Witness: A true crime story: Part 5 of 7: Underworld

News Mar 11, 2010 Hamilton Spectator

Monday, Aug. 20, 2001

Detective Dave Place awoke to the sound of his pager beeping on the night table. He looked at the clock: 4:18 a.m. Place grimaced. Here we go.

He tiptoed out of the bedroom, careful not to wake his wife, Joanne, or his young kids, and phoned Central Station. An inspector told him there had been a homicide: female in an apartment above the Sandbar tavern on King Street East. Sexually assaulted, possible strangulation.

He showered, shaved and put on a suit. Place, at a muscled 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, looked like he could break a man in two, yet came across soft-spoken, cerebral, his expression deferential. He had been in homicide for a year, his first case had been that of a man who stabbed his gay lover 18 times, once through the middle of a flaming heart tattoo.

Place arrived at the station at 5:25 a.m. to learn that he would be the lead investigator. He spoke with uniformed officers who had been at the scene, and made notes detailing witnesses he needed to check out. An officer handed him three bags of shoes taken from people who had been in the apartment that night.

Place reviewed information on a suspect in custody named Barry Lane. Barry was 29, had a long criminal record, outstanding charges against him in Newfoundland, and a caution in his file that he could be violent. Barry had been inside unit No. 4 above the Sandbar, where the body was found.

His shoes had left bloody footprints on the floor.

At 7 a.m. Place went downstairs to the holding cells. Barry was there, looking gaunt, with tightly cropped hair and teardrop tattoos under one eye. He reeked from smoking crack much of the night. And he was not happy about being held in jail.

"Hey Barry, how are you doing?" Place asked.

"All right."

"Can I get you a coffee or something?"

"No."

"What I'm interested in, is what's happened over at the Sandbar, and what you saw. OK?"

"This is bull----!" Barry said, shouting. "I've been here four hours, locked up. They took my sneakers and those sneakers I paid a hundred and fifty bucks for yesterday. And they're gone."

"They're not gone. We have them."

"I want my sneakers back, man. This is, like, weird, man."

"Well, you have to understand, we're dealing with a murder, right?"

"I guess so. Yeah."

When confronting a suspect, Place never tried to intimidate, just talk, build rapport, let the truth be revealed. He didn't even think of it as interrogation, rather an interview. He treated it like a science, studied nonverbal clues, variances in language that tipped off when a suspect was lying.

Barry, who was angry, paranoid, and knew he didn't have to talk, opened up to the detective.

"Listen Barry, I'm not here to make your life miserable," Place said. "I'm a reasonable guy. OK?"

"I want to go home, man."

"I've got a murder, a dead woman. My understanding is that you went into the scene with another man."

"I haven't f-----g done nothing, man. I just -- buddy comes down the stairs, I was in buddy's apartment, smoking rock. The old guy comes downstairs, says the girl up there is dead. I said you're full of s--t. So I go upstairs. I saw the girl and I ran down the street. And the first thing I seen was a cop. I flagged a cop in -- and I get locked up for five hours for this? 'Cause I flagged the cop in? And he takes my sneakers? That don't make no sense to me."

"No, it doesn't make sense."

Barry described the victim, blood on the floor at the top of the stairs where she lay, and that it looked like she had been raped.

"I swear on my daughter and my son's life that I never touched her."

"OK."

"Never did, I just, I was at the wrong place at the wrong time."

Barry was a suspect, but then he had also been the one to notify police on the street. Does the killer do that? And, Place could tell that Barry was offering strong denials, not evasive ones. Forensics could be critical, though, if his DNA was found on the victim, if it showed he had had sex with her. On the spot, Barry readily consented to give a DNA sample.

At 11 a.m. Place visited the morgue at Hamilton General Hospital along with detective Mike Thomas, who had been assigned as case manager for the Sandbar murder. Thomas was also overseeing the Clark/Del Sordo case, where no arrest had been made in more than a year.

The detectives left the hospital with forensic pathologist Dr. Chitra Rao, and drove to the crime scene on King East. They walked under the yellow police tape, then up the stairs of the apartments above the Sandbar and into unit No. 4.

