In May 1970, two suburban housewives are killed in their homes
within a week of one another, leaving the inhabitants of the rural areas
surrounding Toronto in fear.
Thirty years later, the murders are solved and the man responsible
is caught, thanks to the meticulous collection and preservation of DNA
evidence. But there is a surprising twist - Ronald West was a Toronto
police officer at the time of the murders.
victim, Doreen Morby, was killed at her rural
Gormley home May 6, 1970, while she was home
alone with her 21-month-old son. She was shot
five times in the head and twice in the back
with a .22-calibre gun. Her son was left
Seven days later, Helen
Ferguson was shot once in the head and twice in
the back at her Palgrave home after she answered
the door to a man. Her nine-year-old son was
unharmed in his bedroom.
A young constable involved in
the investigation soon quits and moves away, all
is relatively quiet for years. He returned to
the Valley in 1988 and they once again plunged
into a dark time. West's crime spree continued
with a series of violent robberies in 1995.
The police had staked out his
home for 48 hours, watching their suspect's
every move from a boathouse next door. West was
on a cell phone outside when a half-dozen
cruisers swarmed the property. His house was
searched but nothing extraordinary was found, he
was convicted of the robberies and sentenced.
The next tenant of the West
house found the stolen jewellery along with an
old registration for a .22-calibre handgun (the
same used in the nurse murders in 1970) and
photos of a naked woman, all hidden in the
In 2001 West plead guilty to the 1970 murders and is
serving 2 life terms.
Ronald Glenn West
While serving a eight-year sentence
for robbery Ronald Glenn West, a former Toronto police officer, was
charged with first-degree murder in the 1970 sex slayings of nurses
Helen Ferguson and Doreen Moorby. He is also under investigation in a
1991 double murder at a picnic site just outside of Blind River, Ontario.
A jail employee at the provincial
Maplehurst Detention Centre in Milton said West has would probably be
assaulted by other inmates for being an ex-cop, being a suspected sex
slayer, and for attacking seniors citizens. Because of the high risk for
violence, West is being kept in a private cell which he cannot leave
except to shower, shave and take a daily 20-minute exercise break in an
West, who was called a quiet man by
those who knew him, kept his dark side a secret from even those closest
to him, his wife and sons.
When West was arrested in 1995, Blind River
residents were shocked, never having suspected the man who lived in
their community - one where people often don't bother locking their
doors - was responsible for a string of violent robberies.
His sons are
just as surprised by the latest charges as they were four years ago when
police showed up at their riverside home on Woodward Ave., arrested
their father and put them in foster care. "It's those who loved him
and believed him who are most hurt by this," said Shelly Verreault,
who was a foster parent to the West boys, Joseph, now 18, y Gavin, 17.
Ex-cop probed in tourist killings 2 shot dead at Blind River
Roadside Park in '91
Alan Cairns and Joe Warmington - The Toronto Sun
August 27, 1999, Friday
A former Toronto cop charged with two
29-year-old sex slayings is under investigation in an unsolved double
murder eight years ago.
Ronald Glenn West, 52, was charged two days ago with
first-degree murder in the 1970 sex slayings of nurses Doreen Moorby,
34, and Helen Ferguson, 38, north of Toronto.
The Toronto Sun has learned he is a suspect in a 1991
picnic-area robbery in which two people were slain and another left for
Gord McAllister, 62, and his wife Jackie, 59, were
asleep in their motorhome at a scenic Blind River rest stop in Northern
Ontario at 1 a.m. on June 28, 1991 when they opened their door to a man
allegedly claiming to be a police officer.
Jackie McAllister was killed instantly when the man
opened fire with a rifle. Her husband was shot in the back as he tried
to escape, but he survived.
Brian Major, 29, of Elliot Lake, was shot dead in his
car when he unwittingly stumbled upon the murder scene.
The slayings occurred only a few kilometres from
Blind River, where West lived with a second wife and two teen boys from
a first marriage that was never dissolved.
West was arrested in 1995 for a robbery spree in the
Sault Ste. Marie area and has served four years of an eight-year prison
term. He came undone when he tried to pawn stolen rings and loose
diamonds using his driver's licence and his home address.
OPP detectives searched West's van and his home for
links with the rest- area murders, a relative said, but found nothing.
Blind River Officer
Investigators probing the Moorby and Ferguson
homicides refused to say whether there are links with the Blind River
But The Sun has learned a Blind River OPP officer
involved in the 1991 probe is working alongside Orillia-based major-crime-unit
detectives, who say they unravelled the nurse slayings using DNA
analysis of 29-year-old evidence.
West was working at Toronto Police 53 Division as a
traffic cop during the period the women were killed and was off duty on
the dates of the murders. He quit the force in 1972 after four years'
Police are trying to determine if there are
similarities in the way in which the Toronto murders, the Sault Ste.
Marie robberies and the Blind River slayings were carried out.
Doreen Moorby was at her rural Gormley home with her
21-month-old son on May 6, 1970, when she was sexually assaulted and
shot five times in the head and twice in the back with a .22-calibre gun.
Her son was unharmed.
Helen Ferguson was shot once in the head and twice in
the back at her Palgrave home 13 days later.
Her nine-year-old son was at home and, after hearing
a knock at the door and a man's voice, then heard gunshots. He saw a man
wipe the doorknob of fingerprints and then drive off.
