Serial child killer David Threinen’s reign of terror

Terror took root in central Saskatchewan on this day 40 years ago. On June 15, 1975, two children, 12-year-old Dahrlyne Cranfield and Robert Grubesic (inset), 9, disappeared while riding their bicycles along the South Saskatchewan River in Saskatoon. Roughly a month later, Samantha Turner, 8, and Cathy Scott, 7, disappeared. Parents kept their children home behind locked doors. Finally, a tip led police to David Threinen, a truck driver with a history of sex attacks against children. He confessed and led officers to the bodies of his victims. He had strangled them and dumped them in two remote locations outside Saskatoon. A psychiatric report revealed in parole records (read document after the jump) would later describe Threinen as “a cold, amoral individual who felt compelled to offend sexually against children and who experienced no remorse for his victims even when he killed them.”

Threinen, who is serving life in prison on four counts of murder, appeared before the parole board in 2000. At the time, he was behind bars at Mountain Institution, a medium-security prison in British Columbia. Threinen told the board members that he deserved to die in prison. According to a Canadian Press report of the hearing, Threinen said: “I will spend the rest of my life in prison. I will die here. I’m where I belong. They’re still forcing me to take programs geared for release, a release I don’t want, and I’m getting tired of it. I’m just looking for help any place I can get it.”

The written record of that hearing (appears in full below) states that Threinen had a juvenile criminal record that began at an early age and included rape and molestation of young females. 

Parole board members were told at the 2000 hearing that Threinen still represented a “significant risk” to the community. He was denied any form of release. Threinen also was denied release during an appearance before the parole board in 1995. At that hearing (written record below), parole board members referred to a damning psychological assessment that concluded Threinen is “a fixated pedophile with predatory and homicidal characteristics.”

Threinen was acquitted of murdering Angela Humer, a 15-year-old Lethbridge, Alberta girl, who was killed in 1972, even though he admitted to investigators that he found himself out in the country with a body in the backseat of his car. He claimed he could not remember how it got there or what happened, only that he dumped the body and drove off. In subsequent years, prosecutors said that Threinen admitted to friends that he had killed the girl.

Threinen confessed to the murders of the four Saskatoon children. He gave detailed statements to police, explaining that he lured the children into his car with promises of ice cream, then drove them to secluded spots where he strangled them to death. He told investigators he couldn’t explain why he killed the children, except that he acted on some overpowering evil urge.

The written record of the August 2000 parole hearing:




The written record of Threinen’s parole hearing in July 1995:




* Note: this post was edited in April 2016 to add the written record of Threinen’s 1995 parole hearing

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