Witness: A true crime story Part 6 of 7: Evil presence

News Mar 12, 2010 Hamilton Spectator

Holmes House rehab clinic

Thursday, Aug. 23, 2001

Carl Hall sat on the end of Shane Mosher's bed, rocking back and forth, white-knuckling a pillow clutched in his hands.

"I did something horrible," he said.

Carl told Shane a story. He had a girlfriend in Hamilton, he said. They had a daughter. And he knew a guy, did some drug deals with him. But then this guy harassed Carl's girlfriend, and his young daughter was there when it happened. There had to be payback.

Shane, who lay on the bed, felt a shiver, goosebumps popped on his arms as Carl continued.

So he goes to this guy's apartment, notices a white van outside the building. He walks up the stairs, has a baseball bat. A fridge blocks the door from the inside, but he's able to get it open. Inside, he sees this guy on his knees, beside a table. Carl hits him in the head with the bat. And again. He hears gurgling sounds. Carl knows it's serious. And then another person comes in the room. A woman.

Carl's voice grew sharper telling the story, almost angry.

"She wasn't supposed to be there, Shane," he said, his body shaking. "I knew what I had to do."

Carl stopped talking, it seemed like for almost 10 minutes. Sometimes when he spoke about his past he crossed-up details, his crack binges perhaps blurring his recall. While specific elements of the story he told Shane were true, a few were not -- he had never encountered Pat Del Sordo or Charlisa Clark before that night.

Carl spoke again. He asked Shane not to tell his story to anyone. And he said that he was scared. Not of the police, but that karma would get him. That's why he kept his door propped open at night in the Holmes House rehab centre, he was scared of what might happen to him behind closed doors.

Shane kept his expression calm, but inside was terrified. A killer, a double murderer -- maybe he had killed more than two people, he wondered -- was sitting on his bed, and had confided in him. What was he supposed to do? Shane made a decision.

Carl left his room and walked back down the hall. Shane did not sleep all night.

The next morning, Friday, Aug. 24, he packed his suitcase, waited for Shannon to pick him up to go home for the weekend. He was scheduled to resume rehab at Holmes House in Simcoe on Monday.

Shane stood at the front door. Carl walked up to him, looked at the suitcase.

"Are you coming back?" he asked.

"Sure, Carl, I'll see you Sunday night," Shane said, trying to keep his voice friendly. Then he looked down at his own suitcase and saw it, right there on the tag: Shane Mosher, his phone number, his family address in Brantford. Right there for Carl to see.

Shannon's car pulled up and Shane moved outside with his bag. She walked up the sidewalk to greet him, along with their little girl, Riley, mother and daughter bathed in sunshine, but a chill in the air.

Shane could feel himself shivering with fear, blood draining from his face. He looked back over his shoulder. There was Carl, on the veranda, looking down at his wife and child, this evil presence having now entered his family's life. And Shane had let it in.

He was very quiet in the car as Shannon drove back to Brantford. Shannon, who had been heartened by her husband's progress in rehab for his crack addiction, knew something was up. Shane looked like he hadn't slept, was very pale.

Finally, he spoke.

"I'm not going back," he said.

* * *

Detective Don Forgan had no fresh leads on the double homicide, and it was getting to him. The killer had been living free for 16 months. Forgan had felt ownership of the case from the start as the lead investigator, and had been touched by Charlisa's boy, little Eugene.

In October, while the case remained ongoing, it was no longer on the front burner for the Major Crime Unit. He was ordered to move the Clark/Del Sordo file boxes out of the homicide office project room and into a storage area.

Forgan met with Charlisa's father, Al Clark, who had been shattered by his daughter's death, but had little news to pass along. And he continued receiving calls from Ruth Del Sordo, and Sue Ross, Charlisa's mother, both seeking updates and offering suggestions.

Were police looking in the right places? Did they look hard enough at Charlisa's ex as the suspect, they both wondered.

Forgan planned to arrange a new polygraph for the ex, and he still pushed for Pat's father, Flavio, to take the test as well. He even wondered about having Eugene sit with a hypnotist to see what other details he could remember. There seemed no other avenues to pursue. He was getting tapped by his senior officers to work other cases, including revisiting the Sheryl Sheppard cold case.

At that same time, Detective Dave Place was revisiting key witnesses in the Jackie McLean investigation.

On Oct. 25 he interviewed a woman who had worked as a waitress at Big Lisa's bar on King East. Two months had passed since the murder, but she had good recall on details from Jackie's last night alive. She remembered Barry Lane, the guy with teardrop tattoos, who had sat with Jackie in the bar.

And, she said, there was another. He was about 25 years old, around 5-foot-9, strawberry red hair, trimmed goatee, lots of freckles. He wore a white ribbed shirt and a grey coat. He had introduced himself as Carl.

So far in the investigation Place had heard no mention of anyone named Carl. She said that Carl sat with Jackie at the bar, asked if he could buy her a beer, but she said no. Later, she saw Jackie with both Carl and Barry. It looked like the men were trying to convince her to get them some crack.

