Recap #cclivechat Sept 7, 2012

Today John Leake discussed the case of Duncan MacPherson with us. His book explains what happened to Duncan after he disappeared in August 1989.

Duncan Alvin MacPherson (Feb 3, 1966 – Aug 9, 1989), a Canadian professional ice hockey player, went missing during a short stay in Austria. Duncan had accepted a job as a player-coach for a semi-pro hockey team in Dundee, Scotland, starting in August 1989. Before starting there however, he went snowboarding in Austria. And there … he just vanished.

After many years and a warm summer, the Stubai Glacier gave us a partial answer: Duncan’s remains were found. But how did this strapping young man die? Most importantly, was anyone or anything involved in his death?

John’s book is not an easy read because from the beginning you dread the answers. The cover-up makes you angry and your heart goes out to Duncan’s parents who had to fight for every bit of information in their child’s case. The ultimate nightmare of any parent regardless of age: to survive your child and to have to investigate why this child was taken from you.

John kindly agreed to be my guest for this #cclivechat and he answered many questions about the case. The verbatim thread is below.

My thoughts are with Duncan’s family.

Best, V

Vidocq_CCIt is noon and I have a most fascinating case to discuss with you. With me is John Leake, the author of "cold a long time." #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:00:04 +0000
Vidocq_CCMore about the case here: #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:00:23 +0000
Vidocq_CCThe case is about the Canadian professional hockey player Duncan MacPherson who disappeared in 1989. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:00:29 +0000
Vidocq_CCI am lucky to have John here. The book grabbed me and the forensics ... it is a must read.
Fri, 07 Sep 2012 16:00:59 +0000
Vidocq_CCWelcome, John and thank you very much for being here with us. How are you? #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:01:14 +0000
Vidocq_CC@miriamsaid Hi Miri! #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:01:39 +0000
Vidocq_CCWelcome, John a.k.a. @sirsillyworth and thank you very much for being here with us. How are you? #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:02:05 +0000
sirsillysworthThank you for the invitation, Nic
Fri, 07 Sep 2012 16:02:06 +0000
Vidocq_CC@sirsillysworth You wrote a book that kept me up and made me angry! #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:02:43 +0000
sirsillysworthYes, the true story tends to make people mad! #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:04:06 +0000
Vidocq_CCLet's start at the beginning: the poem "the Snow Man." A very good choice to include in the book. Are you a Stevens fan? #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:04:30 +0000
sirsillysworthAs Aldous Huxley once said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad." #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:05:09 +0000
sirsillysworthThe poem is about the state of mind you must have in order to see the world objectively. I thought about it often in this case #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:06:16 +0000
Vidocq_CCI like it. I think Duncan's father added the boulders in the yard after Duncan was found, maybe as a reflecting point? #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:07:39 +0000
LilacLoungeRT @sirsillysworth As Aldous Huxley once said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad." #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:08:23 +0000
sirsillysworthFrom his experience looking for his son among the glaciated peaks of the Alps, he became very interested in glaciers. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:08:59 +0000
eileenclayton1RT @sirsillysworth: As Aldous Huxley once said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad." #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:09:45 +0000
Vidocq_CCGeneral information about Duncan macPherson can be found here #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:09:47 +0000
Vidocq_CC@sirsillysworth Can you explain what a crevasse is? #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:10:08 +0000
sirsillysworthHe put the boulders in the yard BEFORE Duncan was found
Fri, 07 Sep 2012 16:10:21 +0000
sirsillysworthA large crack in the glacier--can be several feet wide and up to 150 feet deep--dangerous 'cause they may be concealed by snow #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:11:59 +0000
Vidocq_CC@sirsillysworth Duncan had major injuries that could not be explained by falling into a crevasse. Can you discuss this? #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:13:55 +0000
SamuraiKnitter@Vidocq_CC So is there any suspicion of foul play, other than the sheer weirdness of it? #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:15:21 +0000
sirsillysworthThis is the key question--where his injuries caused by a fall and ice movement or by something else connected with a human. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:15:47 +0000
Vidocq_CC@SamuraiKnitter Hi Julie, good question! #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:16:06 +0000
Vidocq_CC@sirsillysworth If this was by a fall+ice movement only I'd expect to see injuries all over and not only at parts of his body. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:17:28 +0000
