Was it a simple murder-suicide?
A crime of twisted passion?
Greed gone wrong?
Or something more sinister?
But if he, she or they were spies, who for?
What happened that night in December 1943 in Marlborough Woods remains one of the enduring mysteries of World War II…
By Stephen Kimber
“GOT SOMETHING VERY INTERESTING FOR YOU, ERIC.” It was George Fox, the deputy chief of police, on the phone. For some reason, Fox liked the Herald better than its rival and would often call the paper’s city editor, Eric Dennis, or other reporters at the paper to quietly tip them off to stories before the Chronicle reporters would catch wind of them. “There’s been what looks like a murder-suicide down in Marlborough Woods.”Murder-suicide? In Marlborough Woods? Eric Dennis was interested already. It was December 1, 1943.“And the circumstances… well, let’s just say they seem a little strange,” Fox added mysteriously. “I’d get down there as soon as possible. The old Fluck cottage. You know the place I mean.”
Eric Dennis did. He looked at his watch. Nearly three o’clock. He’d been at the office since before seven and was hoping to make an early day of it. He’d spent last night having a few drinks aboard HMCS Halifax in the harbour. He was now on the mayor’s committee to support the city’s namesake vessel. Because of that, the captain called Eric whenever the corvette was in port and invited him out for drinks.
Tonight he could use a little rest from all that socializing. And he should stop by the hospital to visit Maxine, who was waiting to deliver their second child. Luckily, her sister had moved in with them recently—she’d come east to find herself a navy man, Eric would joke—and was taking care of Dixie, the Dennis’s first-born who wasn’t quite a year old. Maxine’s mother was staying with them too. She’d come to help with the delivery. So, even though he knew he should finish work and tend to the home fires, Eric also knew everything there was under control. A murder-suicide? In Marlborough Woods? Perhaps he’d just stop by for a few minutes on his way home. See what it was all about.
One of the policemen recognized him as a reporter and waved him past the gawkers. “Just stay off the back path,” was all he’d said. So Eric had wandered around to the rear of the big green house and followed the already police-worn snow trail beside the stone path that led from the back door to the shore 50 yards away. Along the pathway, in the still fresh, first winter’s snow, he could see two clearly identifiable sets of footprints headed toward the boathouse. The first belonged to a man. The second? A woman? A child? Eric couldn’t be sure. At the bottom of the path, on the wooden landing leading to the boathouse entrance, the snow had been trampled, as if the two people who’d made the footprints had struggled here. There was blood on the snow too. Ralph Smith, the provincial pathologist, was examining the spattered and frozen pools staining the whiteness. He picked up what appeared to be a piece of flesh from one red patch. “From the skull, most likely,” he said matter-of-factly, looking up at Dennis and pulling at some sticky strands attached to the flesh. “There’s hair. Blonde, I’d say.”
“Navy says a red canoe’s missing from the boathouse,” Dennis overheard one of the constables telling Jim Baker, the Inspector of Detectives who appeared to be in charge of the investigation. “And an axe too.”
“And bodies,” Baker added quietly. “Don’t forget that bodies are missing too.”
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