Back at the station, Place logged onto the Hamilton police mug shot retrieval system. He typed in the name Carl and the physical description. Up popped a name: Carl Ernest Hall. His last known address in Hamilton had been on Ferguson Avenue North. He was 27, sometimes known by the nickname "Reds." He had several prior convictions, and an outstanding charge for an assault in 2000 in Hamilton against a girlfriend named Crystal. And lately Carl had been causing trouble in Brantford, as well. On Sept. 12 he was convicted in that city for uttering threats to a police officer and obstructing police. Place contacted the jail in Brantford. Carl was still incarcerated, but only for a couple more weeks on the Brantford charge. He had one visitor, a woman named Lise, who wrote "friend" on the register.

Place later learned that Carl was filing a guilty plea on the Hamilton assault charge. He knew the plea offered an opportunity, and called the assistant Crown attorney prosecuting the case. They needed the judge to order Carl to give a DNA sample as part of the sentence. That much was not a given, but the judge granted the Crown's request.

The importance of getting Carl's DNA increased when Place received a call from the Centre of Forensic Sciences in Toronto, about a disturbing, and critical, piece of evidence that had been developed from the crime scene. A semen sample taken from Jackie McLean was determined to have been confined to the "high vaginal area." The substance had not migrated. Place knew what that had to mean. Whoever had intercourse with her had done so on the loft floor of the apartment above the Sandbar, after she had been dragged up the stairs, when she was either dead, or nearly so. The one who deposited that semen had to be the killer.

On Oct. 30 the waitress from Big Lisa's came to the station to view a photo lineup -- a series of portraits that included the suspect, and others. She pointed to the picture of Carl Ernest Hall as the man she saw in the bar with Jackie.

Meanwhile, Place worked to track down Carl's ex-girlfriend Crystal. He learned that at one time Crystal had worked at a fast-food place downtown in Hamilton, but had been fired for theft. And, Crystal had been with Carl when he passed a forged cheque at a Money Mart on Concession Street on Aug. 17 and Aug. 19; she was the one police had caught there.

Place reached her on the phone. She was wary of police, didn't want to get involved. He told her she was not in any trouble.

"This is a murder investigation," he said.

"Oh no, not Carl, no way -- this is the one above the Sandbar, right?"

"Yes."

Place wrote her words in his notebook. An interesting response. With little prompting she had mentioned a homicide by name from more than two months ago, and was definitely not surprised they were looking for Carl. On Nov. 5 he interviewed Crystal. She told Place that she dated Carl for a few years, and that when he was high on crack, he would stay awake sometimes for two or three days, wired, paranoid.

"God knows what that man is capable of."

Their relationship had often been violent, Carl hit her, choked her, once stabbed her in the leg with a steak knife because she burnt dinner. And Crystal responded as well, punched him, once bit him on the leg, drawing blood. She said that Carl liked to rip her underwear before having sex. The underwear of the victim had been ripped as well.

"The time frame that I'm most interested in," Place said, "is when you last saw Carl."

Crystal said that had been very early on Aug. 20 -- in the hours following Jackie's murder -- when they met at the Wesley Centre downtown. She could smell crack on him, and a woman's perfume.

"I said to him, well you're obviously rocked up. You're drunk and you smell."

She tried to break up with him. He begged her not to, said he loved her, he could change.

"He said that he did something bad, and I can't leave him now. I asked him, what did you do? And he said he couldn't talk about it. He said he wanted to hitchhike out of the province. I said I wasn't going, you use your thumb and away you go."

After she repeatedly refused to leave with him, Carl punched her and spit in her face.

The interview with Place lasted an hour and a half. "Is there anything else that you can tell me, something I've forgotten to ask you or anything that's come to mind?" he asked.

"Whatever happens to him ... I will be there every court date to watch him go down," she said. "And I will testify against him. I hate Carl Hall with a passion. I hope that he rots in hell."

Carl was looking good as a suspect in the detective's book; he would look even better if his DNA matched semen from the crime scene -- although Place knew that getting a sample processed through the National DNA Data Bank and then jumping through procedural hurdles to get a DNA warrant for a homicide investigation would take time.

Place had to tighten the case, eliminate other suspects. You can't be seen to have tunnel vision in an investigation. The murder was a circumstantial case, in court the defence could point to several men who had been with Jackie that night.

One of those suspects was Barry Lane. While Barry's footprint in blood had been found in the Sandbar apartment, Barry said he had only viewed the body. More importantly, his DNA did not match the semen found on the victim.

And then there was the man named Ken, who had also been seen arguing with Jackie that night. Place learned that Ken died two weeks after the murder, of an Oxycodone overdose.

* * *

In the days prior to his arrest in Brantford for making death threats, Carl had left Holmes House in Simcoe. He had met a girl in rehab, they hooked up for a while. And then he goes and shoots off his mouth to the local cops. Wasn't sure why he did that. Not very smart, he reflected. Got 45 days dead time on that one.