They saw the fridge inside the front door, then the pool of blood on the main floor of the unit. It was as brutal a crime scene as Place or Thomas had ever witnessed, and the picture of what had likely happened was all too clear: From that first pool of blood, transfer stains on each of the 16 carpeted stairs up to the loft floor. Dragged her up the stairs. At the top, on the loft floor, lay the victim, more blood. She had been beaten, and from the torn clothes and body position, clearly sexually assaulted. A steel bar with blood on it leaned against the wall. Looked like it had been used in construction.

The detectives spoke with ident men Bill Cook and Stan Marek, who were working the scene, circling blood spatter marks on the walls, measuring. It was a difficult scene to process, with blood from the homicide and older blood stains all over the walls.

Twenty minutes later, Place left. He walked down the street to a construction site at the northeast corner of Walnut and King. He noticed loose pieces of structural steel bars. Place spoke to the site supervisor.

"Last Friday I saw two pieces of steel tubing about 18 to 20 inches long on the west side of the building," the man told him. "There is only one there now."

Later, Place received a call from another detective called in to assist -- Don Forgan, who, while still the lead on Clark/Del Sordo, had his hand in several other cases. Forgan passed along an update, that the deceased had been officially identified through fingerprints from a criminal record.

Her name was Jacqueline Heather McLean. Forgan added that the cause of death was severe injury due to multiple blows to the head.

The challenge for Place was compiling accurate information from witnesses who had seen Jackie that night, but who had also been smoking crack. Rumours spread through the crack underworld that the victim had been strangled and her body disembowelled. None of that was true.

During the course of more interviews, Place learned that Jackie had talked with a few men at Big Lisa's in the hours prior to her murder, and that a couple of these men had argued with her, accused her of shortchanging them on crack she sold. This, he learned, was not entirely new: Jackie paid for crack on occasion through prostitution and had ripped-off clients.

Barry was still on the radar as a suspect but not looking strong given his postoffence conduct. Place learned of another man, named Ken, who had been arguing with Jackie at the bar. He needed to find him. And there had been at least one other man who spoke with Jackie at Big Lisa's, and who had likely been with her above the Sandbar.

Place was missing a key piece of the puzzle and knew it. He decided to reinterview some witnesses.

* * *

On Monday morning, Aug. 20, a man walked into an old house in Simcoe, an hour south of Hamilton. It was called Holmes House, a substance withdrawal management and treatment centre. The man's name was Shane Mosher.

Shane's wife, Shannon, had driven him there from their home in Brantford for the first time a week earlier. She loved Shane, felt he was worth saving, along with their marriage. Shane was determined to kick his crack addiction, and never again put life with Shannon, and their little girl, Riley, in jeopardy. And now he was checking in for a second week of treatment.

Shane had attended discussion groups, was doing well in rehab, enjoyed the staff, the chats. He connected easily with people, he just had that way about him. In a group on Monday, Aug. 20, Shane met someone who had checked in very early that morning. Young guy, red hair; he wasn't saying much in the group, kept to himself. He said his name was Carl.

At first Carl didn't talk to anybody, and when he did talk it nearly led to a couple of fights. But as the week wore on he did talk to Shane. They seemed to have things in common, both grew up in the Maritimes. They talked sports; Carl wasn't much into athletics growing up, but he did box as a kid. The gym out East where Carl trained always smelled of sweat mixed with the orange slices consumed by the boxers. To this day whenever he smelled oranges it took him back to that gym.

During breaks Shane and Carl threw a baseball around outside.

"Carl," Shane said, "why don't you get the bat from the shed, tap a few grounders out there?"

But Carl would not go to the shed, would barely look at it. Seemed odd to Shane, who had started observing Carl, it was something he did, liked to take people's measure, figure out what made them tick. He could tell Carl was a hard guy, had rage inside, seemed like the type who could snap at any moment. But still Shane chatted with him, maybe he could help the guy.

At night, they had rooms on the same floor of the house, and Shane noticed that Carl kept socks wedged in the spring-loaded door of the bedroom, all night, as though he was afraid to let it close. Why?

By Thursday, Carl had started confiding in Shane, had talked about hating his father growing up, told Shane his full name: Carl Ernest Hall. And that afternoon, he said he was on the run after having robbed a bank in Hamilton.

