This letter has been editorialised by injusticebusters.org. Large paragraphs have been broken up into small ones in order to make it more readable. Links have been added to content on this site. Nothing has been removed.
March 12, 2006
To Whom It May Concern:
RE: Horrible Miscarriages of Justice, Wrongful Convictions.
My name is Patrick Fischer: I am currently serving a life sentence for a crime I did not commit. You probably get these kinds of letters all the time from people claiming innocence for crimes they have been convicted of. What makes me any different? Well, I'm afraid that I don't really have the answer to that, but please read on.
The body of Darci Drefko was found off of a dirt road in Merritt, B.C. on May 15, 1999. My 1st trial, in Kamloops, ended in a hung jury. My 2nd trial started unusually quickly after the 1st ended (4 days), but I was convicted of 1st degree Murder and sentenced to Life with no parole for 25 years. Of course I appealed, and lost, although I do believe the outcome would have been different if my attorney had followed my direction as to a crucial matter of law, but that is neither here nor there. I then tried for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, and they shot me down too, so here I sit, in desperate need of help.
You may or may not have heard of Kyle Unger, released on bail pending review of his case by the Justice Minister. I was convicted the same way he was, by the Police use of the "Mr. Big" undercover operation. This RCMP tactic is one of the most outrageous and dangerous tactics used by the police. It is so dangerous that in the U.S. it has been deemed as too likely to gain a false confession and too unreliable to be used in U.S. law.
I'm not going to bore you by inundating you with every conflicting piece of evidence in my case, but I will mention a couple of the big things. I also must admit that my motives for writing this aren't completely selfish either. Hundreds of people are in prison because of this abuse of police power, whether deservingly or not I don't know. They can't all be guilty though. "Mr. Big" has got to be abolished.
Most people aren't even aware of the Mr. Big operation, never mind the lengths that the police go to, to get a confession. I have had conversations with Correctional Officers where they think I am a complete liar because they simply refuse to believe that the RCMP could ever be allowed to do such things. At this point I would like to tell you: don't take my word for it. I have made all case files available to anyone who is interested, transcripts, videotapes, police "T.I.P.S." files, everything. In my case, I did eventually confess to the crime after denying responsibility on several occasions.
In the Mr. Big operation, the police hit me at a very bad time in my life financially. They slowly build up from paying you to help them with seemingly innocuous things, to a point where you cross the line into what you believe is criminal activity.
Every case is different, but in my case they had me delivering what I assumed were drugs and collecting large sums of money. At first, I was a little wary of all this, but the man I was dealing with seemed to be all right and we got along good. Almost all interactions with what I will call the point man, the guy I had the most contact with, were designed to somehow show me that what I was doing for them was safe with regards to getting caught, that the people he worked for were very loyal, that trust was the backbone of their operation, and that betrayal of the group or their trust would be dealt with severely.
If they had a problem, it disappeared. On many occasions I was told stories of horrible things that had been done to people who lied to them or betrayed them. Although they usually tell you that you are being recruited for their group, I told the point man early on, when it was first made clear to me that he was part of a larger organization, that I did not want membership, and I did not want to meet more people than I absolutely have to because, while I may be no angel, it just wasn't what I wanted to do with my life. It was a means to an end at that time.
So they suck you in deep, and then comes the day when I am told about a particular job and it meant $ 20,000 if I was in. The plan, as told to me, was that a plane would land in a remote spot and all I would have to do is help unload it onto a truck. I was shown where this was going to happen and how it was going to happen in great detail. Then came the meeting, I did not want to meet the "Boss". At this point they had me believing that they are Hells Angels.
Regardless of what I said, I was taken to Surrey to a penthouse suite and left alone with the boss. I would later find out that everything in the penthouse was videotaped. I tried to act calm and cool, but if you watch the tapes, you can still tell that I am very nervous. At this time I was offered beer, not your regular everyday beer, but the giant king cans. I can't remember if I drank 3 or 4 of these during this time, but it was definitely enough to give me a good buzz. I really can't say whether the alcohol was the biggest influence in my confession or not. I don't think anyone could really say for sure unless they could somehow go back and do it without the booze.
One thing for sure though, the beer sure didn't hurt their chances of getting a confession. Mr. Big also used veiled and implied threats when I kept denying involvement. He did everything to make me believe that I would be killed if I didn't tell him what he wanted to hear, without actually saying that he would kill me.
Of course, the $20,000 doesn't hurt as far as incentives go. So now we have the police plying a suspect with alcohol, making a suspect believe that he will be killed if he doesn't confess, and last but not least, the $20,000 "carrot on a stick". Now, of course the police like to say that I was free to leave at anytime and that I wasn't being threatened, and they can't help how I may have perceived some statements. But they know damn well what they are doing and that is just double talk. Evidently, they are allowed to make someone believe that they will kill them as long as they don't actually say the words. I have a hard time believing that the Canadian public would agree with these types of tactics.