After getting transferred from Brantford to Hamilton to be sentenced on the assault charge against Crystal, he was moved to the superjail in Penetanguishene, an hour north of Barrie, to serve a five-month sentence. He just had to do his time and get out. As for other skeletons in his closet, Carl figured he was OK. In Penetang he told a couple of inmates that he was trying to lie low, avoid getting tagged for "a high-profile break and enter in Hamilton."

In the meantime, in jail he ripped off a thousand pushups a day, imagined himself as a hate machine, ready for anything. At 5-foot-8, Carl bulked up to 225 pounds, bragged that his arms were 18 inches in diameter. He grew one fingernail very long and sharp, just in case he needed to eye-gouge. He had a tattoo on his chest of a shining cross, just like his dad had back East. He remembered his dad all tatted up; once watched the old man carve an image of a snake on his own thigh using cork and a needle.

Fighting in jail was nothing new to Carl. One time, six guys jumped him packing cups: you stuff wet toilet paper in Styrofoam cups until they are heavy and hard, slide them into a sock and swing it like a club. Carl grinned; no one was tough enough to face him one-on-one.

In the Penetang jail he knocked a guy out in a fight, got disciplined for it. But it wasn't all bad. Carl got together with a couple of guys for parties. They drank homebrew: fill a thick garbage bag with crushed oranges, apples, bits of pineapple, empty in about 50 packets of sugar, let it sit for a week. Was like pure alcohol. Carl got pretty wasted on it. Fruit schnapps with a kick, he called it.

* * *

In January 2002, Don Forgan caught the break that had eluded him for 19 months. An informant had come forward with a name to look at for a recent double homicide in Hamilton. It was a name Forgan had not heard, and did not ring a bell as someone with a connection to Charlisa or Pat. The name was Carl Hall.

The informant had passed the tip on to the RCMP; an officer out of their London, Ont., branch contacted Warren Korol in Hamilton. Korol pressed the RCMP to reveal the source's identity so they could interview the person. The RCMP was treating the source as a confidential informant and would not budge.

The new name was forwarded to ident officer Hank Thorne. He had been sending palm prints to Dave Sibley at the OPP lab in Orillia to check against the palm print found on the rubber grip of the murder weapon, the baseball bat. Now Thorne checked Hamilton's palm print manual card file, under H. Police collect palm prints for all break-and-enters in the city.

There: Hall, Carl Ernest. Thorne called Sibley, told him he was sending a palm print for comparison. Sibley had other work on the go, and after trying without success to match more than 25 palm prints already in the Clark/Del Sordo case over more than a year and a half, was in no panic to get to the latest.

On Thursday morning, Feb. 25, Forgan arrived at Central Station to start his day shift. Guys talking in the homicide office, joking around, it was loud that morning. His phone rang.

"Forgan, Major Crime Unit," he answered.

"It's Dave Sibley. I've identified your print."

Caption: Photo: Ron Albertson, the Hamilton Spectator

Shane Mosher was at Holmes House rehab centre in Simcoe for crack addiction in August 2001. While there a Hamilton man, Carl Hall, confessed to having done 'something horrible.'

Photo: SPECIAL TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR

Carl Hall talked with then-girlfriend, Crystal, at Wesley Centre earlier on the day Jackie McLean was murdered.

Photo: He was also photographed outside the Wesley Centre the night Jackie was murdered. He later told Crystal he 'did something bad' and must flee.

Witness: A true crime story Part 6 of 7: Evil presence

News Mar 12, 2010 Hamilton Spectator

Holmes House rehab clinic

Thursday, Aug. 23, 2001

Carl Hall sat on the end of Shane Mosher's bed, rocking back and forth, white-knuckling a pillow clutched in his hands.

"I did something horrible," he said.

Carl told Shane a story. He had a girlfriend in Hamilton, he said. They had a daughter. And he knew a guy, did some drug deals with him. But then this guy harassed Carl's girlfriend, and his young daughter was there when it happened. There had to be payback.

Shane, who lay on the bed, felt a shiver, goosebumps popped on his arms as Carl continued.

So he goes to this guy's apartment, notices a white van outside the building. He walks up the stairs, has a baseball bat. A fridge blocks the door from the inside, but he's able to get it open. Inside, he sees this guy on his knees, beside a table. Carl hits him in the head with the bat. And again. He hears gurgling sounds. Carl knows it's serious. And then another person comes in the room. A woman.

Carl's voice grew sharper telling the story, almost angry.

"She wasn't supposed to be there, Shane," he said, his body shaking. "I knew what I had to do."

Carl stopped talking, it seemed like for almost 10 minutes. Sometimes when he spoke about his past he crossed-up details, his crack binges perhaps blurring his recall. While specific elements of the story he told Shane were true, a few were not -- he had never encountered Pat Del Sordo or Charlisa Clark before that night.

Carl spoke again. He asked Shane not to tell his story to anyone. And he said that he was scared. Not of the police, but that karma would get him. That's why he kept his door propped open at night in the Holmes House rehab centre, he was scared of what might happen to him behind closed doors.

