There is so much that the police know about Dennis Melvyn Howe, often called the most wanted man in Canadian history.
Howe is the sole suspect in the rape and murder of nine-year-old Sharin Morningstar Keenan, whose body was found in a refrigerator at a boarding house at 482 Brunswick Ave. in Toronto on Feb. 1, 1983.
The police know that Howe is left-handed and has crooked fingers like a baby’s.
He is white with brown eyes, with a cleft chin scar.
His nose is bulbous and reddish.
He frequently used Orajel to relieve pain from abscesses on his crooked teeth.
He liked to drink Molson beer, chain-smoke unfiltered Player cigarettes, and nervously twiddle his feathers between his fingers.
They know that he was born in Estevan, Sask., on September 26, 1940, and moved to a simple house in Regina soon after.
Police know that at the time of Sharin’s murder, Howe had spent more than half his life behind bars and was becoming increasingly violent.
The police know that Howe is a chameleon. He can quickly change his five-foot-nine frame so that he appears skinny instead of chubby.
Sometimes he changes the color and style of his thinning hair, which was dark brown before turning gray.
He has also occasionally sported a mustache.
Howe can also alter his personality. He can be talkative, opinionated and comical, calling people “turkeys”.
At such times, his laugh is deep and sounds friendly.
He can also be shy and sullen and say almost nothing.
He is a convincing liar who remembers the little details that make a story work.
He has lived under various aliases.
He has a quick, shuffling walk.
He likes to read science fiction and can be well-spoken and even comical.
He is surprisingly polite and even-tempered.
“He was never, ever gross,” said a woman who knew him in his former hometown of Regina. “He was very much a gentleman. I never heard him swear or say anything out of tune.”
He doesn’t like needles.
The police have samples of his DNA and his fingerprints.
You can blend in with a crowd.
“He could walk by and you wouldn’t pay much attention to him,” retired homicide detective Wayne Oldham said.
Police know he almost always limits his violence to women, like a 13-year-old girl in Regina whom he raped and an adult woman he tried to kidnap at knifepoint.
His anger towards women runs deep. He married in 1962, but was locked up shortly after her first anniversary for 11 break-ins in Regina.
While in custody, his wife got a boyfriend and he successfully sued for divorce on the grounds of adultery.
She moved to the West Coast and started a new family while he began targeting women who were unknown for violent crimes.
He often approached them, saying that he needed some kind of help.
A woman he kidnapped in 1977 in Regina recalled his “wolf eyes” years later.
She said she was afraid he was “out there” and thinking about her.
“This could happen to me again, but honestly, I don’t think I could take it,” she told the Regina Leader-Post in 1985. “I think I’d fall apart. He is a cold demon. He really is.
Police know Howe prefers to take advantage of unsuspecting people, sometimes approaching them asking for directions.
Sharin, a fourth grader at Jesse Ketchum Public School, was last seen alive playing in Jean Sibelius Park on the afternoon of Sunday, January 23, 1983, near her home on Dupont St.
She was bright, pretty and kind and enjoyed painting and writing plays.
Police know that Howe’s violence was escalating at the time he allegedly killed Sharin.
At the time, he had more than 30 convictions that included multiple home invasions, kidnapping, robbery and indecent assault on a 13-year-old girl.
For all the savagery of his actions, he is obsessively neat in everyday life. When police searched his rented room at 482 Brunswick Ave., they found it spotless and empty. He made the bed before fleeing on a Greyhound bus.
Inside the fridge in her apartment was Sharin’s body inside a garbage bag.
Police know Howe is a hard worker with many legitimate job skills.
You could live in urban or rural areas and probably have the good sense to stay out of Toronto as well.
He became an expert locksmith in his teens through a correspondence course advertised on the lid of a matchbox.
“He could pick any lock with a bent coat hanger,” said a friend.
He was exceptionally good with his hands to fix things and once rebuilt a truck transmission using a library book as a guide.
He is an excellent cook and has worked as a fast food cook. He has also worked as a roofer, janitor, mill builder, electrician, carpenter, and metal worker. He was also employed in a shipping and receiving department and has sharpened saws at a pulp mill.
He takes pride in his work and once got into a fight in prison protecting a movie projector he had left in his care.
In Toronto, he worked in a clothing factory on Spadina Avenue under the name “Michael Robert Burns”. Other aliases he has adopted include Wayne King, Ralph Ferguson, and Jim Meyers.
“He’s very adaptable,” said an old acquaintance. “And I don’t think he’s afraid to try new things.”
That has helped him resist a massive and drawn-out police effort to put him behind bars.
His image was plastered on bus shelters and billboards across the country.
There was an episode in 1990 about “America’s Most Wanted”, watched by 16 million people in Canada and the US.
The police wrote to the Salvation Armies across Canada in case he came for help. He was on the most wanted list by the RCMP and the FBI. His fingerprints were available to any police force that wanted to find him. So was his DNA.
Police even issued a bulletin asking dentists to contact them if Howe came for help with his chronically damaged teeth.
The police know that you probably won’t seek advice while you’re on the run.
A prison counselor told the Leader-Post in 1985 that he refused to cooperate with psychological counseling while at Prince Albert Penitentiary.
“It’s almost like he’s worried someone might rape him,” the counselor said. “He absolutely refused to admit that he might have a sexual or drinking problem.”
Gerald Wayne King, one of his few prison friends, said Howe was more afraid of being classified as a dangerous criminal and receiving an indeterminate sentence.
Howe told other inmates that he was an armed robber, not a sex offender, as that is more socially acceptable in prison culture.
“Once they write you a psychological report, you’re screwed,” King said. “Every time you go to court, you are a psychiatric case. They could lock you up forever.
Many prisoners’ cells are decorated with family photos or pornography.
Howe’s cell in Prince Albert was empty, as if no one lived there.
King said they were in prison together for eight years and talked about traveling to the US.
There has been no confirmed sighting of Howe since the day after Sharin’s disappearance, where he was seen in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, boarding a Greyhound bus to Winnipeg.
Police thought they had finally located him in 1999, when authorities excavated the grave of someone named “Peter Sanderson” in Sudbury.
DNA tests showed that “Sanderson” was not Howe.
While Howe is sometimes outgoing, he doesn’t talk about his father, Wilfred Clifford Howe.
In 1944, when Dennis was four years old, his father Wilfred was sent to jail for a year of hard labor for having sex with a 12-year-old girl, according to court documents.
Howe’s mother, Helen Vivian Howe, was so upset that she obtained a divorce in 1945.
Howe was raised by his mother after that. He often spent his nights playing Monopoly with his mother and his boyfriend.
He was physically strong growing up, but avoided sports.
He was handsome but he didn’t have girlfriends. He didn’t drink either, he drove around the city in cars.
His few friends were generally younger than him. He especially liked going for long walks and watching movies alone.
In prison, he once asked to move to the high-security special handling unit to get away from the louder, younger inmates who craved attention and wanted to act as wheel-dealers.
There was a time when he seemed more comfortable in jail than on the street.
After his sex crime spree became public, he knew he would be a target for his fellow inmates, his longtime friend King said. the position of leader.
“He couldn’t do time in a normal population,” King said. They would kill him. The guy and I were good friends, but I had to get away from him.”
King thought that Howe probably has a plan, if he was ever cornered by the police: he would force them to kill him, known as “death at the hands of a cop.”
“They would have to,” King said. “I don’t think Dennis gave them any other choice. He is not violent but he is at the end (of his patience). He was like, ‘I’m done.’
Sharin Morningstar Keenan’s murder remains unsolved.
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