Author pens novel on former CDDHS student turned killer

·2 min read

Ann Burke can recall that he melted into the background, he was shy, and uncomfortable making eye contact with woman.

“He had those behaviours, triggers, or warnings even as a child that now today would suggest you had someone potentially dangerous,” explains Burke.

In her debut novel, “The Seventh Shot: On the Trail of Canada’s .22 Calibre Killer,” Burke tells the story of infamous murderer Ronald Glen West, nicknamed the .22 Calibre Killer, a once classmate of hers who committed two grisly murders in 1970.

The book details the brutal rapes and murders of Doreen Moorby and Helen Ferguson in May of 1970 at the hands of West, who at the time, worked as a Toronto Police Officer. For 30 years the murders would go unsolved, when advancements in DNA testing led to the arrest and conviction of West, who plead guilty and was sentenced to two life sentences in 2001.

“What struck me about West, was how highly he scored as a potential sexual psychopath,” said Burke, who spoke with profilers, and experts in criminology. “If he was a young person today there’s no doubt that some of these signals would have registered with some people.”

Part of Burke’s fascination with the murders comes from a personal connection. In the mid-1960s Burke and West attended Grade 12 together at Centre Dufferin District High School (CDDHS) in Shelburne. Burke would become aware of West’s murders in 1999, but wouldn’t begin researching and writing about them for another decade.

Spending hours researching documents from the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Museum, interviewing those who knew him as a child, and speaking with many Toronto Police Officer, the novel took Burke almost five years to write.

“I interviewed quite a few individuals from the Amaranth area, where he grew up on the farm, and other friends that he had in high school,” said Burke. “I think they as much as anybody were surprised, he held his inner sight very close to him.

“He exhibited other signs in parts of his life that made people close by realize that he was someone very dangerous, possibly not a rapist murderer, but his first and second wife realized he was abusive and very troubled.”

When speaking about his ability to go undetected for almost 30 years Burke said, “He was pretty savvy as far as making sure he didn’t leave a lot of a lot of clues behind – he wiped down door handles – and consider there was no DNA at the time.”

Burke’s book, which was published through norther Ontario publisher Latitude 46, was released in October and is available for purchase at Indigo, Chapters, and Amazon. For more information go to www.annburkeauthor.com.

Paula Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shelburne Free Press