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Jul 10 , 2017

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Stabbing death of 81-year-old Newt Boutilier remains unsolved almost 50 years later... ...and then there were those other killings

by Bev Keddy
Stabbing death of 81-year-old Newt Boutilier remains unsolved almost 50 years later... ...and then there were those other killings

The Chronicle Herald headline for Monday, January 9, 1968 practically screamed: Mounting Evidence Links 3 Unsolved Murders in N.S. I was at the Archives to research the Newton “Newt” Harold Boutilier murder, which had occurred Saturday night, the 7th. I had originally written down the 2nd, and that’s how I found out about the Dartmouth Mystery Man, who I’ve written about previously in Frank. Some mistakes are fortuitous. What do you remember about 1968? Popular films at the time included Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, The Graduate, and the unjustly forgotten The President’s Analyst. The things people watched on TV included Mannix,  Ironside and The Carol Burnett Show. People were curling up with Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby, which was only his second published book. Leonard Cohen had just released his first album. Most of the comic books that would sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars today would have retailed back then for 12 cents. Hockey Night in Canada did not yet broadcast full NHL games, so “Newt” Boutilier, an avid hockey fan, had to content himself with a back-to-back international hockey match, according to one of  the Herald articles I read. That fateful Saturday night, he plopped himself in front of the TV to watch the games. Born in 1886, and having run his grocery store in French Village, outside of Tantallon, seven days a week for over 30 years, he had earned a night off. He was 81 years old, after all. The next morning, according to the January 8 Herald article in front of me, Newt was found “near an overturned wood stove,” whose contents had spilled and burned holes on the floor. The front door to his store, behind which he lived, was locked, so his sister Annie had to use her key to open the door, where she and a couple of neighbours made their grim discovery. They also noticed that the TV was still on.
The cops originally theorized that Newt, who had a heart ailment, may have taken a spell, and in an effort to get help, upset his stove and collapsed on the floor. Upon closer examination, they noticed “traces of blood” on a door and ice cream cooler. They ordered an autopsy, which determined that Newt had been “brutally stabbed.” His murder was the third one in a 90-mile radius in 50 days. The first had occurred on November 18, also a Saturday, when the body of Robert Arthur Ward, 51, a businessman from Lower Sackville, was found in a ditch near his car on the Greenhead Road in Lakeside, outside of Halifax, close to Timber
lea. The police ordered an autopsy, which determined that he had been stabbed to death. It was a clear case of overkill, as he had been stabbed 21 times, according to a Herald report on November 23. (Incidentally, Greenhead Road, further on up the hill, is where the body of John Francis Alquiros was found in April of 2002. It is also roughly where Benjamin Whitzman was last seen prior to his mysterious disappearance in February of 1953.) In the coming days, the police would release sketches of two youths believed to have been hitchhikers picked up by Mr. Ward.The second murder occurred in Nictaux on December 30. Cora Barteaux, also 51 years old, was discovered in her home. An autopsy revealed that she, too, had been stabbed to death. By January 9, the Herald ran the headline about the three murders possibly being linked. It was rumoured that Newt knew Cora, but his family denied that. The police may not have proposed the theory that the murders were linked, but did little to disabuse the public of it, either. The story produced enough curiosity with the public that even the Lethbridge Alberta Herald on January 9th reported a possible link between Cora Barteaux’s murder and Robert Arthur Ward’s. All three victims lived alone. The police were investigating the possibility that the murders were linked through a “lonely hearts club,” which was the old-timey version of Plenty of Fish. All victims had been stabbed multiple times with a short-bladed knife. All murders had taken place on a Saturday, although Newt’s had perhaps been early on Sunday. On January 10, the Herald reported more facts. Most notable was Cora Barteaux and Robert Ward knew one another. She had once taught in Lower Sackville before moving to Nictaux. And Robert Ward had visited Bridgetown, 15 miles or so away from Nictaux, the day before he was murdered. According to an article in the January 16 Herald, for at least the first weekend after Newt’s murder, the police set up roadblocks  at “strategic points in Southwestern Nova Scotia,” just to see who might be travelling the roads late at night. The police stated they had a 20-man team working full time on his murder and claimed that they had found some “good” results. “New leads were turning up all the time,” the article enthuses.
December 5, 1967.
January 3, 1968 January 8, 1968
I won’t keep you in suspense. The serial killer theory was debunked on January 25, when the Herald reported that two youths had been arrested in Ward’s stabbing death. In those pre Young Offender Act days, the names could be reported. Barry Sinclair Rhodenizer and John William Michael Whalen, both 17, were both accused of his murder.Rhodenizer’s day in court came in early June 1968. On June 5, the Herald reported that a fingerprint taken from Robert Arthur Ward’s door handle matched one from Rhodenizer, according to the testimony of RCMP Constable George Savage. Other evidence was offered in trial that sealed Rhodenizer’s fate. On January 8, the Herald reported that, after deliberating for a scant 40 minutes, the all-male jury returned a guilty verdict. Mr. Justice F.W. Bissett ordered Rhodenizer be sent to Dorchester pen for what he termed, “the rest of your natural life.” Then, it was Whalen’s day in court. As the Herald reported on June 11, a mutual friend, Carl Gerald LeMarchand, in return for immunity from prosecution, testified that both Rhodenizer and Whalen had arrived at his apartment wearing bloody clothing in the early hours of November 18. Among other items they should not have had was a motor vehicle permit in the name of Robert Ward. It was quickly burned in an ashtray, while the clothing was disposed of down a manhole at the corner of Cunard and Moran streets a couple of days after the murder. That clothing was later recovered by the authorities and “tendered in evidence by the Crown” during Whalen’s trial. According to LeMarchand’s testimony, Rhodenizer was the one who had done the stabbing, perhaps in a frenzy, after he perceived that Ward had made a pass at him. All told, nearly 40 witnesses ended up testifying at Whalen’s trial. The Herald reported on June 13 that Whalen had been found guilty after his four woman, eight man jury deliberated for “more
than four hours.” Mr. Justice Bissett then sentenced Whalen to life. His defence attorney, Stewart MacInnes, said he would appeal. As today, a life sentence is not necessarily that. A recent inquiry to the Parole Board of Canada revealed that Barry Rhodenizer was granted full parole in late May of 2010, after being in the community since 1991 without incident. Meanwhile, John Whalen’s transition to
society has been more problematic. He did not achieve full parole until 2014, although the board noted that he must not “consume, purchase or possess alcohol.” What about Cora Barteaux? Details are hard to find out about her murderer, although I have spent many hours at the Archives trying to uncover them. A source on Facebook a few months ago told me a local person was the culprit. A second source emailed me during the winter and identified a man who had done the deed. If it is the same person I googled during the preparation of this article, this man died in 2013 at the age of 66. Meanwhile, Newt’s 1968 murder, the one that spawned the serial killer theory, remains unsolved, although a couple of sources have told me that his murderer is still alive and living in the province. RCMP mouthpiece Jennifer Clarke tells me the investigation remains “open and active,” and that as recently as September of 2008, police had been in touch with Newt’s sister, who has since died. Newt’s murder is registered with the Nova Scotia Justice Department’s Rewards for Major Unsolved Crimes Program. If you have information leading to the arrest and conviction of the party or parties responsible for his murder, you can be awarded up to $150,000. If you know anything about the murder of Newton Harold “Newt” Boutilier, please contact your local detachment of the RCMP or Crime Stoppers.

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