been caught.

Too many of these grim anniversaries pass unnoticed. It is not surprising. Jacqueline’s case is but one among thousands. There are more than 3,400 unsolved murders in Canada, dating back to 1961. Who knows how many more from decades beyond. Many cases are gone from view, dissolved like sugar cubes in warm water. Many of these cases are not being actively investigated. Time has faded memories, washed away evidence and bred inertia. Jacqueline’s case does not appear on the cold case web list of the London Police Service.

Jacqueline was last seen leaving the former Treasure Island shopping plaza on Wellington Road in London on Oct. 4 and getting into a car. Five days later, her naked body was found in Big Otter Creek, near Tillsonburg, a small community about 40 kilometres east of London. She had been raped and struck on the head. Jacqueline’s case was among 20 examined by a cold-case task force that operated for several years in the late 1990s in southwestern Ontario. Though some cases were cracked, Jacqueline’s murder was not solved.

In 2000, Jacqueline’s sister, Anne English-Cremers, put pain to paper in this poignant letter to the editor published in a London newspaper:

Many of us have lived with the tragic effect of these events for decades. Time and time again, our hopes have been renewed, only to fade away. We have waited and watched as family members succumbed to chronic or terminal illness. We have quietly acknowledged our loved ones’ (the victims) birthdays, which remain uncelebrated, as well as the anniversary of their sudden deaths.

We have spent uncountable hours reliving the facts of each case, uncountable hours with our memories of that macabre time, uncountable hours questioning whether we could have somehow altered the fate of our loved ones. We have entertained ideas of how different our existence may have been had these murders never occurred or even the difference if the person(s) responsible had been found and held accountable for our loss.

Someone, somewhere knows or suspects the person(s) responsible but chooses to protect their family from the stigma that would surely be attached to the revelation of the guilty party. So, we the families of the many loved ones taken will, in all likelihood, live the remainder of our lives with the unimaginable thoughts and questions of who and why, while the family of the killer(s) lives the remainder of their lives with guilt and shame for their lack of courage as the price for total anonymity.

Roughly 90 of the approximately 600 murders committed in Canada each year are not solved. While every murder leaves a life story unwritten, these 90 are wretched for the doubts and uncertainty they sow.

If you know anything about the murder of Jacqueline English, or any other unsolved murder, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS, or call your local police department.

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4 thoughts on “Sad anniversaries: 3,400 unsolved murders in Canada

  1. I have been waiting for 35 years for the detectives to solve the murder of my young 16 year old daughter who was abducted…raped and murdered on March 29th 1975. Sharron was the eldest of my 4 children. her twin sisters were 14 yrs old at the time and my son was only 11yrs old.Sharron was abducted at 7:1Opm on a Saturday night -she was on her way to meet some friends at a restaurant but she never arrived.Sharron was allowed out untill 11pm on a Saturday night and she was very punctual—if she was going to be a little late she would call me.Eleven thirty no call, 12midnight no call–1am no Sharron -no call.I was getting very worried and started to call her friends who she was was going to meet at the restaurant.. Everyone that I called said that they had not seen sharron at all that night.Then one of her friends called me back and said—I don’t want to worry you —but there was an attack of a women not to far from the restaurant around 7:pm. A man tried to pull a women in a laneway–he had a knife–the police were called she said. That is when I really frantic. “NOW GET THIS! I called the police around 2;am to report my daughter not coming home and they told me that she is probably out partying.I told them that there was an attack on a women where my daughter was heading and that there was police report. The police told my to call them tomorrow! The next day around 11:am EASTER SUNDAY I called the police again. This time they took down all the details and her photo. Sharron was found on the southshore of Montreal que.The police did not spread her photo around to different communnities like they were required to do. Sharron was found 4 days later (as i said) a 25minute drive away from home. Life has never been the same for our family our lives have been cut in two—-when we talk about some thing I notice that we say “WAS THAT BEFOR SHARRON MURDER OR AFTER. I have a website for Sharron—-IT is HTT://www.sharronprior.com My tears still fall———Sharron’s mom