That night, after the 11 p.m. curfew, it was silent in the house, and Shane heard a knock on his door. It was Carl. Shane invited him in. Carl wore green cargo pants and a T-shirt. He entered, shut the door, and sat on the end of Shane's bed. He held a pillow in his hands, and as he spoke, Shane watched him squeeze it tighter. He had a sense that Carl was about to tell him something very dark.

"Shane, I'm not on the run for robbing banks."

Caption: Photo: Ron Albertson, the Hamilton Spectator

Detective Dave Place in the room above the Sandbar tavern where Jackie McLean was murdered. The body was found on a loft floor above the main living room of the apartment.

Photo: SPECIAL TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR

Jackie McLean: a couple of men argued with her at Big Lisa's.

Photo: Hamilton Police Services

The rooms above the Sandbar tavern on King Street East had been used for years as a crack den and place for sexual transactions. Police say it was the source of crime, drug dealing and almost daily police calls for more than 10 years. In 2006 it was seized by the province under the Civil Remedies Act, and nearby businesses received some compensation. Last month, accused crack dealer Michael Ricca, once dubbed Hamilton's 'kingpin of crack' by police when he managed the Sandbar, was released from jail on $40,000 bail pending trial on charges of possessing cocaine for the purpose of trafficking and having the proceeds of crime.

Witness: A true crime story: Part 5 of 7: Underworld

News Mar 11, 2010 Hamilton Spectator

Monday, Aug. 20, 2001

Detective Dave Place awoke to the sound of his pager beeping on the night table. He looked at the clock: 4:18 a.m. Place grimaced. Here we go.

He tiptoed out of the bedroom, careful not to wake his wife, Joanne, or his young kids, and phoned Central Station. An inspector told him there had been a homicide: female in an apartment above the Sandbar tavern on King Street East. Sexually assaulted, possible strangulation.

He showered, shaved and put on a suit. Place, at a muscled 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, looked like he could break a man in two, yet came across soft-spoken, cerebral, his expression deferential. He had been in homicide for a year, his first case had been that of a man who stabbed his gay lover 18 times, once through the middle of a flaming heart tattoo.

Place arrived at the station at 5:25 a.m. to learn that he would be the lead investigator. He spoke with uniformed officers who had been at the scene, and made notes detailing witnesses he needed to check out. An officer handed him three bags of shoes taken from people who had been in the apartment that night.

Place reviewed information on a suspect in custody named Barry Lane. Barry was 29, had a long criminal record, outstanding charges against him in Newfoundland, and a caution in his file that he could be violent. Barry had been inside unit No. 4 above the Sandbar, where the body was found.

His shoes had left bloody footprints on the floor.

At 7 a.m. Place went downstairs to the holding cells. Barry was there, looking gaunt, with tightly cropped hair and teardrop tattoos under one eye. He reeked from smoking crack much of the night. And he was not happy about being held in jail.

"Hey Barry, how are you doing?" Place asked.

"All right."

"Can I get you a coffee or something?"

"No."

"What I'm interested in, is what's happened over at the Sandbar, and what you saw. OK?"

"This is bull----!" Barry said, shouting. "I've been here four hours, locked up. They took my sneakers and those sneakers I paid a hundred and fifty bucks for yesterday. And they're gone."

"They're not gone. We have them."

"I want my sneakers back, man. This is, like, weird, man."

"Well, you have to understand, we're dealing with a murder, right?"

"I guess so. Yeah."

When confronting a suspect, Place never tried to intimidate, just talk, build rapport, let the truth be revealed. He didn't even think of it as interrogation, rather an interview. He treated it like a science, studied nonverbal clues, variances in language that tipped off when a suspect was lying.

Barry, who was angry, paranoid, and knew he didn't have to talk, opened up to the detective.

"Listen Barry, I'm not here to make your life miserable," Place said. "I'm a reasonable guy. OK?"

"I want to go home, man."

"I've got a murder, a dead woman. My understanding is that you went into the scene with another man."

