Canadian True Crime - Bizarre Encounters

Episode Date: May 7, 2024

They've been called bizarre by some, amusing by others, and downright terrifying by those involved... but one thing these cases all have in common is that they're all true. In this episode, we un...ravel the facts and fallout from each case, proving that reality can indeed be stranger than fiction.This month, Canadian True Crime has donated to the Canadian Mental Health Association.UPCOMING EVENTS:June 2-5 Podcast Power Up Summit (Radio Days North America)  | TORONTO, ONTARIO→ Kristi’s session: "Getting your Indie Podcast Signed", June 2 @ 1:40 p.m.June 7–9 Motive Crime & Mystery Festival  | TORONTO, ONTARIO→ Kristi's session: “Through the Mirror Darkly: Why we love True Crime”, June 8 @ 6:30 p.m.July 12-14 True Crime & Paranormal Podcast Festival  | DENVER, COLORADO→ See Kristi at Podcast Row with all the other registered podcastsFull list of resources, information sources and credits:See the page for this episode at Full list of resources, information sources and credits:See the page for this episode at  Hosted on Acast. See for more information.

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Starting point is 00:02:19 To find it, tap the transcripts icon at the bottom of the player. Canadian True Crime is a completely independent production funded mainly through advertising. You can listen to Canadian True Crime ad free and early on Amazon Music included with Prime, Apple Podcasts, Patreon and Supercast. Hi there, I hope you're well. This year we've covered some pretty intensive cases and we have more coming up, including one that's perhaps been our most requested case by listeners. So today's episode is a bit of a change of pace.
Starting point is 00:02:51 Since I started Canadian True Crime, I've been keeping a list of interesting crime stories of a different type. Cases that have been called bizarre by some, amusing by others and often downright terrifying by those involved. But what they all have in common is that no one dies, no one is seriously injured and they're all true. And as you'll find out later in this episode, some of them also have a distinct Canadian flair.
Starting point is 00:03:20 But before we start, I wanted to quickly tell you that I'll be at two upcoming events in Toronto and one in Denver, Colorado. I'm typically a bit of an introverted homebody type who doesn't get out much, so it's kind of a big deal for me. You'll find links to all three events in the show notes, but just quickly, the first is the podcast Power Up Summit, Emerging and industry innovators on Sunday, June the 2nd in Toronto, an event for anyone in or interested in podcasting to gain insights, exchange ideas and make connections to help propel your podcasting journey forward.
Starting point is 00:03:58 You'll hear from a number of top experts and podcasters from across North America, speaking about current hot topics like why podcasts fail, seizing opportunities, the next generation and more. My session is called Getting Your Indie Podcast Signed, a candid conversation with Phelan Johnson and Leah Simone Bowen from CBC podcasts The Secret Life of Canada. We will be getting real about what it takes to break through, assessing the options, the trade-offs and potential pitfalls and more. That's the podcast Power Up Summit on Sunday, June 2, part of Radio Day's North America and
Starting point is 00:04:37 Canadian Music Week. I'll also be at the third annual Motive Crime and Mystery Festival in Toronto on June 7th to 9th, with a session on the second day about why people love true crime. And I'll also be at the True Crime and Paranormal Podcast Festival, July 12th to 14th in Denver, Colorado, where you can find me on Podcast Row
Starting point is 00:05:00 with all the other amazing podcasts that are coming. More info and links about all these events are in the show notes and at And with that, it's on with the show. On July the 5th of 2015, residents of Calgary, Alberta were caught off guard by an unexpected sight, described as a scene straight out of the animated movie Up. It was a man sitting in a lawn chair drifting across the skyline, tethered to an array of colourful helium balloons.
Starting point is 00:05:41 Residents were transfixed by the sight and set social media abuzz with photos and videos of whatever was happening. Some thought it might be an approved stunt related to the Calgary stampede which was on that same weekend. Others didn't know what to think. As the news spread, Calgary police scrambled to monitor the man as he seemed to be drifting higher and higher into the sky. The public may have been amused by the stunt, but the authorities certainly weren't. According to reporting by the Calgary Herald, air traffic controllers at the International Airport first spotted the man in the balloon chair contraption shortly after he rose from the ground, but as he continued to ascend into scattered clouds,
Starting point is 00:06:33 they started to lose sight of him. By this point, he was estimated to be at about 4,000 feet, more than double the height of the CN Tower in Toronto. The air traffic tower spotted him again at about 7,000 feet after the balloons rose through another layer of clouds. The contraption's path was veering dangerously close to the flight path of commercial aircraft, which raised serious safety concerns. There is no way to divert a chair tied to balloons that ends up floating towards an oncoming aircraft, and the aircraft itself would have been flying too fast to avoid it.
