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Commission of Inquiry into the Wrongful Conviction of David Milgaard

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Justice Edward P. MacCallum

Inquiry probes memories of Miller's roommate, neighbour

The Milgaard inquiry on Tuesday delved into the minutiae of the 36-year-old investigation that led to David Milgaard's wrongful conviction and 23-year imprisonment for the 1969 rape and murder of nursing assistant Gail Miller.

Murder victim Gail Miller

Nursing assistant Gail Miller is found dead in an alley, stabbed fourteen times with a paring knife

Serial rapist Larry Fisher, who committed other sexual assaults in the area around the same time, was convicted of the crime in 1999, after DNA found on Miller's underclothes matched Fisher and exonerated Milgaard.

On Tuesday, commission counsel Doug Hodson called witnesses who seem peripheral to the case. He explained in an interview that part of the commission's mandate is to examine the conduct of the police investigators of the day.

"We need to hear their dealings because we are looking into the conduct of the investigation," Hodson said.

"If (witnesses) had observations in 1969, we need to know what they were. All the parties are entitled to have them come and be tested by cross-examination and ask them about their dealings with the police and others both in 1969 and subsequently," Hodson said.

Some witnesses will say they remember things that were not included in the police statements, Hodson said.

"There will be witnesses who will say, 'I remember things differently from what I wrote down or someone else wrote down,' or, 'I wasn't asked this question.'

"The interviews that were done and testimony at other proceedings were for other purposes, and different rules applied in the proceedings as to what was relevant. The scope of our inquiry is broader than all the previous reviews.

"Not . . . every witness will have something new to say. But because it's a public inquiry, I need to hear from them as to whether they do."

Four witnesses appeared Tuesday, two who testified at Milgaard's 1970 trial and two at Fisher's 1999 trial. Hodson also read into the record the previously recorded statements of three additional witnesses, who are now dead.

The commission heard Tuesday that witness Maria Gallucci Trupej regularly caught the bus at the same stop as a young woman, who she believes was Miller, and a young man in a yellow construction hat, who later turned out to be Fisher. Gallucci Trupej was not called to testify at Milgaard's trial but was called to Fisher's.

Gallucci Trupej said she never saw the pretty, young nurse after Jan. 30, 1969, but the construction worker continued to catch the same bus most mornings.

Within days of the murder, police spoke to Fisher at the bus stop, the commission has heard previously. Fisher told police he had caught the bus the day of the murder and was not questioned any further during the investigation, which became focused on Milgaard.

The inquiry also heard from Miller's friend and roommate, Betty Hundt Silverfox, who said she was not aware of any other attacks on women in the area prior to Miller's death. Nor was Hundt Silverfox aware that another woman was attacked in the area the same morning as the murder.

Hundt Silverfox gave police the names of several of Miller's male friends and acquaintances, including a man Miller had dated the night before the murder. Hundt Silverfox was not called to testify at Milgaard's trial.

Information about the inquiry, including a witness list and transcripts of the hearings, is available online at www.milgaardinquiry.ca.


Sask. inquiry into wrongful murder conviction hears repeated testimony

SASKATOON (CP) -- The second day of the inquiry into the wrongful murder conviction of David Milgaard went into a slower gear Tuesday with testimony from a roommate of slain nursing aide Gail Miller and a woman who used to ride the same bus.

Miller's friend Betty Hundt Silverfox testified she was not aware of any other attacks on women in the area prior to her roommate's death, nor did she know another woman was attacked the same morning as the murder.

Maria Gallucci Trupej told the inquiry she used the same bus stop as Miller and a young construction worker who turned out to be Larry Fisher, the man who raped and fatally stabbed Miller on Jan. 31, 1969.

She said after that date, she never saw Miller again but Fisher continued to catch the same bus most mornings.

The commission has already been told that within days of the murder, police spoke to Fisher at the bus stop.

Fisher told the officers he had caught the bus the day of the murder and was not questioned any further during the investigation, which became focused on Milgaard, a 16-year-old hippie who was passing through town.

