Remember When? … #serialkillercapital

Remember When is a new series of posts where we take a look back at some of the funny, bizarre and downright disturbing incidents in Canada’s past.

Since cakers like to judge everyone else (particularly Americans) and point out their historic wrong-doings, it’s time to take a mirror to these incompetent hypocrites. Enjoy!


London, Ontario: Serial Killer Capital of the World

From the CBC:

“At first glance, London, Ont., doesn’t seem like the type of place that would harbour a serial killer, but a new book has revealed it may have been a more dangerous place than meets the eye.   

Only 192 kilometres southwest of Toronto, the city became the “serial killer capital of the world” from 1959 to 1984, according to Michael Arntfield, a criminology professor at the University of Western Ontario. With only a population of roughly 200,000 people at the time, the city may have had as many as six serial killers, more per capita than everywhere else on the planet.”

Yeah, that sounds about right for Ontario!

 “Arntfield, who also served as a London police officer for 15 years, analyzed 32 homicides, all the victims being women and children, over a 15-year period…   

Monsters such as the Mad Slasher, Chambermaid Slayer and Balcony Killer are suspected of having roamed the city’s streets. Some of the murderers were never captured, Arntfield says, but he suspects they escaped to Toronto, where they continued to harm the innocent.”

More incompetence:

“While these lives are being taken in Toronto, Alsop is trying to sound the alarm to his superiors that this is the work of a serial killer and it started in London and has moved to Toronto.  

In the book, there is a very chilling document that was found in his codex … and it is the first of several teletype transmissions he sent, like an early version of a fax, and it is sent to the higher ups in Toronto saying, listen, London is under siege by [what he refers to as] sexual psychopaths, which is not a common term certainly for a police officer to be using at the time. He is saying there are at least two or more sexual psychopaths preying on this city. We need reinforcements. He was effectively alone in the hinterland. And there is no evidence there was any response. It fell on deaf ears and really the city was left to its own devices with him as the sole person chasing these killers.”


From the Guardian:

In regards to the book Murder City:

“Dennis Alsop, a detective sergeant with the Ontario provincial police, was based in the London area between 1950 and 1979. He kept all of his notes and research on the murders hidden until he died in 2012.  

“Through [Alsop’s] diary entries, he knew who did it and he was basically stonewalled from making arrests, because they felt he didn’t have enough, they wanted a slam dunk,” said Arntfield. “So he kept tabs on these people on his own time until they moved from London, and it seems that at least in one case there are other victims in Toronto connected to the same killer.”  

But even if all of the remaining cases were found to be the work of a single killer, London would retain the record for having the largest verified concentration of serial killers operating in one place at one time.  

“New York and Los Angeles at any given time have had four or five, but London at the time had a mean population of 170,000,” said Arntfield, adding that in megacities like New York and Los Angeles the per-capita equivalent would be about 80 or 90 per city.”


What’s amazing to me (but also unsurprising) is the fact not only did London have more serial killers per capita at the time, but it had roughly the equivalent of a major American city, which you’d expect to still have attracted more (per capita) on the basis of anonymity and choice of victims.

Of course back then Canada was even more of a hillbilly backwater than it is today.

What’s also sad to me is the fact this dedicated officer Dennis Alsop tried to solve these crimes, received no support and was left struggling on his own. In fact, he was so dedicated: “He kept all of his notes and research on the murders hidden until he died in 2012.” He didn’t even get to see a final resolution.

His work became the basis for the book: “Murder City: The Untold Story of Canada’s Serial Killer Capital, 1954-1984″. I’ll add it to my reading list, because I’m actually quite touched by Alsop’s efforts.


From Amazon:

“Like the mythic cities of Gotham or Gomorrah, London, Ontario was for many years an unrivalled breeding ground of depravity and villainy, the difference being that its monsters were all too real. In its coming to inherit the unwanted distinction of being the serial killer capital of not just Canada-but apparently also the world during this dark age in the city’s sordid history- the crimes seen in London over this quarter-century period remain unparalleled and for the most part unsolved. From the earliest documented case of homicidal copycatting in Canada, to the fact that at any given time up to six serial killers were operating at once in the deceivingly serene “Forest City,” London was once a place that on the surface presented a veneer of normality when beneath that surface dark things would whisper and stir.


Through it all, a lone detective would go on to spend the rest of his life fighting against impossible odds to protect the city against a tidal wave of violence that few ever saw coming, and which to this day even fewer choose to remember. With his death in 2011, he took these demons to his grave with him but with a twist-a time capsule hidden in his basement, and which he intended to one day be opened. Contained inside: a secret cache of his diaries, reports, photographs, and hunches that might allow a new generation of sleuths to pick up where he left off, carry on his fight, and ultimately bring the killers to justice-killers that in many cases are still out there.”


Yeah, Ontario is truly a creepy place, so is the north. This post is even more ironic in light of reading some comments online where a Canadian bashed Americans for their ‘serial killer filled nation’. Yes, there are all kinds of crazy in a nation of 300 million people … but Canada creeps me out infinitely more.


Post script

I finally got around to reading this book. Let me warn you, it is disturbing. And it comes with everything you’d expect from Canada: incompetence, bumbling; indifference that beggars belief.

Which includes: serious sexual offenders and killers sentenced to 5-10 years in prison; using techniques, technologies and systems 15+ years after they became available in the U.S.; even brushing off serial murder as an “American problem”, which apparently couldn’t exist in the magical land of Canada.

All this and more! Of the few cases which were solved, it was generally down to sheer luck or the help of witnesses. A couple more through DNA in recent years, after the offenders died. In addition to being disturbed, be prepared for healthy doses of outrage.