Canadian True Crime - The Teslin Lake Incident—Part 1

Episode Date: April 15, 2024

Sheslay Free Mike terrorized the north for more than a decade. His real name was Michael Oros, and he's been remembered as a legend of the north, the other “mad trapper”, a folk hero… and a cold...-blooded killer. But there's much more to this story than meets the eye...This two-part series takes a look back at a well-known, historic case that was sensationalized through headlines, to show that behind it was a real, human story. Special thanks to Garry Rodgers, Bob Buday, and Ed Hill, and to Craig Baird of Canadian History EhX for voiceover of the Oros diaries.Release schedule:Part 2 will be released to all on Monday April 22. Listen ad-free and early on our premium feeds.Additional Content Warning:This series includes brief mentions of the death of an animal.Monthly Donation:Canadian True Crime has donated to the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of CrimeFull list of resources, information sources and credits:See the page for this series at Hosted on Acast. See for more information.

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Starting point is 00:00:00 What triggered this bizarre behavior? Journey into the cold heart of northern darkness with Nordic Crimes. That case became like a scene from a horror movie. A new true crime documentary series that chilled the bone. The hunger for killing is increasing in the course of these homicides. Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Nordic Crimes is a part of the A-Cast family. For fans of heart racing, bone chilling, and mind-bending stories,
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Starting point is 00:01:55 It's not for everyone. Please take care when listening. Hi everyone and welcome back to Canadian True Crime. I'm Kristy Lee. This is the first of a two-part mini-series about a case that's been requested many times over the years. His name was Michael Orris, but he was widely known as Chesley Free Mike, a notorious lone Bushman who arrived in the vast northern wilderness of British Columbia and terrorized the locals for more than a decade. Shasley Freemike has been referred to as the other mad trapper, a legend of the north,
Starting point is 00:02:32 a folk hero, a cold-blooded killer and quote, the closest thing a man can be to being an animal, and the closest thing an animal can be to being a man. This is a story about a dangerous big game hunt in search of a paranoid lone bushman armed with a rifle and intent to kill on his own turf. Today, we unravel an important series of events in Canadian history. Pieced together from the news archives of The White Horse Daily Star and the Vancouver Sun, Vernon Frolic's definitive book, Descent into Madness, Diary of a Killer, and most importantly, personal
Starting point is 00:03:12 interviews with some of the key people involved. Because as I've come to learn, Shesley Free Mike is only one part of the story, there's a whole other side to it that's often forgotten. This is also a tale of friendship, courage and dedication, of instincts and teamwork and perseverance, of trauma and mental health and, as many believe, some kind of other-worldly influence. An additional content warning.
Starting point is 00:03:44 This series includes two brief mentions of the death of an animal. Please take care when listening. I was driving along in a police car and then here is this wild looking creature standing on the side of the road. He was dressed in these bush clothes, ragged and he had a big green canvas backpack with him. And I'll never forget the look in his eyes. It was just like a crazed look. And as I got out, I approached him and said, hey, easy, buddy. I'm just a routine check. I want to know who you are, where you're going.
Starting point is 00:04:14 And then I went to go to the car to get the radio to call it in. And he said to me, I could kill you. Horace went berserk when he he was sitting in remand, it was smashing everything inside the cells. So they called Mike, Mike Buday, who was the only member in that detachment that would have been powerful enough to take on Horace. Mike had phoned me Sunday night,
Starting point is 00:04:37 and he was explaining to me that they did have this crazy guy. That's all he said. he was actually a humble person. He didn't tell us that it was actually quite a struggle. And I know that when he went berserk, Mike went in by himself. Then all of a sudden Mike had him in his chokehold. And he looked at Mike after when he woke up, and he said, I'm gonna kill you someday.
Starting point is 00:05:05 All the members that were there were prepared to be in a firefight. But we did everything that we could to try to minimize our vulnerability. I said, Mike, I haven't seen him in maybe 10 minutes. Watch your flank. He might be coming for us. He said, yep, got her under control, which I fully assumed Mike did. I never worked with anybody that was as capable as Mike. And he came to a position where he could see both of us.
Starting point is 00:05:32 And then he stopped and he took his rifle. And at this point, I can't explain it with her. Since something was going wrong, I saw Oris' face and it was like this glowing orange light. So I yelled, booties right behind you. And with that was just bang. And then it's hard to describe this, the feeling of what happened to me. It was like I detached from my body
Starting point is 00:06:01 and I was sitting on the branch of the tree above me, watching everything that's going on and I just instantly reacted. So I started dialing, you know, your heart just goes right up into your throat and then when I finally got through I actually had the operator cut in on me and I said, what? I was just in total shock, the most shocked I ever was in my life. I know that there's something happened that day that can't be explained. I'll never forget it. Like, it was certainly the biggest event that happened to me in my service, probably in my life.
