Violent bank robber, murder suspect Micky McArthur gets freedom

The last time Micky McArthur was free from prison, he armed himself with a high-powered rifle, robbed a bank in a small central Ontario town and tried to kill three police officers blocking his getaway. He shot two others. Now, 24 years after the bloody bank heist, the career criminal has convinced authorities to give him unsupervised release from prison. He is serving four life sentences, among 200 convictions. His freedom comes despite longstanding objections of police, who believe McArthur also got away with murder. It is well known publicly that investigators believe McArthur kidnapped and murdered a man, 24-year-old Tom Gencarelli, in Kingston, Ontario, in 1982. Cancrime learned that McArthur is a suspect in a second unsolved homicide, a 35-year-old case long shrouded in mystery and tied to the federal prison system.

The Parole Board of Canada granted McArthur unescorted passes to leave prison for short periods, even though he has mocked his victims, boasted of his unrepentance and has committed violent crimes every time he’s been turned loose. The board acknowledges he has an “extensive criminal history” that is littered with “extreme violence” but has decided that, despite his “moderate risk to reoffend,” his freedom on unescorted passes “is not undue.”

A veteran police officer who pursued McArthur for years and who arrested him after his bloodiest bank robbery – one of dozens he committed – was shocked when he learned from Cancrime that McArthur had been granted unsupervised freedom.

“I can’t believe it and that should not be happening,” said Larry Edwards, who retired two years ago after a nearly four-decade career with the police department in Kingston, Ontario. “We’ve been opposed to any form of release or consideration whatsoever for years for him.”

Edwards said McArthur is “ruthless.”

The robbery in which three officers were shot happened in Port Perry, Ontario on October 20, 1994. It is a small, picturesque lakefront town 80 kilometres northeast of Toronto. At the time, McArthur was free from penitentiary on early release, serving the remainder of a 14-year sentence in the community because he had fooled authorities into believing he had renounced crime.

McArthur and his accomplice burst into the bank around 7:30 that evening, waving guns and shouting. McArthur was armed with a military-style rifle equipped with a 30-shot magazine. The accomplice had a handgun. When bank manager Alan Knight, 45, didn’t quickly open the vault, McArthur shot him in the leg.

Micky McArthur
Micky McArthur in an old mugshot (left) and one released in 2013

As the pair ran from the bank with $50,000 in cash, they were confronted by arriving police officers in two vehicles. McArthur sprayed bullets at two officers in an approaching cruiser. Bullets tore into the face of Constable Mark McConkey, 45, blowing off part of his jaw. His partner, Constable Warren Ellis, 28, also was struck in the head. Bullet fragments lodged near his brain. Detective Paul Mooy had arrived in a separate vehicle and had just leapt from his car and dashed toward a pillar to seek cover when a bullet struck him in the arm, shattering bone in two places. A stray bullet from McArthur’s fusillade whizzed into a nearby office, striking realtor Debra-Ann Taylor, 41, who was working late. Bullet fragments pierced her heart and lodged near her lungs. She suffered permanent, debilitating injuries. McArthur emptied his clip and the bandits fled on bicycles that they had hidden near the bank. The seriously wounded police officers were unable to return fire.

Half an hour after the robbery, the bandits broke into the home of Port Perry seniors Harry and Marjorie Pearce, both in their 70s. Harry wasn’t home. The men held the terrified woman hostage until her husband returned, then forced him to drive them to a stashed getaway car, hidden in the parking lot of a hospital.

Heavily armed police officers stormed into a north end Kingston townhouse early the next day, October 21, and arrested McArthur, then 42. His brother Angus, 28, was arrested at another home in Kingston. Both men were charged with robbing the bank. Mitchell McArthur was convicted. His brother was acquitted.

A judge later said that McArthur turned the area into a “war zone” and inflicted “a reign of terror on the citizens of Port Perry.” An appeal court said that the robbery and shootings were the product of a “careful plan implemented with deadly detachment and efficiency.”

McArthur has subsequently spun a fanciful story about the robbery, portraying it as an impulsive decision by a desperate man on supervised prison release. He has told the parole board that he had lost his job and was desperate to provide for his pregnant wife; the robbery was, he said, a “spur of the moment thing.” McArthur denied intentionally aiming at the three officers he shot, despite evidence that he unleashed a volley of shots at their heads from a semi-automatic rifle.