Shane kept his expression calm, but inside was terrified. A killer, a double murderer -- maybe he had killed more than two people, he wondered -- was sitting on his bed, and had confided in him. What was he supposed to do? Shane made a decision.

Carl left his room and walked back down the hall. Shane did not sleep all night.

The next morning, Friday, Aug. 24, he packed his suitcase, waited for Shannon to pick him up to go home for the weekend. He was scheduled to resume rehab at Holmes House in Simcoe on Monday.

Shane stood at the front door. Carl walked up to him, looked at the suitcase.

"Are you coming back?" he asked.

"Sure, Carl, I'll see you Sunday night," Shane said, trying to keep his voice friendly. Then he looked down at his own suitcase and saw it, right there on the tag: Shane Mosher, his phone number, his family address in Brantford. Right there for Carl to see.

Shannon's car pulled up and Shane moved outside with his bag. She walked up the sidewalk to greet him, along with their little girl, Riley, mother and daughter bathed in sunshine, but a chill in the air.

Shane could feel himself shivering with fear, blood draining from his face. He looked back over his shoulder. There was Carl, on the veranda, looking down at his wife and child, this evil presence having now entered his family's life. And Shane had let it in.

He was very quiet in the car as Shannon drove back to Brantford. Shannon, who had been heartened by her husband's progress in rehab for his crack addiction, knew something was up. Shane looked like he hadn't slept, was very pale.

Finally, he spoke.

"I'm not going back," he said.

* * *

Detective Don Forgan had no fresh leads on the double homicide, and it was getting to him. The killer had been living free for 16 months. Forgan had felt ownership of the case from the start as the lead investigator, and had been touched by Charlisa's boy, little Eugene.

In October, while the case remained ongoing, it was no longer on the front burner for the Major Crime Unit. He was ordered to move the Clark/Del Sordo file boxes out of the homicide office project room and into a storage area.

Forgan met with Charlisa's father, Al Clark, who had been shattered by his daughter's death, but had little news to pass along. And he continued receiving calls from Ruth Del Sordo, and Sue Ross, Charlisa's mother, both seeking updates and offering suggestions.

Were police looking in the right places? Did they look hard enough at Charlisa's ex as the suspect, they both wondered.

Forgan planned to arrange a new polygraph for the ex, and he still pushed for Pat's father, Flavio, to take the test as well. He even wondered about having Eugene sit with a hypnotist to see what other details he could remember. There seemed no other avenues to pursue. He was getting tapped by his senior officers to work other cases, including revisiting the Sheryl Sheppard cold case.

At that same time, Detective Dave Place was revisiting key witnesses in the Jackie McLean investigation.

On Oct. 25 he interviewed a woman who had worked as a waitress at Big Lisa's bar on King East. Two months had passed since the murder, but she had good recall on details from Jackie's last night alive. She remembered Barry Lane, the guy with teardrop tattoos, who had sat with Jackie in the bar.

And, she said, there was another. He was about 25 years old, around 5-foot-9, strawberry red hair, trimmed goatee, lots of freckles. He wore a white ribbed shirt and a grey coat. He had introduced himself as Carl.

So far in the investigation Place had heard no mention of anyone named Carl. She said that Carl sat with Jackie at the bar, asked if he could buy her a beer, but she said no. Later, she saw Jackie with both Carl and Barry. It looked like the men were trying to convince her to get them some crack.

Back at the station, Place logged onto the Hamilton police mug shot retrieval system. He typed in the name Carl and the physical description. Up popped a name: Carl Ernest Hall. His last known address in Hamilton had been on Ferguson Avenue North. He was 27, sometimes known by the nickname "Reds." He had several prior convictions, and an outstanding charge for an assault in 2000 in Hamilton against a girlfriend named Crystal. And lately Carl had been causing trouble in Brantford, as well. On Sept. 12 he was convicted in that city for uttering threats to a police officer and obstructing police. Place contacted the jail in Brantford. Carl was still incarcerated, but only for a couple more weeks on the Brantford charge. He had one visitor, a woman named Lise, who wrote "friend" on the register.

Place later learned that Carl was filing a guilty plea on the Hamilton assault charge. He knew the plea offered an opportunity, and called the assistant Crown attorney prosecuting the case. They needed the judge to order Carl to give a DNA sample as part of the sentence. That much was not a given, but the judge granted the Crown's request.

The importance of getting Carl's DNA increased when Place received a call from the Centre of Forensic Sciences in Toronto, about a disturbing, and critical, piece of evidence that had been developed from the crime scene. A semen sample taken from Jackie McLean was determined to have been confined to the "high vaginal area." The substance had not migrated. Place knew what that had to mean. Whoever had intercourse with her had done so on the loft floor of the apartment above the Sandbar, after she had been dragged up the stairs, when she was either dead, or nearly so. The one who deposited that semen had to be the killer.

On Oct. 30 the waitress from Big Lisa's came to the station to view a photo lineup -- a series of portraits that included the suspect, and others. She pointed to the picture of Carl Ernest Hall as the man she saw in the bar with Jackie.