Unfortunately, trying to find any kind of statistics on these cases is almost impossible, as this tactic had been shrouded in total secrecy until 2001. The man who designed the tactic, Al Haslett, has been quoted as saying things like "we can get anyone with this tactic", and admitting that the tactic was designed to make the accused look so bad in the eyes of the jury that they will convict whether or not they are satisfied of guilt. The closest thing to a statistic that I have been able to find is that there have been 180 convictions since 1997 using this tactic. Also, that out of all the people charged as a result of this method, 80% are convicted. That says to me that according to our principles of law there is an admitted 20% margin of error because they would not lay charges if a confession had not been obtained.
During the "confession", I also told them of a murder that had never even happened. Most of the things I told them were not true and were proven as such in court. They were either ways to make myself look tough and streetwise to them, or in some instances, I would make up stories about why I would not do certain things for them by saying I had done them in the past and would not do them again. I told them that I was ordered to kill this person by a group of East Indians that I was working for at the time, however, the police conceded that there was no connection between this group and myself. After I was arrested, the officer doing the interview said that he knew this story was not true, and even gave reasons why he knew this, yet in court the judge ruled that this interview could only be used by the prosecution for cross examination purposes.
The crown got to "cherry pick" this statement for anything to use against me, but I was not allowed to use any of this statement to try to help me. The statement was more helpful for the defence than it was for the prosecutor, yet even though the jury asked for a transcript of the interview their request was denied. That is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard! Since when is exculpatory evidence not allowed to be presented by the defence?
The prosecutor hammered the point to the jury that it was 1st degree murder because it was murder for hire, yet one of the police officers testified that my story about being ordered to commit the murder, had been investigated and it "proved not to be true". That is 2 separate officers saying that this is not true, yet that was the foundation for the prosecution.
The point man had no independent memory of any of the events and had to read his notes to remember anything. At one point he misread a passage in his notes and then told of an elaborate scenario involving a simulated assault and the use of fake blood. This came about because he thought the word he saw was blood. In fact, what he had read was a sloppily written $30,000. After this was brought to his attention, he then admitted that the assault with fake blood had not taken place. He had made the mistake because that scenario has been used in other operations, and when he thought he saw the word blood in his notes he thought of that scenario. If that doesn't ring the alarm bells, then what does?
Now, the evidence that the Crown was hanging their hat on was supposedly Holdback evidence that no one but the killer or police could possibly know; cause of death and body location. The approximate location of the body was on the front page of the Merritt newspaper, along with a description and the fact that several teens camping in the area had seen the police activity at the site, not to mention that even in the police evidence photographs there are 2 men on horseback being told by an officer to leave the area.
I did show them an area that looked like I had been told of, it was pretty close but still the length of a football field from where the body was actually found. The cause of death came about as an educated guess. I had seen Darcy's father downtown and he told me that his other daughter Susan wanted to talk to me. I went over and talked to her. She wanted to ask me if the police had talked to me and what they had asked. After some discussion, she started asking me about a choking game that Susan calls "sleepers", where someone is choked to the point of unconsciousness, she said the police seemed really interested to know if Darci was in the habit of doing this. Any reasonably intelligent person could come to the conclusion that if the police want to know if the deceased was in the habit of playing a choking game, or if she was into choking during sex, that choking may have been the cause of death, otherwise, why would the police be interested in that particular subject?
In court Susan said she could not remember having that conversation with me, but she also completely denies saying other things that are recorded, even when faced with her recorded statements, she still denies making the statement.
I have heard through an organization in Merritt, B.C., the Peoples Advocacy for Police Accountability, that there is talk about the CBC doing a documentary on police misconduct and harassment in Merritt. I can sure attest to that as the lead investigator in my case, Bob Gobeil, as well as other officers had been harassing me for years.
At trial Bob Gobeil produced a computer disk which supposedly contained a GPS map plot that proved that I showed the point man the exact site that the body was found. There was some questioning of his highly unusual evidence storage, plus the fact that according to the dates on the file, the disk had been accessed while he was supposedly out of town on leave with the disk locked in his personal locker that no one else had access to. Upon further questioning, the technical staff that he said gave him the disk, denied any knowledge of it, in fact, not a single person involved with the case knew anything about this disk.