Starting point is 00:07:17 A crash at 300 kilometres an hour would not only be catastrophic for the guy on the chair, but it would cause extensive damage to the aircraft in a number of ways and could cause it to fall and crash into the densely populated downtown Calgary area. And who knows how many lives would have been at stake. The Calgary police continued to monitor the balloon chairs movement as much as they could. What goes up must come down. And they didn't know who the man in the chair was, why he was up there, and what his plan was for the end of his journey, wherever that may be.
Starting point is 00:07:59 Media outlets rapidly picked up the story, circulating images and live footage of the airborne balloon chair. But then, the man appeared to jump from the chair and was falling from the sky. A parachute opened and the man managed to land safely on a Calgary road, where the police quickly located and arrested him. The chair itself continued to float away, still tethered to the giant bunch of balloons. Reporters scrambled to gather information, and soon details started to emerge about the man on the chair. His name was Daniel, he was 26 years old,
Starting point is 00:08:43 and he identified himself as a skydiver who had jumped about 30 times. And while he may have been a thrill seeker, on this occasion he was more of a business person eyeing up his next opportunity for free publicity. Daniel owned a cleaning products company and he planned the stunt as a bold marketing move to promote his company during the Calgary Stampede. He fully cooperated with police, telling them he'd been planning the stunt for months. At first he said he wanted to parachute out of a plane into the Stampede grounds, but all the pilots he contacted refused. So that's when he came up with the balloon lawn chair idea.
Starting point is 00:09:35 He told police that he did contact the NAV Canada Flight Planning and Reporting Centre, as well as Transport Canada, to ask for permission, but he didn't receive it. He decided to go ahead with his plan anyway. receive it. He decided to go ahead with his plan anyway. Daniel told the media that he spent about $20,000 on the stunt, which included the purchase of about $13,000 worth of industrial size balloons, which he bought online. There were about 120 giant balloons, each with a diameter of about two meters. Daniel's employees reportedly helped him fill them all with helium at a park in northwest Calgary and then tied them to the lawn chair, which he said he bought
Starting point is 00:10:16 from Canadian Tire for 20 bucks. He also bought a GPS, two GoPros to video the stunt, and an oxygen tank for when he got high into the air. The balloon chair took off with a banner dangling from it displaying his company logo. Then Daniel floated over the city skyline, intending to end up over the Calgary Stampede during the chuckwagon races. He planned to cut the balloons loose at that point and parachute into the rodeo as some
Starting point is 00:10:51 sort of viral stunt, with his parachute also showing the company's logo. But it didn't work out that way. In an interview with the Calgary Herald, Daniel described his ascent through the first couple of thousand feet as pretty scary. He didn't know if his contraption would hold up, but after that, he said it was incredible, both relaxing and frightening, but also peaceful as he looked down on the streets of downtown Calgary as he floated silently in the air. Once he got above the clouds, quote, I was looking up at the balloons, they were popping, the air was shaking, and I was looking down at my feet dangling through the clouds
Starting point is 00:11:38 at a 747 flight taking off and a few landing. Yes, you heard that right. He was so high that he saw several commercial aircraft flying underneath him. The balloon lawn chair reached heights estimated to be about 14,000 feet, about four kilometers in the air above Calgary. Daniel described it as the most surreal experience imaginable. The problem was the weather didn't cooperate. High wind currents were starting to shift his course away from Stampede Park, but he said he did get really close.
Starting point is 00:12:20 He recalled taking one last breath of oxygen and turned to his GoPro, where he set a variation of the same line uttered by Neil Armstrong when he stepped on the moon. One small step for man, one giant leap for Daniel's cleaning company. Quote, I then proceeded to flip out of the chair and do a spin, got stable and pulled my parachute. The winds were so aggressive once I was under my parachute that they were blowing me backwards
Starting point is 00:12:51 and I had to pick an alternative landing spot." Daniel landed on a road a few kilometres from Stampede Park, where he was soon arrested by Calgary police. It may have been an eventful journey, but it was a relatively short one. Daniel had only been in the air for about 20 to 30 minutes. He said he sprained his ankle but was otherwise unharmed, claiming it was because of his months of planning. His aim was apparently to make the voyage as safe as possible for everyone else and
Starting point is 00:13:28 only put himself in danger. Evidently, he thought he'd been successful. But the Calgary police did not agree. Inspector Kyle Grant called the stunt irresponsible. Quote, that chair has to come down and there's the possibility it could land on a person, a vehicle, a house and cause damage. This is where that plan wasn't thought out very well. There's no evidence that Daniel mentioned it publicly, but his plan was likely subconsciously inspired by the Los Angeles man known as Lawn Chair Larry from 1982.