Starting point is 00:06:58 A pilot in British Columbia has been charted by a former client who wants to be dropped off in a remote wilderness area and then picked up again a little over a month later. The area is known as the Stakeen region, a massive unincorporated wilderness area covering more than 116,000 square kilometres in north-western British Columbia bordering the Yukon. Known for its rugged landscape of lakes, mountains, swamps, dense bush and deep river canyons, the Stakeen region is also full of natural hazards, from harsh and extreme weather conditions to bears, cougars, wolves and other hungry carnivores of the large and medium variety. Today, the client to be dropped into that area is Gunter Lishi, a German man in his mid-50s standing at 6 foot 2.
Starting point is 00:07:51 He wants to build himself a cabin just south of Teslin Lake, a long and relatively narrow lake that spans the border between British Columbia and the Yukon. The story of how Gunter Lishi came to be in Canada is one that his own family wasn't even aware of. He was reportedly born into a prominent and wealthy German family, and at 16 years of age, he was sent to fight for the Nazis in World War II. He was captured by Russia and confined
Starting point is 00:08:24 to a Siberian prison camp for two years. When the war ended and Gunter Lishi found himself lucky enough to be released, he realised he had completely changed. He now held a deep resentment for society. He especially resented the powers responsible for sending boys and young men like him to fight wars both bloody and senseless. Wars that only seemed to benefit a small group of elites who clearly consider the masses expendable in their quest for more power and money. Gunter Lishi resented it so much that he started feeling a desire to be left alone. He didn't even tell his family he was leaving. They thought he'd just disappeared and later came to presume that he was dead. Gunter arrived in Canada in 1953,
Starting point is 00:09:13 determined to live an independent life in the Northern part of the United States. He was a very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very presume that he was dead. Gunter arrived in Canada in 1953, determined to live an independent life in the northern wilderness, off the grid, on his own terms. And by that metric, he would be a great success. His experiences as both a fighter and prisoner had made him tough and determined. and prisoner had made him tough and determined.
Starting point is 00:09:55 It's now 1981 and Gunter Lishi has been living in Northern British Columbia for almost 30 years. He has mastered the terrain and all the known pitfalls. He's able to hunt and trap food with great efficiency and build shelter for himself in the blink of an eye. Although he's made some friends along the way, particularly in the town of Atlan in Northern British Columbia, he mostly sticks to himself. He's pretty well respected and revered as a bush-wise loner and expert woodsman. Some people think he might be dangerous. This summer of 1981, Gunter has chosen a spot close to the small Hatzagola Lake to build a winter cabin. He's already purchased building materials, prefabricated windows, other supplies and of course enough food to last him for
Starting point is 00:10:45 about six weeks, which is how long he estimates it will take him to finish the cabin. Because the area is so remote, he's chartered a plane to carry in all his materials and supplies and a return flight to pick him up exactly 41 days later. There are no phones and no way to communicate, but this isn't the first time pilot Dave Weeby has flown Gunta Lishi as a passenger and dropped him off in some remote location. He knows that the German is a man of his word. When he says he's going to be there, he's there. So on the agreed date of September 10, 1981, Dave flies back to the site to pick up Gunter. The pilot expects to find him in the open looking out for the plane, but he's nowhere to be found. Dave is surprised and concerned.
Starting point is 00:11:46 He glances around and spies a new half-built cabin close by, with windows and other building materials lying around. He can see there's a decent amount of food stores there. This is a worry. Gunter is a seasoned, independent bushman, known to work fast and smart, and he should have finished that cabin by now. There shouldn't be much food left, if any. Suddenly, Dave sees a man approaching, but it's not Gunta.
Starting point is 00:12:17 It's a much younger man with a sandy-coloured ponytail and a scraggly beard. He seems to be dressed in rags. There is only one person this can be, the infamous Bushman known as Shesley Free Mike. This Bushman has garnered a reputation for being a reclusive, anti-social loner who roams the bush, hunting and trapping illegally and raiding other people's cabins and camps. He's not very well liked. Pilot Dave asks him if he's seen Gunther Lishi and provides a description of the lanky bearded German man. The man he assumes is Chesley Free Mike says he hasn't seen Lishi and doesn't even know him. Dave Weeby doesn't want to stick around and find out what this infamous Bushman might be capable of, so he gets back in his plane and takes off again.
Starting point is 00:13:14 He heads straight to his local RCMP detachment, telling them that his usually reliable client was not there as planned, and instead he saw Chesley Free Mike, who had given him some cock and ball story. The RCMP are well aware of the man. His real name is Michael Oros. He's about 30 years old, and just a year earlier a warrant had been issued for his arrest on suspicion of stealing a forestry boat and setting it loose. But to arrest him, they had to find him and they were still looking.
Starting point is 00:13:53 The fact that he has now been spotted in the same area that another man has disappeared from is enough for the RCMP to intensify their search. They fly with pilot Dave back to the same remote location he dropped Gunteroff, near Hatzagola Lake at the south end of the larger Teslan Lake. But looking for Michael Oros is a dangerous operation because he's known to shoot at anything, including any planes flying overhead.
