Canadian True Crime - The Teslin Lake Incident—Part 2

Episode Date: April 22, 2024

NORTHWESTERN BRITISH COLUMBIA[Part 2 of 2 ] The story of Sheslay Free Mike ends in a harrowing stand-off—and a great tragedy.Special thanks to Garry Rodgers, Bob Buday, and Ed Hill.Voice of Michael ...Oros: Craig Baird of Canadian History EHX podcastThis month, Canadian True Crime has donated to the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime.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 00:03:04 on the side of the road and I'll never forget the look in his eyes, like a crazed look. He said to me, I could kill you. Where we left off, it was 1982 and 30-year-old Michael Oroz had finally been located, arrested and charged. He'd been found in possession of goods believed to have belonged to Gunter Lishi, the German Bushman who disappeared, leaving behind a half-built cabin. Lishi hadn't been seen for almost a year. Horace went berserk. He was smashing everything inside the cells, so they
Starting point is 00:03:37 called Mike, who was the only member in that detachment that would have been powerful enough to take on Horace. And 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 going to kill you someday. A month or so later, the judge acquitted Oros and set him free, citing a lack of evidence. Orison set him free, citing a lack of evidence. Oros soon returned to the wilds of northwestern British Columbia, and for the next two and a half years, there were barely any reported sightings
Starting point is 00:04:13 of the infamous Chesley Free Mike. That was until March of 1985. After spending winter in the city of Whitehorse in the Yukon, Frank and Eileen Hayes were returning by snowmobile to their remote cabin homestead close to Teslin Lake. They hadn't been there since the fall. When they opened the door, they were confronted by a shocking sight. Their cabin had been ransacked and looted.
Starting point is 00:04:48 All their tools were missing, their fishing equipment was missing, their rifle, ammunition and a canoe. Frank Hayes opened his workshop door to find it had been used as a slaughterhouse, with the butchered remains of a moose strewn about the room. Hayes said the room was filthy. He would tell the police, quote, "'It was a mess. Everything was gone.
Starting point is 00:05:14 He even took our wedding rings.'" More than six years of their hard work had been destroyed over one winter. The loss of possessions and damage was estimated to be valued at about $7,000. By this point, Frank and Eileen Hays had no choice but to spend the night in their cabin, knowing they had to get out of there as soon as possible,
Starting point is 00:05:39 because whoever it was would probably be coming back. The next morning, they set out back to town, intending to report the incident to the RCMP. When their snowmobile reached Teslin Lake, Frank said he suddenly saw what looked like a man in the distance. He knew straight away that there was no one else that could be than Shesley Free Mike, who
Starting point is 00:06:06 was still notorious in the area, with frequent reports of threats, break-ins and stolen goods. Quote, I took out my binoculars and I could see him looking through a pair of binoculars that he had stolen from our cabin back at me." No one knew it at the time of course, but Michael Oros had still been keeping diaries. In early February of 1985, about a month before the cabin break-in incident, he wrote that there was going to be a quote, big shootout and predicted that it was going to happen that year sometime soon.
Starting point is 00:06:48 Another entry starts with the headline, Death Day, although that didn't turn out to be the case. His mental health had declined even further by this point and his diaries would be described as being written in fits and starts, his handwriting changing so much that a magnifying glass would be described as being written in fits and starts, his handwriting changing so much that a magnifying glass would be required to decipher his words. Oros wrote racist comments about indigenous people,
Starting point is 00:07:15 notes about guns, ammunition and supplies, and his thoughts on various books, movies and songs. One entry is reportedly full of rambles about how a Hollywood producer and agent wanted to make him a star. Some days he boasted about women wanting to sleep with him and on others he wrote about vivid dreams he'd had, like this one. The dream I had the night before last was of a beautiful, soft river valley. Just now I have found a picture of its place in a book.
Starting point is 00:07:47 It is almost identical anyway. In the dream, I lived there. Michael Orris' writing itself is like a fever dream, blurring the lines between paranoid fantasy and reality. Somehow I got country to explore and gold to dig, and then I will have had the fun in my life, fulfilled enough to give it all up and go out 100% to kill these bastards, since it's obvious the laws are crooked. The majority of his rage was now targeted towards the police.
Starting point is 00:08:18 I've been trying to beat these straights that have been torture-drugging me for 12 years now and I've had to fight the pigs all the way. Then I finally realized it was mostly pigs doing it to me. So the last year or so I've kind of set back and enjoyed myself doing things I want to before I die and I got a few more things as I figure out how to beat these pigs or sit waiting for them to kill themselves. Neurysthenia This is what the dictionary calls the symptoms of being tortured, drugged by the horrible, horrible, straight people.
Starting point is 00:08:49 Neurysthenia is more commonly known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The cards have been reading pretty bad, and last night I swear I heard a dog barking someplace. Oros notes that the temperature at this time was a freezing minus 26 degrees celsius or minus 14 fahrenheit. His paranoia has intensified and he seems to think that he isn't long for this world. I'm scared to leave house for fear of spies sending message to helicopter or plane or something. I am now outside the laws the pigs are the main ones who've been tortured drugging me for the last 13 years. They have criminally assaulted me and I don't have to let any of them near me again in absolute self-defense." These diary entries were all written in the weeks leading up to mid-March of 1985 when Frank and Eileen Hays returned to their remote cabin on Teslin Lake
Starting point is 00:09:47 to find it ransacked. After seeing Michael Oros, aka Shesley Free Mike, through the binoculars, they made Hays to the Teslin RCMP detachment to report it. It was too late to do anything about it that day, but the following afternoon, the Yukon RCMP charted a bush plane and flew down the long, relatively narrow Teslin Lake, looking for any sign of the notorious bushman. Suddenly he appeared and opened fire at the plane with a.303 rifle. He didn't hit it, but the attempt to shoot at police officers is an arrestable offence.
Starting point is 00:10:30 This also warranted calling the RCMP's Northern BC Emergency Response Team a Canadian equivalent of what Americans refer to as a SWAT team. ERT police officers are specially trained in tactics, specialized weapons and equipment needed to provide an integrated response to situations that are high risk and volatile. And this was definitely one of those situations. By this point the northern BC ERT included both Constable Gary Rogers and Constable Mike Budai.
