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In Depth

Colin Thatcher

Timeline

Last Updated Nov. 30, 2006

Colin Thatcher. (Chuck Stoody/Canadian Press)

It took almost 16 months for Regina police to gather enough evidence to charge Colin Thatcher with first-degree murder in the killing of his ex-wife, JoAnn Wilson. She was beaten and shot in the head in the garage of her home on Jan. 21, 1983.

Thatcher and Wilson were divorced three years earlier and had gone through an acrimonious – and very public – custody battle. They had been married for 17 years and had three children, Greg, Regan and Stephanie.

Wilson remarried a year after the divorce. On May 17, 1981, Wilson was shot in the shoulder when someone fired a high-powered rifle through her kitchen window. She spent three weeks in hospital. No one was arrested in that incident.

Two months later, she agreed to give up custody of her youngest child and to accept half of the $1 million originally ordered by the courts in her divorce agreement. She said she wanted to end the bitter battle with her ex-husband.

Thatcher continued his political career. The son of a former Saskatchewan premier was elected to the provincial legislature for a third time in 1982. He was appointed minister of energy and mines, a position he resigned four days before Wilson was murdered.

Thatcher was convicted of first-degree murder in November 1984 and was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. A series of appeals were denied. He has maintained his innocence since his arrest. He was given day parole in early 2006 and full parole in November.

Nov. 30, 2006
Thatcher is granted full parole. Under the terms of his release, he will be required to take psychological counselling and must report any romantic relationships to the board. He is allowed to live on his family ranch near Moose Jaw, Sask.

May 19, 2006
A National Parole Board panel grants Thatcher day parole. He will be released to a halfway house in Regina, where he'll be free to come and go during the day. He can also take overnight leaves. As part of his day parole conditions, Thatcher must report any romantic relationships with his parole officer and must continue counselling.

March 17, 2006
A National Parole Board panel grants Thatcher a three-day pass to leave a minimum-security prison outside of Winnipeg and visit his family unescorted.

Dec. 8, 2005
A National Parole Board panel denies Thatcher a three-day unescorted pass from prison that would have allowed him to spend Christmas with his family.

March 31, 2004
A National Parole Board panel, in a unanimous decision, denies Thatcher his request for early release from prison.

Oct. 8, 2003
A jury decides Thatcher can apply for early parole.

Oct. 1, 2003
At the hearing into his second bid for early parole, Thatcher maintains his innocence, telling Crown lawyers he did not kill his ex-wife.

Sept. 30, 2003
At the hearing into his bid for early parole, Thatcher, now 65, testifies for the first time since his 1984 conviction. Thatcher says he became an electrician under the tutelage of a former Hells Angel while in prison. He also wrote a book and set up a prison cattle farm.

Sept. 22, 2003
The hearing into Thatcher's second bid for early parole opens in Moose Jaw, Sask.

March 14, 2003
Court of Queen's Bench Chief Justice Frank Gerein grants Thatcher a second judicial review, allowing Thatcher to apply for parole under the "faint-hope" appeal process.

January 2003
Thatcher files documents with the Court of Queen's Bench in Regina seeking a second judicial review of his life sentence.

March 1, 2001
Thatcher is found not guilty of uttering threats against a police officer. RCMP Const. Laura Cluney accused him of threatening to harm her during a parole hearing.

November 2000
A jury rejects Thatcher's request to ask for early parole. However, they do allow him to reapply in November 2002, the minimum date they could have set by law.

December 1999
Following a request by Thatcher, a judge rules that the judicial review of his bid for early parole eligibility can be moved from Regina to Moose Jaw, Sask.

August 1999
Justice Gene Maurice rules a jury will hear Thatcher's bid for early parole eligibility under section 745 of the Criminal Code, also known as the faint-hope clause.

May 1999
A parole board panel cancels the hearing into Thatcher's request for temporary absence from prison.

July 1994
Thatcher marries Bev Shaw, a mother of four who began visiting him in prison after seeing a 1989 television miniseries based on his life.

April 1994
Justice Minister Allan Rock turns down Thatcher's request for a review of his case. Thatcher then loses a bid to have the Federal Court overturn Rock's decision.

May 1987
The Supreme Court of Canada turns down Thatcher's bid for a new trial.

Jan. 17, 1986
The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal rejects Thatcher's appeal of his murder conviction.

November 1984
Thatcher is convicted of first-degree murder in the death of his ex-wife, JoAnn Wilson, and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. He is initially sent to an Edmonton maximum security prison and later moved to the Ferndale minimum-security facility near Mission, B.C.

Regan Thatcher

May 7, 1984
Thatcher is arrested and charged with murdering his former wife, JoAnn Wilson.

Jan. 21, 1983
JoAnn Wilson's body is found in the garage of her Regina home. She had been attacked savagely before being shot in the head.

Jan. 17, 1983
Thatcher resigns as Saskatchewan energy minister following a series of disputes with Premier Grant Devine.

1982
Thatcher is elected to the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly for the third time. Premier Grant Devine appoints him minister of energy and mines.

May 17, 1981
A bullet is shot from a high-powered rifle through JoAnn Wilson's kitchen window. It hits her in the shoulder, hospitalizing her for about three weeks. Two months later, Wilson gives up her right to custody of the youngest son, Regan and settles for half the original court award. No one is charged with the shooting.

Greg and Stephanie Thatcher

1981
JoAnn Thatcher marries Tony Wilson. A custody battle continues over the youngest son, Regan. Colin Thatcher ignores court custody orders.

1980
Colin and JoAnn Thatcher divorce; she is awarded nearly $1 million.

August 1979
Colin and JoAnn Thatcher separate after 17 years of marriage. JoAnn takes the two youngest children with her. The couple battles in court over property, alimony and child custody.

1978
Thatcher is re-elected to the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly.

1977
Thatcher leaves the Liberals for the Conservative party.

JoAnn Wilson

1975
A member of the Saskatchewan Liberal party, Thatcher wins the provincial riding of Thunder Creek, near Moose Jaw.

Aug. 12, 1962
Colin Thatcher marries JoAnn Geiger. They have three children, Greg, Regan and Stephanie.

1938
Colin Thatcher is born. He is the son of Wilbert Ross Thatcher, Saskatchewan premier from 1964-1971.

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