Sault Ste. Marie man opens up about wrongful murder conviction in 1950s

Ron Moffat says it was a chapter in his life he’d rather forget about.

Moffat served time for grisly murder of 7-year-old at CNE grounds

Ron Moffatt of Sault Ste Marie is sharing his story in a book called "The Boy on the Bicycle". (Nate Hendley)

Ron Moffat says it was a chapter in his life he'd rather forget about.

Moffat was just a teenager in Toronto when police arrested him for the murder of 7-year-old Wayne Mallette.

It was a grisly tale: Mallette had wandered off to the closed Canadian Exhibition Grounds. There, he met a teenager on a bike. He was found later on the grounds, murdered.

Despite having witnesses that confirmed he was in a Bloor Street theatre, Moffat was charged with killing the boy.

Moffat is now opening up about that time in a book called "The Boy on the Bicycle," written by Nate Hendley.

The title is taken from media reports from the time, which note that the night watchman at the CNE grounds had encountered a teenage boy on a bicycle in the hours leading up to the discovery.

'The Boy on the Bicycle' is the story of a Sault Ste. Marie man's wrongful conviction of the murder of a 7-year-old boy in 1956. (Five Rivers Chapmanry Publishing)

Parents suffered through scorn, legal bills

Even though he was released from custody one year later, Moffat told CBC's Morning North that it was his parents who probably bore the brunt of the punishment.

"My parents lost everything. They lost more than anyone," Moffat said. "They suffered the scorn of neighbours. It got so bad, they were selling furniture to pay for my legal bills."

"My mother would never talk about this after it happened, and I felt the same way," he added.

Nate Hendley, who wrote Moffat's story, said the police charges came after they discovered bite marks on the victim. Those marks came from an adolescent.

"Around the same time, police were investigating runaway teens," Hendley said. "Ron had an altercation with his parents, and went into hiding. His parents reported him missing."

"Then it was determined Ron had worked at the CNE. This got the police excited," he added.

"They're thinking, he's a teenage boy, he's gone into hiding, he's familiar with the CNE grounds," Hendley said. "Some police came to speak with Ron's mother, and they figured out he was hiding in his parent's apartment building, then coerced him into a confession."

Ron Moffat and Nate Hendley, who authored 'The Boy on the Bicycle' (Jeanne Enright)

You'll tell them anything

Even though Moffat knew he was innocent and his alibi was solid —  notorious killer Peter Woodcock was later linked to the killing—  the 14-year-old ended up confessing under pressure.

"You're 14 years old, they throw you into  a cruiser, take you down to the station," Moffat said. " They put you in a 8 x 8 room, two detectives are in your face, they start at you, badgering you, keep at you."

"After hours and hours of badgering, I don't' care who you are, you'll tell them anything."

You can hear the full interview with Ron Moffat and Nate Hendley by clicking the audio link below.