File Number: 104200125
Richmond, British Columbia: With the exception of the Pickton case, very few Vancouver-area murders have caught international attention like this one. It was covered by Unsolved Mysteries, a Current Affair and other media publications. Why? Well...
In June 1989, the body of Cindy James, a 44-year-old nurse, was found in the yard of an abandoned house in Richmond. She had been drugged and strangled while her hands and feet had been tied behind her back. The autopsy report indicated she'd died of an overdose of morphine and other drugs, and despite being hogtied, her death was ruled a suicide by the RCMP.
But her family never believed this was a suicide. For more than six years leading up to her murder, James had reported hundreds of harassment incidents to the police and to her family. The specifics of the case are too lengthy to go into detail here, but it's worth reading in full.
The short of it is, soon after leaving her husband in 1981, James started receiving threatening phone calls. The police started to investigate but over the next several months, the harassment increased. She reported prowlers outside her house at night. Windows were smashed and phone cords cut. According to a friend, James claimed bizarre notes were being left on her doorstep, and that she had been attacked several times.
James tried to hide her identity, changing her last name, moving houses, painting her car, etc. But the harassment continued, including the violent attacks. But because there were never any witnesses, the police became suspicious that James was lying about the case, or was withholding important information.
Months before her death, James was found hypothermic in a ditch six miles from her home. She was wearing a man's work boot and glove and had a nylon stocking tied around her neck. She was cut and bruised, yet could not recall how she'd gotten to the ditch. Again, police were suspicious about her story.
Shortly after, a fire was started in her basement; an arson, according to police, that only could only have been started by someone in the house, since there was no evidence of a break-in, James was suspected and she was checked into a psychiatric facility. She checked out 10 weeks later.
On May 25, 1989, she disappeared. Her car was discovered not far from her house, with groceries and a wrapped gift in the backseat. There was blood in the car. Her body was discovered two weeks later in an abandoned house.
James' ex-husband, a psychiatrist, was considered a suspect. So was her boyfriend at the time, who worked as a policeman. Neither were charged. Even after a public inquest where 84 people testified, no arrests were made.
The case remains unsolved.