Starting point is 00:11:07 They had both been selected and sent to Ottawa for training in 1982, the year after they each had their separate encounters with Michael Oros. Here's Gary. Both of us had a similar interest in physical activities and firearms and that, so we were both selected to fill slots on the Northern BC Emergency Response Team. Part of our training was learning the counter-terrorism tactics, especially instinctive shooting. Rather than aiming for a visual target, instinctive or reflex shooting is taught specifically for use in combat or life threatening situations where there might only be a conscious awareness of the target.
Starting point is 00:11:46 They're taught to rely not on sight but on instinct. After training in Ottawa, constables Rogers and Boudai were assigned to operational duties with the Northern BC ERT team, secondary to their regular full-time duties. Mike Boudai was now a trained police dog handler, a natural fit according to his brother Bob, who says they grew up with dogs and Mike always loved them. Now 27 years old, Mike had trained a young German shepherd by the name of Trooper, who was now his constant companion. Gary Rogers, by this point 28 years old,
Starting point is 00:12:27 had trained as a marksman and had regular duty as a criminal investigator or homicide detective. That March of 1985, both constables were still based at terrorist detachment. But for Mike, it was now only temporarily. Mike had been transferred to Prince George, but the transfer fell through. First summer was held up, and he had sold his house
Starting point is 00:12:50 and had nowhere to live. So being one of my closest friends and a teammate, he moved into my wife and my basement suite and was living there at the time that we got called to Tesla and Yukon on what's now infamously known throughout the RCMP as the Tezla Lake incident. The next day was Tuesday, March 19th of 1985.
Starting point is 00:13:15 Early that morning, a spotter plane was sent out to continue to monitor the whereabouts of Michael Oros. The RCMP already knew that after he fled his cabin, he was on such high alert that he decided to camp out on a tiny island in the middle of Teslan Lake in below freezing temperatures without a sleeping bag. There's a story about that that we'll get to a little later. The spotter plane got a visual on Michael Oros
Starting point is 00:13:44 at about 7.30 that morning, still on that island. The emergency response team was notified. So it just came in that, OK, finally Oris has showed up again and he's done this and we're going to have to go and apprehend him. So because we were all familiar with Oris, our ERT team, we had done scenarios and discussions of if we ever had to deal with him, how we were going to go about it. This wasn't news to us, and no surprise. The Northern BC ERT team, made up of RCMP members from both Terrace and Prince Rupert detachments, had arrived in Whitehorse late the previous night. The group had two police dogs and handlers, which of course included Mike Boudaille
Starting point is 00:14:29 and his young German shepherd, Trooper. The team had spent the early morning hours developing a game plan, and after only a few hours sleep, they received the call. It was showtime. We had three sub teams of three people apiece. Ideally, we wanted to take all three teams It was showtime. We had three sub teams of three people a piece. Ideally, we wanted to take all three teams and place them in strategic spots to contain Ores.
Starting point is 00:14:50 Contact them through loudhaler in the distance. Tommy was under arrest, ordered him to surrender, and then we take it from there. But there was only two helicopters available at the same time. Because only two of the teams could be deployed first, there would be a delay in the arrival of the third. In addition, there were issues with all the gear and equipment they needed. It just wouldn't all fit into those two helicopters, so they had to leave some of it behind. These issues contributed to a delay that inadvertently impacted their central radio communications. Each team had working line-of-sight radios to communicate with their immediate team members.
Starting point is 00:15:32 But for them to communicate centrally with other teams and the aircraft across a greater distance they would need a mobile repeater to boost the signal. And right at that moment the delays had resulted in the repeater being boost the signal, and right at that moment, the delays had resulted in the repeater being temporarily unavailable. The team could have aborted the mission. They had equipment issues, they'd only had a few hours of sleep, and while they knew adrenaline would keep them going for a while, it wouldn't last forever. But Shesley Free Mike hadn't been an easy person to find, and he was there now.
Starting point is 00:16:06 After all the trouble he'd caused over the years, the team was committed to seizing the moment to try and capture him as peacefully as possible. Still, they couldn't help but wonder if it would actually turn out that way. The whole idea was to contain him, but if he'd made any hostile move, we'd have to shoot him. We were prepared for it. We knew this was not going to go much other way. 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.
Starting point is 00:16:39 It didn't go that way. Will you rise with the sun to help change mental health care forever? Join the Sunrise Challenge to raise funds for CAMH, the Center for Addiction and Mental Health, to support life-saving progress in mental health care. From May 27th to 31st, people across Canada will rise together and show those living with mental illness and addiction that they're not alone. Help CAMH build a future where no one is left behind. So, who will you rise for? Register today at That's
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Starting point is 00:19:40 Transform your living space today with COSY. Visit, spelled C-O-Z-E-Y, to start customising your furniture right now. It was Tuesday, March 19th, 1985, and at 7.30 that morning, a spotter plane had confirmed that Michael Orris was still on the little island in the middle of Teslin Lake, where he'd spent the night. The Northern BC ERT team's strategy was to drop the first two sub-teams around the icy lake, with one ahead of Orris and the other behind him. The goal was to surround and contain him as long as possible,
Starting point is 00:20:27 and if all things went well, they would have a verbal confrontation with Oros and talk him down. They knew that if he was able to enter the bush, they would probably lose him, which would give him the advantage because he knew the terrain so well. So they had to be very careful. But because of the delays with the helicopters and equipment, several hours went by before the two teams finally got up in the air.
Starting point is 00:20:55 By this point, it was about 11 a.m. And when Oris was spotted again, he had moved to a different location. He got into a position on Teslin Lake, right at the Narrows, where on the east side, there's a big stretch of open water. And it was obvious from the air, we could see that our original landing pipe was useless.
Starting point is 00:21:14 We knew that the other team was going to be delayed and Oris was making good time moving south with the dog team. He was wearing snowshoes. His sled was pulled by two husky type of dogs. And we could see from the air that our strategic spot would be in on land fixed on that point and put ourselves in a stationary, camouflaged position so that he would have approached us and we would have been in a position to control him.
