Still waiting for justice for Pete Sopow

No arrest made, no charges laid because ‘no evidence’

By Stu Salkeld The Stettler Independent

It’s difficult to believe I’m approaching 25 years in the community news business. Lots has changed.

I still own my 35mm Canon AE-1 camera, but haven’t touched it in probably 10 years. Websites and social media have become part of our lives as journalists. I’m not as concerned as some in my industry about this change. People want to read news; how it’s delivered doesn’t matter to me.

One thing that hasn’t changed for most of my career is the unsolved murder of an RCMP detachment commander in one of the communities I worked early in my career.

Sgt. Pete Sopow was in charge of the Fort Macleod detachment when I worked at the Macleod Gazette newspaper for about four and a half years in the later 1990s. I wasn’t expecting Pete to be as approachable as he was. Most, not all, of the RCMP officers I’d worked with to this point had been painfully formal. I don’t blame them one bit, as you should always be mindful what you say and do when someone with a recorder and camera is nearby.

However, Pete was so easy to work with it caught me off guard. One time I had questions about an investigation, he invited me to the detachment and then read information right out of the file for me. Now that’s service. Another time, a local restaurant had been broken into on Hwy #3. Pete invited me to go out to the restaurant with him while he explained how the crime occurred and what business owners could do to prevent crimes like this in the future. I had great respect for Pete.

Pete’s body, along with the remains of his girlfriend Lorraine McNab, a schoolteacher from Pincher Creek west of Fort Macleod, was found in a trailer on McNab’s property Monday, Dec. 15, 1997. Investigators later stated the pair were shot to death at the farm Saturday, Dec. 13, two days earlier after returning from a visit to McNab’s parent’s home.

I always assumed the crime would be solved quickly. Criminals always leave evidence behind, sometimes so obviously that it’s almost embarrassing. However, to this day no one has ever been charged in Pete’s murder.

I knew everybody that worked at the Fort Macleod RCMP detachment, but local detachments don’t investigate murders like Pete’s. Such crimes are handled by the city offices, called General Investigative Section or GIS. Not much was officially released, but I knew lots of people and asked lots of questions.

I was told there was a person of interest who as questioned within a few days of the murders, then released.

I was also told there was a rare antique car seen around McNab’s property at the time of the murders, and I was told the person of interest owned a car exactly like the one seen.

I was also told the pair were murdered by a certain caliber of weapon, and that every one of those weapons in all of southern Alberta could be accounted for. Except for the one owned by the person of interest above. That weapon was missing and apparently never found.

I was told that Lorraine had coped with a stalking situation and, coincidentally, her stalker happened to be the person of interest.

I was also told weather conditions in that area destroyed evidence the police would need, such as tire tracks, footprints etc. The thing is, I remember that weekend very well. It was a warm, dry weekend with typical Fort Macleod chinooks. A friend and I went Xmas shopping in Calgary that Sunday, and wore t-shirts and jean jackets because it was so nice.

Anyway, I was told through the grapevine no arrests were made or charges laid because the crown prosecutor stated there was no chance of a conviction in court. Not enough evidence.

Disappointing because Pete was a very decent human being who deserved better than to be murdered and forgotten. The murderer is still walking around free as a bird today.

Stu Salkeld is the editor of The Pipestone Flyer newspaper and writes a regular column for the paper.

Just Posted

Remembering the start of Stettler’s new airfield

In June of 1969, a crowd of more than 1,000 attended the grand opening of the new facility

There’s a new program coordinator at Stettler Parent Link

Cori Neilson is excited about expanding the services of the organization

P&H Elevator Harvest Supper slated for Aug. 24th

Highlights include a threshing demo, rope making and a turkey dinner with all the trimmings

Stettler native Colter Long has landed a 2019 Knowledge First Financial Graduate Scholarship

Long is working towards his master of education with a specialty in counseling psychology

Central Alberta Business Centre launches operations in Stettler

Everyone is invited to the grand opening on Aug. 19th from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

QUIZ: How much do you remember about Woodstock?

Weekend music festival in Bethel, New York, was held 50 years ago

Wetaskiwin RCMP arrest two in Camrose after report of suspicious persons

Fugitives try to flee on ATVS, one allegedly steals police car

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

‘It’s just the freedom:’ Paralyzed Broncos player pursuing life on the water

The former Humboldt Broncos goaltender, who started in the net when he was nine, was paralyzed last year

Central Alberta Buccaneers punch ticket to AFL Final

28-20 win over Fort Mac sets up likely date against Calgary Wolf Pack

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

Discussion on grief and loss between Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper goes viral

The exchange includes emotional question from Cooper, and outlook on grief as a child

Most Read