Real Name: Cindy James
Nicknames: No Known Nicknames
Location: Richmond, British Columbia
Date: June 8, 1989
Details: In June 1989, the quiet Vancouver, British Columbia, suburb of Richmond was shocked when a body was found lying in the yard of an abandoned house. The victim was a 44-year old nurse named Cindy James. She had been drugged and strangled, and her hands and feet had been tied behind her back. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police believed that Cindy’s death was either an accident or suicide. In the seven years before she died, Cindy reported nearly a hundred incidents of harassment beginning four months after she left her husband.
Five were violent physical attacks while others were whispering to silent phone calls. This got worse after she involved the police. At night, she heard prowlers. Her porch lights were smashed and phone lines severed. According to Cindy’s friend, Agnes Woodcock, Cindy said bizarre notes began to appear on her doorstep. Someone was trying to scare Cindy to death. She became reluctant and frightened to give details. Over time, the police began to doubt her stories.
One night, Agnes dropped by Cindy’s house for a visit and knocked on the door. There was no answer, so she assumed she was taking her bath. As she investigated, she came across Cindy outside, crouched down with a nylon stocking tied tightly around her neck. She’d gone out to the garage to get a box and someone had grabbed her from behind. All she saw were white sneakers.
Cindy moved to a new house, painted her car, and changed her last name. She also hired a private investigator, Ozzie Kaban. The police continued their investigation and questioned Cindy several times. Ozzie later reported that Cindy wouldn’t tell them the entire story. She would be evasive, she would withhold information, and she simply would not act as a normal victim would act. Cindy’s mother thinks the reason for her daughter’s reluctance was that her attacker had threatened her sister and family. By naming him, her family would be killed.
One night, Ozzie Kaban heard strange sounds coming over a two-way radio he had given Cindy and went straight to her house. He went around the house and found the house was locked. Looking through a window, he found Cindy lying on the floor with a paring knife through her hand. She was taken to the hospital where she later recalled being attacked and a needle going into her arm.
Police never took fingerprints from a suspect, and there was no independent corroboration. Cindy saw this person sometimes accompanied by one or two others, or sometime she said there were two, sometimes three people, but police could never find a suspect. The threatening phone calls continued, but they were too short to trace. There were never calls when the police had 24-hour surveillance on her house for days on end with up to fourteen officers, but when surveillance was off her house, another incident would happen.
As police became skeptical of the harassment, Cindy's parents believed her attacker was staying away to make them suspicious of Cindy. Eventually, Cindy was found dazed and semi-conscious lying in a ditch six miles from her home. She was wearing a man’s work boot and glove, and suffering from hypothermia. Cuts and bruises covered her body. A black nylon stocking had been tied tightly around her neck. She had no memory of what happened. Her parents stayed with her, and one night heard noises and awoke to the basement in flames and the phone dead. Cindy's father left the residence to alert the neighbors. He saw a man at the curb and asked him to call the fire department. Instead, the man simply ran off down the street.
By now, the police suspected that Cindy had staged the incident. They found no dust or fingerprints disturbed on the outside of the windowsill. The fires were set inside the home. In order to set the fire, it was thought, the perpetrator would’ve needed to climb through this specific window. It was also considered odd that Cindy still freely walked her dog during the attacks. Cindy’s doctor committed her to a local psychiatric ward, believing she was becoming suicidal. Ten weeks later, Cindy left the hospital. Cindy’s father said that she finally admitted to her family and friends that she knew more than she was saying and would go after her perpetuator herself.
On May 25, 1989, six years and seven months after the first threatening phone call, Cindy James disappeared. On the same day, her car was found in a neighborhood parking lot. Inside were groceries and a wrapped gift. There was blood on the driver’s side door and items from Cindy’s wallet were under the car. Two weeks later, her body was found at the abandoned house. It looked like Cindy James had been brutally murdered. Her hands and feet were bound together behind her back. A black nylon stocking was tied tightly around her neck. Yet, an autopsy revealed that Cindy died from an overdose of morphine and other drugs. Police concluded that Cindy had committed suicide. Her father didn’t believe she would have been able to stage the scene, but others believed it was possible. In Vancouver, the coroner ruled that Cindy’s death was not suicide, an accident, or a murder. They determined that she died of an “unknown event.”
Cindy’s parents never doubted that their daughter was murdered. Cindy’s father, Otto Hack, believed the police did not investigate the possibility of homicide or of somebody murdering her, instead zeroing in on trying to prove that she committed suicide. They believe someone in Vancouver is getting away with murder.
Suspects: During the investigation Cindy's ex husband, Roy Makepeace was a suspect along with Pat McBride, a lover of Cindy's who was a policeman.
Extra Notes: This segment originally aired on the February 13, 1991 episode of Unsolved Mysteries. This case has also been profiled on A Current Affair and various other media publications.