Starting point is 00:21:37 Both teams waited and watched from strategic locations. On one team, constables Gary Rogers and Mike Budai were armed with M16 US military rifles, highly effective and dependable weapons that they were both proficient at using. Mike, of course, also had Trooper, the German Shepherd with him, who was trained to pick up smells, sounds,
Starting point is 00:22:02 and anything else that a human might not be able to detect. The third member on their team, Constable Paul Haugen, was armed with a long-range sniper rifle. Their plan was to wait until Oros had moved closer, about 200 metres away from them, because it would be easier to get a controlled shot in from that distance if they needed to. But he never made it that close and they watched as he suddenly left his sled and disappeared into the tree line. He's about 500 meters north of us by this point. Certainly you know, he had a good visual on him, not a problem with that, but too far
Starting point is 00:22:44 to engage. Then he came back out and he came back to his sled and we could see he had a rifle, a 303 British from World War Two vintage army rifle, again, highly dependable, effective weapon. Michael Orris disappeared into the thick brush again. The team on the ground suspected that he knew exactly where they were and was likely moving through the bush. They had no way of knowing it at the time, but Oris had assessed the conditions and the positioning of the teams and changed his strategy. As it turned out, he'd put on a wider pair of snowshoes that enabled him to move faster over the chest deep snow. And then instead of retreating or holding his own, he came on the attack and he made it in
Starting point is 00:23:31 roughly 500 meters distance of chest deep snow in the thick brush in about 10 minutes. And we never anticipated he could move that fast and that quiet. Oris was spotted twice by Constable Hogan, closer each time, sneaking along the bush line. But then he disappeared again as the sub team continued to wait in position. Constable Gary Rogers had his M16 pointed out to the lake,
Starting point is 00:24:01 using a tree branch for stability in case he had to take a long shot. Minutes went by. And said, Mike, I haven't seen him in maybe 10 minutes. Watch your flank. He's, he might be coming for us. And Mike just called back on the radio and he said, yep, gutter under control, which I fully assumed Mike did. I never worked with anybody that was as capable as Mike, both in all of his senses, his eyesight, his hearing, his smarts, his physical stamina, his ability with the weapons,
Starting point is 00:24:35 his ability to control his dog. He was just like a machine. And at this point, I can't explain it, since something was going wrong, but I had to do about a 90 degree turn over my left shoulder. And I saw Oris' face just develop. It was fairly thick underbrush, no leaves or anything. That basically from his shoulders down, I couldn't see. But his face was exposed and it was like this glowing orange light. Now, this is because the sun was shining at him for one thing.
Starting point is 00:25:07 He had a reddish beard and reddish hair and that little lighter skin. And it was just, I clearly could see him. 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's like when many people report that they're going into a car accident or some serious instant traumas coming at them. They go into like an altered state of consciousness. You know, I'm not imagining this.
Starting point is 00:25:41 I know exactly what happened and I'm uncomfortable with the scientific explanation. It was like I detached from my body and I was sitting on the branch of the tree above me, watching everything that's going on. And I'm fully aware and I have all kinds of time to analyze and react is how I felt. And I could see Boris in slow motion. I couldn't see his rifle.
Starting point is 00:25:59 I could just see the motions. I just heard the shot and I knew he had a rifle because they'd seen him with the rifle when he was in visibility. And I could see slowly him rotating from behind Mike and while he's doing that I can see the motions of him working the bolt on the rifle to reload and I just instantly reacted there was no time to aim no nothing I just knew what was happening and I just popped up my M16 swung and just did an instinctive shot and down he was out,
Starting point is 00:26:26 he just vanished. And I was going to flip the switch on to fully auto and just rake the bush down below him to finish him off because I could have missed him and he could have come right back up and another one at me. But then again, I wasn't 100% sure where Mike was, I couldn't see Mike and I just started to get confused. And so I didn't lay down a fire. I knew, I radioed, Booth, and said, Booth, come in, Booth, come in, Booth, come in. And there's nothing. And then I could hear Trooper whining, and I could hear Trooper starting to move around. And I knew what happened. I just knew it. I knew damn well what happened. He was shot in the back, he's dead. And there's nothing I can do. But if I leave my position, I'm leaving the other member who's wide open out on that point,
Starting point is 00:27:08 but completely vulnerable. I can't do that either. I can't. I have to stay here and I just wait. So it was just a standoff. As constables Gary Rogers and Paul Hogan waited in shock for about 20 minutes. The second sub team carefully advanced, ably assisted by the spotter plane flying overhead. By this point, the mobile repeater was operational again. We were flying over and they could see Oris laying down. They said, he's there. It looks like there's blood around his head, but we're not
Starting point is 00:27:42 saying he's dead. You guys be real, real careful with this. They kept them all circling so the spot spotter could have them in into all the time. And, uh, the other team leapfrogged down until they came in and found both that, uh, Horace was dead and that Mike was dead. And that was over. Constable Mike Boudai had been ambushed from behind and shot in the back of his neck. He was just 27 years old. His dog Trooper was physically unharmed but was obviously unsettled and distressed. 33-year-old Michael Oros, the man responsible for the ambush, was lying about 20 metres away,
Starting point is 00:28:34 on his back in the snow, with one gunshot wound to the forehead. Constable Gary Rogers didn't know it at the time, but his sudden feeling that something was wrong, and his fast instincts in reacting to it, likely prevented an even worse tragedy. Because when the second team reached the body of Michael Oros, they made an astonishing discovery. Just a second before Gary rotated around and took his instinctive shot, Oros had already pulled the trigger a second time. But this time, something malfunctioned. When the members went up to Oros, they inspected his rifle and they found that the bolt was intact.
Starting point is 00:29:19 They saw the ejected shell where he had shot Mike and it was laying on the snow. And they opened the bolt and they found that there was a live round in Oris's chamber. Oris had swung and pointed the rifle at me and pulled his trigger before I could respond. And for some reason, no one can explain this, his round failed to go off.