Meanwhile, Place worked to track down Carl's ex-girlfriend Crystal. He learned that at one time Crystal had worked at a fast-food place downtown in Hamilton, but had been fired for theft. And, Crystal had been with Carl when he passed a forged cheque at a Money Mart on Concession Street on Aug. 17 and Aug. 19; she was the one police had caught there.

Place reached her on the phone. She was wary of police, didn't want to get involved. He told her she was not in any trouble.

"This is a murder investigation," he said.

"Oh no, not Carl, no way -- this is the one above the Sandbar, right?"

"Yes."

Place wrote her words in his notebook. An interesting response. With little prompting she had mentioned a homicide by name from more than two months ago, and was definitely not surprised they were looking for Carl. On Nov. 5 he interviewed Crystal. She told Place that she dated Carl for a few years, and that when he was high on crack, he would stay awake sometimes for two or three days, wired, paranoid.

"God knows what that man is capable of."

Their relationship had often been violent, Carl hit her, choked her, once stabbed her in the leg with a steak knife because she burnt dinner. And Crystal responded as well, punched him, once bit him on the leg, drawing blood. She said that Carl liked to rip her underwear before having sex. The underwear of the victim had been ripped as well.

"The time frame that I'm most interested in," Place said, "is when you last saw Carl."

Crystal said that had been very early on Aug. 20 -- in the hours following Jackie's murder -- when they met at the Wesley Centre downtown. She could smell crack on him, and a woman's perfume.

"I said to him, well you're obviously rocked up. You're drunk and you smell."

She tried to break up with him. He begged her not to, said he loved her, he could change.

"He said that he did something bad, and I can't leave him now. I asked him, what did you do? And he said he couldn't talk about it. He said he wanted to hitchhike out of the province. I said I wasn't going, you use your thumb and away you go."

After she repeatedly refused to leave with him, Carl punched her and spit in her face.

The interview with Place lasted an hour and a half. "Is there anything else that you can tell me, something I've forgotten to ask you or anything that's come to mind?" he asked.

"Whatever happens to him ... I will be there every court date to watch him go down," she said. "And I will testify against him. I hate Carl Hall with a passion. I hope that he rots in hell."

Carl was looking good as a suspect in the detective's book; he would look even better if his DNA matched semen from the crime scene -- although Place knew that getting a sample processed through the National DNA Data Bank and then jumping through procedural hurdles to get a DNA warrant for a homicide investigation would take time.

Place had to tighten the case, eliminate other suspects. You can't be seen to have tunnel vision in an investigation. The murder was a circumstantial case, in court the defence could point to several men who had been with Jackie that night.

One of those suspects was Barry Lane. While Barry's footprint in blood had been found in the Sandbar apartment, Barry said he had only viewed the body. More importantly, his DNA did not match the semen found on the victim.

And then there was the man named Ken, who had also been seen arguing with Jackie that night. Place learned that Ken died two weeks after the murder, of an Oxycodone overdose.

* * *

In the days prior to his arrest in Brantford for making death threats, Carl had left Holmes House in Simcoe. He had met a girl in rehab, they hooked up for a while. And then he goes and shoots off his mouth to the local cops. Wasn't sure why he did that. Not very smart, he reflected. Got 45 days dead time on that one.

After getting transferred from Brantford to Hamilton to be sentenced on the assault charge against Crystal, he was moved to the superjail in Penetanguishene, an hour north of Barrie, to serve a five-month sentence. He just had to do his time and get out. As for other skeletons in his closet, Carl figured he was OK. In Penetang he told a couple of inmates that he was trying to lie low, avoid getting tagged for "a high-profile break and enter in Hamilton."

In the meantime, in jail he ripped off a thousand pushups a day, imagined himself as a hate machine, ready for anything. At 5-foot-8, Carl bulked up to 225 pounds, bragged that his arms were 18 inches in diameter. He grew one fingernail very long and sharp, just in case he needed to eye-gouge. He had a tattoo on his chest of a shining cross, just like his dad had back East. He remembered his dad all tatted up; once watched the old man carve an image of a snake on his own thigh using cork and a needle.

Fighting in jail was nothing new to Carl. One time, six guys jumped him packing cups: you stuff wet toilet paper in Styrofoam cups until they are heavy and hard, slide them into a sock and swing it like a club. Carl grinned; no one was tough enough to face him one-on-one.

In the Penetang jail he knocked a guy out in a fight, got disciplined for it. But it wasn't all bad. Carl got together with a couple of guys for parties. They drank homebrew: fill a thick garbage bag with crushed oranges, apples, bits of pineapple, empty in about 50 packets of sugar, let it sit for a week. Was like pure alcohol. Carl got pretty wasted on it. Fruit schnapps with a kick, he called it.

* * *

In January 2002, Don Forgan caught the break that had eluded him for 19 months. An informant had come forward with a name to look at for a recent double homicide in Hamilton. It was a name Forgan had not heard, and did not ring a bell as someone with a connection to Charlisa or Pat. The name was Carl Hall.

