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Denver Crawford murder

Preliminary hearing set in Crawford murder

Wilfred Hathway

A preliminary hearing has been scheduled in the first-degree murder case of a former city resident accused of killing his elderly Saskatoon landlord in 1998.

Wilfred Gordon Hathway, 45, was arrested by Kamloops RCMP in early May.

On May 13, 1998, 84-year-old Denver Bruce Crawford was found stabbed to death in his suite at 323 Ninth St. East. Crawford lived on the main floor of the home, and had tenants on the second and third levels.

Hathway was a tenant and reported finding Crawford's body. He became a suspect during the investigation but police only recently determined there was enough evidence to proceed with charges.


Man appears in court on murder charge

A British Columbia man accused of killing a local senior in 1998 made his first Saskatoon court appearance on Thursday morning.

Wilfred Gordon Hathway, 45, was arrested by Kamloops City RCMP last week on a Canadawide warrant for first-degree murder.

On May 13, 1998, 84-year-old Denver Bruce Crawford was found stabbed to death in his suite at 323 Ninth St. East. Crawford lived on the main floor of the home, and had tenants on the second and third levels.

Hathway was a tenant, and had found Crawford's body. But during the investigation of the death, Hathway was identified as a suspect in the murder, according to police.


Mounting evidence led to murder charge

A British Columbia man arrested in connection with the six-year- old murder of a Saskatoon senior is expected to make a court appearance in the city next week.

Wilfred Gordon Hathway, 45, was arrested by Kamloops City RCMP around 3 p.m. Thursday on a Canada-wide warrant for first-degree murder.

He was found at a residence in North Kamloops, and was arrested without incident.

Hathway will be transported to Saskatoon, where he will make a court appearance next week on a first-degree murder charge.

"Ultimately, coming up with charges against a suspect satisfies the police service, and equally brings some closure to the family of the victim," said Staff Sgt. Kelly Cook of the Saskatoon Police Service major crime section.

On May 13, 1998, 84-year-old Denver Bruce Crawford was found stabbed to death in his suite at 323 Ninth St. East.

According to a 1998 StarPhoenix story, Crawford lived on the main floor of the home and had tenants on the second and third levels.

The only catch for potential renters was that Crawford ran a "dry house" where no alcohol or drugs were allowed, according to the article.

Hathway was a tenant at the Ninth Street home, and had found Crawford's body.

But during the investigation of the death, Hathway was identified as a suspect in the murder, according to police.

Last week, the major crime section and the Crown reviewed the investigation to date, and determined that "sufficient evidence existed" to arrest Hathway, according to police.

"That was decided after reviewing the entire file," Cook said.

"We were aware he was in the Kamloops area, and so we issued the warrant for his arrest in order for him to be picked up on the charge."

When asked why Hathway wasn't arrested earlier, Cook said it's been a matter of gathering evidence and talking to people.

According to Kamloops RCMP, it's not known how long Hathway was in the area, but they say they've had a "liaison in place" with Saskatoon police since mid-2000.

"Any unsolved murder is never forgotten by police," Cook said.

Ralph Gordon, one of Crawford's neighbours, remembered the senior as a "very quiet" elderly gentleman who "kept to himself."

Gordon, 77, said he's pleased a suspect is in custody in connection with Crawford's death, noting that it provides some closure.

"It's been traumatic for some of the neighbours," he said.


Unsolved Mysteries: Murder investigations stymie city police

The scenario has become familiar in at least a half-dozen crime dispatches from Saskatoon in the past 22 months: A person, home alone, is viciously attacked.

The latest: Jaime Wheeler, a 20-year-old university student, died mysteriously last weekend in her basement suite at 521 10th St. East. Wheeler was found lying on her own floor in a pool of blood.

Since 1998, in attacks that appear similar to Wheeler's case, two elderly people have been found dead in their homes, while another was discovered seriously injured.

Three other violent assaults took place in homes in the Broadway area, within blocks of Wheeler's home. In those cases, each victim survived. In only one case was an arrest made.

Though the crimes sound like variations on one or two themes, police insist there is no connection among any of the half-dozen attacks. They won't say how they know.

"The similarity between them all is they are individuals who are at home by themselves. From there, each of them go in different directions," said Staff Sgt. Glenn Thomson of the Saskatoon city police.

"There's nothing there that would cause concern that anyone is going around trying to kill people."

The streak began May 13, 1998, when Denver Bruce Crawford, an 84- year-old rooming house landlord, was found murdered, with wounds to his neck and head.

Crawford, who rented out the second and third floor of his home at 323 Ninth St. East, had one rule in his house: no drinking or drugs allowed. No arrests have been made.

On July 25, 1999, a west-side neighbourhood was shocked by the discovery of the body of 92-year-old Anna Hein. Blood and water mingled on the floor of her home from an apparent attempt by her attacker to flood the house at 320 Ave. G South. No one has been arrested for her death.

New clues have slowed to a trickle in the case.

"I wouldn't say we're out of fresh leads," Thomson said. "We get new information every once in a while on it and we follow it through."

Thomson said police are still in the crucial early part of the week-old investigation into the death of Jaime Wheeler.

Wheeler, the 20-year-old university student who was found dead in her Broadway-area suite Sunday, still doesn't fall into the whodunit category. Tips are pouring in from friends and acquaintances, assisting police to recreate her final hours.

Still, it's among the type of crime that is most difficult to solve -- murders where people with no history of criminal involvement and no obvious enemies are at home alone and are attacked for unknown reasons by an unknown assailant.

