Oland homicide remains unsolved after one year
Son has taken over business in same office where father found slain
It’s been one year since prominent businessman Richard Oland was found slain in his Saint John office, but details about his homicide remain shrouded in secrecy.
Still, it appears to be business as usual for his investment firm — Far End Corporation — which continues to operate in the same uptown office with his only son, Dennis Oland, as co-director.
Oland's son took over the company on July 20, just a couple of weeks after Oland's body was discovered in the second-floor office, Service New Brunswick’s corporate affairs registry database shows. Robert McFadden is listed as co-director and president.
John Ainsworth, who owns the Canterbury Street building and operates a printing shop on the ground floor, says he sees Oland’s son there occasionally.
He says it took awhile, but things eventually returned to normal.
"For the first couple of weeks, there was so many police and news media around that we really couldn't operate, couldn't function and then of course the psychological trauma weighed heavy," recalls Ainsworth.
Investigators kept Oland’s office locked down for a couple of weeks while they processed the scene, gathering evidence, then forensic cleaners went in.
The office has since been renovated through insurance to include some new flooring and some fresh paint, said Ainsworth.
"I often sit down and think about how traumatic it is and it’s kind of like looking from the outside in," he said.
Keeping busy has helped him push the experience to the back of his mind. Still, he can’t help but think about that night.
Ainsworth had been slowly working away at renovating the windows in the office right next door to Oland’s, putting in a couple of hours in the evenings and on weekends.
"I’ve often thought about that — what would have transpired if I had’ve been up there," he said.
"You kind of are torn, right, thinking that maybe you could have saved, helped Mr. Oland. At the same time, as a lot of people have said, ‘Maybe it was a good thing that you weren’t there because you may have got yourself in deep trouble too.’"
Ainsworth says the lack of information about the police investigation and "the fact that everything’s kind of in limbo has kind of a pacifying or placating effect."
Police confirmed early on that Oland, 69, was the victim of a homicide and likely knew his killer, but have not said how he died, or released any information about evidence gathered at the scene or seized during subsequent searches, or about suspects, or motive.
Chief Bill Reid has said they're still waiting for evidence to come back from third-party forensic labs.
Anxious for justice
Ainsworth says he’s surprised the investigation is taking so long and sometimes wonders if it will ever be solved.
"Well it makes you wonder. I haven’t seen too many of them — not that I’ve seen a lot of them — that have gone on this long without something more concrete being put forth.
"But like I say, I’m sure it’s really super sensitive and you have to be super careful that you don’t bark up the wrong tree and ruin people’s lives," he said.
"I know when it first started, all the innuendos and stories that were circulating and that were being talked about every time you turned around, especially because of the fact that I was connected to it, was really overwhelming and then I was glad to see that it subsided.
"I think a lot of people stopped doing it because they realized there were so many false stories going around and they could have been so detrimental and almost probably slanderous to innocent people’s characters and how it would impact certainly on their lives and probably has to some degree," said Ainsworth.
"And I think that’s why so many people would like to see it solved and know that the wrong persons are not being harmed by this, or further harmed by it," he said.
"Hopefully [police] know what they’re doing and somebody will be made accountable."
Oland’s family issued a brief statement on Thursday through Saint John lawyer Bill Teed.
"It has been a difficult year as we come to terms with the loss of our husband, father and friend, Richard Oland," the family said.
"We would like to thank everyone for their kind words and support during this time."
The family declined any further comment.
The Oland family owns Moosehead Brewery, but Richard Oland left the company in the 1980s. His brother Derek now runs the brewery as its executive chairman.