Milgaard served 23 years in jail for the crime until DNA evidence cleared him in the late 1990s and convicted Fisher, a serial rapist who had committed other sexual assaults in the area around the same time.

Commission counsel Doug Hodson said although Tuesday's witnesses might seem peripheral to the case, part of the commission's mandate is to examine the conduct of the police investigators of the day.

"We need to hear their dealings because we are looking into the conduct of the investigation,'' Hodson said. "If (witnesses) had observations in 1969, we need to know what they were.

"The scope of our inquiry is broader than all the previous reviews. Not ... every witness will have something new to say. But because it's a public inquiry, I need to hear from them as to whether they do.''

The inquiry is expected to last at least about a year. Before it's over, about 100 witnesses will have testified and more than 300,000 documents will have been examined.


Witness's memory hazy

The Milgaard inquiry on Wednesday got a glimpse of killer Larry Fisher slipping through the net of police investigators in the days just after Gail Miller's 1969 murder.

David Milgaard, who was a teenager on a road trip, passed through the city that day. He was convicted of the crime he didn't commit and spent 23 years in prison before he was released in 1992. He was exonerated in 1997 with the help of DNA evidence that was also used to link Fisher to the rape and murder. The inquiry is looking into the 1969 investigation, the prosecution and why it took so long for authorities to reopen the case when new evidence surfaced.

After the discovery of Miller's body in an alley near her Avenue O and 20th Street bus stop, police were quick to identify bus driver John Husulak as a possible source of information about people who knew Miller, the inquiry heard Wednesday. Police tracked Husulak down at home on the evening of Friday, Jan. 31, 1969, the same day as the murder.

Husulak, who testified Wednesday, doesn't remember the details any more but was able to confirm that his statements to police in 1969 would have been the truth as he remembered it then.

Police records show that Husulak told them about a fairly regular male passenger who often wore a red hard hat when he boarded the Route 2 bus shortly before 7 a.m. on weekdays at Avenue O and 20th Street. Husulak knew the hard hat man hadn't been on the bus that morning.

Other testimony has shown that Larry Fisher wore a yellow hard hat with a red liner. He continued to take that bus after the murder, another witness said earlier this week.

The following Monday morning, two plainclothes cops got on the bus, where Husulak pointed out a different young man, Tony Humen, who regularly got on at the same stop as Fisher and Miller. Miller's body had been found down the alley from Humen's house on Avenue O, where he lived with his two sisters and brother-in-law.

Humen said he was acquainted with Miller because she had once sat beside him on the bus and had introduced herself. Humen also knew who Larry Fisher was because he'd seen him around, at a pool hall and at the Albany Hotel bar.

Humen recalled Wednesday that as a 21-year-old fresh off the farm, he had great respect for the police and was scared when two officers took him off the bus and questioned him about Miller's murder. They asked him outright if he had killed Miller.

Humen denied it and said he never wore a hard hat either. Humen did wear a red, peaked hunting cap. He protested that his strict boss at the flour mill would fire him if he were late, so the police drove him to work. Notes made by a detective McCorriston on that Monday show that when police told bus driver Husulak that Humen denied wearing a hard hat, Husulak acknowledged he could have been mistaken.

Humen said the police questioned him once or twice after that and he often saw them watching his comings and goings from the house. They returned sometime later to show him a knife blade and handle. Unbeknownst to Humen, police had found the blade under Miller's body the day of the murder and the handle had been found March 2 in a yard adjacent to the place where the body was found.

Humen told the police he thought it was a knife his sister had broken and thrown away. He told the inquiry he assumed the police had found the knife pieces in the garbage from his house.

He didn't hear from the police any more after that, despite the apparently damning admission about the knife. By that time, according to a chronology of events provided at the inquiry, police in Regina had already arrested Milgaard's travelling companion, Albert "Shorty" Cadrain.

During that week of Feb. 6, while he was in jail on a vagrancy charge, Cadrain was questioned by police about his movements in Saskatoon on the morning of the murder.

The same day the knife handle was found, March 2, Cadrain went to the Saskatoon police and gave a statement implicating Milgaard, who was immediately apprehended in Winnipeg and questioned about the murder.