Starting point is 00:14:26 So the RCMP officers are heavily armed themselves. Oros is nowhere to be found. Gunter's half-built cabin is still there, but that's pretty much all now. The building materials, including the windows, are gone. All the leftover food is gone, and there is not a human to be seen. But they spy three small photographs taped to the wood. Pilot Dave Weeby recognises the men in two of the photographs
Starting point is 00:14:58 as Gunter's friends back in Atlin. The third appears to be a photo of Michael Oros, aka Shazlae Free Mike. Apparently they did know each other. With Gunter Lishi now a missing person and Michael Oros already a wanted person, the RCMP prioritised searching for both men in the area. Another pilot familiar with Oros tells investigators the 30-year-old is likely to still be in the same area, but he's able to easily disappear thanks
Starting point is 00:15:33 to his superb bush techniques. That part of the bush is his home. No one knows it the way that he does. RCMP investigators return to the area with trained search dogs to conduct an intensive one-week search. There is still no sign of Michael Oros, but they come across another, older cabin
Starting point is 00:15:58 that appears to have been his home base. And it's just 100 meters away from the half-built cabin of Gunta Lishi. As they search this cabin, the investigators wonder why would two Bushmen who were known to be reclusive loners want to live so close together? That would be a question for another time. They seize tools, supplies and a sleeping bag from the cabin and look for anything that can provide them information about Oros or perhaps clues as to where he might have gone. And then they strike gold. In an area near the cabin, they uncover a hiding spot with a series of handwritten journals authored by Michael Aros.
Starting point is 00:16:45 They gather all the journals to take back for examination. At first glance, they appear to consist of the ramblings of a deeply paranoid man. But the search for the man himself has proved fruitless. This time. Getting sick of running the gauntlet with mobile plans? Confusing prices, sneaky contracts that lock you in and surprise price hikes are par for the course now, but with Fizz we don't have to put up with that anymore. See Fizz does things differently.
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Starting point is 00:19:20 necessary. When winter comes it's just as easy to disassemble and it stores well in tight spaces. You can also complement your outdoor sofa with a maestro end or coffee table. Exciting news if you're in Toronto or plan to visit, Cozy now has a flagship store on Queen Street West where you can see all their products, try out their comfy sofas for yourself and see how easy it is to reconfigure them to suit you. Transform your living space today with Cozy. Visit, spelled C-O-Z-E-Y, to start customizing your furniture right now. The man known as Shesley Free Mike was born Michael Eugene Orris in the United States.
Starting point is 00:20:13 His mother, Margaret Orris, was a highly educated woman with degrees in geology and chemistry from the University of North Dakota. Her obituary would describe her as the first woman geologist in the state. Before she got pregnant, she was working at an aluminum company in California as a chemical engineer. It's not known what brought her to Portland, Oregon after that, but that's where she gave birth to her only child Michael in 1951.
Starting point is 00:20:46 Margaret was 39 years old at the time and Michael's unnamed father was soon out of the picture. Her obituary would report that she was an avid ham radio operator and enjoyed traveling the world. Her distinguished career also required her to travel for new jobs. She moved with Michael to North Dakota, then to Illinois, then to the city of Lawrence, where she worked for the Kansas Geological Survey at the University of Kansas,
Starting point is 00:21:19 assessing and writing reports about the state's geologic resources. By the time she retired, assessing and writing reports about the state's geologic resources. By the time she retired, she would be the head of the Oil and Gas Division. Lawrence is also where Michael did the bulk of his schooling, where he would be described as a shy, quiet boy. The Vancouver Sun would later quote a custodian from that school who had a vivid memory of him being picked on by other kids. But his reaction was not to fight back, but to retreat by himself. The custodian said
Starting point is 00:21:54 she had a vivid memory of him being, such a sad little fellow, so lonely like when people spoke to him, it was just hard for him to talk. A neighbour who lived next to Michael and his mother in Lawrence would describe him as a bit of a loner as a boy. He never seemed to be doing things with other children. Then, when he was in high school, he just disappeared. Michael had been a fairly decent student who reportedly planned to go to law school, but it all changed when he was about 15 years old. It was by this point the mid-1960s, a pivotal period in US history when the Vietnam War was dragging on and Americans were growing wary and resentful. Moral and economic opposition to America's involvement in the war was growing significantly, as citizens watched extensive,
Starting point is 00:22:51 uncensored media coverage on TV, showing shocking carnage and devastation. And then came the protests, which started with peaceful anti-war demonstrations. Before long, violent protests were erupting, particularly at college campuses across the country, as a growing number of students opposed the military draft. The average American being sent to fight in Vietnam was just 19 years old, and the majority were from marginalised, low income or minority communities. There seemed to be no way for America to win the war, no end in sight and the government
Starting point is 00:23:33 just didn't seem to care. As a 15 year old, Michael Orris was deeply affected by these violent student protests and started to develop anti-authoritarian and anti-government views. At home, his mother Margaret reportedly grew increasingly concerned when his decent grades started slipping to the point where he barely completed grade 10.