Starting point is 00:14:11 Larry Walters was not the owner of a company who was attempting a viral marketing campaign. He was a 33-year-old truck driver who just wanted to fulfill his lifelong dream of flying after failing the Air Force's eyesight exam. So he attached 45 helium weather balloons to a lawn chair and packed sandwiches, drinks, a camera, a CB radio and a pellet gun to shoot balloons when he got too high. And then he set off. high and then he set off. His plan was to float over the desert and safely descend by shooting his balloons one by one. But just like Daniel from Calgary, Larry from LA unexpectedly soared higher than he thought he would to about 16,000 feet, 2,000 feet more than it was estimated that Daniel reached. When Larry entered controlled airspace over LAX,
Starting point is 00:15:10 he was spotted by commercial pilots and monitored by air traffic control. Larry's flight lasted 45 minutes before he started shooting the balloons with his pallet gun, and he slowly and safely descended after a total of an hour and a half in the air, although his remaining balloons got caught up in power lines, causing a brief power outage. Although lawn chair Larry was arrested and fined for violating federal aviation regulations, his stunt made him a minor celebrity with appearances on national TV. He tried to leverage his fame into a career
Starting point is 00:15:52 in motivational speaking, but wasn't successful. In 1993, 11 years after his lawn chair balloon stunt made national headlines, Larry Walters died by suicide. His famous lawn chair had actually sat in someone's garage for 20 years and was later donated to the Smithsonian. It's reportedly on display at the Stephen F. Udvar-Hawsey Center in Virginia. at the Stephen F. Udvar-Hawsey Center in Virginia. The same can't be said for Daniel from Calgary's lawn chair. While lawn chair Larry was still in his chair when he hit the ground, Daniel, of course,
Starting point is 00:16:35 abandoned his when he jumped off with his parachute. A police spokesperson said they expected charges would be laid under the Federal Aeronautics Act. But for now, Daniel was charged with mischief causing danger to life in relation to the lawn chair and the injuries it may have caused when it eventually fell to the ground. As it turned out, after Daniel jumped from it, the lawn chair continued to float across the sky and ended up more than 30 kilometers away from Calgary's downtown area.
Starting point is 00:17:11 A local resident spotted the strange contraption as it was descending and would tell the media that at first he thought it was a UFO. Only about 15 of the 120 balloons were still inflated. Later, the resident was interviewed as he was sitting in that same lawn chair, an array of colourful pieces of rubber still tied to the back of it. The resident recalled that after he located the fallen lawn chair, he wondered if there was someone who fell out of the sky that they should be looking for. The man who did fall out of the sky, albeit with a parachute, spent a night in jail as
Starting point is 00:17:55 media outlets named him Balloonatic. He was released the following morning on the condition that he stay at least 300 metres away from the Calgary Stampede grounds. Daniel had no criminal record and he would later tell CBC News that he knew he would get arrested but didn't think the authorities would pursue the issue as heavily as they did. He announced that the police didn't charge the Wright brothers, but he didn't seem to be aware that when the Wright brothers embarked on their groundbreaking flight in 1903, it wasn't above a highly populated city. In fact, the Wright
Starting point is 00:18:38 brothers had already written to the US Weather Bureau to help them find a suitable location with wide open spaces. And because it was the first flight ever, there were of course no other planes competing with the airspace. In fact, there weren't any airports at all. Daniel ended up pleading guilty to a charge of dangerous operation of an aircraft. He apologized for the danger he caused but insisted he doesn't regret his actions. He described the incident as the greatest story to tell for the rest of his life and the
Starting point is 00:19:17 most fun thing he'd ever done. In sentencing the judge told him, There was nothing fantastic, fun or exhilarating about it. It was dumb and dangerous. The court heard that the contraption travelled into the flight paths of incoming and outgoing commercial airlines, and a collision could have led to disaster. A fully grown Canadian goose can cause devastating damage to airplanes, even though they only weigh about 20 pounds. So imagine the damage that could be done by a 200 pound manned lawn chair tethered to giant balloons. The judge stated, quote,
Starting point is 00:20:02 not only would there have been a loss of lives of those people on the aircraft, the crash would have been in a densely populated metropolis, risking the lives of those on the ground. In 2017, Daniel was fined $5,000, plus $1,500 as a victim impact fee. He was also required to donate $20,000 to a local veterans food bank. A Calgary police spokesperson said it would have been cheaper for him
Starting point is 00:20:34 to rent a billboard after all. Daniel's dangerous stunt led to calls for tighter regulations to prevent similar incidents, highlighting the difference between innovative advertising and public endangerment. And he did it again the following year, as he recorded an infomercial for one of his cleaning products, but at least this time it was over the desert in Roswell, New Mexico. The Red Deer Advocate reported that Daniel had other plans beyond that.