The informant had passed the tip on to the RCMP; an officer out of their London, Ont., branch contacted Warren Korol in Hamilton. Korol pressed the RCMP to reveal the source's identity so they could interview the person. The RCMP was treating the source as a confidential informant and would not budge.

The new name was forwarded to ident officer Hank Thorne. He had been sending palm prints to Dave Sibley at the OPP lab in Orillia to check against the palm print found on the rubber grip of the murder weapon, the baseball bat. Now Thorne checked Hamilton's palm print manual card file, under H. Police collect palm prints for all break-and-enters in the city.

There: Hall, Carl Ernest. Thorne called Sibley, told him he was sending a palm print for comparison. Sibley had other work on the go, and after trying without success to match more than 25 palm prints already in the Clark/Del Sordo case over more than a year and a half, was in no panic to get to the latest.

On Thursday morning, Feb. 25, Forgan arrived at Central Station to start his day shift. Guys talking in the homicide office, joking around, it was loud that morning. His phone rang.

"Forgan, Major Crime Unit," he answered.

"It's Dave Sibley. I've identified your print."

Caption: Photo: Ron Albertson, the Hamilton Spectator

Shane Mosher was at Holmes House rehab centre in Simcoe for crack addiction in August 2001. While there a Hamilton man, Carl Hall, confessed to having done 'something horrible.'

Photo: SPECIAL TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR

Carl Hall talked with then-girlfriend, Crystal, at Wesley Centre earlier on the day Jackie McLean was murdered.

Photo: He was also photographed outside the Wesley Centre the night Jackie was murdered. He later told Crystal he 'did something bad' and must flee.

Witness: A true crime story Part 6 of 7: Evil presence

News Mar 12, 2010 Hamilton Spectator

Holmes House rehab clinic

Thursday, Aug. 23, 2001

Carl Hall sat on the end of Shane Mosher's bed, rocking back and forth, white-knuckling a pillow clutched in his hands.

"I did something horrible," he said.

Carl told Shane a story. He had a girlfriend in Hamilton, he said. They had a daughter. And he knew a guy, did some drug deals with him. But then this guy harassed Carl's girlfriend, and his young daughter was there when it happened. There had to be payback.

Shane, who lay on the bed, felt a shiver, goosebumps popped on his arms as Carl continued.

So he goes to this guy's apartment, notices a white van outside the building. He walks up the stairs, has a baseball bat. A fridge blocks the door from the inside, but he's able to get it open. Inside, he sees this guy on his knees, beside a table. Carl hits him in the head with the bat. And again. He hears gurgling sounds. Carl knows it's serious. And then another person comes in the room. A woman.

Carl's voice grew sharper telling the story, almost angry.

"She wasn't supposed to be there, Shane," he said, his body shaking. "I knew what I had to do."

Carl stopped talking, it seemed like for almost 10 minutes. Sometimes when he spoke about his past he crossed-up details, his crack binges perhaps blurring his recall. While specific elements of the story he told Shane were true, a few were not -- he had never encountered Pat Del Sordo or Charlisa Clark before that night.

Carl spoke again. He asked Shane not to tell his story to anyone. And he said that he was scared. Not of the police, but that karma would get him. That's why he kept his door propped open at night in the Holmes House rehab centre, he was scared of what might happen to him behind closed doors.

Shane kept his expression calm, but inside was terrified. A killer, a double murderer -- maybe he had killed more than two people, he wondered -- was sitting on his bed, and had confided in him. What was he supposed to do? Shane made a decision.

Carl left his room and walked back down the hall. Shane did not sleep all night.

The next morning, Friday, Aug. 24, he packed his suitcase, waited for Shannon to pick him up to go home for the weekend. He was scheduled to resume rehab at Holmes House in Simcoe on Monday.

Shane stood at the front door. Carl walked up to him, looked at the suitcase.

"Are you coming back?" he asked.

"Sure, Carl, I'll see you Sunday night," Shane said, trying to keep his voice friendly. Then he looked down at his own suitcase and saw it, right there on the tag: Shane Mosher, his phone number, his family address in Brantford. Right there for Carl to see.

Shannon's car pulled up and Shane moved outside with his bag. She walked up the sidewalk to greet him, along with their little girl, Riley, mother and daughter bathed in sunshine, but a chill in the air.

Shane could feel himself shivering with fear, blood draining from his face. He looked back over his shoulder. There was Carl, on the veranda, looking down at his wife and child, this evil presence having now entered his family's life. And Shane had let it in.

He was very quiet in the car as Shannon drove back to Brantford. Shannon, who had been heartened by her husband's progress in rehab for his crack addiction, knew something was up. Shane looked like he hadn't slept, was very pale.

Finally, he spoke.

"I'm not going back," he said.

* * *

Detective Don Forgan had no fresh leads on the double homicide, and it was getting to him. The killer had been living free for 16 months. Forgan had felt ownership of the case from the start as the lead investigator, and had been touched by Charlisa's boy, little Eugene.