“If you go up there to Port Perry you can still see the marks on some of the [brick] columns where the bullets hit,” said Randy Henning, president of the Durham Region Police association. Henning was a constable at the time of the 1994 robbery.

“That was the most horrible day for this department when it comes to our people being hurt in the line of duty,” Henning told Cancrime, in an interview.

He said it was “shocking” that McArthur was granted unsupervised freedom.

“It was pure luck that somebody didn’t die that day,” Henning said.

McArthur, 66, who changed his name to Hollinger in a bid to evade public recognition, has never hesitated to shoot civilians or police officers that stand in his way.

In 1977, while he was free from prison on parole, he shot Toronto police officer Brian McNeil in the knee, after McNeil tried to stop McArthur from robbing a jewelry store with a fraudulent cheque.

In a gloating autobiography published in 1990, McArthur boasted that Constable McNeil was to blame for his own injury. He wrote, “he could have just let me go. But he wanted to play hero.” Desperate for freedom in 2018, McArthur told the parole board that he did not intend to shoot McNeil; he claimed he was aiming at the floor.

McArthur has committed crimes continuously since his youth, except when behind bars.

He has escaped eight times, including breakouts from three federal penitentiaries, including maximum security. During a 15-month stretch of freedom that began with an escape in October 1984 from maximum-security Millhaven penitentiary, McArthur pulled many robberies, including one in Idaho. He is still wanted for the holdup in the U.S.

He narrowly avoided prosecution for murder when a key Crown witness died just months before a trial was set to begin in 1999. McArthur had been through a preliminary inquiry and had been committed to trial. Police believe McArthur kidnapped and murdered Tom Gencarelli, a 24-year-old Kingston man who disappeared November 12, 1982. Gencarelli’s body has not been found, despite several intensive searches.

Tom Gencarelli (left) who vanished in Kingston, Ontario in 1982 and David Hannah, who was a correctional officer at Millhaven penitentiary near Kingston, who disappeared weeks later. Micky McArthur is a suspect in both cases, believed to be homicides.

The latest parole decision in McArthur’s case, acquired by Cancrime, includes a revelation, never before disclosed by authorities, that McArthur is a “person of interest” in a second unsolved homicide. The written record of the parole decision provides no details of the case but Cancrime learned that investigators believe McArthur kidnapped and murdered David Hannah, a correctional officer at Millhaven maximum-security penitentiary near Kingston, Ontario.

Hannah was 37 when he vanished in January 1983, just weeks after Gencarelli disappeared. Police have said publicly that Hannah was murdered and a $50,000 reward was offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer or killers. Investigators have never publicly disclosed information about suspects or motives in Hannah’s death. McArthur spent many years locked behind bars at Millhaven. Hannah worked at Millhaven from May 1972 until his disappearance in 1983.

Retired correctional officer David McDonald worked with Hannah the night of Hannah’s last shift at the penitentiary, January 3, 1983. In an interview with Cancrime, McDonald said Hannah didn’t say anything unusual or behave out of character that night.

“We were in a state of riot most of the time back then,” McDonald recalled of the atmosphere at Millhaven at the time.

“There was the talk that at the time [Hannah] was seeing Micky McArthur’s girlfriend,” McDonald said. “The word was, it was along the context that Gencarelli had been seeing this girl and then he disappeared and then Davey Hannah ended up meeting up with this girl and seeing her and then he disappeared … Micky McArthur’s name was brought up each time.”

Police have said Hannah left his home in the Village of Millhaven on January 4, 1983, driving his blue, 1969 Oldsmobile Delta 88 and has not been seen since. He had withdrawn $100 from a bank account. Hannah’s apartment was undisturbed and contained all of his belongings. His body and his car were not found.

In November 1982, when Gencarelli disappeared, his pregnant girlfriend, Marg Wilkinson, told reporters that she did not want to talk about the disappearance but, three months later, she said she was “terrified” every time she left the house. Wilkinson revealed that she’d been friends with the sister of a federal prisoner – though she did not publicly name McArthur – and had visited him while he was confined at Collins Bay Institution, a medium-security prison in Kingston.