sirsillysworthThe parents suspected some form of culpability, though they weren't sure if it was intentional. The crime is concealment. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:17:37 +0000
Vidocq_CC@sirsillysworth Can you explain your suspicions that a grooming machine was involved? #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:18:53 +0000
sirsillysworthDuncan's body had sustained sharp force trauma to three of his limbs, and the amputated limbs were found with his body. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:18:57 +0000
sirsillysworthHis lower left leg appeared to have gone into a meat grinder, his hands and forearms were cleanly severed. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:21:11 +0000
Vidocq_CC@sirsillysworth Natural dismemberment due to ice movement usually is at the joints but Duncan's were mid-bone, right? #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:21:16 +0000
miriamsaidI found this. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:21:55 +0000
sirsillysworthCorrect. It was notable that his limbs were chopped along the bone shafts, and not separated at the joints. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:22:28 +0000
Vidocq_CC@miriamsaid Thanks, Miri! #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:23:13 +0000
Vidocq_CC@sirsillysworth Can you explain what on the pictures seems to be a cable around Duncan's remains? #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:23:42 +0000
LilacLounge@sirsillysworth Wasn't there also significance to the spacing of the breaks along with similar spaced cuts on his snowboard? #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:24:12 +0000
Vidocq_CCForensics about Duncan are here, pictures not for the faint hearted #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:24:41 +0000
sirsillysworthI can tell you that it's not part of his clothing or equipment, so someone else must have brought it into contact with his leg.
Fri, 07 Sep 2012 16:24:57 +0000
Vidocq_CC@LilacLounge Excellent observation, Sue. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:25:01 +0000
sirsillysworthYes, the chops to the limbs and the cuts on the snowboard have similar spacing.
Fri, 07 Sep 2012 16:27:03 +0000
Vidocq_CC@sirsillysworth Has anyone at the LA Lab been able to explain the cable? #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:28:43 +0000
sirsillysworthNo. I present a hypothetical explanation for the cable in the book. Space does not me to present it here. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:30:07 +0000
Vidocq_CCInformation about the cable we are talking about is here (graphic pictures) #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:30:28 +0000
sirsillysworthThe cable was just one of many things that the Innsbruck authorities chose not to investigate. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:31:31 +0000
Vidocq_CC@sirsillysworth The prosecutor never ordered an autopsy because he was NOT told of poss contact by heavy machinery, right? #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:31:44 +0000
sirsillysworthThis was the rationale offered by the Austrian Justice Minister. Bullshit. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:32:45 +0000
Vidocq_CC@sirsillysworth Can you explain Dr. Rable's role in the cover up? Use more tweets if you like, no limits! #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:33:24 +0000
sirsillysworthThe body sat for a week at the Innsbruck Institute of Forensic Medicine and external signs of violence were obvious. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:33:45 +0000
sirsillysworthRabl told Duncan's parents that he wasn't authorized to perform an autopsy. He didn't mention that he could do a private one #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:35:52 +0000
sirsillysworthHe offered a CT scan instead, but the destroyed limbs were left out of the scanner's field of view. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:37:18 +0000
Vidocq_CC@sirsillysworth When other scientists later saw the whole scan, what was their reaction? #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:38:42 +0000
sirsillysworthWhen the parents realized that Duncan's limbs had been chopped up, they confronted Rabl, who said they'd been sheared by the ice #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:38:52 +0000
Vidocq_CC@finaldx @sirsillysworth Hashtag #cclivechat, we use tweetchat. will rt your tweetFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:39:30 +0000
Vidocq_CCfrom @finaldx: So was the cable used as a tourniquet? Or it was part of machinery? #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:39:51 +0000
sirsillysworthNo full CT scan was ever presented--just one low resolution radiograph that shows the fract. arms and the top of the left tibia. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:40:47 +0000
sirsillysworthThe key evidence consisted of photographs of the body lying on the dissection table, in which the fractured limbs are visible. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:42:16 +0000
SamuraiKnitter1. Is the snowboard still around, and if so, 2. has a tool mark expert taken a look at it? #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:42:49 +0000
sirsillysworthThe cable was most likely used in an attempt to free Duncan's left leg from the grooming tiller. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:43:21 +0000