In October, while the case remained ongoing, it was no longer on the front burner for the Major Crime Unit. He was ordered to move the Clark/Del Sordo file boxes out of the homicide office project room and into a storage area.

Forgan met with Charlisa's father, Al Clark, who had been shattered by his daughter's death, but had little news to pass along. And he continued receiving calls from Ruth Del Sordo, and Sue Ross, Charlisa's mother, both seeking updates and offering suggestions.

Were police looking in the right places? Did they look hard enough at Charlisa's ex as the suspect, they both wondered.

Forgan planned to arrange a new polygraph for the ex, and he still pushed for Pat's father, Flavio, to take the test as well. He even wondered about having Eugene sit with a hypnotist to see what other details he could remember. There seemed no other avenues to pursue. He was getting tapped by his senior officers to work other cases, including revisiting the Sheryl Sheppard cold case.

At that same time, Detective Dave Place was revisiting key witnesses in the Jackie McLean investigation.

On Oct. 25 he interviewed a woman who had worked as a waitress at Big Lisa's bar on King East. Two months had passed since the murder, but she had good recall on details from Jackie's last night alive. She remembered Barry Lane, the guy with teardrop tattoos, who had sat with Jackie in the bar.

And, she said, there was another. He was about 25 years old, around 5-foot-9, strawberry red hair, trimmed goatee, lots of freckles. He wore a white ribbed shirt and a grey coat. He had introduced himself as Carl.

So far in the investigation Place had heard no mention of anyone named Carl. She said that Carl sat with Jackie at the bar, asked if he could buy her a beer, but she said no. Later, she saw Jackie with both Carl and Barry. It looked like the men were trying to convince her to get them some crack.

Back at the station, Place logged onto the Hamilton police mug shot retrieval system. He typed in the name Carl and the physical description. Up popped a name: Carl Ernest Hall. His last known address in Hamilton had been on Ferguson Avenue North. He was 27, sometimes known by the nickname "Reds." He had several prior convictions, and an outstanding charge for an assault in 2000 in Hamilton against a girlfriend named Crystal. And lately Carl had been causing trouble in Brantford, as well. On Sept. 12 he was convicted in that city for uttering threats to a police officer and obstructing police. Place contacted the jail in Brantford. Carl was still incarcerated, but only for a couple more weeks on the Brantford charge. He had one visitor, a woman named Lise, who wrote "friend" on the register.

Place later learned that Carl was filing a guilty plea on the Hamilton assault charge. He knew the plea offered an opportunity, and called the assistant Crown attorney prosecuting the case. They needed the judge to order Carl to give a DNA sample as part of the sentence. That much was not a given, but the judge granted the Crown's request.

The importance of getting Carl's DNA increased when Place received a call from the Centre of Forensic Sciences in Toronto, about a disturbing, and critical, piece of evidence that had been developed from the crime scene. A semen sample taken from Jackie McLean was determined to have been confined to the "high vaginal area." The substance had not migrated. Place knew what that had to mean. Whoever had intercourse with her had done so on the loft floor of the apartment above the Sandbar, after she had been dragged up the stairs, when she was either dead, or nearly so. The one who deposited that semen had to be the killer.

On Oct. 30 the waitress from Big Lisa's came to the station to view a photo lineup -- a series of portraits that included the suspect, and others. She pointed to the picture of Carl Ernest Hall as the man she saw in the bar with Jackie.

Meanwhile, Place worked to track down Carl's ex-girlfriend Crystal. He learned that at one time Crystal had worked at a fast-food place downtown in Hamilton, but had been fired for theft. And, Crystal had been with Carl when he passed a forged cheque at a Money Mart on Concession Street on Aug. 17 and Aug. 19; she was the one police had caught there.

Place reached her on the phone. She was wary of police, didn't want to get involved. He told her she was not in any trouble.

"This is a murder investigation," he said.

"Oh no, not Carl, no way -- this is the one above the Sandbar, right?"

"Yes."

Place wrote her words in his notebook. An interesting response. With little prompting she had mentioned a homicide by name from more than two months ago, and was definitely not surprised they were looking for Carl. On Nov. 5 he interviewed Crystal. She told Place that she dated Carl for a few years, and that when he was high on crack, he would stay awake sometimes for two or three days, wired, paranoid.

"God knows what that man is capable of."

Their relationship had often been violent, Carl hit her, choked her, once stabbed her in the leg with a steak knife because she burnt dinner. And Crystal responded as well, punched him, once bit him on the leg, drawing blood. She said that Carl liked to rip her underwear before having sex. The underwear of the victim had been ripped as well.

"The time frame that I'm most interested in," Place said, "is when you last saw Carl."

Crystal said that had been very early on Aug. 20 -- in the hours following Jackie's murder -- when they met at the Wesley Centre downtown. She could smell crack on him, and a woman's perfume.

"I said to him, well you're obviously rocked up. You're drunk and you smell."

She tried to break up with him. He begged her not to, said he loved her, he could change.

