-by Jake Doherty
Within minutes of the OPP arrival on a gloriously bright December day, the coroner pronounced that Captain Jonas Adams and his friend has been dead for five or six weeks and that death for one was probably caused by a blow to the head with a blunt weapon and gun shot to the chest of the other. Autopsies would be needed to confirm the initial findings. As soon as the bodies were tagged and bagged and taken out to the road on a snowmobile sled, everyone began to relax with coffee and trail bars. And lots of hugs among the birding groups, some in tears.
Until Sherry Wilkie broke away from her fellow birders to take in the strange beauty and quietness of Windfield Basin, and the irony of death in a safe harbor. She pushed a small drift of snow on some beach rocks to secure better footing, and looked down. A small tab of black material took her attention. Just one big hole in it, no, no, maybe more she thought and pulled it out.
"YO..." she cried, but then remembered the signal. "HELP, HELP. I've found something." Nellie Tannahill and Corporal Erskine were quickly at her side.
"Oh my gosh," said Nellie. "It's a,...a"
"Another balaclava," added Erskine, pushing the two women aside. Quickly, he called out to his patrol mate who found an evidence bag in his parka. "We'll need the forensics lab in Toronto to check these because we now have three balaclavas and two corpses."
And with that, the birding group and the police made their way back to the Cabot Head Light House and their own cars and vans. The road out was now open, and they were anxious to resume the Christmas Week they would never forget. They even posed for a group shot for the Sun Times and the Wiarton Echo.
Two weeks later after the New Year, the OPP finally held a media conference in the detachment headquarters just south of Wiarton. – a big event in a small town.
"What about the third balaclava," yelled Nellie. "And yeah," followed Sherry. "We found it, so what's it mean, whose is it, you know what I mean?"
Erskine tugged at his collar a. "You're right of course. I should have referred to it sooner. Nothing conclusive, no charges have been laid, but the forensics team traced the salvia on the inside of the third balaclava – we must withhold the name for the moment – to an older Vietnam veteran now living in Ontario. Still unsettled is whether he also took refugee in the storm as did the victims or had he arranged to meet them there? What was his role?
"The second victim was also from Upper Michigan, and owned the boat. At this point we can only speculate the motive was robbery. The U.S. investigators told us that Capt. Adams had withdrawn substantial amounts of money from his bank account in November, presumably to start a new life here. If so, where is that money now?"
Then Erskine stood silent for a moment. "Had Capt. Adams survived the trip, he would have been deported back to the U.S., and, we understand, received treatment in a
Veterans' Hospital for his depression. His case was already under review when he left Michigan. Unfortunately, he did not know that his third tour of duty was about to be cancelled. Rob, care to add to that?"
"What a waste of a good man."