Starting point is 00:21:08 He announced he was getting a license to operate a hot air balloon and planned to apply for the proper permits to launch a high-altitude flight. Quote, I'm going to break the world record for the highest skydive from space, and we're going to go up world record for the highest skydive from space, and we're going to go up in a lawn chair. There have been no further public updates about whether Daniel ended up in a lawn chair in space. Coming up next, a Windsor businessman has a harrowing encounter that changes his life.
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Starting point is 00:25:00 It was a year after the Lebanese Civil War started, when a mass exodus of people were fleeing the country to escape the violence and find a better life. Joseph trained as a hairstylist, and his goal in Canada was to establish a business that was both profitable and well regarded. And in the ten years after he arrived, he did. He opened a hairdressing salon in the mid-80s that soon became known for its precise and professional service and quickly attracted a clientele that included local celebrities. Joseph was able to leverage that success to expand the business to another location.
Starting point is 00:25:45 His plan was going very well. He was known for having strict attention to detail, which included a Type A commitment to cleanliness, hygiene and health that extended far beyond his professional life. By this point he had married married and he and his wife Emma maintained a meticulously clean household at all times. This included the exclusive use of filtered water. It all started soon after Joseph had started his hairdressing salon when a sales representative from a filtered water
Starting point is 00:26:23 dispensary company visited him to promote the benefits of their water and get him to sign on for regular deliveries. According to court documents, Joseph became convinced that this filtered water was superior to the municipal water that came out of the tap and would be beneficial for the health of the family, including pregnant women and children. Joseph and Emma planned to have children and this water sounded exactly what they needed for peace of mind. Convinced, Joseph signed up with the company known as Culligan Water and installed dispensers in his salons and at home. He was committed to using the water exclusively with regular deliveries of large water bottles
Starting point is 00:27:14 which would be collected when empty. He and Emma were loyal and happy customers of Coligan Water for more than 15 years as Emma gave birth to their first child. It really was reassuring for them both to know that both mother and baby were able to access the highest quality water. But when Emma was pregnant with their second child, something terrible happened. Whenever Joseph or Emma needed to replace a water bottle on the dispenser,
Starting point is 00:27:47 they took great care to clean the new bottle's exterior, particularly on the part that slots into the dispenser to get rid of any residual bacteria that might find its way into the water. That's exactly what they did on November 21 of 2001. But that day, an incident happened that offended the family's sense of sanctity in the purity of their home and shattered Joseph's life according to a court document. Here's what happened. Just as Joseph was placing the freshly wiped water bottle on the dispenser, he suddenly
Starting point is 00:28:27 noticed something small, dark and blurry inside. He looked closer. Clear as day, it was a whole dead fly, plus a part of another dead fly floating inside the unopened water bottle. floating inside the unopened water bottle. Both Emma and Joseph were horrified. No one consumed any of the water from the bottle, but Emma immediately vomited at the sight of it and started complaining of cramps and abdominal pain. Later that evening, Joseph started to feel nauseous and vomited as well. This was only the beginning. Joseph became obsessed with the image of the fly, mentally tormented by images of flies on feces or rotten food, and then being in his supposedly pure water. He was plagued by recurring nightmares.
