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Explosive: The Mikolajewski Report exposes the shoddy work done on this Barbara Stoppel murder case: Retired Inspector Ken Biener took Stoppel evidence home.

Sheila Steele Editorial: Malice is the Crown's best friend

Terry Arnold the snitch

Terry ArnoldThis case screams for a coroner's inquest. The public has a right to know exactly how Terry Arnold died. Many would like to see pictures of his sorry corpse. The "suicide note" should be turned over to an independent handwriting analyst. His DNA and any other evidence from his body must be preserved for possible future use. Surely the Stoppel family has a need to know how Barbara Stoppel died and the public has a right to know when police break the law by protecting informants. There are other families who also need answers.

We know it is common practice for the RCMP and other agencies to "trade" snitches and put them into witness protection. First, they have to die.

Last words deny killing
Suicide note from serial murder suspect claims innocence

The last words of a reputed serial killer — also considered to be the prime suspect in the unsolved murder of a Calgary teen — came in the form of a suicide note denying he murdered anyone, said B.C. cops. Terry Arnold, 42, was found in his Victoria apartment Saturday, the victim of a drug and alcohol overdose, Victoria police Sgt. Clark Russell said.

A three-page, unaddressed note with Arnold's prints on it was found next to the corpse.

"He denied killing anyone — anyone," Russell said.

Arnold, a convicted rapist, was the prime suspect in the June 1987 Calgary murder of Denise Lapierre, 17.

Lapierre's uncle, Dennis Lapierre — a former ranking cop with the Calgary force — said his family will never have closure because of Arnold's suicide.

"He left everyone hanging, because he denied the murders in his last note," Lapierre said from his home in B.C. "All the pain and hurt has been dealt with, but this story needs a final, conclusive chapter."

Lapierre disappeared at 2 a.m. June 22, 1987, as she walked from a party at her house, 114 21 Ave. N.E., to another shindig a block away.

About 22 hours later, a long-distance operator called local cops and said a man contacted her and said a body was dumped in an alley behind 126 20 Ave. N.E. Lapierre's naked body was soon found at the site.

The case went cold until a special task force was formed in 1997 and narrowed the list of possible suspects to just one.

Retired Staff Sgt. George Rocks, the former boss of the city's elite homicide unit, said he believes Arnold was Lapierre's killer.

"I'm 100 percent convinced Arnold murdered Lapierre," Rocks said.

Arnold was also the lead suspect in the 1981 slaying of Winnipeg girl Barbara Stoppel, 16. As well, Mounties in Chilliwack, B.C., considered Arnold a possible suspect in the murder of a girl who disappeared in 1988.

He was convicted in 1997 of the first-degree murder of Christine Browne, 16, of Penticton. But in an apparent miscommunication, the B.C. Crown's office decided to stay the charge against Arnold, and he was freed from jail in 2002.

Accused in killing near Hedley found dead

A man accused of murdering a runaway teenager near Hedley 14 years ago - and a prime suspect in the unsolved 1981 murder of Barbara Stoppel, a Winnipeg doughnut shop waitress, - has been found dead in Victoria.

The body of Terry Arnold, 42, was discovered in his Victoria apartment Saturday. Police say the convicted sex offender died of an apparent drug overdose.

Sgt. Michael Brown said officers did not find any signs of foul play when they found Arnold's body.

"It does appear to be a suicide," he said.

Arnold confessed in 1997 to raping and murdering Christine Browne, 16, of Kimberley. He was convicted of first-degree murder after a B.C. Supreme Court trial in Kelowna in October 1999.

A jury found him guilty of clubbing Browne over the head with a rock on a remote hillside near Hedley in 1991. Her skeletal remains weren't discovered until the fall of 1992, and her identity wasn't determined until January 1994.

Arnold served five years of a life sentence and then won a new trial on appeal after he argued some documents available to the Crown had not been made available to him.

The Crown revealed it hadn't disclosed the statements of two women who knew Arnold at the time he admitted to police that he had killed Browne. In an elaborate sting operation in 1997, undercover officers convinced Arnold he could become part of their gang as long as he came clean about his criminal past. Arnold's lawyer claimed the women later told police that the accused believed someone would kill him or set him up if he didn't do what he was told.

