Just who was responsible for killing Debbie Stevens of High River and Laurie Boyd of Okotoks in the early 80's was a question on everyone's mind throughout the end of 1981 and beginning of 1982.
A medical call was about to help with that.
Retired Okotoks RCMP CST. Robert Laird was called to assist paramedics in February of 1982 at the home of Robert Edward Brown, who had tried to kill himself by taking a bunch of pills.
By the end of the night Laird had discovered something everyone in High River and Okotoks wanted to know.
Stevens was killed on December 11th, 1981 on her way home to High River when her car ran out of gas coming back from a Christmas Party in Calgary.
Boyd was kidnapped from her job at the Red Rooster in Okotoks on January 30, 1982.
It was a dark time in history, which has been brought up again because James Edwards Peters, one of the killers was denied parole at a hearing on November 16th for the early 1980s murder of two women.
That night in February after giving Laird a strange answer when he asked if Brown was involved with the killings, Laird started to look around the farm.
He came across a vehicle matching the description of the one that had abducted Boyd.
And the back seat was missing.
"And that is basically where this started with Mr Brown. He was transported to the High River Hospital where I sat with him all night."
He adds he causally knew Robert Brown and the Brown family was a very different family.
"You would look at them and you would wonder. It was a very messy residence. I think that the way things played out and how they came about that we were very fortunate that we were able to put them away or get them arrested. Even though it seemed like a long time it actually came together very quickly."
In the morning Laird transported Brown to Okotoks and the detectives from Calgary came in and proceeded to interview him again.
"That's where I believe he implicated James Edwards Peters as well," said Laird.
"They were both very strange individuals. The thing that really caught me off guard at the time how did two extremely violent strange individuals find each other to work together to commit these crimes," said Laird.
Peters worked in the city at a car lot and had access to different vehicles while Brown lived out in the MD.
"I know one had certain tendencies and crimes he liked to commit and the other had certain tendencies and crimes he liked to commit and as a result of that that is why the girls were kidnapped and murdered."
Laird adds while this was going on in the community people were carrying bear spray under the front seat of their cars and some even had guns under the front seat.
He said anyone in the community that made any kind of a remote comment about the murders were brought into police right away.
"I remember one time going down and having supper in a restaurant in Okotoks and the people that were in there were upset that we were even in there we having supper when we should be out there trying to solve these crimes."
He says Brown came across as a somewhat simple individual.
"I think it was a dysfunctional family, is what they probably would call it now."
"They kind of lived their life on their own out in there in the country. I mean he did odd jobs around the place and kept a low profile. If someone isn't a suspect in anything they can get away with a lot."
A few people in High River were surprised when Brown was charged but Laird said he did have a violent history.
"I think he came from Ontario. I am sure people that thought they knew him were surprised that he could have done such a thing."
Brown had an attitude with the paramedics that night in February and he wouldn't go with them.
"That’s why they wanted the police to come up for assistance and the fact that he just wasn't going to get in the ambulance and go with them. I came there to kind of defuse and calm the situation down I asked him nicely to get into the back of the police car and that he did very willingly."
Laird spent the night with him in the hospital.
"I recorded everything he said at the hospital and it was all on reel-to-reel little cassettes, that’s all they had at the time. I sat with him all night under observation to make sure he wasn't going to harm himself till I could bring him back to the Okotoks detachment the next morning."
Once the detectives got involved the next day things came together quickly and that is when Peters name came up.
"This devastated the town. The Boyd family, Debbie Stevens family and all the extended people and relatives and friends that knew them. It was incredible trauma for the whole town for quite some time."
Laird is going to try to be at the reopening of the Laurie Boyd Bridge in Okotoks.
"I am going to make every attempt to be there because I don't think I have seen the Boyds in many, many years."
And on November 16th, 2018 the good news arrived that Peters has been denied his parole bid.
Laird says there are a lot of people that should be keep behind bars.
"For the terrible acts that Peters and Brown committed. I don't think there is any redemption in there. I don't know if releasing Peters into the public would bring any safety to the public whatsoever because they were terrible violent crimes that impacted the whole community."
Brown committed suicide three years into his sentence.
The link for part one of the story is here.
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