Starting point is 00:29:27 He only slept for about four hours each night. One of his worst obsessive thoughts was about his first child and his wife Emma, who was about to give birth to their second. Joseph hated thinking about Emma carefully sterilising a bottle for the health and safety of their family and then putting formula made with culligan water into that bottle. It didn't stop there. Joseph would end up suffering profound psychological and physical effects as a result of the incident. After all, he'd spent more than 15 years believing that culligan filteredfiltered water was the best,
Starting point is 00:30:06 better than municipal water. He found himself unable to drink any kind of water at all, and his physical health deteriorated to a point where he suffered from constipation, persistent nausea, and constant abdominal pain. As well as affecting his mental and physical health, the incident also had a profound impact on his personal and professional life. He experienced significant changes in his behavior, his personality, he lost his sense of humor and became argumentative and edgy. He also reported a loss of sexual interest and performance. And at work, the changes in his personality together with a decline
Starting point is 00:30:53 in his hairstyling skills led to a loss of clients and revenue started to tank. Joseph would say that he went from running two hairdressing salons to one, and revenues decreased by more than 85%. After two months of terror, Joseph visited a doctor, complaining that his salon clients were asking what was wrong with him and whether he was okay. The Windsor Star reported that the doctor prescribed antidepressants to help him relax and sleep, as well as other medications to help with his physical health problems that resulted from him not drinking water. The medications worked for a time, but he reported they left him feeling out of control and lethargic,
Starting point is 00:31:42 which caused a new set of problems and contributed to difficulties in starting his work day. After further treatment that included extensive therapy, Joseph started to be able to shower again. But even then, he could only manage a quick in and out, and under no circumstances would he let any water touch his face. no circumstances would he let any water touch his face. Joseph decided to sue Culligan Water for negligence, claiming the resulting incident caused psychiatric injuries to him and
Starting point is 00:32:16 his wife. The case went to trial where it garnered national attention and prompted public outcry, according to the Windsor Star. The judge dismissed Emma's claim, finding that she may have had a reaction to the incident, but it wasn't to the level sufficient to warrant compensation from a claim of negligence. But Joseph's definitely was. The court heard medical evidence that Joseph suffered
Starting point is 00:32:46 from a major depressive disorder with associated phobia and anxiety over the possible effects on his family of drinking water that he no longer trusted to be clean and pure. The judge accepted this evidence, finding that Joseph became afflicted with a recognizable psychological injury. Quote, indeed he became obsessed, believing that his health and that of his family had been compromised and that his trust in culligan water had been betrayed.
Starting point is 00:33:22 The trial judge also concluded that the psychiatric effect of the fly-in-the-bottle incident was due to Joseph's particular sensibilities to such an event. Acknowledging that Joseph's reaction was objectively bizarre, the trial judge found that a number of different factors came together to create a situation for Joseph that was unexpectedly severe. The fact that he fled war-torn Lebanon to move to Canada was likely responsible in part for his heightened concern over the health and wellbeing of his family. The judge also mentioned that Joseph and Emma's first child had been born prematurely. And at the time of the fly-in-the-bottle incident,
Starting point is 00:34:07 the doctor had recently flagged Emma's second pregnancy as being potentially high risk. Quote, The judge found culligan Water liable and that the company owed Joseph a duty of care to ensure he was not injured by its negligence. The company must take reasonable care that the water is not contaminated by foreign elements, the judge said, and it breached its duty of care by allowing a fly into the bottle during the sealing process.
Starting point is 00:34:50 Joseph was awarded an amount of almost $350,000 plus interest for psychiatric injuries suffered as a result of the incident. But the story doesn't end there. Culligan Canada did not contest the judges finding that the fly in the bottle incident was a contributing cause of Joseph's resulting illness. Representatives for the company testified that although highly unusual, there was a possibility that a fly could enter a bottle in a clean facility before it's filled with water, or even during.
Starting point is 00:35:30 But the company was concerned that having to pay major financial compensation for a relatively minor lapse like this could set a dangerous precedent. The fear was that other customers might make similar, highly unusual claims to try for extraordinary compensation. Culligan Canada appealed to the Ontario Court of Appeal seeking to reduce the amount of damages awarded. Their appeal was successful and the trial decision was overturned on the basis that a reasonable person or company could not have anticipated that Joseph would react that way to a dead fly and therefore it didn't warrant compensation. Joseph appealed this decision and it ended up before the Supreme Court of Canada, who was tasked with answering the question. Was Culligan Canada's negligence too remote or unusual to warrant compensation? And was Joseph's psychiatric injury an outcome
Starting point is 00:36:39 that Culligan Canada could have reasonably anticipated? Hulligan Canada could have reasonably anticipated. To make decisions like this, the Supreme Court of Canada typically looks at other similar cases for precedent. But in this case, there were none at the time. So it referred to a famous case from the UK, the Wagon Mound case from 1961. The Wagon Mound was a ship that was refuelling another ship near a wharf when it negligently spilled oil into the water. No effort was made to clear that oil up and it quickly spread to the wharf where
Starting point is 00:37:18 welding happened to be taking place. Sparks from the welder ignited the oil and the resulting fire pretty much destroyed the wharf. The owner of the wharf tried to claim damages from negligence but the court established that only damage that could be reasonably anticipated by a reasonable man could be compensated. In other words the wagon-mount ship may have been negligent in spilling the oil, but couldn't have anticipated that such unusual or extreme events would have resulted from it. Therefore, the ship was not liable for damages.
