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UNSOLVED MYSTERIES: The Pauls family triple homicide

Last Updated Jun 11, 2015 at 2:09 pm PST

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – It’s considered to be Vancouver’s first triple homicide and nearly six decades later, it remains unsolved.

On June 11th, 1958, officers entered the home of the Pauls on East 53rd after David and wife Helen didn’t show up to work. At first, everything seemed normal. But as they stepped through the home, they found their first victim.

Helen was face down in a pool of blood in the hallway. She had been shot in the head and beaten.

In her daughter’s bedroom, 11-year-old Dorothy had been bludgeoned to death. Her body was discovered still lying in her bed and in the basement was David who had also been shot and beaten. Police had determined both David and young Dorothy were killed before Helen arrived home, meaning the suspect waited for her.

Vancouver Police Constable Brian Montague says over the years, there has been a lot of speculation on a motive. He adds there had been a string of sexual assaults in the neighbourhood around the same time the Pauls were killed, but that theory never led to anything concrete.

“Investigators in general will look at a number of things and one of those things would be what kind of crimes are taking place in the area. They’ll look at individuals that have been caught or checked in the neighbourhood in recent times. They’ll look at suspects with similar MOs. If it’s a string of sexual assaults in the neighbourhood, then they’ll look at offenders who are living nearby that have recently been arrested. They’re basically trying to build a suspect profile,” explains Montague.

There was also the idea of a peeping Tom caught by the father, but that was ruled out. It was a possible robbery, but nothing was taken.

Others theories even went as far to link the murders to communism, as the family’s background originated in Russia.

There were never any solid leads and the only evidence left behind was a smeared bloody handprint on a wall and a large stone in the garden that had been kicked out of place.

One of the best bets soon after the crime took place were hair and fibres taken from Helen’s coat, but they came up inconclusive.

With so much time having passed, what happens to this file now?

“It gets more difficult and more challenging as the case grows colder and colder,” says Montague. “We don’t close files, but we’re looking at 1958 here and the chances of whoever is responsible for this still being alive is probably pretty minimal. The individual probably spent most of their adult life in and out of jail and probably died years ago.”

“Putting resources into a crime that’s almost 60 years old, you have to justify those reasons when the person responsible is most likely deceased,” he adds. “Or do we put resources into a recent homicide or a homicide that’s five or six years old that we think is solvable and we can actually bring someone to justice?”

He says the Pauls case is one that continues to linger with no solid answers.

“Your first thoughts are ‘Who’s responsible? Who are these people? Why did this happen? How did it happen?’ And I think when you see a homicide — whether it’s this one or something else — and you don’t have some of those answers right away, it’s extremely difficult for the investigators. Often — and especially with homicides — a motive or a reason is usually pretty apparent pretty quickly. But in this case, it’s never been apparent. We don’t know why.”

Click here to read all five parts of this week’s series on some of the most intriguing unsolved mysteries in BC.