The inquiry also heard Wednesday from Syd Sargent, who says he vaguely knew who Miller was because he'd met her somewhere socially. Two weeks after the murder, he called police to say he thought he'd seen her standing on 20th Street a block from her bus stop on the morning of the murder.


Inquiry into wrongful murder conviction hears more testimony

SASKATOON (CP) -- A man who says he and Gail Miller were watched as they returned from a date the night before she was killed was never called to testify at David Milgaard's murder trial.

Dennis Elliot told an inquiry into Milgaard's wrongful conviction that he drove Miller home from his 23rd birthday party around 1:30 a.m. on Jan. 30, 1969.

As they sat talking in his car, Elliot made eye contact with the driver of a 1963 Pontiac Parisienne that was parked across the street with its motor running.

Elliot said he commented on the car to Miller because its side panel was damaged.

The 20-year-old nurse's aide didn't seem to take much notice of the car or driver, he said.

The next morning, she was found raped and stabbed to death in a back alley. Milgaard, a 16-year-old hippie who was passing through town, was convicted of the slaying and spent 23 years in prison before DNA evidence cleared him of the crime.

The same evidence was ultimately used in 1999 to convict Larry Fisher, a serial rapist, in Miller's death.

Elliot testified that although he did not mention the incident the first time he was interviewed by police, he later phoned an officer and gave him a statement about the car and its occupant.

Joanne McLean, lawyer for Milgaard's mother, Joyce Milgaard, asked Elliot why the description he gave police of the driver was followed by a statement that Elliot had never seen Miller's boyfriend, Les Spence, until her funeral.

Elliot said the officer asked him questions, he answered and the officer wrote down his responses.

Previous witnesses have said Miller had an off-and-on relationship with Spence.

One of Miller's friends testified that Miller told her Spence had slapped her quite hard.

The inquiry saw a police report Thursday that noted that police checked Spence and determined that he was at home at the time of Miller's death.

Tony Humen, who waited at the same bus stop as Miller most mornings, has also testified that a two-tone 1963 Pontiac had driven past the bus stop one evening a few weeks earlier as he waited there, along with Miller.

The back seat passenger side window was open and a male inside hollered something toward the bus stop. The same car drove past again, a few minutes later and the same person hollered again, Humen said.

The car and its locations do not correspond with Milgaard's movements at those times. Neither Humen nor Elliot were called to testify at Milgaard's trial and neither was contacted by Milgaard's defence lawyer.

The inquiry is looking into all aspects of the 1969 investigation, the prosecution of Milgaard and why the case was not reopened sooner.


Inquiry prep work needs to be done

If you think of the Milgaard inquiry as a legal renovation, we're just at the stage of sanding and priming. This prep work is not the most rewarding part of the project, but it has to be done. Otherwise, the finished job won't stand up to scrutiny.

All this is to say that the inquiry's first three days of testimony have been less than electrifying, but not necessarily unimportant. We don't know at this early stage what's important. Better, then, not to miss anything now, because it could look very bad later.

What has emerged, among other things, after three days if testimony is a vignette of a vital, bustling, west-side Saskatoon neighbourhood, even on a cold, dark January morning in 1969. This was the area around 20th Street and Avenue O. Now a welfare-class neighbourhood, it was working class in 1969. All kinds of people were out and about around 7 a.m. when, not far away, Gail Miller was raped and murdered. Unfortunately, what they all have in common is that none of them knew until much later, when they were questioned by police, that there had even been a crime.

That includes Murray Duffus, then a potash miner who lived at 20th and O. Around the time of the murder, he was outside, trying to coax his frozen car into starting. What distinguishes Duffus and quite a few other inquiry witnesses is that they are dead. Their witness statements are being read into the record by inquiry counsel Doug Hodson.

To hear deceased-witness statements read into the record is rarely the highlight of any legal proceeding. This in no way diminishes the significance of the testimony. In this case, for example, statements given by the late Mr. Duffus revealed that Miller that morning probably did not make it as far as her bus stop, right in front of the Duffus home. If she'd been there, he'd have seen her, and he didn't.