Starting point is 00:38:00 The Supreme Court of Canada applied this logic to the case of Joseph, finding that while some people are more susceptible than others to serious psychiatric injuries, it's not reasonable to require third parties, like a company, to be aware of those possibilities. A person shouldn't be able to use unique personal susceptibilities as a means of claiming insurance. On the other hand, if a third party knows that a person is especially sensitive and could be more easily hurt, then any injuries that person suffers as a result of negligence might be seen as predictable or reasonably foreseeable. But Culligan Canada did not know about Joseph's greater sensitivities around cleanliness. The Supreme Court found that the psychiatric injury Joseph sustained was of a very unusual nature
Starting point is 00:39:01 and was not one that could be reasonably anticipated. Therefore, there should be no compensation paid by Culligan Canada to Joseph. The case was dismissed and Joseph was ordered to pay for Culligan Canada's lawyers for all the legal action he had initiated on top of his own legal costs. The case set a precedent that would go on to be cited in subsequent cases at trial. One case was about a car collision where one driver sued the other for psychiatric damages, including memory loss, anxiety and increased depression. The other driver's legal team used Joseph's case to argue that those damages were too remote or unusual to warrant
Starting point is 00:39:51 compensation. Another case was about two patients at a public hospital who were infected with tuberculosis and the hospital quickly took action to notify the more than 4,000 patients who may have come into contact with those two. Even though only two more tested positive for tuberculosis, 3,500 patients claimed damages for psychological injury. Again, two remote and unusual for compensation and no damages were awarded. After the Supreme Court of Canada ruling came down in Joseph's case, he told CBC News that he'd suffered public ridicule and scorn ever since the legal proceedings began and he was constantly
Starting point is 00:40:42 told that it was a frivolous case. But he pointed out that it wouldn't have ended up with Canada's top court if that were the case. He said quote, justice prevailed. This is the Supreme Court of Canada. In their view this is how it's supposed to be. In my view I don't think it should have been that way." His main issue was that he believed the ruling indicated that Canada's top court treated mental injury differently to physical injury. That said, he told the Windsor Star that although he had lost over $500,000 in legal costs, he had no regrets about it.
Starting point is 00:41:25 Money wasn't the issue. He pursued the case on principle. There's not much that's principled in this next story about a bizarre home invasion in British Columbia. It was 2015 and residents of a ranch in Little Fort about an hour north of Kamloops in British Columbia arrived home from a trip to a site they did not expect. There was a strange man sitting on their couch with a cup of coffee watching television in front of a roaring fireplace that had been
Starting point is 00:42:05 recently lit. The owners had no idea who he was or what he was doing in their home, and they didn't stick around to find out. They exited the ranch and flagged a passing police cruiser. Shortly after that, the homely intruder was arrested and charged with unlawfully being in a dwelling house. The owners went through their stuff and realised that nothing had been stolen. So if he wasn't there to rob them, what was he doing there? The local police didn't know it yet, but this incident was only the middle of a story that had actually begun a week or two earlier in Nova Scotia. The 33-year-old man who we'll call Michael had been working at a swimming pool company.
Starting point is 00:42:57 But by September, as fall quickly approached, he sensed he was about to be laid off. He needed another job and he needed it now. And evidently, he didn't think he was going to find one in Nova Scotia. Michael decided to drive all the way across the country to British Columbia to look for work. But he either didn't have a car of his own or he did have one, but didn't want to drive it. So he stole a pretty new model Ford Escape and started driving west.
Starting point is 00:43:32 By the time the owner reported to the RCMP in Nova Scotia that their car had been stolen, Michael was long gone, according to CBC News. He reportedly drove the stolen car more than 2000 kilometers west, ending up in the city of Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario. But then he had a problem. He had severely underestimated how large Canada was and how much money he would need for gas, food and supplies to make it from the East Coast to the West Coast. Sault Ste. Marie wasn't even half way.