The B.C. Crown attorney's office decided to stay the charge against Arnold in 2002, and he was immediately released from jail.

Thomas Sophonow was convicted and later cleared of the 1981 murder of Winnipeg waitress Barbara Stoppel. Police then considered Arnold to be a suspect, although there was only circumstantial evidence linking him to the crime.

Arnold was named in court documents filed by Winnipeg police at an inquiry into Sophonow's wrongful conviction. Arnold served eight years for raping several Newfoundland children. He was also investigated in the unsolved 1987 slaying of Denise Lapierre, 17, of Calgary.

Botched case dies with Terry Arnold

Barbara StoppelTerry Arnold not only fit the description of the person who killed doughnut shop waitress Barbara Stoppel (right) in 1981, he fit it better than Thomas Sophonow — the man wrongfully convicted of the murder and who spent four years in jail for a crime he did not commit. Arnold, a suspect in the case from the beginning of the murder investigation, was found dead on the weekend.

The death, a suicide, all but puts the brakes on any future prosecution in the Stoppel case.

Arnold was really the only suspect in this case from the outset. And when you read the commission of inquiry report into Sophonow's wrongful conviction, it's stunning to think police didn't arrest and charge Arnold back then.

Arnold was first interviewed by police shortly after the attack when he visited Stoppel in the hospital.

He told the family he was a truck driver who frequented the Ideal Donut Shop where Stoppel worked.

The constable who interviewed Arnold noticed he resembled the composite drawing of the killer.

Arnold had pimples and acne, just like the killer.

Sophonow did not have pimples and acne.

Arnold wore dark framed glasses, another feature described by witnesses.

The constable thought Arnold was "somewhat strange" and noted that Arnold lived only five minutes from the doughnut shop.

About the same time, a friend of Arnold called police to say Arnold bore a striking similarity to the composite sketch of the killer in the newspapers.

The friend also said Arnold regularly wore a cowboy hat and cowboy boots — just like the killer.

Arnold was interviewed again by police. This time he told them that at one time, he had a crush on Stoppel.

Despite this, police — amazingly — didn't pursue Arnold further. They even had his fingerprints on file but didn't bother to compare them with the ones found at the murder scene.


"It is unfortunate that the investigation of Terry Arnold did not proceed further," commissioner Peter Cory wrote in his report. "This is a very sad and telling conclusion."

That's putting it mildly.

There was even more compelling evidence against Arnold that never came out at the time of the murder, according to police, who re-opened the investigation in 1999.

In a warrant application to obtain palm prints from Arnold in 2001, police claimed they had two unnamed witnesses who testified in 1985 that they knew and saw Arnold in the doughnut shop the afternoon of the murder.

Police also interviewed a waitress who provided a bogus alibi for Arnold in 1981. She admitted to police that she lied.

She told police Arnold came to her hours after the murder "shaking and appearing nervous," urging her to tell police — if they asked — that he was in the restaurant at the beginning of her shift, even though he wasn't.

Fortunately, much has improved in policing since 1981, including the science of profiling suspects.

Also, there is now a senior officer in charge of each major crime, something that didn't exist back then as work overlapped from one day to the next with no single officer handling the file.

That doesn't help the Stoppel family today, though.

Arnold's death means they will never have real closure in Barbara's murder.

And for that, all those involved in the botching of this case should be hanging their heads very low today.

Secret police report shows failures in Stoppel murder investigation

WINNIPEG - A Winnipeg newspaper says evidence that may have linked Terry Arnold to the murder of a Winnipeg waitress apparently vanished before it could be tested.

A police document obtained by the Winnipeg Free Press says the evidence includes Stoppel's underwear, shoes, socks and a discarded tissue.

Arnold, who was a prime suspect in the 1981 slaying of Barbara Stoppel, killed himself last weekend in Victoria.

In his suicide note he denied killing anyone.

The report prepared in 2002, by Winnipeg police Sergeant Andrew Mikolajewski outlined the alleged difficulties Mikolajewski faced in trying to re-investigate Stoppel's killing.

The report has been kept secret by the Winnipeg police service since the day it was filed.