What a witness didn't see is often what matters. What's remarkable, however, is that a violent rape and murder could have taken place with so many witnesses around. Among the others heard from so far are an oil company truck driver just beginning his route through the neighbourhood; a woman who worked at a drycleaner's on 20th; the caretaker opening St. Mary's Church; a neighbour who worked at The StarPhoenix cafeteria, watching through the window for a cab; a flour mill worker and a federal employee who often caught the same downtown bus to work as Miller, at 20th and O.

Miller was probably walking to that bus stop when she was dragged down an alley and murdered by Larry Fisher, a violent serial rapist who then lived in the neighbourhood. Quite a few of the inquiry witnesses testified at Fisher's trial in 1999. Ironically, quite a few, testified, too, at the 1970 murder trial when David Milgaard was wrongfully convicted.

The inquiry also heard from Miller's friends and roommates at a rooming house where she lived on Avenue O, just off 21st Street. They were young, working singles then, doing pretty much what young working singles do now. Their testimony gave Miller a human dimension not always apparent in musty police reports.

Everyone who knew her remarks on how pretty was the 20-year-old nursing assistant. The exceptional shininess of her black hair often comes up, too. By all accounts, she was as easy to like as to look at. When she sat next to a young man on a crowded bus, she introduced herself by name. He still remembers it 36 years later.

Miller had a stormy relationship with her sometimes-boyfriend. When she caught him kissing another girl at a dance, she let him see her kissing another boy. Yet another boy, a U of S student, promised to take her out more often if she'd only dump the boyfriend. Sometimes, she'd go out with other boys without telling him. But don't forget, this was 1969. Miller's girlfriends believed her to be a virgin.

On the last night of her life, a Thursday, Miller was out partying with friends. She wore a short-sleeve, fisherman-knit sweater under a siwash, brown slacks, bobby socks and desert boots. At midnight, when others were going home, she went with friends on a beer run at midnight to the Windsor Hotel. She didn't get home until 2 a.m. Even so, she was up and ready for work before 7 the next morning.

Why she never made it is not for this inquiry to determine. That, we already know. Larry Fisher killed her. Rather, the inquiry's mandate is to determine how another man, Milgaard, came to serve 23 years in prison for Fisher's monstrous crime.

This is a much more complicated project. Thus the meticulous preparation.


Miller's date never testified
Friend saw car outside house night before murder

A man who dated Gail Miller the night before she was murdered Jan. 31, 1969, was never called to testify at David Milgaard's trial to tell about a man who sat in a car watching Miller's house when she returned home that night, the Milgaard inquiry heard Thursday.

Milgaard was convicted of Miller's rape and murder and spent 23 years in prison before the Supreme Court ordered his release in 1992. DNA evidence was used to exonerate him in 1997 and to convict serial rapist Larry Fisher of the crime in 1999.

The inquiry is looking into all aspects of the 1969 investigation, the prosecution of Milgaard and why the case was not reopened sooner.

Dennis Elliot told the inquiry Thursday that he drove Miller home from his 23rd birthday party around 1:30 a.m. Jan. 30, 1969, and that they sat talking in his car for 15 to 45 minutes before he walked her to her door.

As they sat in his car, Elliot made eye contact with the driver of a 1963 Pontiac Parisienne that was parked across the street with its motor running. Elliot said he commented on the car to Miller because its side panel was damaged. Miller didn't seem to take much notice of the car or driver, he said.

Elliot did not mention the car the first time he spoke to police on the day of the murder. He said he remembered the car the next day. He phoned the police to tell them about it and later gave a statement that was written down by an officer.

In the Feb. 6 written statement, Elliot described the driver as being 5-foot-10 and weighing 160 pounds.

Milgaard's lawyer, Hersh Wolch, challenged that detail of the statement, suggesting it was not reliable since Elliot said the man never got out of the car. Elliot agreed.

Joanne McLean, lawyer for Milgaard's mother, Joyce Milgaard, asked Elliot why the description of the driver was followed by a statement that Elliot had never seen Miller's boyfriend, Les Spence, until her funeral. Elliot said the officer asked him questions, he answered and the officer wrote down his responses.