“Apparently he thought I was supposed to marry him,” Wilkinson told a newspaper reporter in 1983. “I told him 100 times, ‘I’m just a friend.’ I guess it didn’t sink in.”

Wilkinson later had a child with McArthur.

When heavily armed police officers stormed into a Kingston apartment in October 1994 and arrested McArthur for the Port Perry robbery, Wilkinson was in the apartment. She was arrested and charged with obstructing police and with counselling her youngest daughter to obstruct police.

After Gencarelli disappeared, his family revealed that he had received threatening phone calls in the months before he vanished. The callers warned him to stay away from Marg Wilkinson. Kingston Police also revealed in 1983 that a letter “got into Tom [Gencarelli’s] hands” that warned him to stay away from Wilkinson. Roughly a month after Gencarelli disappeared, Wilkinson gave birth to a girl, her second child. In an interview in early 1983, she told a newspaper reporter that she and Gencarelli were going to marry and had planned to look for a house on the day he disappeared.

“He was the one who wanted the baby,” Wilkinson said. “He wanted to get married.”

Wilkinson portrayed herself, in the 1983 interview, as a victim frightened to leave the house and desperate to find her missing partner.

“I’m terrified,” she said. “I watch all the cars behind me. A few days ago I saw the same car four times and I got so scared I wrote down the licence number and gave it to the police.”

Wilkinson said her 10-year-old daughter had become a “frightened little girl.”

“I think that’s what’s pulling me through,” she said. “I have to stay alive, because I’m the mother of two children who need me.” She pleaded for public help in the investigation of Gencarelli’s disappearance.

“Tell people we’re begging for help,” she said. “People must know something. They must have seen something. Even if they just phone and don’t give their names.”

Police have been unrelenting in efforts to tie McArthur to the Gencarelli and Hannah cases.

“Police officers interviewed you in 2017,” the written record of the March 2018 parole hearing states. “You initially refused to meet them but eventually did, however you provided no useful information. The police indicate they intend on interviewing you again in the future.”

During his parole hearing, McArthur “denied any knowledge of the missing person cases regarding which you are considered by the police to be a ‘person of interest.’ You said you have been interviewed five times and during one of the interviews you became upset because you thought police officers were insulting your family, but you also said you have provided DNA samples to the police.”

“The Board finds there is insufficient reliable and persuasive information available regarding the missing person files to increase your risk to reoffend on the proposed UTA to an undue level.”

McArthur was granted unsupervised temporary absence passes to leave the Correctional Service facility in British Columbia, the Kwikwexwelhp aboriginal healing village located about 15 kilometres north of Chilliwack (and about 100 km east of Vancouver), where he’s confined.

It’s a 50-bed minimum-security penitentiary that operates on Aboriginal traditions, values and beliefs. McArthur’s passes allow him to leave the facility two days a week for up to eight hours each time, for 12 weeks. He’s getting the passes so that he can attend an Aboriginal healing day, described in a written record of the parole board decision as a “holistic program grounded in native culture and tradition, which includes therapy that builds on existing strengths and aspirations.”

In the March 27, 2018 decision, the parole board states that McArthur is a “moderate risk to reoffend” and, despite an “extensive criminal history that includes extreme violence,” it concludes he has “made sufficient progress and demonstrated a satisfactory period of positive and stable institutional behaviour to support the [unescorted temporary absence].” The board concluded that McArthur’s “risk to reoffend on the [passes] is not undue.”

McArthur told the board that he’s working to gain enough freedom to live outside prison with his wife and adult daughter. He claims that he has rediscovered and embraced his Aboriginal heritage and turned away from his old criminal lifestyle – an assertion he’s often made that has repeatedly proved to be untrue.

In a 2004 decision, Ontario’s top court called him a “dangerous person,” someone who is “ready to commit violent crimes to get money and is willing to kill those who try to stop him.” The court judgment overturned the decision of the trial judge who had sentenced McArthur to 23 years in prison for his crimes stemming from the Port Perry robbery. Instead, Ontario’s top court imposed four life sentences for four counts of attempted murder and for more than a dozen other crimes. An attempt by Crown prosecutors to have McArthur labelled a dangerous offender, a legal measure that could keep him behind bars forever, failed.