Starting point is 00:24:00 It had become clear that Michael was struggling with his mental health and things seemed to be getting worse. Two things happened during this time that seemed to have had an impact on him. He was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric ward of a hospital after having suffered from some kind of attack, according to the 1993 book, Descent into Madness, The Diary of a Killer by Vernon Frolich. The psychiatrist didn't diagnose him with anything,
Starting point is 00:24:33 but noted he was suffering from paranoid delusions and believed that people were poisoning him. He also had a really deep hatred for his father for abandoning him. He also had a really deep hatred for his father for abandoning him. At some point he was released and sent to a guest ranch where he was to work with horses. His mother Margaret told a neighbour she sent him to live with relatives in Wyoming. It all sounds rather pleasant in reports from the day and his single mother probably thought she was doing the best for her son.
Starting point is 00:25:06 In hindsight, it's likely that Michael was sent to one of those residential wilderness-type facilities for troubled teens, where their freedom is taken away, they're subjected to abuse of treatment, and forced to perform heavy manual labour all day. heavy manual labour all day. It appears that Michael Oros was getting sick and tired of losing his independence and being sent against his will to places that tried to control him. The Vancouver Sun passively reported that Michael lost touch with his mother after that. According to US news archives, Margaret remained in Lawrence in the same high-profile job where she was often quoted as the author of reports about the state of oil and gas in Kansas. Neighbours would say that she never spoke about Michael again, and she never spoke about his father. Michael's exact whereabouts after his stint at the ranch is unclear but at some point it appears he developed an addiction to using heroin and ended up in a commune in New Mexico. The White Horse Daily Style would report that there's just
Starting point is 00:26:21 one court record that shows 19-year-old Michael received a suspended sentence for possession of a narcotic. Over the next two years, things reportedly came to a head, and Michael decided to head to the Great White North to escape his addiction, the possibility of being drafted and sent to fight in Vietnam and to escape society at large. He wanted to find his utopia, a place he could finally live independently and be at peace. Michael Oros set his sights on Alaska,
Starting point is 00:26:58 arriving sometime in 1971. He wasn't a complete loner at first. For the first few years he hung around with like-minded people like hippies, people who hated the war and shunned conventional society. He practiced meditation and read books about psychology and getting to a place of zen, according to the book, Descent into Madness. He made a few friends and had at least one intimate relationship, but things inevitably broke down at the first sign of conflict. Michael Oros wasn't very good at dealing with relationship issues
Starting point is 00:27:38 and had extremely high expectations of people. When those expectations weren't met, he would decide the people involved had disappointed him or worse, abandoned him like his father and he would just take off to the next place. After a few years and quite a few conflicts, he decided to purchase his first gun. By that point he had ventured across the border into Canada. It had become a key location for American men who didn't support the Vietnam War and didn't want to be forced to go and fight there. Although Canada publicly supported whatever the US
Starting point is 00:28:18 was doing, including the Vietnam War, Canadian immigration policy was not strict, and American draft dodgers were able to come over and obtain legal status as immigrants. Many of them chose to stay in Canada after the war ended. Michael Oros told immigration officials he hoped to find work as a farm labourer. Whether or not that was true is unknown, but he was definitely set on finding a new way to live. And this time he would do it by himself. He got the stamp of approval.
Starting point is 00:28:56 He was able to live in Canada for the rest of his life if he wanted to. And that's exactly what he was going to do. Now about 22 years old, Michael Orris ended up east of the Alaskan Panhandle in the Stikine region, that vast wilderness area where north-west British Columbia borders the Yukon. It's the traditional territory of several Indigenous First Nations, including the Taku, Inland Tlingit and the Tultan Nation. Trappers and outfitters were known to enter the area to hunt, like Gunta Lishi. He and Oros did cross paths briefly during these years
Starting point is 00:29:46 and Lishi snapped that photo before Oros could turn away, but the area was virtually uninhabited by anyone else. It certainly wasn't a place to raise a family or retire to. This made it perfect for a person like Michael Oros, who wanted to escape from society and live off the land. After that, he roamed with no place of residence, finding shelter in cabins and camps he came across along the way. For a time, he found a place he really liked
Starting point is 00:30:22 in an abandoned cabin on the shores of the Chesley River. He carved the name Chesley Free Mike into the wood. Perhaps he thought no one would ever find him or know of him by this name, but the way he behaved was not exactly subtle and would turn him into an infamous character. The White Horse Daily Star would report that Oros believed he had marked his territory and that all of the land in this area was his, which included anything he found on it.
Starting point is 00:30:55 So when he came across another trapper's cabins or camps, he considered their food and supplies fair game for him to take. People who worked in the area, thinking they were alone, would suddenly look up and he would be there. And then he was gone. He came to know the bush so well that he was impossible to track. His only constant companions were several dogs
Starting point is 00:31:22 he kept to help him carry his belongings and for extra protection, according to a local pilot who told the White Horse Daily Star that he took pity on the lone bushman and sometimes offered him free rides in the area. Quote, The dogs were his family. If anyone wanted to do anything to him, he didn't do a very good job. Cabin owners would return to not only find their supplies gone, but notes left on the floor with poems and short stories detailing an evil world ruled by a corrupt government,
Starting point is 00:31:58 with Oros writing himself in as the hero of the story, swooping in to save the girls. Sometimes people would spot a Greek cross carved into a tree, or other symbols like the Nazi swastika. Other times they would find a sign, like the one that read, I am a free man, leave me be, which he ironically wrote as he was invading someone else's camp. He felt entitled. From a later report in the White Horse Daily Star, quote, he did not participate in society. He opted for raiding it when he needed to and otherwise shunning it.