  2. I also meant to comment on saying that we are responsible for our own safety, well Jacqueline was a child and I sure as hell don't want our kids going to westminister highschool packing a gun or any other weapon, and I had access to a gun and so did my sister, does this guy think I should have used it to protect myself in my own home. Weapons are not the answer, People helping people instead of hiding their heads in the sand like the parents of all those kids in my neighborhood is the answer. We were children for God Sakes. Six adults choose to leave us living with a monster, not one of them attempted to report him to an authority. He put his hands on their crothches and inside their bathingsuits and all these people did was make me feel like a leaper by telling their kids to stay away from the Howards. I ran into another old neighbor on a bus 10 years ago and She had the nerve to ask me if my father had been molesting us when we lived across the street. She had no children but she used to give all the kids cookies and befriend them all. and then one day she just didn't have time for Eileen anymore. my science teacher and guidance counsillor lived across the street, knew what he was doing to us and the gutless wonder did nothing. The answer to the problem is not arming women, it is people caring about people you fool. It is still happening to this day. Get your head out of the sand and help your fellow man. When something is wrong for Gods sake tell the authorities. So what if you might be wrong. I might be wrong but I know he did what he did to my sister and I and my neighbors children so how wrong would it be for someone to have reported him. I was 11 years old when my sister left. She still lives with leaving me behind. and I told her it wasn't her fault, it was his fault and his dam gun in his drawer and his fear tactics not hers. She thought he would kill me and my mother before he would ever spend a day in jail. No guns.Someone might use them on the wrong person.

  3. I have tried to tell many that Eric Barton Howard is probably Jacqueline dunleavey's and Jacqueline english and Lynne Harpers murder but no one wants to listen to the ravings of his daughter. He was a Sgt.Major in the army and was discharged the same time as the Dunleavey murder. His dates and posting coincide with the murders since 1956 in london ont. to lynns in 59 where he was at the base in ipperwash and was a paratrooper so would need to travel back and fourth to clinton airforce base. he molested two of his own daughters, this is fact as I am one of them, he attempted to molest 3 of my childhood friends in the late 60's but I did not know about it until one of them told me when I bumped into her when I was in my late 30's I am 52. Suprisely enough he died in the mid 80's and the murders seemed to have stopped when he was diagnosed with an anurism that would kill him at age 62. I cannot write out all the dates on this post as it takes to long and I have given the information to tips. My sister took so long to help me know I wasn't crazy, that he did it to her for many many years, as she had a bedroom in the basement of our house and no one could hear him. I became a bad kid run away and ruined my whole life trying to figure out why I had imagined this, as my mother told me and everyone else. I am sorry that my silence probably caused more girls to be hurt, but I did try to tell my mother and I got listed as a lunatic. My whole neighborhood feared him so much, none of the girls he was trying to pull their pants off in our swimmingpool or grabbed their crotches etc etc said anything except to their own parents and their parents stopped them from being allowed to be around me all of a sudden. I always thought I did something wrong. Even the parents did nothing. they all knew he killed those girls too or suspected it and did nothing to help us or stop him. I do understand in a way. I know what fearing for your life is like, every single day. If you want to test my DNA against the evidence left in the murders, if there is any. to see if I am a relative of the murderer, I am quite willing.

  4. When I read of the missing women of the Lower East Side in Vancouver, or the missing women on the Highway of Tears in Northern BC, or the missing native women in Western Canada and now of the murder of Jacqueline English, I wonder why is it that none of these women–none–ever considered owning or carrying a firearm? Women, generally, are smaller and weaker than men physically and so an untrained man will usually overpower an untrained woman. Given these facts, you would think women would avail themselves of something to even the odds if they were raped or assaulted. They do not. In fact, women have been at the forefront of the campaign to remove handguns from ALL Canadians. Women were applauding when Allan Rock abolished .25 and .32 calibre pistols, the kind women used to carry. Women, generally, want to be unprotected at all times.

    I once wrote a blog post on this and got roundly criticized for suggesting women were, in some part, responsible for their own safety. I was accused of 'blaming the victim.'

    And yet, in a free society, we all have responsibilities for our own security. We can't rely on the police to be at every location at every time on every day. Can we?

    Could women arm themselves today? In the United States yes. In Canada no.

    I think this shows something is very wrong in the way half the population thinks about their place in society and their role in public safety. The result; more unsolved murders of women. It didn't need to end this way.

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