sirsillysworthYes, we have the board. Experts have examined it, concluded marks were made by a machine #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:44:12 +0000
LilacLounge@sirsillysworth Could the cable have also been used to drag his body to the location where it was concealed? #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:44:59 +0000
Vidocq_CCHave either George Blackstock or Walter Hinterhoelzl ever commented in public about this case? #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:45:42 +0000
sirsillysworthIt is important to understand that NO information was offered to the parents. They had to repeatedly ask for everything they got #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:46:09 +0000
sirsillysworthNo, the cable is wrapped around Duncan's amputated lower left leg. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:46:56 +0000
miriamsaidWhy was his body to be cremated without asking his parents for burial details? Who ordered it? #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:48:44 +0000
sirsillysworthHinterhoelzl maintains he assumed that Duncan forgot his clothing in the ski school office. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:49:05 +0000
sirsillysworthDr. Rabl told the parents that--according to the radiologist--the CT scan indicated no signs of violence to the body. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:49:44 +0000
sirsillysworthWhen the parents heard this from Rabl, they decided to have the body cremated. Later they became aware of the chopped up limbs #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:51:07 +0000
miriamsaidWhy were Duncan's shoes and socks removed & who did it..No fingerprinting attempts on shoes then? #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:51:57 +0000
Vidocq_CC@sirsillysworth What is the Canadian government doing to help Duncan's parents to get to the truth in this case? #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:52:31 +0000
sirsillysworthDuncan HAD to have left his street shoes at the gondola station along with other articles. Someone must have thrown them away. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:54:18 +0000
sirsillysworthIn 1989, Canadian External Affairs withheld information from the MacPhersons indicating that Duncan had died on the ski slope #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:55:51 +0000
sirsillysworthThe Canadian government has been ineffectual at best. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:56:37 +0000
sirsillysworthThe MacPhersons asked me to investigate and write a book about this case because it is so incredibly convoluted and confusing. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:57:23 +0000
sirsillysworthIt is impossible to explain what happened in any form of conversation. Only a comprehensive narrative can make it understandable #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:58:41 +0000
Vidocq_CC@sirsillysworth It is very confusing. And the dishonesty in this case! #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 16:59:40 +0000
Vidocq_CC@sirsillysworth And your book does that perfectly, John. It is a must read for anyone. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 17:00:08 +0000
Vidocq_CCWhat are your next steps in Duncan's case? #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 17:00:54 +0000
sirsillysworthIt would have been very easy to determine the cause and manner of Duncan's death if the authorities had WANTED to do so. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 17:00:58 +0000
sirsillysworthOur only hope for getting some kind of justice for the MacPherson family is through public awareness of the story. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 17:02:54 +0000
Vidocq_CC@sirsillysworth By chatting and blogging about him, we do just that. Thank you very much for being here today, John. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 17:04:31 +0000
sirsillysworthSo far, the MacPherson's efforts to obtain clarity and redress have been succesfully blocked by Austrian authorities. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 17:04:42 +0000
LilacLounge@sirsillysworth Should the Austrian govt take responsibility for investigating this cover up? #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 17:04:44 +0000
Vidocq_CCIt is past 1pm EST, folks. I'll post a recap of the chat with the verbatim text later on DCC #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 17:05:25 +0000
sirsillysworthThe Innsbruck public officials who participated in this cover-up should be severely punished. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 17:05:59 +0000
miriamsaidAwesome Chat...Thank you. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 17:06:21 +0000
LilacLounge@Vidocq_CC So soon?! Thanks for a great chat @sirsillysworth #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 17:07:06 +0000
sirsillysworthThank to Nic for hosting it, and thanks to everyone else for joining in! #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 17:07:07 +0000
Vidocq_CC@sirsillysworth Glad to host you, John. And agreed, those who covered this up need to be brought to justice. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 17:08:59 +0000
Vidocq_CCRecap later on. If you want more information, pls read John's book. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 17:09:30 +0000
Vidocq_CCThank you all for chatting, reading and responding! Signing off. #cclivechatFri, 07 Sep 2012 17:10:02 +0000