Starting point is 00:29:38 His firing pin inside of his breech punctured the round that shot and killed Mike. It punctured that fine. It punctured the one set for me, but the round failed to ignite and my life was saved or I would have been killed. And if he had have killed me, I hate to think what would have happened. I've kept the three cartridges from that. Tests on the Oris rifle confirmed that he did pull the trigger that second time, but there appeared to be nothing wrong with either the rifle or the cartridge, nothing that could explain why it didn't fire. There are theories
Starting point is 00:30:12 that we'll get to a bit later, but over the decades Gary has had plenty of time to think about what might have been had Oros been successful the second time. He believes that the likely scenario would have involved Oros shooting them both dead and seizing their rifles, which would have made the third member on their team, Constable Paul Hogan, a sitting duck, and it would have snowballed from there. Now Oros has got two M16s with 200 rounds of ammunition.
Starting point is 00:30:42 The other members would have come in, they knew that this was going on, they would not have stayed back, they would have advanced and he would have just mowed them down. Now you've got six RCMP members dead and then what do you do? Oris's tracks in the snow were analyzed to figure out what happened and how he was able to get the jump on them so quickly in that extremely tense few minutes before he shot Mike Buday. Later, when this was over, they backtracked this and could see exactly what his movements were.
Starting point is 00:31:11 He went through and he passed Mike Buday and trooper his German Shepherd just inside the thick heavy evergreen timber. It was like maybe 20 meters, something like that, 30 meters. And then he came out to the edge of the lake and where he could spot and saw where the helicopter landed and he could see the three sets of snowshoe trails from the three of us that were deployed and he just backtracked and followed them and he came to a position where he was 20 some meters behind Mike and 42 meters from me and he could see both of us and then he stopped and he placed his snowshoes, jammed them in the in the snow, took his rifle, set his rifle on Mike's back and shot Mike right through the back of the neck
Starting point is 00:31:55 and killed him instantly. Mike Boudaille's family wasn't aware that he'd been called to Whitehorse with the ERT team to respond to the developing situation at Teslin Lake. They had no idea of the danger that lay ahead. Bob Budai, one of his older brothers, had been teaching late that day. When I came home, I got a phone call from a friend that told me there's an emergency in the family and that my older brother was trying to get a hold of me. So I started dialing, you know, your heart just goes right up into your throat. And as I was dialing, I was thinking my dad had diabetes and he had had some falls and I didn't really know who it was but I just knew someone
Starting point is 00:32:46 was dead. And then when I finally got through I actually had the operator cut in on the it's a party line back then and when she cut in my brother kind of hollered at me that Mike's dead and I said what? I was just in total shock, the most shocked I ever was in my life and having talked to him just a day and a half before. The funeral for Constable Michael Joseph Buday was held in his hometown of Brooks, Alberta and was reportedly one of the largest in RCMP history. Mike was a guy that I know other members looked up to him there. St. Mary's Church in Brooks, they had the church full and then there was an adjacent
Starting point is 00:33:37 hall and it was completely full and then the parking lot was full. There were police forces from Quebec and from the States came up. There was a real brotherhood there. Family, friends and colleagues remembered the 27-year-old police dog handler as a fearless yet fun-loving character with a great sense of humour. Mike was described as a diamond in the rough and a free spirit who loved the outdoors. Bob says he learned that his younger brother had actually been a little sick when
Starting point is 00:34:12 the emergency response team was called about Oro's. Mike didn't have to go up there. He had a bad cold, I guess. And I don't even know who it was, Gary, that told me, but one of the fellows did that. Mike said, there's no way I'm gonna leave my team shorthanded. So he decided he was going and that was it. He was brave and they said he had no fear in him really. I'm sure he did, but he just wasn't showing it. He was focusing on what they were gonna have to do.
Starting point is 00:34:44 Trooper was at the funeral as well. And Bob recalled a powerful moment as the procession entered the cemetery. They had representatives of dog teams and their handlers pretty well all the way across Canada, right up to Quebec anyhow. And the thing that we remember the most, Mike's dog led the funeral procession
Starting point is 00:35:06 and as they went into the cemetery, the dogs all let out an eerie howl. And it made the hair stand on your back. We can never forget that. Something incredible. The dogs sensed that there was something wrong. This brings us to a key question that Gary says has been asked over the years. Michael Oroz may have been quiet enough to sneak up behind Constable Mike Budai undetected, but why didn't Trooper the Dog pick up on it and alert him? Gary believes the most likely explanation is this. I think the dog fell asleep. That's my feeling, because that was a young dog and that dog had virtually no
Starting point is 00:35:55 sleep. It was up with us during the night. We never went to bed till like three in the morning. We were up again at five. None of us had much sleep. And I think what happened when it all settled down, he sat down, the sun was out, it was warm, all quiet. I think the dog dozed off. That's what happened. Trooper was taken under the wing of another RCMP dog handler. The life of Michael Oros may have come to an end, but there were still a lot of unanswered
Starting point is 00:36:31 questions about the story of his alter ego, Shesley Free Mike. And more importantly, he was still the prime suspect in the disappearance of Gunter Lishi. So RCMP investigators carefully went through all his belongings to see if there were any clues. In his toboggan, not far from where he was shot, was his last diary, which covered the last weeks of his life. Those are the diary entries where he seems to be aware that something big was going to happen soon. That he was
Starting point is 00:37:05 going to die. The only mention he makes of Gunta Lishi is an entry dated February 14th, just over a month before the Teslan Lake incident. The tarot cards are reading bad again. The little airplanes that flew yesterday can only mean trouble for me this time of year. They shouldn't be any airplane activity spurt. Those planes flew around for some reason and it can't be good. Also, on the radio, the CBC has started a campaign of anti-Nazi propaganda to try and get out of being punished for killing Gunther Litchi with the torture drugs. This is the Canadian government propaganda organization and they must be pretty scared. Unhinged ranting about the CBC aside, the fact that Michael Oros wrote that Gunther
Starting point is 00:37:53 Lishi had been killed when the RCMP considered him to be just a missing person was of great interest to investigators. It was a strong indication that Oros knew something about Lishi's fate. A professor of forensic psychiatry from the University of British Columbia would describe the diaries of Michael Oros as, quote, the tragic ramblings disconnected ideas of a very solitary individual
