Saskatchewan

10 years later, train death victim still 'John Doe'

More than 10 years after a young man put himself in front of a speeding freight train, Regina police are asking for the public's help in unravelling the mystery of his death.

More than 10 years after a young man put himself in front of a speeding freight train, Regina police are asking for the public's help in unravelling the mystery of his death.

The man was alone when he died on the tracks in downtown Regina on July 28, 1995. He wasn't carrying any identification and police were unable to determine his name. He was buried in a Regina cemetery as a "John Doe".

Investigators say the man was hitchhiking and believe he was originally from Eastern Canada.

He had dark hair, a medium build, and appeared to be in his early twenties. He had blue eyes and wore a Boca shirt. He may have attempted suicide before – there were marks on his wrists.

"The circumstances surrounding this young man's death are troubling enough," said Kent Stewart, the province's chief coroner. "Even worse, after all these years, there may still be a family out there wondering what became of their loved one."

On Dec. 8, police released a new sketch of the man, created on a computer. They also made public nine-year-old transcripts of a police interview with Randy Wakelin, a fellow hitchhiker who had traveled around with the unidentified man in the days before his death.

Randy Wakelin talks about the unknown man (Jan. 23, 1996)
"He was thinking about going back east. Then he didn't know where he was going. We sat down. He didn't have much money so I had money on me cause I just finished working. I said we should go for coffee. So I bought him something to eat and I said to him, 'What are you doing, where are you going?'

For a while, the two men were looking for work as carnies at Saskatchewan fairs.

Wakelin told police his acquaintance did not appear to be accustomed to street life. He listened to "preppy" type music, Wakelin said, adding that he also had a tape of the Lion King soundtrack.

He wrote with a fountain pen. He appeared well dressed, with good manners and expensive tastes.

Even when eating hamburgers at McDonald's, Wakelin said, the man would take care to spread a napkin out on his lap.

It appears the man had recently broken up with a woman named Kathy. He carried around a silver brooch with a rose on it that seemed to be important to him, Wakelin said.

Wakelin said the man said his name was Dave, although he suspected it wasn't his real name. He wouldn't talk about his family. At one point, Wakelin said, he saw the man with an Ontario birth certificate, but other things seemed to suggest he was from the Atlantic area.

"He knew a lot about the ocean. A lot about the ocean. Which is why I still think he was from somewhere on the East Coast," Wakelin said in the transcript.

He recalled the unknown man's final words: "I'm sick of everybody."

Police said Dec. 8 the case will remain open until the man is identified and his family notified of his death.

He might be someone's son or brother, Sgt. Rod Buckingham said.

They're hoping if anybody has information, they'll contact them and, they hope, a 10-year-old mystery can finally be put to rest.

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