Starting point is 00:44:11 He would have driven about 23 hours already, but he still had about 35 hours to go. The police were onto him and arrested him in Ontario, where he was charged with theft of a vehicle. Michael, who had no criminal record, was detained for a few days and then pleaded guilty. He was released with a fine of $400. Any other person might have learnt a lesson, but not Michael. He still felt British Columbia was the place to go. So he decided to just steal another car, this time a truck, for the next leg of his journey west. By the time he arrived in the area of Little Fort
Starting point is 00:44:58 north of Kamloops, he literally had no money left. That meant no shelter, no food and no gas. Michael would tell the court that as he was driving along, he noticed a ranch that he loved the look of and appeared to be unoccupied. So he made a snap decision to turn off the highway and into their driveway. After parking the stolen truck, he walked right in and made himself at home. He cooked a meal for himself and rummaged through the freezer, selecting a piece of meat to thaw on the bench. He did his laundry and helped himself to the owner's razor to shave himself. He also brushed his teeth using their toothbrushes. But it wasn't all bad.
Starting point is 00:45:46 He fed the owners two cats, put out some hay for their horses, and even wrote a diary entry in their guest book, which they found later. It read, Day one. Today was my first full day at the ranch. I fed the cats and horses. So much I can do here I have to remind myself to just relax and take my time. Today was my first full day at the ranch. I fed the cats and horses. So much I can do here I have to remind myself to just relax and take my time. I don't feel alone here.
Starting point is 00:46:12 I guess with two cats and three horses it's kinda hard to be alone. Last night I had a fire in the house. I was so peaceful. I slept like a little baby. I saw a picture in the basement on the wall of a man holding and weighing fish on a boat. After Michael's arrest, he was taken to jail yet again and charged with unlawfully being in a dwelling house. Shortly after that, the police found his body in a warehouse in the basement of a building. The police then found him in the basement of a building, and they found him in the basement of a building. The police then found Michael's body in the basement of a building, and they with unlawfully being in a dwelling house.
Starting point is 00:46:46 Shortly after that, the police found his stolen truck on the ranch, the second vehicle he'd stolen during his ill-fated cross-country adventure. He was also charged with possession of stolen property. At his first court appearance, Kamloops This Week reporter at the time, Tim Patrick, reported that Michael looked like a completely normal guy, quote, He seemed like a very normal person who was maybe a bit of a daydreamer, except of course for the fact that he was wearing a red jumpsuit. Michael apologized in court and acknowledged that he made a lot of mistakes that there were really no excuses for. But the 33-year-old was full of compliments about his brief stay at the ranch.
Starting point is 00:47:36 Quote, beautiful ranch, gorgeous, I was driving and I just turned in, beautiful place. It's unclear how the owners felt about this very positive feedback from their house intruder. The judge sentenced Michael to one year probation and barred him from contacting either the owners of the ranch at Little Fort or the owner of the truck he stole in Ontario. He also had to surrender a DNA sample to the National Criminal Database. He didn't have a criminal record when his adventure started, but he sure did now. When the judge asked him what his plans were after the proceeding, Michael said he had nowhere to go, but in an upbeat tone he added, The woods is a good place I suppose, there's a lot of fish out there.
Starting point is 00:48:30 That was the last mention of him in the news. Coming up next, another bunch of bizarre break-ins that are uniquely Canadian. This next story, which takes place in Nova Scotia in 2015, was given the name Double Double Trouble by the media. It all started when two employees of Tim Hortons, the well-known Canadian coffee and donut chain, were confronted by a strange sight when they arrived for work.
Starting point is 00:49:15 As they entered their workplace to open up at about 4 a.m., they stumbled upon a man standing behind the counter. He'd broken in, desperate for coffee. He'd already made himself a hot one and was working on an iced cappuccino. The employees called the police, but the man took his two coffees and had fled by the time they arrived to investigate,
Starting point is 00:49:40 leaving a small mess for the employees to clean up. A police spokesperson announced that they soon caught and arrested the 22-year-old man in the nearby parking lot of a local grocery store. He was later charged with break and enter and mischief. The spokesperson said the police believed alcohol may have been involved, adding that no money had been taken. The man was just looking for a drink. Quote, no employees or donuts were harmed during the break and enter.