Starting point is 00:32:47 When Oros was desperate for food and supplies he was sometimes seen in local towns, including Teslan in the Yukon and Atlan in British Columbia. And just like when he was a boy, the locals found him quiet and reserved, reluctant to make conversation with anyone. What he would talk about was his strange views on the world and his feeling that everyone was out to destroy it and him. Michael Oros had forced almost total isolation on himself, something that he clearly thought he wanted but didn't really need as it turned out. Without anyone to talk to about the paranoid thoughts that entered his mind, they started to consume him.
Starting point is 00:33:35 Over time, his already fragile mental state deteriorated. When he saw locals, he told them that big companies were trying to kill people by putting poisons in food and chemicals in the water. He told others that government agents were flying over the wilderness spraying drugs that were castrating him. That's why he threatened to shoot down any planes that he saw. Perhaps if Oros left his writing to his private diary only,
Starting point is 00:34:07 local townsfolk might not have figured out that this anti-social newcomer with the strange views was the very same man raiding their private spaces and stealing their food and supplies. But because of the notes and signs he left behind, locals in the small community of Telegraph Creek soon put two and two together and they quote, ran him out. Oros was not happy to say goodbye to the cabin on the Shesley River that he considered his
Starting point is 00:34:38 home base for a time. But he just moved on to the Dees Lake area, where he continued to forage for food, steal food, raid local supplies and set illegal traps for wild meat and furs. He intentionally lived a free-range nomadic life, refusing to adhere to local hunting and trapping laws. When he upset more people, he moved on again. Described as a superb bushman, he was known to travel on foot for up to 80 kilometres a day. Soon, Michael Oros had a reputation as both a local legend and a local boogeyman of sorts.
Starting point is 00:35:20 Some people called him Crazy Mike. No one knew where he lived or where he came from, but thanks to his calling cards of handwritten notes and carved signs, they always knew when he visited them. In 1980, eight years after Oros arrived in Canada, he was suspected of stealing that forestry boat and setting it loose. An RCMP officer had found a handwritten note in connection to the boat that suggested the man known as Chesley Free Mike was responsible for this crime and a warrant was issued for his arrest. But because he was just a roaming bushman with no fixed abode, they couldn't find him to arrest him.
Starting point is 00:36:09 The search obviously intensified after the pilot returned to pick up Gunter Lishi and found Michael Oros there instead. But just as quickly as he was seen, he was gone. The RCMP had returned for that intensive search where they located the abandoned cabin he'd been living in and all of his diaries. Oros wrote meticulous journals chronicling years of his life. He recorded the temperature most days
Starting point is 00:36:41 and bits and pieces about what he was doing and where he was going. But a large chunk of them were escalating rambles about conspiracy theories and how he'd endured years of a quote torture drugging campaign against him. He believed that planes had been spraying chemicals on the wilderness to cause kidney failure and kill him. I need to wash more of the torture drugs out of me. I feel very sick and uptight and irritable. That's the voice of Craig Baird, who you might recognize from the popular podcast Canadian History EHX.
Starting point is 00:37:18 He's reading the excerpts from the diaries of Michael Oros. Yesterday I started to feel better, but there's a lot of torture drugs all over this cabin, diaries of Michael Oros. He blamed it all on a group consisting of the government, military and the police, which he called the straights or sneak-arounds. He wrote of shootouts that happened in the darkness of night and a belief that elite paratrooper teams were being dropped into the forest to hunt him and kill him. He believed they were after him because they didn't like his ideals or the length of his hair. It is all a question of values. Rat in a cage doing things drugs make me do. He also detailed his strange health problems which included feeling strange sensations and unbearable pains, blurred vision, aching joints, weak muscles and problems with his memory. He also
Starting point is 00:38:26 wrote about hearing voices. In another diary entry he declared that the police and military in Canada are under the control of the Nazis from World War II, who apparently aim to have people imprisoned in cities. They are dangerous. They don't know the meaning of the balance of life and will destroy everything people imprisoned in cities. same thing happens with other diseases, now too, that are hot sellers. He compared himself to the victims of Charles Manson and his followers, referencing the 1969 massacre that resulted in the murder of Sharon Tate, the wife of director Roman Polanski and her four friends. What these bastards have done to me is the same as Charles Manson and company did to the Roman Polanski outfit.