The Court of Appeal for Ontario said McArthur “shows no remorse and no insight into the harm done to his victims.” A psychiatrist who assessed him in 1996 said he suffers from an antisocial personality disorder – meaning that he exhibits a long list of antisocial and criminal behaviours – is narcissistic and has a “complete lack of concern for other people.” Alarmingly, the doctor found that McArthur’s criminal record was the opposite of what would be expected – he was growing more violent as he grew older. Dr. Stephen Hucker said McArthur “showed an increasing resort to violence, an inability and refusal to control aggression and an indifference to the suffering of victims.” The doctor found no indication that he had benefitted from any treatment or program provided to him over decades of incarceration.

McArthur bears the hallmarks of a psychopath – an egocentric, callous predator with superficial charm but no conscience and who exhibits a deadly combination of personality traits and deviant behaviour. He manipulates relentlessly to achieve gratification and avoid capture. Many psychopaths are virtually untreatable, in part, because they don’t believe there is anything wrong with their behaviour, regardless of the violence they commit and destruction they cause.

Decades of parole records reviewed by Cancrime make no mention of whether McArthur has ever been screened using the Psychopathy Checklist, a clinical tool used to identify psychopaths, who are far more likely to reoffend than non-psychopathic criminals.

McArthur’s records show that he has often tricked authorities into granting him early release and greater freedom, typically by feigning remorse and commitment to reformation. After a conviction for a 1983 armed robbery of a bank in Hepworth, a small community in western Ontario, McArthur told the sentencing judge that he was going to “put an end to my life of crime.”

In March 1993, when McArthur was being considered for parole, he told prison authorities that “incarceration has been a deterrent,” according to parole documents.

In the Hepworth robbery, McArthur fired shots at a truck pursuing his getaway vehicle. Bullets struck the pursuing vehicle and a stray shot nearly hit an elderly woman standing in the doorway of her home. McArthur was handed a 10-year sentence for the Hepworth holdup, two other stickups and assorted other crimes. During that sentence, McArthur wrote his fawning book titled, I’d Rather Be Wanted Than Had, the Memoirs of an Unrepentant Bank Robber. He boasted of his criminal expertise and the folly of authorities, whom he said mistreated him because he shot police officers.

“Once you shoot a police officer, they never forget you and they never let you forget either,” he wrote.

A 1993 parole record noted that McArthur had “letters of support from many community officials” including a prison warden. Authorities seemed entirely taken in by McArthur’s claim that he was renouncing crime.

“Appears to have divorced himself from the criminal sub-culture and that incarceration has had a maximum deterrence of further criminal activity,” the document states.

The decision set McArthur free on parole. Ten months later, he shot five people while robbing the Port Perry bank.

McArthur’s outlandish claims and feigned remorse seem absurd, in hindsight, but have convinced many of his sincerity. His autobiography overflows with grandiose assertions. In an interview in 1990, after the publication of the book, he said that it was painful to think about freedom.

“Sometimes when I look out through those prison bars to my freedom beyond, it hurts so much I can’t help it,” he said. “I just cry.”
He portrays himself a victim of a tortured life. “I’m not exactly grateful to Correction Services Canada for having put me in a position where I had to write this book or go insane,” he said, in a book publicity interview. “I mean, writing this book is fine, but I had to go through an awful lot of hell to do it.”

He has claimed that he was the product of a fractured home, raised by an abusive stepfather and placed into foster care when he was a teenager. He claims he was sexually and physically abused at a youth facility. He was, he wrote in his autobiography, transformed into an “insensitive, totally amoral vicious young punk.”

McArthur has not been a model prisoner.

In 2013, Corrections believed he attempted to escape from William Head Institution, a minimum-security prison on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. He was found on the grounds of the institution hours after his absence was first noted. He was soaking wet (the prison is next to the ocean) when found by a police dog. He was charged with escape lawful custody but the charge was later dropped when prosecutors concluded there was little chance of conviction. McArthur told prison and parole authorities he wasn’t trying to escape; he was hiding because be feared being transferred to a higher security prison in a CSC vehicle along with another prisoner who was bullying him.