Previous witnesses have said Miller had an on and off relationship with Spence. One of Miller's girlfriends testified that Miller told her Spence had slapped her quite hard.

The inquiry saw a police report Thursday which noted that police checked Spence and determined that he was at home between 11 p.m. Jan. 30 and 11 a.m. Jan. 31.

A previous witness, who waited at the same bus stop as Miller most mornings, has also mentioned a two-tone 1963 Pontiac. Tony Humen told the inquiry such a car had driven past the bus stop one evening a few weeks earlier as he waited there, along with Miller. The back seat passenger side window was open and a male inside hollered something toward the bus stop. The same car drove past again, a few minutes later and the same person hollered again.

The car and its locations do not accord with Milgaard's movements at those times.

Neither Humen nor Elliot were called to testify at Milgaard's trial and neither was contacted by Milgaard's defence lawyer.

The inquiry also heard from former Westwood Funeral Home employee, Terry Michayliuk. An eight-year-old girl, who had discovered Miller's body at 8:30 a.m. in the alley near the funeral home, had come to the business to get an adult to come and see. Michayliuk called the police and covered the body with a blanket.

Two men, who were also eight at the time, testified Thursday about their separate finds of items which later became evidence at Milgaard's trial.

On March 2, 1969, Rick Hounjet was playing in his back yard, behind which Miller's body had been found a month earlier. He kicked the snow and a beet-red, plastic knife handle flew out. The blade had been broken from the knife.

Police had found a blade, later matched to the handle, under Miller's body.

A month after Hounjet's find, on April 2, his classmate, Giles Beauchamp, was kicking the snow bank beside the sidewalk across from St. Mary's School on Avenue O when he uncovered a brown leather, folding wallet.

The discovery was three doors down from the house of Milgaard's friend, Albert Cadrain. Fisher lived in a basement suite at the same house.

Beauchamp checked for money in the wallet. He didn't find any but tossed away two pieces of orange paper, which later turned out to be Miller's hospitalization card. Beauchamp stashed the wallet under the school's rink shack. Later, he returned for it and took it to his friend's house. His friend's mother looked at the identification still inside and realized who it belonged to. She called the police.

The inquiry will not sit today and will resume on Monday.

Transcripts and documents of the inquiry are posted on the Internet at www.milgaardinquiry.ca.


Murky memories explored at Milgaard inquiry

The Milgaard Inquiry took a strange detour Monday into the murky realm of human memory.

A seemingly simple thing like who found a wallet and where is now in question. This even though the wallet's location appears not to be terribly relevant. Sharply divergent memories on this seemingly minor issue do not bode well for resolution of the really contentious issues yet to come.

The inquiry is looking into the wrongful conviction of David Milgaard for the 1969 murder of nursing assistant Gail Miller. Serial rapist Larry Fisher was eventually identified as the real killer and convicted on the strength of DNA evidence, but not before Milgaard had served 23 years in jail.

Among the witnesses to testify at the inquiry so far are two Saskatoon men who both claim to have found Miller's stolen wallet where it was presumably discarded by her killer. Neither has any apparent reason to tell other than the truth. Both seem entirely sincere. And yet their stories could hardly be more divergent. One or both witnesses must be wrong. Not just a little wrong. Totally wrong. And yet they both appear to be trying their level best to tell the truth.

Now middle-age men, they were just schoolboys in 1969. Norman Remenda was 12, Giles Beauchamp, eight. Both lived just blocks from where Miller was killed.

Beauchamp's testimony, then and now, was that he found the wallet in a snowbank on Avenue O, between 20th and 21st Streets, while walking to a friend's place. While he walked, he kicked at the snow, as eight-year-old boys still do. That's when he kicked up the wallet. He later gave the wallet to a neighbour who called the police.

This is more or less the version supported by contemporary police statements. However, Beauchamp revealed to the inquiry last week that he had not told the whole story. In fact, before he turned in the wallet, he'd stashed it for a time under the skating shack at St. Mary's school. The wallet contained papers identifying Miller, but Beauchamp did not at first connect it with the murder.