Starting point is 00:38:24 who has cut himself off from society over the years and become totally obsessed and paranoid. His concept of the world around him has become bizarre and irrational. This testimony was given at an inquest to determine what led to the deaths of Michael Oros and Constable Mike Budai, mandatory anytime police are involved in a shooting. As for Oros' propensity for being reclusive, isolated and paranoid, the professor added, quote,
Starting point is 00:38:57 Together that is a poor combination. For him it is double jeopardy because his imagination has become delusional over time. For him, the imaginations, the suspicions, the plots have become reality. He gets consumed by his own fantasies in the end. Michael Oros was found to be deranged with an aversion for authority. In reference to his obvious mental health issues, the jury recommended that known isolated loners like him should be checked on at regular intervals
Starting point is 00:39:33 and that psychiatric treatment or observation should be extended to anyone suspected of possible violence. This was obviously a well-meaning recommendation, but quite a tall order when considering the historic deficiencies in available mental health treatments. The Inquest jury heard that the RCMP were not as prepared as they might have been for the crisis because of the equipment they had to leave behind and the equipment that didn't work. And although they had extensive training, the freezing wilderness conditions and harsh terrain were a lot for them to contend with. As author Vernon Frolic would write in his book,
Starting point is 00:40:16 Descent into Madness, quote, "'Oros had the advantage. The police were going in to make an arrest to preserve the peace. Oros wanted to kill them. The jury ruled that the shooting deaths of Michael Oros and RCMP constable Mike Buday were homicides, a term that does not imply blame. Two months after the inquest, some RCMP members were sent back to the Hatzagola Lake area
Starting point is 00:40:48 that Michael Oroz considered his home base, and of course, where Gunta Lishi decided to build a cabin that would never be finished. The goal of the trip was to tie up some loose ends on the Teslan Lake incident report. But in the shallow waters of the small lake shore lay a shocking new discovery. 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 00:43:33 Head to slash closer to get started. In August of 1985, five months after the Teslan Lake incident that ended the lives of both Constable Mike Buday and fugitive Michael Oroz, the RCMP went back to the Hacigola Lake area to finalise their report. As they were looking around the lake's shoreline, they suddenly spotted what looked like a skull. Then they saw a lower jaw. There was fabric from a shirt, an amount of plastic, and other bones from the shoulders,
Starting point is 00:44:24 upper legs and pelvis scattered nearby. The lower jaw was compared to Gunter Lishi's dental records. It was a positive identification. The remains were examined and there was a suspicious hole in the right shoulder blade, consistent with a high-caliber bullet that would have punctured the lung. It was determined that after this fatal shot, Leeshe's body had been wrapped in plastic
Starting point is 00:44:52 and buried in sand under the shallow waters of the Hatsagola Lake, which is why no one had been able to find or detect it during those initial intensive searches, including search dogs. The remains were likely dislodged by a wild animal and brought to the surface sometime later. An inquest jury would find that Michael Oroz killed Gunta Lishi by shooting him in the upper back at Hatzagola Lake on or around August 21st of 1981.
Starting point is 00:45:27 A friend of Leeshe's who was well-versed in his distinctive building style and plans determined that work on his cabin likely ceased on this day. But why? What happened that day? According to Vernon Frolic's book, Descent into Madness, the Diary of a Killer, there were two main theories about what inspired Gunter Lishi's decision to build his cabin just
Starting point is 00:45:55 100 meters away from the one that Michael Oroos had made his home base. One theory was that Lishi respected Oroos and his notorious reputation. After all, the German did keep that photo of Oros taped to the wall of his half-built cabin, along with other photos of his friends. Perhaps he thought Oros could have used the company. The other theory is related to the fact that many thought Lishi was just as dangerous as Oro's, but without the obvious mental health issues.
Starting point is 00:46:29 And in such a cutthroat environment in the wilderness, with no roads and no signs of civilization within about 70 kilometers, survival could be considered a zero-sum game with no room for trust or friendship. Perhaps Lishi wanted to take over the territory for himself and plan to kill Oros if and when he objected to the cabin being built so close. We'll never really know. As for Michael Oros, there were clues to be found
Starting point is 00:47:01 in his own dated diary entries from the time. They revealed that when Lishi and his building materials were dropped off at Hatsagola Lake that summer to build his cabin, Oro's wasn't actually there. He'd ventured south to spend the warmer months roaming the bush near the Shesley River, his old haunt. Perhaps Lishi knew this. the Chesley River, his old haunt. Perhaps Lishi knew this. But as he got underway building his new cabin in the first few weeks of August, Oros wrote in his diary that he was slowly making his way back to Hatsigola Lake. It appears that he hadn't been overly successful at sourcing enough food to sustain himself,
Starting point is 00:47:44 which was likely related to his deteriorating mental health. In mid-August, Oros wrote that he was about a week away from returning to Hatzagola Lake when he saw a float plane land on another lake he happened to be camping at. There was no evidence that the men on this plane even knew who Shazlai Free Mike was, but Oroos decided they were on the team of the Straits, sent there to poison him and the wildlife with chemicals. He wrote that he thought about killing the men,
Starting point is 00:48:17 but decided to just leave and make haste back to Hatzegola, convinced that the area would soon be flooded with poisonous drugs anyway. Oroš was exhausted, hungry and dizzy. That night, he wrote that he flew into a rage and killed one of his dogs for being disobedient. Then, he changed his mind and wrote that the chemicals had turned him into an instrument of death. The straights, or the sneak-arounds, it was their fault that his dog was now dead. The next diary entry is just one word, repeated over several pages.
Starting point is 00:48:58 Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill. kill, kill. Two days after that, when Oroos was camping for the night next to yet another lake not far from Hatsagola, he wrote,
Starting point is 00:49:10 Zankudo Lake and home cabin tomorrow. The date of that diary entry is August 20, 1981. The following day, August 21, is when Oroce likely arrived at his home base cabin to find Gunter Lishi building his own cabin there. It's also the very same day that the inquest jury determined that Oroce killed Lishi and work on his half-built cabin ceased. When the RCMP found Michael Oros's diaries in his toboggan after the Teslan Lake incident, they searched for any entries on or around that date. Oros wrote about everything else. He surely would have written something about what happened when he arrived back at Hacigola, but all those pages around the date of August 21 had been ripped out.