Starting point is 00:39:26 Bastards say we're not supposed to live with material possessions and should not be allowed to prosper at all unless we suck to his Jesus each day. So they destroyed my life. In another entry he described himself as a hippie who had his rights to live, reproduce and prosper stolen by the straights. Therefore, the hippie must live by the other set of rights denied the straights by their laws, the right to rob, kill, or roam the earth regardless of borders, in order to survive. I have had to steal my food or shoot it or catch it in some way, and find or steal everything
Starting point is 00:40:02 else I need for life. What am I supposed to do? Lay down and die?" After the RCMP found those diaries, the search for Michael Oros and Gunta Lishi continued on and off over the next few months. But it was such a vast area of dense bushland and natural hazards, it must have felt like searching for a needle in a haystack. But suddenly they receive a tip that Michael Oros, aka Shesley Free Mike, had returned to the same area. It was by this point March of 1982, about eight months after Pilot Dave reported that Gunta Lishi was missing.
Starting point is 00:40:48 A squad of armed officers flew by helicopter directly to the south end of Lake Teslan, near the smaller Hatsagola Lake. They knew Oros was already violent and unpredictable, probably more so now that he had returned to his cabin to find it raided and ransacked and his private diaries missing. But the RCMP had a plan. According to the book Descent into Madness, two of the squad members were dressed in plain clothes, instructed to loudly play the role of geologists there to survey the area. The helicopter landed on the frozen lake and the two undercover officers advanced on the cabin area, wearing snowshoes so they weren't bogged down in the very thick blanket of snow. A hidden sharpshooter was positioned to back them up if needed.
Starting point is 00:41:43 They talked to each other at a high volume, making conversation about daily life and things they imagined geologists might talk about, just in case Oros was hiding in the bushes listening to them. They knew he was paranoid and suspicious and wanted him to feel disarmed. He wasn't in the bush. From afar, they saw the cabin door suddenly open
Starting point is 00:42:09 and Michael Oros appeared. They couldn't see any sign of a gun and he just stood there, peering out. The officers turned geologists yelled out a friendly hello to him. Oros walked towards the snow and took a few steps into it without snowshoes on as though he was confused and coming closer to check these newcomers out.
Starting point is 00:42:33 The officers visually confirmed that he was not armed and continued making their way towards him. That was the plan, to disarm him long enough to close the distance between them and safely arrest him. Suddenly a couple of dogs ran out of the cabin into the snow, barking furiously, presenting quite a threat. But then, they inexplicably took off in another direction. The undercover officers yelled out to Oros that they just needed to speak with him for a minute and then they'll be on their way. They had wide smiles on their faces. There was a tense standoff for a few seconds as Oros assessed the situation. They were close enough to see his look
Starting point is 00:43:22 of confusion start to contort as a sudden flash of red hot anger hit him. The jig was up, but the RCMP had the advantage because Oros was unarmed in deep snow with no snowshoes on and his dogs weren't around. on and his dogs weren't around. He must have realized it too because he turned and started wading through the snow again back towards the cabin. Because the squad members had snowshoes on they were able to advance on him tackling him to the ground just outside the cabin door. After a short jostle, Michael Oros was handcuffed and arrested. Finally. The squad looked around his cabin again for new items of interest or anything that looked like it might belong to Gunter Lishi.
Starting point is 00:44:16 Again, they struck gold. They found building logs there that were confirmed to be identical to the ones that Gunter brought to build his cabin nearby. There was also a 44-calibre magnum firearm determined to belong to the German, as well as some of his camera gear, his down sleeping bag and his rucksack. By the end of the day, multiple radio stations were reporting the news. The infamous Shesley Free Mike finally being in custody was a relief to many locals in northern British Columbia and the Yukon. Michael Oros was flown to the town of Atlan, where he was charged with theft of the forestry boat and motor,
Starting point is 00:45:03 as well as possession of goods believed to have belonged to Gunter Lishi. An RCMP officer there would describe him as a pretty volatile guy who treated the world with a suspicious eye. To say he didn't look clean or smell very good was an understatement. Personal hygiene was clearly not a priority to Michael Oros. An investigator tried different approaches to see if they could get any information out of him about Gunta Lishi, but he either talked around it or said he wasn't talking without speaking to a lawyer.
Starting point is 00:45:39 But when they offered to call a lawyer, he said he didn't want to yet. The only comments he made were in relation to his conspiracy theories about the authorities banding together to get him. Oros was flown to the larger RCMP detachment in Terrace, British Columbia, where an undercover officer posing as a hardened criminal was sent into his cell. The goal was to engage Oros in criminal conversation and get him to open up about Lishi.
Starting point is 00:46:11 It was all but futile, except for one point during the conversation. Oros absentmindedly mentioned some inflatable raft seats floating on the lake in August that belonged to Lishi. The undercover officer thought they finally had him. August was the month after Lishi was flown to the area to build his cabin and before the plane returned to pick him up. And Oris had told that pilot that he didn't know Lishi and hadn't seen him. Clearly, that was a lie.