In 2016, McArthur was transferred back to a medium-security penitentiary because of “adjustment problems that included aggressive and inflexible behaviour towards the other residents of your house,” a parole record notes.

The victims shot during the Port Perry bank robbery survived but all suffered serious medical trauma and, in some cases, devastating psychological harm. Several of the victims required many surgeries and years of physical therapy.

The estimated $50,000 that McArthur stole was never recovered.

Says Larry Edwards, the retired Kingston police officer: “He’s probably the most heinous …criminal I know.”


Micky McArthur – A Life of Crime

» His adult criminal record begins in 1968, when he was 16-17. In the next five years, he was convicted of 100 crimes.

» 8 prison/jail escapes (3 from federal penitentiaries)

» shot six people (four police officers) and others shot at, during dozens of robberies

 

» June 16, 1952: McArthur born in Cambridge, in southwestern Ontario; he grew up in several communities, including Walkerton, Paisley; he is now referred to in corrections and parole documents as Michiel Gordon Hollinger

» June 1973: Receives first penitentiary sentence

» 1977: While on parole, McArthur shoots Constable Brian McNeil, a Toronto police officer who tries to stop him from robbing a jewelry store with a fraudulent cheque; the officer was shot in the knee

» 1978: Convicted of assault causing bodily harm for shooting Const. McNeil

» Nov. 12, 1982: Tom Gencarelli, 24, a drywaller, disappears after leaving his Kingston, Ontario apartment at 7:30 a.m.

» January 4, 1983: David Hannah, 37, a correctional officer at Millhaven penitentiary, disappears after leaving his home in the Village of Millhaven, just west of Kingston

» August 1983: McArthur and an accomplice rob a small bank in Hepworth, Ontario, firing shots at a man who tried to stop them; they get away with roughly $78,000; at the time of the robbery, McArthur was on early release from prison

» October 1983: McArthur arrested in Calgary

» October 13, 1984: McArthur escapes from Millhaven Institution, a maximum-security federal penitentiary just west of Kingston

» January 1986: captured near Red Deer, Alberta; McArthur has committed numerous robberies during the 15 months since his Millhaven escape, including one holdup of a bank in St. Mary’s, Idaho and two bank robberies in British Columbia

» December 1986: Sentenced to 10 years in prison for various crimes, including the Hepworth holdup and the Millhaven escape

» 1990: While incarcerated, McArthur publishes 243-page autobiography boasting of his bank robbing prowess and the incompetence of police titled: I’d Rather Be Wanted Than Had, the Memoirs of an Unrepentant Bank Robber

» December 1993: McArthur released from prison on day parole

» June 1994: released from a halfway house to serve the remainder of his sentence in the community

» October 20, 1994: McArthur and a masked accomplice rob Bank of Montreal branch in Port Perry, Ontario, shooting five people during their getaway, including three police officers

» October 21, 1994: McArthur and his younger brother Angus arrested in Kingston, Ontario and charged in the Port Perry robbery; Angus was later acquitted

» March 1996: McArthur charged with first-degree murder in the disappearance/death of Tom Gencarelli

» April 1997: After a two-month, 90-witness trial, McArthur found guilty of a slew of charges stemming from the Port Perry robbery; after an appeal by prosecutors, he was sentenced to life in prison on four counts of attempted murder

» December 1998: murder charge against McArthur in Gencarelli’s disappearance is withdrawn, two months before trial was set to begin, because a key witness for the prosecution died

» September 2013: McArthur can’t be found on the grounds of William Head Institution, a minimum-security penitentiary on the southern tip of Vancouver Island; he’s found on the grounds, soaking wet, hours later. He is charged with escaping lawful custody but the charge is later withdrawn.

» March 2018: McArthur granted unescorted passes to leave prison


The March 2018 parole decision giving McArthur unescorted passes:

» Read more of McArthur’s parole files in the Parole Records Library


UPDATE: August 20, 2018: The parole board extended McArthur’s unescorted pass program in a decision in July. Below is the written record of the second decision:


A reward poster released by police in 2011 in the case of David Hannah:

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