"The first few days after a murder are the key days. That's when it's fresh in the public's mind, that's when they're calling CrimeStoppers. As time goes on, it gets harder and harder in these investigations," he said.

"That's why we want everyone with even the smallest piece of information to call us."

Among the string of bloody, fatal mysteries is a bright spot: Antonia Kinar, an 88-year-old woman, survived an attack at her home at 414 22nd St. West.

On Oct. 14 Kinar's nephew found her unconscious and beaten in her bedroom. She recovered, but she is unable remember much about her attack. Like the other cases, no arrests have been made.

"She hasn't been able to give us an awful lot. When an elderly person is beaten, it can have an effect. There are a combination of factors that can make it difficult for them to remember," Thomson said.

Although the elderly victims -- Kinar, Hein and Crawford -- were similar in age and Kinar and Hein were attacked six blocks apart, Thomson said there is no evident connection between the cases.

Neither are police using location to link the Broadway-area attacks: the deaths of Crawford and Wheeler and three non-fatal attacks in the trendy area last summer, even though they were all committed upon victims at home within a few blocks of each other by unknown assailants.

Again, Thomson couldn't say how police know they are not linked. He wouldn't say if any of the victims were sexually assaulted; he wouldn't say what weapon, if any, was used in the attacks.

"We don't release an awful lot of information on some of these crimes. If we put out details of a crime, everyone will talk about it. If we don't put out a lot of detail and someone is talking about it, there is a reason for it," Thomson said.

However, Hein's July death came in the middle of the series of violent attacks in the Broadway area, where homes were broken into and assaults on the lone woman there took place.

Randall Patrick Linklater was charged with one break-in and aggravated assault at a suite in the 1700 block of the Broadway Avenue. That assault occurred the same day police believe Hein died.

In the Linklater case, the female victim suffered serious injuries when she was stabbed in the head with a screwdriver. Linklater will be sentenced next month in provincial court. Last fall police said they were investigating a possible link between him and other attacks.

Thomson said in some crimes police have a good idea who is responsible, but they just may not have enough evidence to go to court. He wouldn't say which of the current cases, if any, fall into that category.

"Sometimes in very serious, violent crimes we may have suspects, but not enough to charge them. Sometime down the road the little piece may come in that gives us enough to finish off the case. Then boom, in it goes," he said.

He maintained that these kinds of crimes are rare in Saskatoon, where most murders are related to drugs or alcohol and are the result of disputes between people who know each other.

Today, Antonia Kinar lives in a seniors' residence. The nephew who found her after the attack says she doesn't remember much about the attack.

"She's OK, but she can't remember much. She talks for a little while, then she changes the story," he said.

"I think the police are doing a good job. They're doing their best: You don't get cases like this very often."

Meanwhile, the investigations into the murders of Hein, Crawford and Wheeler continue, along with the attacks on at least two other Broadway-area residents.

"Unsolved murders are never closed. We're still pursuing the murder of Alexandra Wiwcharuk," said Thomson, referring to a nurse whose body was found near the CP Rail bridge in 1962.

Jaime Wheeler: Found murdered in her basement suite March 12, 2000
Denver Crawford: Found murdered in his home May 13, 1998
Anna Hein: Found murdered in her home July 25, 1999


Break-in suspect released on bail

A tenant arrested for allegedly breaking into Denver Bruce Crawford's suite less than 24 hours after discovering the senior's body is out on bail.

Gordon Hathway, 40, returns to provincial court June 3 for a preliminary hearing into the charge of break and enter. The only condition of his release Tuesday is that he stay away from Crawford's residence at 323 Ninth St. East.

Crawford, 84, was found by Hathway early in the morning of May 13 in the main floor suite of his three-storey house. Crawford had rented out the second and third floors.

Hathway made the discovery after returning to the house after an early morning walk. He told his father that he noticed the front door ajar and, upon further investigation, discovered Crawford in his suite.

City police arrested Hathway at the home on May 14, alleging he broke into Crawford's suite. Police had allowed Hathway back into the home on the evening of May 13.

Police are investigating Crawford's death as a homicide. They have not released the cause of death. Crawford was found in a pool of blood with apparent wounds to his head and neck. Crawford is survived by a niece and nephew. The funeral will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday at the Elim Tabernacle Prayer Chapel.


Man charged with breaking into dead senior's suite

The tenant who called city police after discovering the body of 84-year-old Denver Bruce Crawford is charged with allegedly breaking into the dead man's suite.

Wilfred Gordon Hathway, 40, appeared in provincial court Friday charged with break and enter. He was remanded in custody with a bail hearing set for Tuesday.

It's alleged that Hathway broke into suite No. 1 at 323 Ninth Street East on or about May 14. Crawford died on May 13. The senior citizen owned the three-storey house and had tenants on the second and third floors. He lived on the main floor.

Police arrested Hathway on Thursday morning at the east-side residence.

In an earlier interview, Hathway's father said that his son had gone outside for a cigarette in the early morning hours of Wednesday and noticed on his return that the front door to the house was open. Investigating, he noticed the landlord's door ajar and then discovered Crawford, suffering from head and neck injuries, in a pool of blood on the floor.

Police are considering the senior citizen's death a homicide.

Hathway is already facing a charge of driving while impaired and leaving the scene of an accident. These matters are scheduled for May 27 in provincial court.

Crawford was a longtime area resident with a history of taking in tenants. The only condition for renters was that they not drink or take drugs in the house. Hathway's father said his son had struggled unsuccessfully for some time to control his drinking.

Crawford is Saskatoon's third homicide victim this year.