Friday, March 24, 2000 7:48 PM

Alison Auld

Police looking at unsolved cases for links to McGray's claims

HALIFAX (CP) — Canadian police aren't rushing to take up the offer of Michael Wayne McGray, a convicted murderer who says he'll reveal how he killed more than a dozen people if granted certain demands.

"No deal, no deal," Sgt. Wayne Noonan of the Halifax RCMP said Friday.

"One of the conditions is that nobody else is charged. We can't agree to things like that. Impossible."

McGray, serving a life sentence in Renous, N.B., for the 1998 first-degree murder of a Newfoundland woman, said he wants three things before he tells police how he killed at least 16 people.

In an interview Thursday, McGray said he doesn't want any of his accomplices charged; that he doesn't want to be charged for the alleged crimes; and, that he wants psychiatric treatment for "demons" he says sent him on a 15-year killing spree.

McGray's claims of killings in Halifax, Saint John, N.B., Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and Seattle have caused police to sift through their unsolved homicide files to see if there are parallels.

So far, there has been no way to corroborate McGray's allegations.

Noonan said Halifax police and RCMP tried Friday to meet with McGray, a 34-year-old drifter born in Collingwood, Ont., and raised in Yarmouth, N.S.

"He doesn't want to speak to anybody Thursday," Noonan said Friday, a day after McGray spent hours detailing his claims to several media outlets.

Noonan said he understood that McGray was locked down in his segregated prison cell. Officials with the Correctional Service of Canada were not available to confirm that.

Meanwhile, documents obtained by the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal indicate the National Parole Board expressed concern in 1995 about McGray's problems with anger and substance abuse.

The board also expressed concern that McGray disappeared for more than a year while on parole, "which clearly indicated a serious breach of trust and a blatant disregard for conditions of release," the newspaper reported Thursday.

McGray's case could be a logistical challenge for Crown attorneys, RCMP officers and police who will have to co-ordinate their investigations.

McGray originally made the claims several months ago to Cpl. Adrian Tompkins of the RCMP in Moncton, N.B.

Tompkins will likely be one of the lead investigators and suggested a task force might be established to handle the case.

"We're trying to assist any other agencies that make any inquiries," Tompkins said.

He said Friday that several jurisdictions had called seeking details.

Police will investigate and then give the information to provincial prosecutors who would determine whether any deals should be struck with McGray.

The former B.C. attorney general who authorized a $100,000 payment to mass murderer Clifford Olson's family in exchange for Olson leading police to his victims' remains says authorities shouldn't rule out cutting a deal with McGray.

But Allan Williams said that should be considered only if McGray provides hard evidence that he committed the murders.

"It's worth considering, provided police are satisfied that there's some substance in what he's talking about," he said.

"It's the same basic issue," Williams said of comparisons between McGray's request and the deal offered to Olson, who was convicted in 1982 of killing 11 girls and boys.

He said it might be in the public interest to make a deal, because closure for victims' families is paramount so they can get on with their lives.

But he acknowledged that the price — McGray's insistence that his accomplices not be charged — might be too high.

Police are trying to determine if there's any truth to claims that date back to 1985, when McGray says he and a friend picked up and then repeatedly stabbed 17-year-old Elizabeth Gail Tucker, who was hitchhiking in southwestern Nova Scotia.

Seattle police knew little about the allegations, but said they would search their files once they had more information on the alleged slayings.

McGray would only say that he killed a gay man and a female prostitute in Seattle sometime in 1995-96. He said he probably used his preferred weapon, a knife.

Police there say they've cut deals before and would consider it with McGray.

"If we can clear two old murders, why not?" said Sgt. Dick Gagnon.

McGray also claimed that he could lead Toronto police to the body of a 50-year-old alcoholic he buried in a west-end park.

"We're obviously interested in what he's said," said Det. Insp. Klancy Grasman of Ontario Provincial Police. "We've assigned one of our inspectors to check into that.

"We'll be examining our files that would fit what he's saying."

If the claims are true, it would make McGray the country's worst serial killer.

Sometimes prisoners will exaggerate their crimes — as Olson did — to gain stature in prison or win deals with police, officials say.

"There are people who are not always honest and forthright and for various reasons are seeking to get some type of special treatment from the judicial system," said Michele Paradis at the RCMP National Communications Centre in Ottawa.

Paradis said they're using a database that profiles violent crimes and potential suspects "to determine if there are any similarities between what happened in Moncton and throughout the country."

Const. Anne Drennan, Vancouver police media liaison, said Friday that police started comparing notes several weeks ago with their counterparts in Eastern Canada.

She said it's now known that McGray was in Vancouver, though police aren't sure when.

"We have no substantive details that would point to a particular incident or time frame," she said.

There are no plans yet to send detectives to New Brunswick to interview McGray, Drennan said, because they have nothing to link him to a specific crime.

© The Canadian Press, 2000

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Created: March 25, 2000
Last modified: January 15, 2001
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