"I haven't f-----g done nothing, man. I just -- buddy comes down the stairs, I was in buddy's apartment, smoking rock. The old guy comes downstairs, says the girl up there is dead. I said you're full of s--t. So I go upstairs. I saw the girl and I ran down the street. And the first thing I seen was a cop. I flagged a cop in -- and I get locked up for five hours for this? 'Cause I flagged the cop in? And he takes my sneakers? That don't make no sense to me."

"No, it doesn't make sense."

Barry described the victim, blood on the floor at the top of the stairs where she lay, and that it looked like she had been raped.

"I swear on my daughter and my son's life that I never touched her."

"OK."

"Never did, I just, I was at the wrong place at the wrong time."

Barry was a suspect, but then he had also been the one to notify police on the street. Does the killer do that? And, Place could tell that Barry was offering strong denials, not evasive ones. Forensics could be critical, though, if his DNA was found on the victim, if it showed he had had sex with her. On the spot, Barry readily consented to give a DNA sample.

At 11 a.m. Place visited the morgue at Hamilton General Hospital along with detective Mike Thomas, who had been assigned as case manager for the Sandbar murder. Thomas was also overseeing the Clark/Del Sordo case, where no arrest had been made in more than a year.

The detectives left the hospital with forensic pathologist Dr. Chitra Rao, and drove to the crime scene on King East. They walked under the yellow police tape, then up the stairs of the apartments above the Sandbar and into unit No. 4.

They saw the fridge inside the front door, then the pool of blood on the main floor of the unit. It was as brutal a crime scene as Place or Thomas had ever witnessed, and the picture of what had likely happened was all too clear: From that first pool of blood, transfer stains on each of the 16 carpeted stairs up to the loft floor. Dragged her up the stairs. At the top, on the loft floor, lay the victim, more blood. She had been beaten, and from the torn clothes and body position, clearly sexually assaulted. A steel bar with blood on it leaned against the wall. Looked like it had been used in construction.

The detectives spoke with ident men Bill Cook and Stan Marek, who were working the scene, circling blood spatter marks on the walls, measuring. It was a difficult scene to process, with blood from the homicide and older blood stains all over the walls.

Twenty minutes later, Place left. He walked down the street to a construction site at the northeast corner of Walnut and King. He noticed loose pieces of structural steel bars. Place spoke to the site supervisor.

"Last Friday I saw two pieces of steel tubing about 18 to 20 inches long on the west side of the building," the man told him. "There is only one there now."

Later, Place received a call from another detective called in to assist -- Don Forgan, who, while still the lead on Clark/Del Sordo, had his hand in several other cases. Forgan passed along an update, that the deceased had been officially identified through fingerprints from a criminal record.

Her name was Jacqueline Heather McLean. Forgan added that the cause of death was severe injury due to multiple blows to the head.

The challenge for Place was compiling accurate information from witnesses who had seen Jackie that night, but who had also been smoking crack. Rumours spread through the crack underworld that the victim had been strangled and her body disembowelled. None of that was true.

During the course of more interviews, Place learned that Jackie had talked with a few men at Big Lisa's in the hours prior to her murder, and that a couple of these men had argued with her, accused her of shortchanging them on crack she sold. This, he learned, was not entirely new: Jackie paid for crack on occasion through prostitution and had ripped-off clients.

Barry was still on the radar as a suspect but not looking strong given his postoffence conduct. Place learned of another man, named Ken, who had been arguing with Jackie at the bar. He needed to find him. And there had been at least one other man who spoke with Jackie at Big Lisa's, and who had likely been with her above the Sandbar.

Place was missing a key piece of the puzzle and knew it. He decided to reinterview some witnesses.

* * *

On Monday morning, Aug. 20, a man walked into an old house in Simcoe, an hour south of Hamilton. It was called Holmes House, a substance withdrawal management and treatment centre. The man's name was Shane Mosher.

Shane's wife, Shannon, had driven him there from their home in Brantford for the first time a week earlier. She loved Shane, felt he was worth saving, along with their marriage. Shane was determined to kick his crack addiction, and never again put life with Shannon, and their little girl, Riley, in jeopardy. And now he was checking in for a second week of treatment.