Bob Gobeil, it seems, is the only one that knew about it. After all the questioning about this disk was done, the judge ruled that anything to do with this disk was inadmissible to either side. As far as I'm concerned, that disk was proof of wrongdoing by at least one officer, yet I am not allowed to pursue it? When I was 1st questioned about this in Merritt, my mother had insisted on being present at the interview, because of the continued police harassment, she had even grown mistrustful of the police.
During the interview, the tape recorder was turned off a couple of times, during the time that the tape was off there was a good deal of conversation and at one point I offered a DNA sample. The response to this was that they didn't need my DNA because Darci hadn't been raped. Darci had been involved with pimps from Surrey, and if I tried to bring this up, the police would shut me right down. They said that they didn't want to hear anything about her being involved in prostitution, she was not a prostitute so don't bring it up.
Well, the simple fact of the matter is that she was involved in prostitution and later in court it came out that they knew this. At trial Bob Gobeil completely denied that the tape had been turned off. He said the entirety of the interview had been recorded and that they would never tell someone in an interview that she hadn't been raped. After more questioning, Gobeil admitted that I did offer DNA and they turned me down. After more questioning as to why that had not been recorded, he admitted that the tape had been turned off, but there was no conversation while it was off. The judge did not believe this and gave him a stern admonishment. [Perjury?]
Another instance of just plain sloppy police work, according to the police, I killed her on April 24th. All testimony from witnesses said that Darci had been assaulted by her Aunt and Darci went missing a couple days later. All witnesses also said that the day she was last seen, her father had been sick in bed all day long. The police reviewed tapes from the Coquihalla Toll Booth for April 24th, the inbound lanes, presumably to see if Darci was in any of the cars as there was quite a bit of talk that she had taken off to Surrey. The problem with that is, unknown to the police, one of their own officers had taken an assault complaint from Darci at around 5:30pm on April 24th in downtown Merritt, while she was with her dad. This was the assault by the Aunt. This officer had to be called for the defence because the prosecution did not know about it; sloppy.
While the crown tried to say that no one else but the police and the killer could have known about the body location, Mr. Big was on the stand. The defence brought out a copy of the newspaper. The newspaper article was read to the undercover officer in the context of how the article affects the holdback evidence; his response to the reading of the article was "I wouldn't build my case on it" This same officer then goes on to explain about the holdback evidence.
10 Q So, if the holdback isn't secure then the-- then--
11. A Well, the --
12 Q -- the confession is not reliable?
13 A You can look at the confession, but how much weight
14 you want to put on it, you have to -- you have to
15 consider that.
16 Q It's crucial isn't it?
17 A It is.
18 Q Holdback has to be --
19 A Holdback -- holdback is crucial. In fact, it's
20 gotten to the point -- point now is when I just
21 left the undercover unit that it's rarely that we
22 would even attempt an undercover operation unless
23 there was some -- some form of holdback. We don't
24 care what it is -- what it is, but, you know, it
25 makes our job a lot easier and it give -- when it
26 comes time for court, it gives what we do a lot
27 more credibility.
After a short recess, the prosecutor came into the courtroom with a thick folder and stated to the judge that the RCMP had just disclosed it to him. The contents of the folder was the police media file, and in it was every newspaper clipping that had anything to do with the case and all of the official police news releases. The police knew all along about the newspaper articles but they tried to hide it. This media file proved a lot of the things that I was saying, that the crown was trying to say I was lying about. The crown tried to say there were no rumours going around town yet a police news release asked the public to stop spreading rumours. This was a blatant attempt by the RCMP to withhold evidence to try to make the case stronger.
So, now we have police remembering things that they later admit never happened, the holdback evidence is useless because ? the town knew, the police don't even know about their own officers taking reports from the victim, evidence being brought forth that no one except the officer bringing it knows anything about, an exculpatory statement that I was not allowed to produce, testimony from one of the investigating officers that says the story I told Mr. Big was not true. A confession to a murder that doesn't exist, absolutely no forensic evidence where even the forensic technician says there should be.
I forgot to mention that when the body was 1st discovered the family stated that the clothes she was wearing when they last saw her were different than the ones she was found in. The prosecutor ended up confusing them so much that at trial, no one could remember which clothes she was wearing when they last saw her.
The fact that it was acknowledged at trial that pretty much everything I told the undercover officers were lies; even most of what I told them about Darcy's murder doesn't match or make any sense with known facts. And last, but not least, being plied with alcohol and in fear for my life, plus the $20,000 bonus. Not to mention it was brought up in court that Susan's boyfriend was involved in the prostitution trade and we heard there was a fight between Susan's boyfriend and her father because he had grabbed her by the throat and choked her. This was quickly ruled as inadmissible by the judge for some reason.