Stoppel's brother Rick says he obtained the report it from an anonymous source and released it to the media to show how police failed to properly investigate his sister's murder.

In suicide note, suspect denies killing anyone

VICTORIA — A man who was the prime suspect in the 1981 slaying of doughnut shop waitress Barbara Stoppel in Winnipeg left a suicide note before he took his own life and denied killing anyone, police said yesterday.

Sergeant Clark Russell of Victoria police said Terry Arnold, who was 42, wasn't specific about declarations of innocence in the three-page note, which wasn't addressed to anyone.

"Without going in to details, it was a note sort of outlining why he decided to take his life," he said. "Are you asking did he confess in his suicide note? No. He did not."

Thomas Sophonow was originally found guilty in the murder. He protested his innocence for 20 years, was tried three times and spent four years in jail before he was finally exonerated

Murder suspect found dead

WINNIPEG (CP) — A prime suspect in the unsolved murder of a Winnipeg doughnut shop waitress has been found dead in Victoria.

The body of Terry Arnold, 42, was discovered Saturday in an apartment, police say.

Thomas Sophonow was convicted and later cleared of 16-year-old Barbara Stoppel's 1981 murder. Police then considered Arnold to be a suspect, although there was only circumstantial evidence linking him to the crime.

"Our members went inside the apartment and found who they believe to be Terry Arnold, deceased," said Victoria Police Sgt. Michael Brown Monday.

"At this point there are no signs of foul play it does appear to be a suicide."

Arnold was named in court documents filed by Winnipeg police at an inquiry into Sophonow's wrongful conviction.

Arnold served eight years for raping several Newfoundland children. He was also investigated in the unsolved 1987 slaying of Denise Lapierre, 17, of Calgary.

After confessing in 1997 to raping and murdering Christine Browne, 16, of Keremeos, B.C., Arnold was convicted of first-degree murder.

Arnold served five years of a life sentence and then won a new trial on appeal after he argued some documents available to the Crown had not been made available to him.

B.C. Crown attorney's office decided to stay the charge against Arnold in 2002 and he was immediately released from jail.

Sophonow, who protested his innocence for 20 years, was tried three times and spent four years in jail for Stoppel's murder before he was finally exonerated and awarded $2.6 million in compensation.

Suspect in Stoppel murder found dead

WINNIPEG - The prime suspect in the 1981 murder of Winnipeg doughnut shop waitress Barbara Stoppel has been found dead in Victoria, B.C.

The body of Terry Samuel Arnold, 42, was discovered over the weekend in a Victoria apartment. Police believe Arnold killed himself.

Thomas Sophonow, a Winnipeg man who protested his innocence for 20 years, went through three trials and spent four years in jail for Stoppel's murder before he was finally cleared and awarded $2.6 million in compensation.

Winnipeg police informed Stoppel's brother Rick Stoppel of Arnold's death on Sunday. Now Rick says his family may never find justice.

"By Terry now being dead we don't have any closure," he said, adding he wants more information on the circumstances of Arnold's death.

Arnold had a long history of violent crime.

He was found guilty in the rape of four Newfoundland girls one just 10 years old.

He was also convicted of a murder in Penticton, B.C. Arnold told police he killed a young runaway after she refused to have sex with him. That conviction was later stayed.

Jay Prober, the Stoppel family lawyer, says he wasn't surprised by Arnold's death.

"I wasn't disappointed in his death, either. There were some pretty accepted theories that he was, in fact, a serial killer," said Prober.

Speaking from his home in Vancouver, Sophonow said he feels for the Stoppel family.

"I sort of looked forward to it going to trial. But that's about all it is disappointing," he said.

RCMP fear man's release

Vancouver RCMP are concerned that a man with a series of violent convictions on his file has been released from custody in Victoria.

Terry Arnold, 39, who was convicted of sexual assault in Chilliwack in 1988 and is a suspect in the disappearance of a teenager from Cultus Lake, also in 1988, was awaiting retrial in the death of Christine Browne, who was found raped and murdered near Keremeos in 1991.

The pretrial meetings were scheduled for this coming week and the trial was set for May, Sgt. Grant Learned, RCMP media relations said. On Thursday, shortly before courts closed for the Easter long weekend, Crown prosecutors entered a stay of proceedings and Arnold was released.