Shane had attended discussion groups, was doing well in rehab, enjoyed the staff, the chats. He connected easily with people, he just had that way about him. In a group on Monday, Aug. 20, Shane met someone who had checked in very early that morning. Young guy, red hair; he wasn't saying much in the group, kept to himself. He said his name was Carl.

At first Carl didn't talk to anybody, and when he did talk it nearly led to a couple of fights. But as the week wore on he did talk to Shane. They seemed to have things in common, both grew up in the Maritimes. They talked sports; Carl wasn't much into athletics growing up, but he did box as a kid. The gym out East where Carl trained always smelled of sweat mixed with the orange slices consumed by the boxers. To this day whenever he smelled oranges it took him back to that gym.

During breaks Shane and Carl threw a baseball around outside.

"Carl," Shane said, "why don't you get the bat from the shed, tap a few grounders out there?"

But Carl would not go to the shed, would barely look at it. Seemed odd to Shane, who had started observing Carl, it was something he did, liked to take people's measure, figure out what made them tick. He could tell Carl was a hard guy, had rage inside, seemed like the type who could snap at any moment. But still Shane chatted with him, maybe he could help the guy.

At night, they had rooms on the same floor of the house, and Shane noticed that Carl kept socks wedged in the spring-loaded door of the bedroom, all night, as though he was afraid to let it close. Why?

By Thursday, Carl had started confiding in Shane, had talked about hating his father growing up, told Shane his full name: Carl Ernest Hall. And that afternoon, he said he was on the run after having robbed a bank in Hamilton.

That night, after the 11 p.m. curfew, it was silent in the house, and Shane heard a knock on his door. It was Carl. Shane invited him in. Carl wore green cargo pants and a T-shirt. He entered, shut the door, and sat on the end of Shane's bed. He held a pillow in his hands, and as he spoke, Shane watched him squeeze it tighter. He had a sense that Carl was about to tell him something very dark.

"Shane, I'm not on the run for robbing banks."

Caption: Photo: Ron Albertson, the Hamilton Spectator

Detective Dave Place in the room above the Sandbar tavern where Jackie McLean was murdered. The body was found on a loft floor above the main living room of the apartment.

Photo: SPECIAL TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR

Jackie McLean: a couple of men argued with her at Big Lisa's.

Photo: Hamilton Police Services

The rooms above the Sandbar tavern on King Street East had been used for years as a crack den and place for sexual transactions. Police say it was the source of crime, drug dealing and almost daily police calls for more than 10 years. In 2006 it was seized by the province under the Civil Remedies Act, and nearby businesses received some compensation. Last month, accused crack dealer Michael Ricca, once dubbed Hamilton's 'kingpin of crack' by police when he managed the Sandbar, was released from jail on $40,000 bail pending trial on charges of possessing cocaine for the purpose of trafficking and having the proceeds of crime.

Witness: A true crime story: Part 5 of 7: Underworld

News Mar 11, 2010 Hamilton Spectator

Monday, Aug. 20, 2001

Detective Dave Place awoke to the sound of his pager beeping on the night table. He looked at the clock: 4:18 a.m. Place grimaced. Here we go.

He tiptoed out of the bedroom, careful not to wake his wife, Joanne, or his young kids, and phoned Central Station. An inspector told him there had been a homicide: female in an apartment above the Sandbar tavern on King Street East. Sexually assaulted, possible strangulation.

He showered, shaved and put on a suit. Place, at a muscled 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, looked like he could break a man in two, yet came across soft-spoken, cerebral, his expression deferential. He had been in homicide for a year, his first case had been that of a man who stabbed his gay lover 18 times, once through the middle of a flaming heart tattoo.

Place arrived at the station at 5:25 a.m. to learn that he would be the lead investigator. He spoke with uniformed officers who had been at the scene, and made notes detailing witnesses he needed to check out. An officer handed him three bags of shoes taken from people who had been in the apartment that night.

Place reviewed information on a suspect in custody named Barry Lane. Barry was 29, had a long criminal record, outstanding charges against him in Newfoundland, and a caution in his file that he could be violent. Barry had been inside unit No. 4 above the Sandbar, where the body was found.

His shoes had left bloody footprints on the floor.

