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Loc Token: ucf9c1g0420900611
Case Status: UNSOLVED
Location: Tofield, Alberta, Canada
File Name: Body Found In Septic Tank
Author/Contributor: Aaron T.

Unsolved Case Files

File Number: 104200061

Tofield, Alberta, Canada: In 1977, an unidentified murder victim was found in a septic tank thirteen kilometers west of Tofield, Alberta. Authorities suspect he was not from Alberta, but most likely worked as a migrant worker.

The victim was found wearing a blue Levi shirt with snap buttons, a gray t-shirt, blue jeans, and imitation Wallabee shoes. His decomposed body was wrapped in a yellow bed sheet and tied up with a nylon rope. He was found by a local couple scavenging their abandoned property for a septic tank pump.

After seeing his leg bobbing in their old septic tank, they alerted the Tofield Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) detachment. Two officers came to the scene to recover his body, where they spent an hour emptying the 1.8 meter deep septic tank with empty ice cream pails.

A medical examiner in Edmonton determined the victim to be of European Canadian descent. His bones and teeth suggested he suffered from an unspecified illness at five years old. Cause of death was two gunshots to the head and chest, although it was possible there could have been more if any of the bullets did not reach his skeleton.

Before his death, he had been tortured; he'd been beaten, tied up, burned with a small butane torch and cigarettes, and sexually mutilated with farm shears. The sexual mutilation was so severe that the medical examiner took several months to positively identify him as a male. Based on the burn marks on his shirt sleeves, he could have been tied to a bed while tortured. After his death, he had been covered in quicklime, most likely in an attempt to quicken decomposition.

Due to a lack of evidence in the septic tank, the victim was most likely murdered elsewhere and the septic tank was only a dumpsite. His murderers are believed to have known him, due to how viciously he had been killed. It is also suspected they were Tofield locals or were familiar with the area, due to the location of the victim's dumpsite being on a rural property.

The victim's body has been exhumed from his unmarked grave in an Edmonton cemetery twice. In 1979, his remains were flown out to Clyde Snow and Betty Gatliff, Forensic anthropologist and medical illustrator at the Federal Aviation Administration in Oklahoma who had been creating 3D facial composites from skulls since 1967.

Along with creating a facial composite for him, the two could tell by measuring his hands that he was right-handed. Snow believed the victim to be of Indigenous origin and around 35 years old, contradicting the RCMP's belief of him being a European Canadian and between 26 and 32.

The body was exhumed and reconstructed for the second time in 2000 by Cyril Chan, who was with the Edmonton medical examiner's office at the time.

The 1,200 residents of Tofield at the time were horrified to hear of his murder. Farmers checked their own septic tanks for bodies and business owners worried that the victim's murderers could have been regular customers. Many speculated he had been sexually mutilated due to committing a sex crime or being unfaithful in a relationship.

Ed Lammerts, one of the officers who helped recover the body, has since retired. He believes the victim will never be identified, despite sending X-rays of his teeth to 800 Albertan dentists coupled with publishing them in dental magazines, and spending $1,000,000 CAD on the case.

» See all unsolved cases in Tofield, Alberta

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