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Police apprehend David Milgaard

He was a carefree teenaged hippie just passing through Saskatoon on Jan. 31, 1969 — the same day nursing assistant Gail Miller was raped and stabbed to death in a back alley. On the strength of sketchy forensics and unreliable witnesses, David Milgaard was convicted of the crime and sentenced to life in prison. Twenty years later, his case made national headlines as his mother Joyce confronted politicians in a bid to free her son from jail. By the time he was cleared in 1997, David Milgaard had become one of the most famous examples of wrongful conviction in Canada.

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The pressure is finally off Saskatoon police chief Jim Kettles. His detectives' four-month investigation of the Gail Miller murder has resulted in the arrest of a young hippie named David Milgaard. The RCMP has detained him in Prince George, B.C. without incident. Now, Kettles tells the CBC's Saskatoon affiliate, a police escort will bring Milgaard back to Saskatoon to appear before a judge.
• On the morning Miller was murdered, David Milgaard and his friends Ron Wilson and Nichol John arrived in Saskatoon on a road trip. They spent part of the morning looking for the house of Albert "Shorty" Cadrain, a friend of Milgaard's. After getting stuck in some snow and waiting for a tow truck at a nearby house, they finally found Cadrain's residence. The four then set off for Alberta.

• Police first identified David Milgaard as a suspect after Cadrain was arrested on a vagrancy charge in Regina. Saskatoon police asked their Regina counterparts to ask Cadrain where he'd been on January 31. He was strip-searched and aggressively questioned, but ultimately released when police could find nothing to link him to the murder. There was also no suggestion he had been lying.

• Two weeks later, after hearing about the $2,000 reward, Cadrain approached Saskatoon police and said his friend David Milgaard was in Saskatoon the morning of the murder. He claimed to have seen Milgaard dispose of a cosmetic case.

• Police then interviewed Ron Wilson and Nichol John. After several interrogations turned up nothing, they suggested to Wilson that he might be a suspect. They also showed the pair various pieces of evidence in hopes of jogging their memories.

• Eventually, Wilson's and John's stories changed. Wilson claimed Milgaard had had a knife and that there had been blood on his pants. At one point, he said, they were separated as they looked for help getting the car unstuck. When Milgaard came back, said Wilson, he claimed to have "fixed" a woman who was unhelpful when asked for directions.

• John's new story went further. In a 10-page police statement, she said she witnessed Milgaard stab a young woman.

• Both witnesses' stories were discredited over twenty years later when the Supreme Court of Canada conducted a review of Milgaard's conviction.

• After Milgaard was convicted, Albert Cadrain collected the reward police had offered for information leading to a conviction. Two other informants also collected a reward, but their identities have never been revealed.

• At the time of his arrest, Milgaard was working in Prince George, B.C. selling magazine subscriptions. He'd already met with police and cooperated fully when asked about his movements on January 31, even giving them blood and semen samples.

• Milgaard had no history of violent crime. His brushes with the law had been for petty crimes such as theft, and he was convicted for taking a truck on a joyride at age 14.

• Born in Winnipeg in July 1952, Milgaard was the oldest of four children. His family moved to Langenburg, Sask. in 1964.
Medium: Television
Program: CBC News
Broadcast Date: May 30, 1969
Guest(s): James Kettles
Duration: 0:35
Thanks to CFCQ-TV/Saskatchewan Archives Board

Last updated: September 11, 2012

Page consulted on April 7, 2014

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