At 7 a.m. Place went downstairs to the holding cells. Barry was there, looking gaunt, with tightly cropped hair and teardrop tattoos under one eye. He reeked from smoking crack much of the night. And he was not happy about being held in jail.

"Hey Barry, how are you doing?" Place asked.

"All right."

"Can I get you a coffee or something?"

"No."

"What I'm interested in, is what's happened over at the Sandbar, and what you saw. OK?"

"This is bull----!" Barry said, shouting. "I've been here four hours, locked up. They took my sneakers and those sneakers I paid a hundred and fifty bucks for yesterday. And they're gone."

"They're not gone. We have them."

"I want my sneakers back, man. This is, like, weird, man."

"Well, you have to understand, we're dealing with a murder, right?"

"I guess so. Yeah."

When confronting a suspect, Place never tried to intimidate, just talk, build rapport, let the truth be revealed. He didn't even think of it as interrogation, rather an interview. He treated it like a science, studied nonverbal clues, variances in language that tipped off when a suspect was lying.

Barry, who was angry, paranoid, and knew he didn't have to talk, opened up to the detective.

"Listen Barry, I'm not here to make your life miserable," Place said. "I'm a reasonable guy. OK?"

"I want to go home, man."

"I've got a murder, a dead woman. My understanding is that you went into the scene with another man."

"I haven't f-----g done nothing, man. I just -- buddy comes down the stairs, I was in buddy's apartment, smoking rock. The old guy comes downstairs, says the girl up there is dead. I said you're full of s--t. So I go upstairs. I saw the girl and I ran down the street. And the first thing I seen was a cop. I flagged a cop in -- and I get locked up for five hours for this? 'Cause I flagged the cop in? And he takes my sneakers? That don't make no sense to me."

"No, it doesn't make sense."

Barry described the victim, blood on the floor at the top of the stairs where she lay, and that it looked like she had been raped.

"I swear on my daughter and my son's life that I never touched her."

"OK."

"Never did, I just, I was at the wrong place at the wrong time."

Barry was a suspect, but then he had also been the one to notify police on the street. Does the killer do that? And, Place could tell that Barry was offering strong denials, not evasive ones. Forensics could be critical, though, if his DNA was found on the victim, if it showed he had had sex with her. On the spot, Barry readily consented to give a DNA sample.

At 11 a.m. Place visited the morgue at Hamilton General Hospital along with detective Mike Thomas, who had been assigned as case manager for the Sandbar murder. Thomas was also overseeing the Clark/Del Sordo case, where no arrest had been made in more than a year.

The detectives left the hospital with forensic pathologist Dr. Chitra Rao, and drove to the crime scene on King East. They walked under the yellow police tape, then up the stairs of the apartments above the Sandbar and into unit No. 4.

They saw the fridge inside the front door, then the pool of blood on the main floor of the unit. It was as brutal a crime scene as Place or Thomas had ever witnessed, and the picture of what had likely happened was all too clear: From that first pool of blood, transfer stains on each of the 16 carpeted stairs up to the loft floor. Dragged her up the stairs. At the top, on the loft floor, lay the victim, more blood. She had been beaten, and from the torn clothes and body position, clearly sexually assaulted. A steel bar with blood on it leaned against the wall. Looked like it had been used in construction.

The detectives spoke with ident men Bill Cook and Stan Marek, who were working the scene, circling blood spatter marks on the walls, measuring. It was a difficult scene to process, with blood from the homicide and older blood stains all over the walls.

Twenty minutes later, Place left. He walked down the street to a construction site at the northeast corner of Walnut and King. He noticed loose pieces of structural steel bars. Place spoke to the site supervisor.

"Last Friday I saw two pieces of steel tubing about 18 to 20 inches long on the west side of the building," the man told him. "There is only one there now."

Later, Place received a call from another detective called in to assist -- Don Forgan, who, while still the lead on Clark/Del Sordo, had his hand in several other cases. Forgan passed along an update, that the deceased had been officially identified through fingerprints from a criminal record.

Her name was Jacqueline Heather McLean. Forgan added that the cause of death was severe injury due to multiple blows to the head.

