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Barbara Stoppel (CP photo / Winnipeg Free Press)

The prime suspect in the 1981 murder of Winnipeg doughnut shop waitress Barbara Stoppel was found dead in Victoria, B.C., after leaving a note denying that he ever killed anyone.

The body of Terry Samuel Arnold, 42, was discovered over the weekend in a Victoria apartment. He appeared to have committed suicide with drugs and alcohol.

Victoria police said Arnold left a three-page suicide note maintaining his innocence and blaming the media for harassing him.

Last month, Victoria police issued a public advisory that Arnold had been released from a local jail. He had received a 12-day sentence for breaching the terms of his bail on child pornography charges.

Thomas Sophonow, a Winnipeg man who protested his innocence for 20 years, went through three trials and spent four years in jail for Stoppel's murder before he was finally cleared and awarded $2.6 million in compensation.

Winnipeg police informed Stoppel's brother Rick Stoppel of Arnold's death on Sunday. Now Rick says his family may never find justice.

"By Terry now being dead we don't have any closure," he said, adding he wants more information on the circumstances of Arnold's death.

Arnold had a long history of violent crime.

He was found guilty in the rape of four Newfoundland girls – one just 10 years old.

He was also convicted of a murder in Penticton, B.C. Arnold told police he killed a young runaway after she refused to have sex with him. That conviction was later stayed.

Jay Prober, the Stoppel family lawyer, says he wasn't surprised by Arnold's death.

"I wasn't disappointed in his death, either. There were some pretty accepted theories that he was, in fact, a serial killer," said Prober.

Speaking from his home in Vancouver, Sophonow said he feels for the Stoppel family.

"I sort of looked forward to it going to trial. But that's about all it is – disappointing," he said.