"It was a great concern to us that this happened on what appears to be very short notice," Learned said, adding that police don't know why the Crown let Arnold go.

Police had only a little longer than an hour's notice to phone concerned family members about what had happened. With everyone away for the long weekend, there wasn't enough time, Learned said.

It has been reported that Arnold, convicted of raping a young Chilliwack girl, is linked with investigations in Calgary and Winnipeg and the disappearance of a young woman from a Cultus Lake camping trip, as well as a spree of other incidents during the past 20 years, Learned said he would not comment unless Arnold was actually charged in those cases. He said everyone is entitled to the presumption of innocence and rights of privacy.

However, Learned was able to shed a little more light on Arnold's whereabouts. He said police may have some idea of where he is staying right now.

According to a Vancouver Sun story published March 1, 2001, Arnold was convicted of sexually assaulting a teenager when he was staying at the Riverside campground in 1988.

It was also on Aug. 24, 1988 that 19-year-old Roberta Ferguson disappeared near Cultus Lake. The Surrey woman was celebrating the end of a summer work program at Sunnyside campground when she disappeared from a campfire.

Stoppel killing suspect has no plans to return

Terry Arnold, enjoying his first taste of freedom in years, is not planning a return to Manitoba, his lawyer says.

"Mr. Arnold has established strong ties outside Manitoba, which makes any return to Manitoba likely on a holiday basis only," his defence lawyer, Kevin McCullough, said yesterday. He said he knows where his client is headed and, while he won't name a location, McCullough said it's not Manitoba.

Arnold, 39, is a suspect in the 1981 murder of 16-year-old doughnut shop waitress Barbara Stoppel.

In an interview with the Free Press in 2000, he denied killing the teenager, whom he visited in the hospital before she died from her injuries.

He had been in a B.C. jail since 1997, when he confessed during a police sting operation to raping and beating to death a teenage girl six years earlier.

He was convicted in 1999 and sentenced to life in prison, but an appeal court overturned it last year.

On Thursday, the Crown decided not to retry Arnold for Christine Browne's murder and he was released from the Victoria Remand Centre, with no notification to police.

Thomas Sophonow spent four years in jail for Stoppel's murder and, after protesting his innocence for 20 years, was finally exonerated by Winnipeg Police in 2000 and awarded $2.6 million in compensation after a judicial inquiry. He has yet to get the compensation.

Sophonow defence lawyer tells inquiry his leads weren't pursued
Brodsky gave list of suspects to police

The man police now believe killed Barbara Stoppel once tried to avoid criminal charges by offering to testify that Sophonow had confessed to murdering the girl.

Sophonow's defence lawyer, Greg Brodsky, taking the stand for a second day at Sophonow's wrongful conviction inquiry yesterday, said Terry Arnold contacted a lawyer in Brodsky's firm looking for representation at his bail hearing.

According to Brodsky, Arnold — convicted of first-degree murder in 1999 but recently granted a new trial in the beating death of a B.C. teenager — immediately began looking for a way out of trouble.

Brodsky said Arnold told the lawyer that months earlier, when he was charged with arson, he'd been housed with Sophonow at the Winnipeg Remand Centre.

After badgering Sophonow about Stoppel's 1981 killing, Arnold said Sophonow confessed.

[Arnold] said that in frustration Sophonow said, "Of course I did it and if you don't get off my back you'll get it, too," Brodsky said.

Brodsky said Arnold came forward with the bogus confession in the hopes he could use it to negotiate his way out of his charges.

Brodsky said he notified Winnipeg police of Arnold's claim and also asked them to check him out as a possible suspect.

Arnold was considered a suspect briefly in the early days f the investigation.

Recently, Winnipeg police revealed they had contact with Arnold a number of times during the investigation into Stoppel's murder. On three occasions he was providing information about possible suspects.

Police now believe he called them to divert attention from himself and implicate someone else.

Brodsky, intent on breaking through the tunnel vision which was hampering the investigation, said he provided a list of five suspects to the police.

He even went so far as to cruise the red light district with his wife one evening to find a woman he believed might have information on one of the suspects.

