Calgary

Cold case murder probe ends in conviction in Calgary musician's death

Nearly 20 years after Calgary musician Paul Hepher was shot in the head in his basement apartment, his killer has been convicted.

Paul Hepher was shot in the head in his apartment nearly 20 years ago

Paul Hepher was known around Calgary for his music and was among the performers at the city's inaugural folk festival in 1980. Nearly 20 years after his death, a local man has been convicted of his murder. (Submitted by Ian Hepher)

Nearly 20 years after Calgary musician Paul Hepher was shot in the head in his basement apartment, his killer has been convicted.

On Friday, Court of Queen's Bench Justice Blair Nixon found Terrance Wardale guilty of second-degree murder following a trial in March.

Hepher, 50, was fatally shot in the head sometime between Feb. 28 and March 4, 2001.

During the trial in March, Wardale, 64, admitted he'd killed Hepher during a "botched robbery," but defence lawyer Adriano Iovinelli argued his client should be found guilty of the lesser offence of manslaughter. 

"I find Mr. Wardale neither credible nor reliable," said Nixon. "I do not believe Mr. Wardale."

Wardale hung his head as the decision was read aloud.

In 2001, investigators found "numerous pieces of forensic evidence" in the basement suite but did not identify any suspects in the initial investigation.

The case went cold, but more than 10 years later, police re-launched the investigation.

On top of securing DNA evidence linking Wardale to the scene, he also confessed to undercover police officers.

Undercover confessions

Wardale told undercover police that he took a Halloween mask and a loaded handgun and biked over to Hepher's northwest apartment with the intent to rob the victim. 

Wardale had bought marijuana from Hepher before.

The killer, whose home was about to be foreclosed on, told police he thought Hepher would make an easy robbery target, believing he might keep cash in his apartment. 

But Hepher was not compliant and fought back.

After the mask was ripped off and his identity was revealed, Wardale shot Hepher.

Wardale told three different undercover officers that he had shot Hepher.

"He said you 'don't have the f--kin' balls to shoot me,'" Wardale said during the undercover operation.

"I says 'I'm sorry Paul,' f--kin pulled the trigger," he admitted.

Nixon will hear sentencing arguments later this year from Iovinelli and prosecutors Gord Haight and Tara Wells.

A second-degree murder conviction comes with a life sentence with no chance of parole for 10 to 25 years.

About the Author

Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary reporter

Meghan Grant is the courts and crime reporter for CBC Calgary.

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