Starting point is 00:46:47 The undercover officer asked another follow-up question but as quickly as Oris let out that information he clammed up and stopped talking. Michael Oros appeared in court for a brief hearing where the judge ordered him to remain in custody for 30 days on suspicion that he was suffering from a major psychotic illness. During that time, he was ordered to be sent to Vancouver for a complete psychiatric assessment to determine if he was fit to stand trial. Oros was clearly devastated and angered by this news. At the conclusion of the hearing,
Starting point is 00:47:26 he asked the judge what happened to his dogs, but he got no answer at the time. He would find out later that the RCMP had destroyed them. The dogs weren't domesticated at all, and a conservation officer had advised them that legally, dogs running at large in the bush had to be killed. They were just too much of a risk to people and wildlife. Although Oros didn't yet know that his beloved animals had already been destroyed, his hatred
Starting point is 00:47:57 of the establishment, including the police, was already intensifying exponentially since his arrest. That evening when a guard was doing the rounds, Oro spat in his face and screamed obscenities about the police at him. And from that point on, he was described as acting like a wild animal with uncontrollable mood swings, lunging at the bars of his cell, screaming a series of curse words. He refused to eat the food they gave him, claiming it was drugged. At one point, according to the book
Starting point is 00:48:35 Descent into Madness by Vernon Frolic, he flew into a rage and completely destroyed his cell, smashing the porcelain sink and toilet. He picked up a large sharp piece and threatened to guard with it, screaming come on piggies I'm waiting for you come and get me. Michael Oris was considered so wild and unpredictable that RCMP members on duty that day were reluctant to deal with him. There was only one man they thought would be up for the job,
Starting point is 00:49:09 Constable Mike Boudaille. At just 25 years old, Constable Mike Boudaille had only been a member of the RCMP for about five years, but he already had a reputation for impressive physical and mental strength. After Michael Oros destroyed his jail cell at the terrorist detachment and threatened a guard that day, Constable Boudai was the only one considered fearless enough to deal with him. In fact, Mike Boudai had been fearless from a young age. He was a very dedicated person.
Starting point is 00:50:03 That's Bob Boudai, a retired teacher and one of Constable Mike Boudai's older brothers. Bob tells me that he was eventually inspired to take up weightlifting after seeing Mike take up the sport in grade seven. He got into weightlifting that soon, but what got me was the discipline and the effort that he put into it. And like he was going sometimes seven days a week. He just kept going on.
Starting point is 00:50:32 If we were having a fancy meal, he would go downstairs and work out and then come up and kind of munch at the leftovers. Mike Boudai had set his sights on joining the Royal Canadian Mounted Police after hearing a member give a career day talk in high school. He joined the organisation after he graduated and it didn't take long for him to earn the
Starting point is 00:50:56 respect of his colleagues. They called him Boud. I don't remember him ever losing his temper. I think he was pretty cool and calm and that really helped him in the police force. booed. and then treated you as a person. I know other members looked up to him there and they said that anyone who wanted backup, they would call Mike. Constable Boudai was known to be great at diffusing high tension situations.
Starting point is 00:51:36 He was the only one with the strength, quiet confidence and calm communication skills to settle down a man like Michael Oros. The problem was, he wasn't actually on shift at the time. He was at a nearby pub with another young constable having a drink. But that didn't matter, he promised to be there as soon as he could to see if he could turn things around. But there was no talking Shesley Freemike down. Constable Budai decided the only option was to go in there himself and restrain Oros physically. He was prepared to be attacked as soon as he entered the cell.
Starting point is 00:52:18 And that's exactly what happened. He could phone me Sunday night, we'd talk to each other probably once a week and he what happened. in the Legion at the time that they came and got him because they were actually thinking of tranquilizing this guy, Oris, but instead one of the guys said, boo, Booth can take this guy. And so they brought him to the station and the rest is history. After he entered the cell and Oris attacked him, the two wrestled for a while until Mike was able to incapacitate the wild bushman so he couldn't hurt himself or anyone else.
Starting point is 00:53:09 They had to put two straight jackets on the fella and he looked at Mike after when he woke up, came to, and he said, I'm going to kill you someday. I think a lot of police get threatened. So that wasn't anything not normal. The RCMP members at the detachment that day praised Constable Boudai, calling him a, quote, fucking machine. They asked him to stick around to give them all the details of what happened in that cell, but he dismissed any hero talk.
Starting point is 00:53:52 Michael Oros was flown to Vancouver for his psychiatric assessment, where he was found to be suffering from paranoid delusions. The psychiatrist provided a tentative diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, saying, quote, I felt that this man could, if provoked, be dangerous. But the psychiatrist determined that Oros was not certifiably crazy and declared him fit to stand trial. Some of the charges were dropped before the trial arrived. and was arrested for a crime of him and didn't know him. In addition, one of the German Bushmen's friends had told the RCMP that he would never go anywhere without these items. But factually speaking, because Lishi was still a missing person, the subject of an open investigation, they couldn't confirm how how Oros had come to be in possession of his items.