"He said that he did something bad, and I can't leave him now. I asked him, what did you do? And he said he couldn't talk about it. He said he wanted to hitchhike out of the province. I said I wasn't going, you use your thumb and away you go."

After she repeatedly refused to leave with him, Carl punched her and spit in her face.

The interview with Place lasted an hour and a half. "Is there anything else that you can tell me, something I've forgotten to ask you or anything that's come to mind?" he asked.

"Whatever happens to him ... I will be there every court date to watch him go down," she said. "And I will testify against him. I hate Carl Hall with a passion. I hope that he rots in hell."

Carl was looking good as a suspect in the detective's book; he would look even better if his DNA matched semen from the crime scene -- although Place knew that getting a sample processed through the National DNA Data Bank and then jumping through procedural hurdles to get a DNA warrant for a homicide investigation would take time.

Place had to tighten the case, eliminate other suspects. You can't be seen to have tunnel vision in an investigation. The murder was a circumstantial case, in court the defence could point to several men who had been with Jackie that night.

One of those suspects was Barry Lane. While Barry's footprint in blood had been found in the Sandbar apartment, Barry said he had only viewed the body. More importantly, his DNA did not match the semen found on the victim.

And then there was the man named Ken, who had also been seen arguing with Jackie that night. Place learned that Ken died two weeks after the murder, of an Oxycodone overdose.

* * *

In the days prior to his arrest in Brantford for making death threats, Carl had left Holmes House in Simcoe. He had met a girl in rehab, they hooked up for a while. And then he goes and shoots off his mouth to the local cops. Wasn't sure why he did that. Not very smart, he reflected. Got 45 days dead time on that one.

After getting transferred from Brantford to Hamilton to be sentenced on the assault charge against Crystal, he was moved to the superjail in Penetanguishene, an hour north of Barrie, to serve a five-month sentence. He just had to do his time and get out. As for other skeletons in his closet, Carl figured he was OK. In Penetang he told a couple of inmates that he was trying to lie low, avoid getting tagged for "a high-profile break and enter in Hamilton."

In the meantime, in jail he ripped off a thousand pushups a day, imagined himself as a hate machine, ready for anything. At 5-foot-8, Carl bulked up to 225 pounds, bragged that his arms were 18 inches in diameter. He grew one fingernail very long and sharp, just in case he needed to eye-gouge. He had a tattoo on his chest of a shining cross, just like his dad had back East. He remembered his dad all tatted up; once watched the old man carve an image of a snake on his own thigh using cork and a needle.

Fighting in jail was nothing new to Carl. One time, six guys jumped him packing cups: you stuff wet toilet paper in Styrofoam cups until they are heavy and hard, slide them into a sock and swing it like a club. Carl grinned; no one was tough enough to face him one-on-one.

In the Penetang jail he knocked a guy out in a fight, got disciplined for it. But it wasn't all bad. Carl got together with a couple of guys for parties. They drank homebrew: fill a thick garbage bag with crushed oranges, apples, bits of pineapple, empty in about 50 packets of sugar, let it sit for a week. Was like pure alcohol. Carl got pretty wasted on it. Fruit schnapps with a kick, he called it.

* * *

In January 2002, Don Forgan caught the break that had eluded him for 19 months. An informant had come forward with a name to look at for a recent double homicide in Hamilton. It was a name Forgan had not heard, and did not ring a bell as someone with a connection to Charlisa or Pat. The name was Carl Hall.

The informant had passed the tip on to the RCMP; an officer out of their London, Ont., branch contacted Warren Korol in Hamilton. Korol pressed the RCMP to reveal the source's identity so they could interview the person. The RCMP was treating the source as a confidential informant and would not budge.

The new name was forwarded to ident officer Hank Thorne. He had been sending palm prints to Dave Sibley at the OPP lab in Orillia to check against the palm print found on the rubber grip of the murder weapon, the baseball bat. Now Thorne checked Hamilton's palm print manual card file, under H. Police collect palm prints for all break-and-enters in the city.

There: Hall, Carl Ernest. Thorne called Sibley, told him he was sending a palm print for comparison. Sibley had other work on the go, and after trying without success to match more than 25 palm prints already in the Clark/Del Sordo case over more than a year and a half, was in no panic to get to the latest.

On Thursday morning, Feb. 25, Forgan arrived at Central Station to start his day shift. Guys talking in the homicide office, joking around, it was loud that morning. His phone rang.

"Forgan, Major Crime Unit," he answered.

"It's Dave Sibley. I've identified your print."

Caption: Photo: Ron Albertson, the Hamilton Spectator

Shane Mosher was at Holmes House rehab centre in Simcoe for crack addiction in August 2001. While there a Hamilton man, Carl Hall, confessed to having done 'something horrible.'

Photo: SPECIAL TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR

Carl Hall talked with then-girlfriend, Crystal, at Wesley Centre earlier on the day Jackie McLean was murdered.

Photo: He was also photographed outside the Wesley Centre the night Jackie was murdered. He later told Crystal he 'did something bad' and must flee.