Remenda, however, claims it was he who found the wallet while playing shinny on the St. Mary's hockey rink. He testified that he was looking for a puck he'd shot over the boards when the wallet turned up. The location was a few houses away from where Beauchamp claimed to have found the wallet. This does not now appear significant. But at this early stage, what is significant is not always clear.

Remenda told the inquiry that he gave the wallet to Beauchamp's mother, who called police. When police arrived, he was sent home, leaving Beauchamp to get the credit. Remenda says he's long been troubled by official acceptance of an inaccurate version of events, but he didn't think it mattered. Thus, he did not try setting the record straight at Milgaard's trial, or again, years later, at Fisher's trial. Only last Friday did he finally come forward.

What does it all mean?

Probably not much, except to draw attention to the fallibility of 36-year-old childhood memories. Documentary evidence is much more reliable. As the ancient Chinese proverb reminds us, the palest ink lasts longer than the best memory.

Other testimony Monday was from people who saw Milgaard in the minutes and hours after the murder. He was not exactly keeping the low profile you'd expect of an escaping murderer. Rather, he and his companions were blundering around the unfamiliar neighbourhood, looking for a friend's house. They stopped at a hotel where Milgaard asked for a map. They stopped to help push a stuck car. They got stuck themselves. They got a tow. They went to a service station to have their car repaired. Milgaard was thus seen at close range soon after the murder by at least half a dozen people.

What's interesting is what these witnesses didn't see. None among them noticed blood on Milgaard's clothes. He'd supposedly stabbed a woman to death, but all these people who saw him noticed nothing special about his clothes. Milgaard's companions, however, after repeated police interviews, would eventually say that they saw blood on his clothes.

This contradictory evidence is not so easily explained away by murky memories.


Milgaard inquiry hears conflicting testimony
Woman claims to have found body of Gail Miller

The Milgaard Inquiry on Tuesday heard the puzzling testimony of a woman who believes she, not Mary Marcoux, found the body of murdered nursing assistant Gail Miller on the morning of Jan. 31, 1969.

It also heard video testimony from a couple who met David Milgaard that morning when their car got stuck in the alley behind their house, five blocks from the place where Miller's body was found.

Linda Duffus, who testified in person Tuesday, was in the fifth grade at the time of the crime for which David Milgaard was wrongfully convicted and spent 23 years in prison.

Duffus believes she also was present at an important moment in the investigation, that she had key information about evidence that was not brought out until a 1993 RCMP investigation into the original Saskatoon police investigation and that she was the first person to make a public statement about the finding of the body.

Duffus is the second witness at the inquiry to say she or he had a previously unrecognized role in events, but whose recollections are not borne out by records of the day. On Monday, Norman Remenda recalled that it was he, not his younger schoolmate Giles Beauchamp, who found Miller's wallet two months after the murder.

Police statements from witnesses in 1969 show Marcoux and Beauchamp were the children who found the body and the wallet respectively and brought their findings to the attention of adults. Marcoux and Beauchamp testified at Milgaard's trial in 1970.

Duffus told the inquiry that she regularly walked to school with a boy named Matthew Hnatiuk and that she was on her way to his house when she found a woman's body in the alley between the 200 blocks of Avenues N and O South. Duffus said she thought it was a woman who sometimes got drunk and fell asleep in the snow. She didn't realize the woman was dead.

Duffus said it was she, not Marcoux, who was standing looking at the body when Hnatiuk came out of his back yard that morning. She recalls telling Hnatiuk to get his mother and that Mrs. Hnatiuk came out and told the children to hurry off to school.

Duffus told her class during that morning's current affairs discussion that she had found the woman in the snow bank.

A few days after the murder, Duffus went back to the alley where she saw a tent police had placed over the spot where the body had laid. As she watched, a police officer bent down and picked up a small blade, which she thought was a knife. The officer turned away from her and showed his find to another police officer, she said.

Duffus also recalls that she was friends with Rita Cadrain, whose brother, Albert "Shorty" Cadrain, was a friend of Milgaard's and a key witness against him at his trial. Duffus said that within about a week of the murder, she was in Rita's unfinished basement bedroom when Rita told her she had found bloody clothing on her bed.