Starting point is 00:50:07 Michael Oros had been incredibly upset after the first time that the RCMP found his stash of diaries. They weren't just diaries to him. They were his personal documentation of all the things he believed was being done to him. Those diaries covered more than 10 years of his life, and he planned to get them published one day so that everyone would know about it, according to the book Descent into Madness. The fact that Oros ripped out those pages that likely chronicled the day of Gunter Lishi's death indicates he was acutely aware that his
Starting point is 00:50:46 diaries would likely be found yet again. People like to say that Michael Oros was obsessed with the original mad trapper, you know, the one from Rat River, but the Vancouver Sun reported that no evidence of this has ever been found and the stories remain unconfirmed. Michael's mother, Margaret Oros, showed about as much interest in her son's death as she did his life. The press reported that she continued to refuse to speak about him and the only new information to be released publicly
Starting point is 00:51:22 was that she'd instructed a funeral home to cremate Michael's body and hold the ashes until further notice. It's said that she never collected or sent for them. Margaret Oroz passed away in 2007. On the first anniversary of Constable Mike Buday's death at Teslin Lake, Constable Gary Rogers was among a group that returned to the spot where it took place. They built a can or monument to Mike's memory, featuring a large stone and a plaque. I asked Gary how the Teslin Lake incident impacted his life. He not only lost his team member and close friend that day,
Starting point is 00:52:08 but he was also the one who shot and killed the man they were responding to. It's not just the fact of being involved in a shooting. That having to kill another human being under those circumstances never bothered me one iota. It was me or him and that was completely justified. There was an inquest held and the jury ruled it was completely self-defense and I was given the highest award in the RCMP, a Commissioner's Commendation for my quick reaction in ending an incident. So that end of it has always been fine and thankfully I was always confident that I didn't do something to screw this up
Starting point is 00:52:41 and cause Mike's death. I know that I didn't. There's nothing I could have done and he would know that too. But losing one of your best friends and your teammates, oh, it's just terrible grief. My wife says that I exhibited ticked off all the boxes for PTSD for a long time with it. You see, in 1985, PTSD wasn't really a thing, right? The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder often include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety and uncontrollable thoughts about the traumatic event. It was first proposed as a diagnosis in 1980, but it didn't hit the wider public consciousness until many years later. So I self-medicated with alcohol.
Starting point is 00:53:30 But a commanding officer had his eye on Gary. Through the system, he said, let's just monitor that young member. So I was going for regular psychiatric assessments, just to calm tune ups and just to make sure that I was on the straight and narrow. And I appreciated it. And you've got lots of support from friends and you know, the grief after a while, time goes by and it goes on and I've been okay. And I've been in a number of other high profile cases and some very violent stuff as well and seemed to have handled that all right.
Starting point is 00:54:01 As for Constable Mike Boudaille, there is a low notation on Google Maps that simply says Michael Buday Memorial. It marks that area where the final shootout happened on Teslin Lake at the Narrows. His loved ones rallied for years to have the area turned into a Class A park. That didn't happen, but in 2015, a park in Terrace, BC was named the Constable Michael Joseph Budai Municipal Park to commemorate the 30th anniversary of his death. The park features a large wooden monument with a white sign that has Mike's story and his RCMP portrait with Trooper. And at Regina, Saskatchewan, where new members do their training,
Starting point is 00:54:50 a memorial plaque to commemorate Constable Boudaille was installed on a park bench. He is a real character. Holy geez, larger in life, much, much larger. Big loss, he was so well liked and respected that it was a tremendous tragedy to so many people when he was killed. It was just like, no, of all people, it couldn't have happened to him. Although it's been almost 40 years since the Teslin Lake incident, the Boudai family has never forgotten the immense weight of the loss of
Starting point is 00:55:26 Mike Boudai. Well, we were in great shock, but you know what, we lost both of our parents about 16, 17 years ago. And all three of us, my sister Janet, my older brother Frank and I, all agreed that this is tough, but it wasn't anywhere near Mike's. There was just too much shock and disbelief. He was kind of a hero to some people. I know there was another Mountie that became a Mountie, and he said it was Mike who inspired him.
Starting point is 00:55:59 He was brave, and I hope people will remember him for his courage. They said he had no fear in him really. It might seem as though we've come to the end of the story of the Teslin Lake incident, but there have been many mysteries and strange coincidences surrounding both the events of that day and the years after it. The main mystery is that no one has ever been able to explain why Michael Orris's rifle misfired as he pulled the trigger a second time aiming it at Constable Gary Rogers. But there is a theory. As a way of dealing with the tragedy, Gary Rogers
Starting point is 00:56:48 eventually decided to write a book about it from his perspective. But by that time, the definitive book on the case had already been published. Descent into Madness, The Diary of a Killer by Vernon Frolich, details Michael Orris's own journey leading up to the Teslin Lake incident. The author was a Crown Prosecutor from Terrace, BC and had inside access to both the investigation files and the investigators themselves, as well as more than 10 years of Michael Orris's diaries. So Gary Rogers had defined a new angle for his own book called No Witnesses to Nothing. Multiple sources tell me that not only is there more than meets the eye,
Starting point is 00:57:35 but it's of significant importance to the RCMP as well as the Indigenous peoples in the area. So whatever happened that day, you'll find that there's many, many people feel that there was some sort of paranormal intervention. I'm ambivalent about it. I know that there's something happened that day that can't be explained. My experience of this so-called OBE, is out-of-body experience. It's very common. In fact, if I didn't react that way under the circumstances, there'd probably been something wrong with me. So that's explainable. That's no problem. But what stopped that round? I don't know. This is where it starts to get into the First Nations story, which for one thing the legend from the Tlingit people in the north was that Orus was the manifestation
Starting point is 00:58:18 of a mythical creature they call a kushtaka or kushtaka, who's the wild man of the woods. You might recall in part one, we mentioned the Inland Clinkit, a subgroup of the Clinkit people of Alaska, who once migrated to Northwestern British Columbia and southern Yukon, the future stomping ground of the notorious Shesley Free Mike. And as the story goes, they were just as annoyed by him as anyone else. Perhaps even more so. Like many indigenous cultures, the Tlingit have ancient traditions and folklore that includes mythological creatures that inspire fear and dread, often born out of a
Starting point is 00:59:01 practical need to keep the group together and stop people from wandering off. One of those mythical creatures is the kushtakar, sometimes referred to as Alaska's other Bigfoot, a creature of the wilderness. As legend has it, kushtakar are shapeshifters that inhabit the wilderness and commonly take the form of half man and half otter. They're said to have frightening supernatural abilities that they use to lure people to the forest and steal their souls. Here's where Michael Oros comes in.
