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Ronald Glenn WEST

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


A.K.A.: "The 22-calibre Killer"
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Toronto police officer - Rape - Robberies
Number of victims: 2 +
Date of murders: May 6/13, 1970
Date of arrest: August 27, 1999 (29 years later)
Date of birth: 1947
Victims profile: Doreen Moorby, 34 / Helen Ferguson, 38
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Gormley/Palgrave, Ontario, Canada
Status: Pleaded guilty. Sentenced to two life sentences in prison on August 15, 2001
 
 

 
 

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.

The first 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 unharmed.

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 bathroom.

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 interior yard.

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 dead.

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 slayings.

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' service.

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, police say.

Gord McAllister recalled last night from Lindsay that the man who killed his wife and Major came to the motorhome door at 1 a.m..

He told them he was a police officer and they could not stay in the rest area overnight and would have to move, McAllister said.

'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 blond hair.

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 need money."

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."

Cut bindings

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 his bindings.

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 female clerk.

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 address.

The ring was one of those stolen from Valentino Furs.

Jewelry found

Ten days later, a North Bay officer recovered numerous stolen diamonds and rings.

Again, they had been pawned by West using his driving licence.

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 West's victims.

"All (offences) involved violence and all imposed terror.

"They were an outrage to the individuals and an outrage to the community," said Whalen.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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