Duffus said Rita told her the clothes belonged to her older brother's friend, who had stayed overnight in her bed. Duffus said it gave Rita the creeps to think that guy had slept in her bed.

Duffus gave her first statement about her memories to the RCMP in 1993. She did not talk to police about her information before then, she said. Duffus said she assumed Milgaard committed the crime because she knew about the bloody clothes.

Duffus's story appears not to accord with the known fact that Larry Fisher and his wife at the time, Linda Fisher, lived in a basement suite at the Cadrain house at the time of the murder.

The inquiry has not heard what the layout of the Cadrain basement was, or if Milgaard spent a night in Saskatoon.

The Duffus family lived on 20th Street near the Avenue O bus stop. Linda Duffus's father was Murray Duffus, now deceased. His statements from 1969 and 1993 were read into the record last week.

He told police in 1969 that he was trying to start his car that cold morning. He didn't see anything noteworthy at the bus stop that day, though he recalled other mornings having seen a woman wearing the white stockings of a nurse waiting there.

Earlier Tuesday, the inquiry watched the videotaped statements of a couple who encountered Milgaard and his friends in the hours just after Miller was murdered.

Sandra and Walter Danchuk said they didn't notice blood on the clothing of Milgaard, who was polite and talkative. The couple were interviewed in Nanaimo, B.C., where they now live.

The couple were leaving for work when they got stuck in the alley behind their residence on the 100 block of Avenue T South.

A car pulled up behind them and immediately began trying to push the Danchuk car but, instead, the other car got stuck too, Sandra Danchuk said. The two young fellows and one teenage girl came to wait for a tow truck in the stairwell outside the Danchuk's basement suite. Milgaard came down to the suite to ask for a glass of water. While there, he complimented Danchuk on their nice home.

The comment stuck with Danchuk, who, as an 18-year-old newlywed, was pleased that he had noticed her efforts. She didn't notice anything unusual about Milgaard's clothing and did not see blood on him or his clothes.

In the years since then, Danchuk has found herself with a thought that Milgaard might have had a nosebleed before he came to their house, but she doesn't know why she has that idea.

Danchuk testified at Milgaard's preliminary hearing and his trial. She spoke with Milgaard's mother, Joyce Milgaard years later, gave an interview to the CBC's Fifth Estate program and answered RCMP questions in 1993 about the 1969 event.

Her husband, Walter Danchuk, didn't see blood on Milgaard either. Later that morning he gave the Milgaard group a ride to a service station in his car which had white leatherette upholstery. He has wondered why if the police thought Milgaard had fresh blood on his pants which might have smeared on the upholstery, they never asked to look at his car during the investigation.


Conflicting stories heard at Milgaard inquiry

SASKATOON - The passage of time is causing some problems at the inquiry into the wrongful conviction of David Milgaard.

So far, the inquiry that began Jan. 17 has heard from many of the people who had contact with Milgaard the day of Gail Miller's 1969 murder.

Milgaard spent 23 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. Larry Fisher was eventually convicted of Miller's murder.

The inquiry is supposed to find out how the system failed.

But 36 years after Miller's death, it's becoming apparent that some memories have faded.

This week two different men swore they found Miller's wallet. Two different women claimed they found Miller's body.

The inquiry is expected to call experts on memory at some point.

Other testimony has been more straightforward.

On Tuesday, the inquiry heard from Sandra and Wally Danchuk. They were a young couple who got their car stuck in an alley right in front of the car Milgaard was in.

Both talked about helping the three teens get help, allowing them into their suite to keep warm. The Danchuks also talked at length about how polite David MIlgaard was.

What the testimony of all the people who had contact with Milgaard that day in 1969 has in common is that no one noticed any blood on Milgaard.

Wally Danchuk said after all these years he still wonders why police didn't look harder for blood.

"They kept asking about the blood on his clothes. Well, the interior of the car was all-white leatherette and that was never brought up," Danchuk said.

"If he did have blood...you'd see something on it."

Meanwhile, the attention turns Wednesday to the pathologist who examined Miller's body and whose findings helped convict Milgaard.

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