Starting point is 00:59:36 So they said Oros is the manifestation, he is the kushtaka, he's possessed by the kushtaka. Now, also, the Daenerys at Tezen Lake is a large island and it's called Big Island, but on the maps you'll find it called Shaman Island. And the history is that a very powerful shaman by the name of Kash Klau, A'dayn was buried on a strategic point at the north end of that island. That's a historical fact. And the legend is nobody goes on that island and disturbs the spirit of Kash Klau.
Starting point is 01:00:05 So what does that have to do with Michael Oros? Well, Big Island or Shaman Island is the very same island that he chose to sleep on the night before the Teslan Lake incident. And because a powerful shaman is buried on that island, the Tlingit people consider it to be a sacred spot. I have to note that unlike the Kshataka, the shamans were actually real people, believed to possess extraordinary powers, supernatural powers that included the ability to heal the body and spirit, and see into the future. But regardless of powers, there is actually a real person buried on that island.
Starting point is 01:00:49 Back in the 1980s, the Vancouver Sun reported that the monument to mark that burial site was still visible from the air. Now, although the Tlingit people reportedly no longer have shamans, they remain an important and revered figure in the mythology. The shaman was believed to be powerful enough to go head to head with the Kush'taqar.
Starting point is 01:01:14 Well, what happened the night before, on March 18th to 19th, when Orus was making his run from the cabin and headed south, he camped overnight on that island, right at the point where Kashgar's grave is. I have no idea whether he would have known what he was getting into. It's just a strategic and defensive spot. That's why the shaman's buried there and that's why Oros camped there. Oros camped right on
Starting point is 01:01:33 the on the grave of the shaman and then made his way off the next morning. So as the legend goes the local clinkit in the Teslan Lake area had come to believe that Michael Oros was a manifestation of the Kustaka. And when he chose to sleep on a sacred burial site that night, he awakened the spirit of the shaman. That island is sacred to the Tlingit people. Nobody is to touch that island at the pain of death if you do.
Starting point is 01:02:04 That's their legend. that's their teaching. That's Ed Hill, a central figure in the next part of this story. When Mike Orris camped on that island overnight before he was shot and killed by Gary Rogers, the Tlingit people knew ahead of time. They said he'll die. He's touched that island. And the next day when he left that island, he was killed. It's believed that after Michael Oros killed Constable Mike Buday,
Starting point is 01:02:32 the shaman spirit stepped in as he was preparing to fire his rifle the second time. It's the shaman that caused the rifle to misfire and why Constable Gary Rogers was able to get his own shot in and prevent a mass tragedy. So you can take out of that what you want, whether or not the kushtaka exists or whether the shaman spirit was involved, whether it was something that involved stopping the bullet for me, makes for great folklore but it did happen. It's also believed that this Tlingit folklore might have had something to do
Starting point is 01:03:07 with the strange story of what happened on the 10th anniversary. The story of the memorial painting is yet another mysterious series of events related to the Teslin Lake incident. Here's Gary again. Ten years later on the anniversary of March 19th, 1995, a group of us, including a very close friend of mine, Staff Sergeant Ed Hill, and an Indigenous painter by the name of Roy Henry Vickers, who were along with us, and we went back to the spot to get the vision for a memorial painting and also to start to raise the seed money for an addiction recovery
Starting point is 01:03:41 centre. I'm going to defer to Ed Hill on this to expand on what happened that day on the Tazam Lake when they got the vision. It was a magical time we went through and it was a healing event too for all of us. And this story has been passed around. It's stayed. Ed Hill has always had a keen interest in art and painting since high school and is today a professional working artist based on the West Coast of British Columbia. But back in the early 1980s, he was Staff Sergeant Ed Hill and he was actually the boss of a young constable named Gary Rogers.
Starting point is 01:04:19 I was RCMP for 34 years. I joined in 1968. Partway through my career I worked in a place called Bella Bella, 300 miles north of Vancouver on an island in the Pacific. And there I got to know the Indigenous culture. Bella Bella Detachment is on Campbell Island, in the territory of the Heltsic First Nation. And during their time there, both Ed Hill and Gary Rogers developed a keen interest and appreciation for Indigenous culture and traditions. They also became good friends and kept in contact
Starting point is 01:04:54 after they moved to other detachments in British Columbia. Gary ended up at Terrace Detachment with Mike Buday, and Ed was posted to Tofino. When I was stationed to Tofino. Later when I was stationed in Tofino, British Columbia, again on the west coast, I met the indigenous artist Roy Henry Vickers. And long story short, our friendship developed such that he taught me his painting techniques and protocols. And as such, I started painting So that's Ed Hill's backstory. The other central figure in this part of the story
Starting point is 01:05:49 is of course Roy Henry Vickers, the renowned indigenous artist and recognized community leader. His website also describes him as a tireless spokesperson for recovery from addictions and abuse, who had a dream to see the opening of an addiction recovery centre that would treat a range of addictions holistically, because at the time, there were no such centres in Canada.
Starting point is 01:06:15 After Constable Mike Boudai was killed at Teslan Lake in 1985, Ed Hill had an idea, and he pitched it to Roy Henry Vickers as a collaboration to raise money. And that is the start of a fascinating and eerie story of how a friendship between a noted Indigenous artist and his RCMP Staff Sergeant student led to the creation of the memorial painting. I knew Mike. I'd consumed a few pop with him over the years.