There was also an audiotape of Susan calling someone, repeatedly harassing them, and making what seemed to be an incriminating statement about involvement in the crime. There were some people from Surrey that were charged with raping Darci, now that case has gone away. And Robert Dezwaan, convicted of killing Cherish Oppenheim, who coincidentally her father was living with Darcy's mother. There are some striking similarities between the 2 deaths, both were 16 when they died; both died of strangulation, both were dumped in extremely similar spots, just inside the tree line off a utility right of way.
This is only a fraction of what is wrong in this case, as I have said, I have made all materials available and to truly understand the scope of this travesty you would have to go into the case in detail. I need help here, but more importantly, if there is this much wrong with my case, just imagine all the other people. I'm sure that many may be guilty, but many also aren't. Mr. Big has to go,! The police can not be allowed to use these tactics because they are too unreliable and dangerous. If you offer the right incentives people will admit to anything. If you picked out 10 people knowing they had done nothing wrong and did this to them, I think you would get at least 3 confessions.
This has been going on for years. If there have been 180 convictions since 1997, I cringe to think what the total number may be considering they have been doing this for at least 15 years. I think the judge presiding over the Clayton Mentuck case had it right, his ruling was that the enticements were far too great to trust the reliability of his confession alone.
There is another case referred to as O.N.E. because the girl was too young to identify. She confessed, but was subsequently acquitted. I am not positive of this, but I have heard that it was later determined that the victim in that case had died accidentally and was not murdered.
Then you have Kyle Unger, recently released on bail pending a review that was initiated by the Manitoba Government. There are two other cases that I am aware of that sound very suspicious, Wade Skiffington and Dan Nette, and another man that will be on trial shortly in Saskatchewan. I can't remember his first name, but the last name is [Wilfred Hathway] Hathaway. Mr. Big is an epidemic of colossal proportions that has to be stopped!
I am having an extremely difficult time finding any kind of statistics, but I have been in contact with a few people and I am preparing to launch a campaign to abolish the Mr. Big sting. This can not be allowed to continue. As a society, we want justice, we want the guilty to be punished. It is said, that it is better that 10 guilty people go free than one innocent be imprisoned. It is also said that you are innocent until proven guilty. For those of us that suffer for other people's crimes, we know that it is just lip service.
The RCMP brags that they can get anyone with Mr. Big. Well, it is true, they can get me, they can get you, they can get your children, but at what price? When you put people in that position and use those tactics, it is just asking for a false confession. The RCMP says that there are failsafe to guard against that, like holdback evidence, but how secure is your evidence when it is printed on the front page of the local newspaper?
The undercover unit says that they won't do an operation without secure holdback evidence. Also, in court, they stated that Gobeil assured them on several occasions that the holdback was secure. Well, we know that was not true, and Gobeil knew that was not true, so now what do we have? Police lying to the police. If they won't undertake an operation without secure holdback then that means Gobeil lied to the undercover unit so they would investigate. Where does it end?
I can almost see the scepticism on your face, that's ok, I expect it. I don't expect anyone to believe me, I just say what I always say, don't believe me, see for yourself. Get the materials, go through it, I am positive that what you find will shock you. This was an inept investigation that focused on me because I knew her, at least partly because of bad blood between me and Gobeil, but I think mostly because he knew me, he knew what would work, and he knew it would be easy. When you start throwing money at someone who never had any, you can make them do anything and they count on it. Fear and greed are the best motivators in the world and as such should not be exploited for the purpose of closing cases.
I know what I need to do, but I need help to do it. I have accepted that I may never get out of jail. My family likes to talk about [David] Milgaard and [Thomas] Sophonow, and so on, but the truth of the matter is that for every innocent man freed, there is at least one that will never be. That and the fact that to my knowledge BC is the only province in Canada where no one has been freed from a wrongful conviction, and believe me, it isn't because we're more cautious of it. I think my case, and more importantly, the greater issue of this abuse of power by the police, has to be carefully looked at. Where do we as a society draw the line? At what cost is it ok to hope that most of the people convicted this way really are guilty?
All court documents, evidence, police files can be obtained from my Mother, Linda Fischer. Her phone number is (250) 782-1689. As I said, I am in desperate need of help. I have the goal in mind, but I have no clue how to make it happen. I know what I want to do, I just don't know how to do it.
I'm sorry that this letter ended up being so long. My intention was to make it as short as possible, but that is very hard to do. There is so much I want to put down, but if I did I'd be writing a novel, so here it is. The ball is in your court now. Please contact me to let me know what you think, even if it is just to tell me to F off. Arrangements can be made to speak to me over the phone if you would like. I am an open book, I am giving you complete access and cooperation. I can do no more than that. Thank you.
P.O Box 2000