Big crime is Newfoundland and Labrador's 2013 newsmaker

Deadly violence, public killings and drive-by shootings all showed how the nature of crime is changing in Newfoundland and Labrador, with CBC producers picking big crime as this year's top newsmaker.
Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officers launched a manhunt and shut down parts of Conception Bay South after two people were killed at a medical clinic. (CBC)

This has been a year filled with deadly violence in the province, marked with public killings, drive-by shootings and domestic violence, and CBC producers picked big crime as this year's top newsmaker.

Your top picks

Make sure to stay tuned to for our piece on the top news stories of the year, as voted by our readers, coming up on Dec. 28

From the St. John's firebombing linked to biker gangs and the retaliatory drive-by shooting, to a woman and her fiancé shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend, there's no denying the big impact these stories have had on our readers.

Here's a look back at what we decided were some of the biggest crime stories we covered this year.

Tessier Place death 

brutal beating at a house on Tessier Place in downtown St. John's that was allegedly involved in the drug trade shocked not only the neighbourhood, but the province.

A brutal slaying at a suspected drug house in St. John's was one of the high-profile crime stories of 2013. (CBC)
Joey Whalen, 47, was severely beaten at the home in mid-March and died several days later in hospital as a result of his injuries. Kenny Green has been charged with second-degree murder.  

Residents of Tessier Place said the events shocked them, but that they suspected the people at the house had been involved in illegal activity. Peter Harbin, who lived on the street at the time, said he planned to move somewhere else — somewhere safer — after the incident.

"Rumour has it that cocaine was being sold there," said Peter Harbin, a resident of the street. "I just always believed it was whatever they could get their hands on that was hard, you know? Prescription drugs. Anything chemical."

But Harbin said drugs were not the only problem at 8 Tessier Pl.

"There was a large number of prostitutes who went through there as well," said Harbin. "Just down there from the corner, whatever. You'd see them walk up through the park and go there and walk back down."

Biker gang-related activity

Biker gangs took centre stage this summer when the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and RCMP announced a joint effort to crack down on criminal activity linked to groups like the Outlaws Motorcycle Club and the Hells Angels.

RNC Chief Robert Johnston said in early June that a shooting in a St. John's subdivision was the result of a feud between drug dealers, and linked to a fire-bombing in downtown St. John's. Police later announced that both incidents were linked to biker gangs.

But the drive-by shooting struck the wrong house.

"I can say, clearly and completely and unequivocally, those people are just like the rest of us," Johnston said.

"It's a targeted event, but they targeted the wrong house. There's no question about that."

In central Newfoundland, the Outlaws were back in the headlines when a chapter house opened up in Gander in October. It didn't take long for some controversy — a brawl between a gang member and off-duty police officers is still working its way through the court system.

Domestic violence high profiles

Deadly cases of domestic violence really took the news spotlight this year, with stories that shocked people right across the province.

Veronica Doyle, 57, was found dead on Firdale Drive in Airport Heights in the early morning hours of Oct. 24. Her boyfriend William Doyle remains in custody on charges alleging that he ran Doyle over while he was impaired and then fled the scene.

Doyle's two daughters, Michelle and Lee, said the 19-month relationship between their mother and Conway was a big cause for concern for them.

Michelle Doyle said Conway was extremely controlling, telling her mother who she spoke to, what she wore, and even monitoring her Facebook account.

She said it was just a matter of time until Conway turned violent. He was charged with assault just two months before Doyle's death.

"She came and she had a big purple and black [bruise] all over her face there," Michelle Doyle said.  "[He would] kick her and you know, probably shove her out of the way. He was really cold towards her. I never did understand why she stayed."

Double murder-suicide that shocked province

One of the most shocking stories this year was the death of Juliane Hibbs and Vince Dillon, who were gunned down by her former boyfriend Brian Dawe, who later took his own life.

The double murder-suicide started in Conception Bay South on the night of Oct. 15 when Dawe shot and killed Hibbs inside a medical clinic, and then killed Dillon in the parking lot.

Dawe then drove to the Anglican Cemetery on Kenmount Road in Mount Pearl, where he killed himself.

When police arrived at the cemetery, they discovered Dawe was wearing body armour, an AK-47 with hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and a 9-mm handgun in his vehicle with him.

Police seized 45 separate weapons from Dawe's home after his death.

Suzanne Fitzgerald, RNC's domestic violence co-ordinator, said that cases of domestic violence, whether reported or not, are essentially "intimate terrorism."

"I think it's important for people to realize that it's not just the emotional and psychological and physical [abuse], there's sexual, there's financial, there's also isolation," she said.

"There needs to be a shift in the paradigm of how we think as a society," she said. "Years ago, impaired driving used to be not only tolerated, it was accepted, but we really need to change the perception that this is not a personal, private matter — it's a public safety issue."

Debbie Hibbs said her daughter was in an abusive relationship with Dawe for 15 years, and that she and her family will work to raise awareness about domestic violence to help other victims.

The family took part in a vigil in November to honour Hibbs and Dillon and promote more awareness.

"I hope that by doing this that we can make a difference, and we want to go forward from there," said Debbie Hibbs.

"There's a lot of people that came tonight in those situations, some people that got out, maybe some people that are still living in them. I just hope that we can make a difference and help people because this is a big, big issue today."


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