One of the men Brodsky brought to the attention of police resembled the killer and was rumoured to have killed Stoppel's schoolmate.

But Brodsky said police did not spend much time pursuing his leads.

"I'm not surprised they didn't take them seriously," he said. "Many of (the police and Crown attorneys on the case) believed they already had the right guy.

Brodsky was the last witness to testify at Sophonow's wrongful conviction inquiry.

Today, Commissioner Peter Cory is expected to rule on whether in-camera evidence about how and why the Crown attorney introduced a sexual assault motive at Sophonow's third trial should be released to the public.

The inquiry — established to determine how much compensation Sophonow should receive for nearly four years he spent in jail — will resume with closing submissions from the lawyers in June.

Sophonow was tried three times for Stoppel's murder before being acquitted by the Manitoba Court of Appeal in 1985.

He was formally exonerated by Winnipeg police last summer.

New suspect in 'Peg murder

A convicted killer who is serving a life sentence in a B.C. prison now heads the list of suspects in a notorious Winnipeg slaying that saw another man wrongly jailed for four years.

Last week, Thomas Sophonow was cleared of any involvement in the 1981 murder of 16-year-old shop clerk Barbara Stoppel and Winnipeg police announced they had a new suspect who presents no risk to the public at present.

Sun sources have learned the new suspect is Terry Samuel Arnold, 37, a serial rapist, who is serving a life sentence in B.C. for murdering a 15-year-old girl in Penticton. Also, Calgary police have publicly stated he is a suspect in the 1987 murder of 17-year-old Denise Lapierre.

Calgary police announced in 1998 Arnold was a suspect in the Lapierre murder after a cold-case squad reopened the investigation.

Winnipeg homicide detectives have visited Calgary at least once to interview police and other witnesses in the search for for similarities in the deaths of Stoppel and Lapierre.

Lapierre disappeared June 21, 1987 after leaving her high-school graduation party. The next day, police received an anonymous call about a naked body in a back lane less than a block from the Lapierre house, and a block from Arnold's home.

"Arnold is a suspect and we have interviewed him to the Lapierre killing," said Staff Sgt. George Rocks of the Calgary homicide unit.

In the Winnipeg case, Stoppel was found strangled in a Winnipeg doughnut-shop washroom Dec. 23, 1981. As in the Calgary homicide, Arnold lived close to the Winnipeg murder scene, as his mother was a caretaker in an apartment block near the doughnut shop, and he lived near the victim's home. But the Winnipeg police investigation led to the arrest and charging of Sophonow.

OFFSITE From Gov't of Manitoba: The Inquiry Regarding Thomas Sophonow

The effect of putting forward the allegation of sexual assault is apparent from the newspaper reports of the third trial. The Winnipeg Sun reported that Crown Counsel Whitley had described a violent sexual assault in the washroom. This report clearly indicates how extremely prejudicial the allegation was to the accused.

In his second appearance, Mr. Whitley referred to evidence of male DNA being found in Barbara Stoppel's mouth. However, this evidence only surfaced in the reinvestigation and would not have been known to Mr. Whitley at the time of the prosecution of the third trial. Nor is there any evidence to suggest whose DNA it might have been. It might have come from someone who was attempting to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to Barbara Stoppel. Certainly, it is clear that there was no indication that this DNA ever came from Thomas Sophonow. Thomas Sophonow at all times was anxious to have his DNA taken so he would be absolved of this tragic killing.

Investigation of Terry Arnold as a suspect

Before the arrest of Thomas Sophonow, Terry Arnold was for a time a suspect. There are a number of ways in which he was linked to Barbara Stoppel. It is not without significance that he went to the St. Boniface Hospital on the 28th of December, 1981 to enquire as to Barbara's condition. At that time, he met Mrs. Stoppel. He told her that he was a truck driver, that he had frequented the Ideal Donut Shop and had come to know Barbara.