Starting point is 00:55:05 In August of 1982, Michael Oros pleaded not guilty to the other charges, which included theft of a forestry boat. But a BC Provincial Court judge acquitted him, citing a lack of evidence. With that, Michael Oros was released from prison. The growing collection of RCMP members following the case were devastated by this decision. Obviously all their hard work investigating the case and catching and arresting him had been in vain. But more importantly, a man who was known to be antisocial, delusional and violent had been set free, and soon he would likely get back to wreaking havoc
Starting point is 00:55:55 on the locals again. As you'll remember, Constable Mike Boudai had been at the pub with a colleague when he was called to take care of the Michael Oros going berserk situation. That colleague was Constable Gary Rogers. After finishing his RCMP training in Regina, Saskatchewan, Gary had been posted to Vancouver Island, then north to Balabala and then on on to terrorist detachment, where he met Constable Mike Boudaille. At the time, Gary was 26 years old, about a year older than Mike, and the two constables were just getting to know each other.
Starting point is 00:56:38 What they did know was that they had a lot in common. Well, we were already, you know, somewhat friends. We just had similar interests, similar sense of humour and similar backgrounds. He grew up in a farm in Alberta. I grew up on a ranch in Manitoba. Both of us were just grade 12 white boys, you know. Gary Rogers has long since retired from the RCMP,
Starting point is 00:57:00 but he played a pivotal role in this story as you'll find out. That day he was enjoying some time off work himself and he had no idea why Mike was pulled away from the pub. It was just police business and he didn't find out what happened in the cell that day until later. In fact, Gary didn't even know who Michael Oris was and had never heard of Gunta Lishi. So obviously, he also had no idea that Oris was still hanging around Terrace in the days after he was acquitted and released.
Starting point is 00:57:37 I was in the patrol division to enter general duty and I was driving along in a police car and saw Oris standing on the side of the road. And here is this wild looking creature. I'd never heard of him before. He was dressed in these bush clothes, ragged, and he had a big green canvas backpack with him. And I did what my due diligence said for any police officer, said, who is this guy? I had no grounds to arrest him or anything. I just want to know who he was. And so I pulled over and I'll never forget the look in his eyes. It was just like a crazed look. And as I got out, I approached him and said, hey,
Starting point is 00:58:10 you know, easy buddy. I'm just a routine check. I want to know who you are, where you're going. And he kept the backpack between me and him sort of in a defense and he had his hands down towards it. And I said, hey, just a second here, keep those hands up where I can see them. And I said, have you got any ID on you? Because this is not a normal situation here. So he did, he gave me his name and his birthday and I wrote it down in my notebook. And then I went to go to the car to get the radio to call it in. And he said to me, I could kill you. And I said, okay, don't start that because I could kill you too. And I slapped my hand in my handgun, which was in my holster. And I said, that's as far as that's going to go. So he just kept staring at me and I told him, keep your hands up where I can see them.
Starting point is 00:58:53 Surprisingly, the wild looking creature cooperated and Gary radioed it in, not knowing the significance of what and who he was dealing with. And I said, just stay there, just keep him there, don't do anything, we'll be right there. And so the next thing two or three other police cars came to back me up, because I didn't know what I was getting into. There was no warrants, so we just let him go. And for two plus years after that, he was never seen. Oros reportedly travelled to New Brunswick on the East Coast for unknown reasons, but soon returned to his life in the bush in North West British Columbia.
Starting point is 00:59:32 But now he was even more angry, more anti-social. He had a real hatred for the police. His reputation as Shesley Free Mike was cemented and he was considered a local phenomena who inspired much talk around the proverbial water cooler. Where could he be? What might he be capable of? Suspicions that he was somehow behind the disappearance of Gunter Lishi intensified. He was both feared as a kind of madman, but also revered for his ability to disappear into the bush and live off the land undetected. And that's exactly what he had done.
Starting point is 01:00:18 The next few years went by with few sightings of Chesley Free Mike. There were still reports of break-ins and stolen goods in both Northwestern British Columbia and across the border in the Yukon, but it appeared he was keeping a much lower profile than he had been before. There had been no more official brushes with the law,
Starting point is 01:00:41 but all that was about to change. That's where we'll leave it for part one. Part two will be available to all in a week. And for those subscribed to one of our premium feeds, look out for early ad-free release on Amazon Music included with Prime, Apple Podcasts, Patreon and Supercast. Thanks for listening and special thanks to Gary Rogers, former RCMP Constable now retired, and to Bob Boudaille, the brother of Constable Mike Boudaille. Thanks also to Craig Baird from the Canadian History EHX podcast, who read the excerpts from Michael Orris' diaries. Visit for the full list of resources we've relied upon to write this series.
Starting point is 01:01:36 Canadian True Crime donates monthly to those facing injustice. This month we have donated to the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime, who offer support, research and education to survivors, victims and their families. Learn more at Audio editing was by Eric Crosby, who also voiced the disclaimer. Our senior producer is Lindsay Eldridge and Carol Weinberg is our script consultant. Research, writing, narration and sound design was by me The producer is Lindsay Eldridge 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.
Starting point is 01:02:12 I'll be back soon with part two. See you then. You

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