In 1991, the McAllisters were robbed by a man armed
with a .22-calibre Lakefield Mossberg rifle and a 20-gauge shotgun,
Gord McAllister recalled last night from Lindsay that
the man who killed his wife and Major came to the motorhome door at 1
He told them he was a police officer and they could
not stay in the rest area overnight and would have to move, McAllister
'Going to kill both of you'
His wife opened the door and the man entered with a
rifle in each arm, saying "I'm going to rob you, and then I'm going to
kill both of you."
McAllister said he didn't believe the man would kill
them, but after the gunman took their valuables he began shooting.
McAllister's wife was shot in the trailer. McAllister was shot and left
for dead outside the trailer, but he saw the gunman fire shots into the
windshield of a car that just happened by.
Brian Major was sadly "in the wrong place at the
wrong time," said McAllister, who recalled the killer having stringy
In Sault Ste. Marie court on Oct. 4, 1995, West
pleaded guilty to what Ontario court Judge Lawrence Whalen called five "shocking"
robberies, each one "coldly" and deliberately planned.
In each case, West visited a home or business, using
a ruse that he wanted to buy something or needed some work done. In each
robbery, his victim was alone and either old or female.
West admitted to police that he visited Brian Langan
in his Sault Ste. Marie home May 25, 1995, after Langan advertised a
hospital bed for sale.
On the pretext of consulting his wife, West left, but
then returned the next day.
Langan turned his back and never knew what hit him.
He woke up on the floor, with a bump on his head, a
gag in his mouth, his face covered with an apron and his hands tied.
He was robbed of a wallet, keys and $ 400.
Since 1995, Langan has asked Correctional Services
Canada (CSC) to advise him of West's whereabouts.
About a week ago, CSC told them he had been
transfered to Joyceville maximum security prison.
"I was a little concerned ... I like to know what I'm
dealing with," Langan, 69, told The Sun last night.
Langan noted his attacker's voice was low, fairly
deep and raspy.
Five days after that attack, on May 31, 1995, West
was on a tour of a Sudbury rental apartment when he struck the owner,
Camillo Rovinelli, on the head three times with a steel wrench. When
Rovinelli kicked at West in a valiant attempt to fight him off, West
pulled out a knife and threatened: "I need money ... I need money ... I
Rovinelli pulled $ 450 from his pocket and urged his
assailant to leave. But West ordered Rovinelli into a bedroom. When
Rovinelli refused to lie on his stomach, West warned him to do as he
said because he didn't want to go back to prison.
When Rovinelli told West he feared bleeding to death,
West replied: "You won't die, you're a tough guy."
West tied Rovinelli's hands and feet and left him in
a closet. After hours of struggling, Rovinelli knocked some coat hangers
off a shelf. Putting one in his teeth, he managed to hook one around a
lamp and break the bulb. He then used the broken glass to cut through
On June 7, 1995, West entered the Holiday House gift
boutique on Albert St. in Sault Ste. Marie and, after chatting with
clerk Mary Sarlo and telling her he was from Thunder Bay, he coerced her
to a corner of the store and pulled out a gun.
He forced Sarlo to the floor and tied her hands and
feet and forced her into a closet.
He went through her purse and removed jewelry from
the display case.
A week later, on June 14, 1995, West entered
Valentino Furs in Sault Ste. Marie and pulled a black handgun on a
After tying her to a coat rack, he put on a pair of
surgical gloves and stole numerous watches and rings worth $ 40,000.
Former police chief Barry King, now chief at
Brockville, recalled how he advised Soo residents to lock their doors.
"This was vicious," he said.
Elderly resident Ruth MacMillan recalled she was too
afraid to go out at night.
Assistant Crown attorney Kelly Weeks recalled that
the Valentino Furs robbery happened in the middle of the day and within
a couple of blocks of the courthouse. It was as if the robber had no
fear of police.
Two days after the Valentino heist, West called a
Sudbury-area man about masonry work but was told by the man's wife,
Paula Jones, that he wasn't home.
An hour later, West went to the house and, after she
let him in the house because the mosquitoes were bad, he pulled a gun.
Before he gagged her with a rolled-up T-shirt and
pulled three sweaters over her face, he pulled on a pair of yellow latex
dishwasher gloves. He only got $ 15 and two cans of pop.
West's spree came undone on June 20, 1995, when he
went to the Money Pit Pawn Brokers in Sudbury and pawned a ring. He used
a driver's licence to identify himself and it gave his Blind River
The ring was one of those stolen from Valentino Furs.
Ten days later, a North Bay officer recovered
numerous stolen diamonds and rings.
Again, they had been pawned by West using his driving
In the next few days, police found many stolen
jewelry items in West's house and vehicles. A black replica handgun was
also discovered. Many rings had been damaged by West in his efforts to
remove the precious stones.
When he sentenced West, Justice Whalen noted that
West had a previous record, but the offences were more than 20 years old.
"To his credit he has been able to lead a productive
life free of crime for some considerable time" and was "a family man,"
said Whalen, who took the long gap in West's crimes and his age -- 48 at
the time -- into account when giving him eight years in prison.
"I accept that he has been a good and caring father
and that is to his credit," said Whalen .
West's former in-laws said it was his second wife,
Rena, who looked after the kids.
But Whalen noted the vulnerability and the age of
"All (offences) involved violence and all imposed
"They were an outrage to the individuals and an
outrage to the community," said Whalen.