The Winnipeg Police Service became aware of this visit on the 28th and he was interviewed the following day by Constable Bell. In the opinion of Constable Bell, Terry Arnold was similar in appearance to the composite drawing. He wore glasses and had acne or pimples, as described by some of the eyewitnesses. It is interesting to note that Thomas Sophonow did not have acne or pimples. Terry Arnold was, in the opinion of Constable Bell, "somewhat strange". Constable Bell noted that he had lived at 9-25 Cromwell, a three-storey apartment building. From that building, the Ideal Donut Shop could be seen.

A friend of Terry Arnold called the police to advise them that Mr. Arnold bore a similarity to the widely publicized composite drawing. The friend stated that Mr. Arnold regularly wore a cowboy hat and cowboy boots.

Jackie Gurergil was put forward by Terry Arnold as someone who could provide an alibi for him. However, it was learned that she could not give evidence as to his whereabouts at the relevant time.

He was further interviewed by the Winnipeg Police on the 17th of January, 1982. He told Sergeant Paulishyn that at one time he had a crush on Barbara Stoppel.

Thus, the investigations that were done on Terry Arnold at the time indicated that:

  1. he resembled the composite drawing;
  2. he had an acne scarred face, similar to that described by several of the eyewitnesses;
  3. he wore dark framed glasses as described by the eyewitnesses;
  4. he knew Barbara Stoppel and had a crush on her;
  5. there was evidence from the eyewitnesses that Barbara Stoppel spoke to the man in the donut shop and followed him into the washroom;
  6. he wore cowboy boots and a cowboy hat;
  7. he lived within five minutes of the Ideal Donut Shop; and
  8. he did not have an alibi for the pertinent time on December 23rd, 1981.

Despite these findings, which might have been significant, photographs of Terry Arnold were shown only to Mr. Doerksen and to Mr. Gloux. Further, although Mr. Arnold's fingerprints were on file with the police, they were not compared to those found at the Ideal Donut Shop.

Mrs. Janower had seen a photograph of Terry Arnold in a Winnipeg newspaper. She testified at the Inquiry that he looked more like the person she saw in the Ideal Donut Shop than did Thomas Sophonow.

It is unfortunate that the investigation of Terry Arnold did not proceed further. Once again, Sergeant Biener, with his usual candour, testified that Terry Arnold slipped through the cracks of the investigation of the murder of Barbara Stoppel. This is a very sad and telling conclusion.

Sergeant Biener appeared to me to be a very conscientious, fair minded and for the most part a competent police officer. He frankly conceded that problems existed in the police department in 1982. There was no officer placed in charge of the investigation, there was a lack of co-ordination of the shifts working on the case, and there existed an atmosphere of mistrust amounting at least to suspicion between groups of officers working on the case. He very fairly conceded that he, like other officers working on the case, suffered from tunnel vision. Recently, the Winnipeg Police Service instituted lectures to officers on tunnel vision. This is certainly a welcome step forward. This is particularly true since there does not appear to have been any recognition of this as a problem in 1982.

Inspector Blair McCorrister testified that today the investigation of Terry Arnold would not have fallen through the cracks. He testified that the science of profiling an investigation has progressed since the 80's. A comment that he made is particularly telling. He stated:

"In a review of this case there are certain things, and it's it's amazing how the appearance of Mr. Arnold at the hospital on that day carried no concerns with any of the investigators, with no one in charge. However, today when officers review that or hear of what happened, they are amazed and I think that speaks of the degree of advancements in profiling and the awareness of the sciences." (Inquiry, Vol. 54, pages 9682-9683).

The Inspector also referred to the improvements made by the Winnipeg Police Service in the investigation of major crimes. The shift system in operation in the 1980's has been radically changed. There is no longer a division, or at times an overlapping, of the work of the day and night shifts. Rather, at the present time, there is a senior officer in charge of each serious crime. That officer organizes and coordinates the work to be done. All reports and supplemental reports are prepared and filed in chronological order and sequentially numbered. They all come to the officer in charge of the investigation who will make all decisions required to further the investigation.

Today, it would be that officer who would follow tips or leads and, for example, match the fingerprints of Terry Arnold with those found in the women's washroom of the Ideal Donut Shop.

Mr. Finlayson, Assistant Deputy Attorney General of Manitoba, testified as to the work that was done organizing a lecture for police officers relating to the effects of tunnel vision, its dangers and steps that can be taken to avoid it.