Starting point is 01:06:48 It hit me very hard and I said that someday I'd like to do a painting in his honour. So it was ten years later in 1995 that the RCMP flew me and Roy Vickers and a couple of other people into the Yukon and we set an expedition up to get out onto the lake, the frozen lake where Mike Bidet had been murdered. The group included noted Tlingit elder Matthew Tom, who was the great-grandson of that shaman buried on Big Island, according to the province. Gary Rogers also brought a friend of
Starting point is 01:07:27 his along from Terrace who happened to be the local Catholic priest, Eclectic Group. Before the two artists could start the memorial painting, they had to find the right image, a vision. The perfect scenescape that captured the spirit of the Teslin Lake incident, woven with Tlingit symbolism. The process started with a Tlingit tradition where Roy Henry Vickers placed tobacco in front of the shaman's grave. He would tell a journalist from the province, quote, almost as soon as we got here, I could begin to feel the whole story come alive. It was magical. We weren't able to get a hold of Roy Henry Vickers,
Starting point is 01:08:11 but Ed Hill is often asked to tell the story at various public events. He tells me it typically takes about 45 minutes, so this is the really short version. Roy, Vickers and I went about trying to find the image that we felt was calling us, that we knew was there. We walked out onto the ice that day and Roy was the one who basically spotted it. He's looking out onto the ice, over the ice, over that little bit of open water and the island and so on. And I walked up to him and I said, Roy, you got it, haven't you?
Starting point is 01:08:48 And he said, look. And I looked at it and it just came into focus is the term I use. And so Roy went back to camp and I stayed there to photograph it and prepare for the painting part. And as I was kneeling down on the ice to take the photograph, seven trumpeter swans flew right out of the hill straight at me and I had just done a painting about trumpeter swans so it's basically a
Starting point is 01:09:15 verification for me. This is it. I took the photograph, went back to camp and we were in the Yukon for seven days in March and that was the only day and the only time we ever saw an eagle. Roy's cultural house is the eagle and it was circling our camp above us and calling. And Roy said there's our sign that's our painting. That's our painting. Later that day, Gary Rogers took both artists to the exact place where Mike Budai had been positioned with his dog Trooper. The place where exactly 10 years earlier to the day he was shot dead by Michael Oroz. It was only then that Roy Henry Vickers and Ed Hill realized that the scenescape they'd already chosen with no knowledge of what took
Starting point is 01:10:11 place and where had a very special significance. Roy had brought a pipe along, a red stone cultural pipe, and he loaded it and the three of us sat in that little hole in the ground where Mike Medea died, where he had been laying watching out over the ice when the bullet hit him and killed him. Roy lit the pipe and passed it around and we took our smoke of the pipe and I looked over Roy's shoulder, sorry, this is the part even of sitting in a parking lot when I get emotional. I said, Roy, look over your shoulder. And he looked over his shoulder and he looked back and just smiled.
Starting point is 01:10:55 There through the gap in the trees were our footprints in the snow, on the ice. Roy and I had found the spot, taken the photograph that would be the painting that was literally the last sight of the world that Mike Bade saw when the bullet hit his head, without us ever knowing where he had been beforehand. where he had been before him. The finished painting is called Sheep Standing By Himself by Roy Henry Vickers and Ed Hill. It's a scenescape of the Narrows, the part of Teslin Lake where the incident took place
Starting point is 01:11:38 with Big Island at the back, and it's full of symbolism, including the trumpeter swans, the eagle. If you look closely there's a silhouette of the shaman lying at peace on Big Island. The artists, together with the RCMP, decided to sell the painting along with 300 limited edition prints of it to raise money to get the Addiction Recovery Centre going. All of the prints sold out and raised the first $100,000 for the Recovery Centre. And there were several initiatives thereafter,
Starting point is 01:12:13 but that was the beginning of it. And so now in 2024, the Vision Quest Recovery Centre is alive and well with probably 40 men in recovery up at Logan Lake, British Columbia. So that brings us back to Gary Rogers and the angle he decided to take with the book he ended up writing, called No Witnesses to Nothing. I wrote that for therapy. I had to do it myself to get it out.
Starting point is 01:12:43 I narrowed it down to spirituality and the science behind the soul. This is always something I've been very interested in. I'm not conventionally religious. I'm actually a practicing Stoic and a student of First Nations mythology. So I took the story of the Teslin Lake incident and what if the Kushtaka was true? I suppose that is true. What would have happened? How this would have gone?
Starting point is 01:13:05 And then I took charminism and ran with that. And then there's a very high profile case of two drug informants being murdered. I've never been solitonized. I've always been felt it was an inside job from the RCMP members that did it. Oh, and the huge drug importation case of the Tovino 13. So I wrapped all three of those together and managed to pull together a cohesive story. So I wrapped all three of those together and managed to pull together a cohesive story. Gary Rogers' book, based on the Teslin Lake incident, is called No Witnesses to Nothing, described as a police procedural novel based on a true crime story straight out of CSI or The X-Files,
Starting point is 01:13:39 where many believe that paranormal intervention occurred. It's just one of many books he's written based on true crime stories. He's in a whole new career now as an international bestselling crime writer and film content producer. And he also blogs frequently, most notably at his website,
Starting point is 01:14:01 Roy Henry Vickers still has his gallery in Tofino. You can find him online at Ed Hill is based in Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia where he continues to paint scenes from the area with a story to go with each painting. You can find him at Thanks for listening and special thanks to Gary Rogers, who's been a real pleasure to deal with and extremely generous with his time and help. After I first reached out to him and he sussed me out, he put me in contact with Bob Buday, Mike's brother, as well as Ed Hill. Special thanks to them both for taking the time to speak with me. I really enjoyed our interviews."
Starting point is 01:14:58 And Gary and I ended up chatting for about an hour afterwards about all kinds of things, cases he's worked on, his opinions and insights on other cases, and much more. Luckily I kept the recording going and I'll be putting our conversation up for premium feed listeners. Gary remains a prolific writer and you can find all about what he's up to on his blog, The voice of Michael Orris' diary entries was fellow podcaster Craig Baird of the Canadian History EHX podcast. You should definitely check it out. Follow Canadian True Crime on Facebook and Instagram to see clippings, photos and more
Starting point is 01:15:41 from this case. And for the full list of resources and anything else you want to know, visit the page for this episode at If you found this mini-series compelling, we'd love for you to tell a friend, post on social media, or leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Canadian True Crime donates monthly to those facing injustice.
Starting point is 01:16:05 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, and the theme songs were composed by We Talk of Dreams. I'll be back soon with another Canadian true crime story. See you then.

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