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A woman is found murdered after reporting more than 100 incidents of harassment and violence, but police think she staged the attacks herself.
On June 8, 1989, the quiet Vancouver, British Columbia, suburb of Richmond was shocked when a body was found lying in the yard of an abandoned house. The victim was a 44-year old nurse named Cindy James. She had been drugged and strangled. Her hands and feet had been tied behind her back. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police believed that Cindy’s death was either an accident or suicide.
In the seven years before she died, Cindy reported nearly 100 incidents of harassment. Five were violent physical attacks. Over time, the police began to doubt her stories. But Cindy’s parents never doubted that their daughter was murdered. Cindy’s father, Otto Hack:
It all began with mysterious phone calls four months after Cindy James separated from her husband. Tillie Hack, Cindy’s mother, said Cindy told her she didn’t recognize the voice:
Otto Hack, Cindy’s father, felt her daughter wasn’t telling everything she knew:
Cindy reported the threatening calls to Vancouver police, who began investigating. Over the next three months, she said that the harassment got worse. At night, she heard prowlers. Her porch lights were smashed and phone lines severed. According to Cindy’s friend, Agnes Woodcock, Cindy said bizarre notes began to appear on her doorstep:
One night, Agnes dropped by Cindy’s house for a visit:
When Agnes investigated, she came across Cindy outside:
Cindy moved to a new house, painted her car, and changed her last name. She also hired a private investigator, Ozzie Kaban. The police continued their investigation and questioned Cindy several times. According to Ozzie Kaban:
Cindy’s mother thinks she knows the reason for her daughter’s reluctance:
One night, Ozzie Kaban heard strange sounds coming over a two-way radio he had given Cindy. He went straight to her house:
Ozzie kicked in the door:
But to some, the incidents and her stories of harassment, seemed suspicious. Neal Hall covered the story for the Vancouver Sun:
Cindy said the threatening phone calls continued, but police said they were too short to trace. Neal Hall:
Cindy’s mother doesn’t think that was odd:
Then, Cindy was found dazed and semi-conscious lying in a ditch six miles from her home. She was wearing a man’s work boot and glove, and suffering from hypothermia. Cuts and bruises covered her body. A black nylon stocking had been tied tightly around her neck. Cindy said she had no memory of what happened. Cindy started asking Agnes, and her husband, Tom, to spend the night. On one occasion, Agnes said, she woke them up:
When they went downstairs, Agnes said they discovered that the basement was in flames:
Once again, the police suspected that Cindy staged the incident. Reporter Neal Hall said that Cindy’s behavior that night was odd:
Finally, Cindy’s doctor committed her to a local psychiatric ward. He believed she was becoming suicidal. Cindy’s psychotherapist, Allan Connolly:
Ten weeks later, Cindy left the hospital. Cindy’s father said that she finally admitted to her family and friends that she knew more than she was saying:
On May 25, 1989, six years and seven months after the first threatening phone call, Cindy James disappeared. On the same day, her car was found in a neighborhood parking lot. Inside were groceries and a wrapped gift. There was blood on the driver’s side door and items from Cindy’s wallet were under the car. Two weeks later, her body was found at the abandoned house.
It looked like Cindy James had been brutally murdered. Her hands and feet were bound together behind her back. A black nylon stocking was tied tightly around her neck. Yet an autopsy revealed that Cindy died from an overdose of morphine and other drugs. Police concluded that Cindy had committed suicide. Her father didn’t believe it:
Reporter Neal Hall:
In Vancouver, the coroner ruled that Cindy’s death was not suicide, an accident, or a murder. They determined that she died of an “unknown event.”
Cindy’s family, however, believes there’s someone in Vancouver who’s getting away with murder.