Starting point is 00:50:17 Another Tim Hortons in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan was also the site of an argument over food in 2014. According to CBC News, two 20-year-old men demanded diced onions as a sandwich topping, but the employee told them the restaurant doesn't dice onions. The two men did not take this news well, and it devolved into an argument that culminated in one of the men pulling a live snake out of his pocket and throwing it behind the counter. One of the two men was recording it on video which was later published on Facebook. The incident appears to be less of a serious attack and more of a stupid
Starting point is 00:51:03 stunt to amuse two 20-year-old guys with brains that clearly hadn't properly developed yet. Mass screaming ensued as the employees ran from the store. The two men fled the store as well, leaving the poor snake slithering around on the floor behind the counter. The police caught up with the men nearby and charged them with mischief and causing a disturbance. The snake turned out to be a non-venomous garter snake, which was not harmed in the incident. The police announced that they had named the snake Outlaw
Starting point is 00:51:40 and the two men were not getting him back. Outlaw was reportedly released back into the wild. He is hoping he never saw the inside of a Tim Hortons again. Three years after that in early 2017, police in Belleville, Ontario were called after reports of another break and enter and theft from yet another Tim Hortons restaurant. It was just before the launch of their annual Roll Up the Rim to Win promotional event. The iconic Canadian coffee chain, which has actually been majority owned by a Brazilian private equity firm since 2014, stages the event each year to increase customer engagement and, of course, sales of coffee. Up until 2020, the Roll Up the Rim event centered around specially branded paper cups with a hidden
Starting point is 00:52:40 area that revealed the prize, from coffee and food items right up to large prizes like cash jackpots. After finishing their beverage, all customers had to do was carefully roll up the rim of their cup, the coated paper at the very top, to reveal a small piece of print underneath about whether they've won. If they had, they needed to hand over that cup rim to a store employee as proof to collect their prize.
Starting point is 00:53:11 But in 2017, a couple of Belleville teenagers decided to skip the whole purchase coffee part. They would cut out the middleman and go for the actual clean cups themselves. Over two nights, numerous boxes containing the special Roll Up the Rim cups were stolen, according to police. And as it turned out, it was an inside job. Police soon caught up with the two teenagers, one of whom was an employee of the restaurant, and charged them with break and enter and theft under $5,000. Three years later, Tim Horton stopped producing the specially branded cups altogether. After all, a customer handing over the rim of a cup they've just sipped from as evidence they've won a prize
Starting point is 00:54:05 is a potential hygiene issue that could result in the spread of common bacteria and viruses like colds, the flu, the latest coronavirus. Before the pandemic, ignorance really was bliss on that issue. And that's probably why Tim Hortons never brought those special cups back. But that didn't mean the end of the Roll Up the Rim event. It continued via the app, which according to customers was far more annoying and far less satisfying. One customer on reddit recalled the good old days when they got excited about Roll Up the Rim and made a point of buying a coffee each day to see if they'd won a prize.
Starting point is 00:54:50 But the app took all the fun out of it, they complained, and made it feel almost like doing a chore. The unimpressed customer recounted their latest adventure on the app. Quote, Well, I just finished spending 10 minutes rolling up 20 rims in my app. I don't even look at my rolls as I purchase things. They just build up until I remember to roll them. Some customers might not like the app as much, but at least now there's no cups for them
Starting point is 00:55:22 to steal. And let's face it, Timmy's employees must have been relieved that they no longer have to personally touch and handle those prize-winning rims. That said, the app hasn't been without its issues. Just a few weeks ago in 2024, a large number of customers reported they'd received a legitimate email from Tim Hortons telling them they'd won a $64,000 boat, one of the major prizes in this year's Roll Up the Rim event. Sudden excitement turned to severe disappointment as Tim Hortons apologised and told them the
Starting point is 00:56:02 email was a technical glitch. They hadn't won a prize after all. The Canadian press reported that a Montreal-based law firm had filed an application for a class action lawsuit, claiming that there were about 500,000 customers who'd received that email telling them they'd won a boat. The lawsuit reportedly seeks punitive damages of $10,000 cash for every one of those customers. Tim Horton said it believed the lawsuit has no merit. Thanks for listening to this collection of bizarre yet terrifying encounters.
Starting point is 00:56:49 If you liked this or any of our other episodes, we'd love for you to tell a friend, post on social media or leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. For the full list of resources we relied on to write this episode and anything else you want to know about the podcast, visit Canadian True Crime donates monthly to those facing injustice. This month we have donated to the Canadian Mental Health Association, who advocates and provides resources for the one in five people in Canada who have a mental illness. For more information visit
Starting point is 00:57:32 Audio editing was by Eric Crosby who also voiced the disclaimer. Our senior producer is Lindsay Aldridge and Carol Weinberg is our script consultant. Research, writing, narration and sound design was by me and the theme songs were composed by We Talk of Dreams. I'll be back soon with another Canadian true crime episode. See you then. You

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