The challenge for Place was compiling accurate information from witnesses who had seen Jackie that night, but who had also been smoking crack. Rumours spread through the crack underworld that the victim had been strangled and her body disembowelled. None of that was true.

During the course of more interviews, Place learned that Jackie had talked with a few men at Big Lisa's in the hours prior to her murder, and that a couple of these men had argued with her, accused her of shortchanging them on crack she sold. This, he learned, was not entirely new: Jackie paid for crack on occasion through prostitution and had ripped-off clients.

Barry was still on the radar as a suspect but not looking strong given his postoffence conduct. Place learned of another man, named Ken, who had been arguing with Jackie at the bar. He needed to find him. And there had been at least one other man who spoke with Jackie at Big Lisa's, and who had likely been with her above the Sandbar.

Place was missing a key piece of the puzzle and knew it. He decided to reinterview some witnesses.

* * *

On Monday morning, Aug. 20, a man walked into an old house in Simcoe, an hour south of Hamilton. It was called Holmes House, a substance withdrawal management and treatment centre. The man's name was Shane Mosher.

Shane's wife, Shannon, had driven him there from their home in Brantford for the first time a week earlier. She loved Shane, felt he was worth saving, along with their marriage. Shane was determined to kick his crack addiction, and never again put life with Shannon, and their little girl, Riley, in jeopardy. And now he was checking in for a second week of treatment.

Shane had attended discussion groups, was doing well in rehab, enjoyed the staff, the chats. He connected easily with people, he just had that way about him. In a group on Monday, Aug. 20, Shane met someone who had checked in very early that morning. Young guy, red hair; he wasn't saying much in the group, kept to himself. He said his name was Carl.

At first Carl didn't talk to anybody, and when he did talk it nearly led to a couple of fights. But as the week wore on he did talk to Shane. They seemed to have things in common, both grew up in the Maritimes. They talked sports; Carl wasn't much into athletics growing up, but he did box as a kid. The gym out East where Carl trained always smelled of sweat mixed with the orange slices consumed by the boxers. To this day whenever he smelled oranges it took him back to that gym.

During breaks Shane and Carl threw a baseball around outside.

"Carl," Shane said, "why don't you get the bat from the shed, tap a few grounders out there?"

But Carl would not go to the shed, would barely look at it. Seemed odd to Shane, who had started observing Carl, it was something he did, liked to take people's measure, figure out what made them tick. He could tell Carl was a hard guy, had rage inside, seemed like the type who could snap at any moment. But still Shane chatted with him, maybe he could help the guy.

At night, they had rooms on the same floor of the house, and Shane noticed that Carl kept socks wedged in the spring-loaded door of the bedroom, all night, as though he was afraid to let it close. Why?

By Thursday, Carl had started confiding in Shane, had talked about hating his father growing up, told Shane his full name: Carl Ernest Hall. And that afternoon, he said he was on the run after having robbed a bank in Hamilton.

That night, after the 11 p.m. curfew, it was silent in the house, and Shane heard a knock on his door. It was Carl. Shane invited him in. Carl wore green cargo pants and a T-shirt. He entered, shut the door, and sat on the end of Shane's bed. He held a pillow in his hands, and as he spoke, Shane watched him squeeze it tighter. He had a sense that Carl was about to tell him something very dark.

"Shane, I'm not on the run for robbing banks."

Caption: Photo: Ron Albertson, the Hamilton Spectator

Detective Dave Place in the room above the Sandbar tavern where Jackie McLean was murdered. The body was found on a loft floor above the main living room of the apartment.

Photo: SPECIAL TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR

Jackie McLean: a couple of men argued with her at Big Lisa's.

Photo: Hamilton Police Services

The rooms above the Sandbar tavern on King Street East had been used for years as a crack den and place for sexual transactions. Police say it was the source of crime, drug dealing and almost daily police calls for more than 10 years. In 2006 it was seized by the province under the Civil Remedies Act, and nearby businesses received some compensation. Last month, accused crack dealer Michael Ricca, once dubbed Hamilton's 'kingpin of crack' by police when he managed the Sandbar, was released from jail on $40,000 bail pending trial on charges of possessing cocaine for the purpose of trafficking and having the proceeds of crime.