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Chilliwack's Own Murdoch Mystery

posted by: The Royal Hotel Chilliwack on: October 16, 2018 01:24:50 PM

Constable David Murdoch was asked to resign from the Chilliwack City Police Department in November of 1928, just months after he was appointed to the position by the Police Commission.

Chilliwack Progress, Nov. 8, 1928

Previous to his arrival in Chilliwack, Murdoch had served in the Great War; spent time as member of the RCMP, The Manitoba Provincial Police Force and as a firefighter with the Vancouver Fire Department. He had an impressive resume and came with “worthy” recommendations and was “thoroughly qualified” to be Police Chief, as reported in the March 1, 1928 Chilliwack Progress.

After his departure from Chilliwack, Murdoch continued his policing career in Kelowna, where in 1929 he again took up the post of Police Chief in that city. Trouble followed Murdoch to Kelowna. In an August 1931 altercation with fellow police officer Archie McDonald, Chief Murdoch found himself at the bottom of a stairway. McDonald was subsequently charged with assault and found not guilty.

Not sure what precipitated the confrontation between Murdoch and McDonald, but during a holiday visit to Chilliwack in December 1931; those who saw the former resident commented his behavior was at times “irrational”, maybe an indicator that Murdock was suffering with mental health issues.

During the afternoon of January 19, 1932, David Murdoch pulled out his gun and shot and killed police informant, Genevieve Nolan (aka Jean Nolan) outside the Lakeview Hotel (later renamed the Mayfair) in Kelowna’s city centre. Ironically, the Lakeview Hotel was built by Archie McDonald, fellow police constable whom he had a dust-up with in 1931. Immediately after murdering Nolan, Murdoch took off in search of his next victim, Archie McDonald. David Murdoch located McDonald at his Kelowna residence and killed him, as well.

Kelowna's Former Mayfair Hotel, where the murders took place.

Chilliwack Progress, Jan. 21, 1932

Murdoch was arrested shortly after committing the crimes and was charged with two counts of murder.

A jury found Murdoch not guilty, by reason of insanity in November, 1932 during his third trial. His first two trials had resulted in a hung jury. David Murdoch served his 25 years sentence at Colquitz Insane Asylum in Victoria.

Note: The name “Murdoch” also appears as “Murdock”, however I have chosen to use “Murdoch” as this is the spelling is used in court documents.
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