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Alberta RCMP link four Calgary murders in 1970s to American serial killer

Alberta RCMP have solved four historical homicides dating to the 1970s, linking them to a single man  — a serial killer and repeat sexual offender who police believe likely committed violent sexual crimes until his death in an Idaho prison in 2011.

Gary Allen Srery was responsible for the deaths of four young victims in Calgary in the 1970s, RCMP said at a news conference Friday.

Srery was a predator who stalked his victims from behind the wheel, targeting young women and girls before discarding their bodies on the roadside.

Police said he killed Eva Dvorak and Patricia McQueen, both 14. He also killed Melissa Rehorek, 20, and Barbara MacLean, 19.

Srery died in 2011 in a state prison in Idaho while serving a life sentence for rape. Having no family to claim his body, he was buried behind the institution where he died. 

Police said Friday he had an extensive criminal record. RCMP believe there may be other victims, living or dead, who have yet to be identified.

Srery was a transient who lived between Canada and the United States, often changing his appearance and relying on aliases to disguise his identity.

During his time in Canada he lived across Alberta and B.C. and police believe he may have committed other crimes in the communities he called home. 

Srery was identified through the use of DNA and criminal databases that helped trace his family tree.  

Police believe there may be other victims, both living and dead, who have yet to be identified.

A uniformed police officer stands beside a monitor displaying photos of a man.
RCMP Insp. Breanne Brown with images of Gary Allen Srery. Police say Srery, who died in 2011, was responsible for the deaths of four young victims in Calgary in the 1970s. (Trevor Wilson/CBC)

During a technical briefing with reporters, RCMP detailed each case and the similarities between the cases.

RCMP said each of Srery’s victims vanished from Calgary. Their bodies were found on the outskirts of the city with no attempts to conceal their remains.

All were young and vulnerable, RCMP said. All were taken while walking late at night. Their bodies were found fully clothed. Each had been sexually assaulted and died from asphyxiation. Their killer left traces of DNA evidence.

Eva and Patricia 

Of the four cases now solved, Eva and Patricia — known as Patsy — were the first to be killed.

On Feb. 12, 1976, the girls, students at Ian Bazalgette Junior High School in Calgary, left class and stayed together, visiting the homes of friends. One missing person’s report was filed.

The girls were last seen on Feb. 15, around midnight, walking near 9th Avenue and 12th Street S.E. in Calgary, heading toward downtown.

Their bodies were found the following morning under the Happy Valley underpass, west of Calgary. 

The girls were lying together, fully clothed, on the road. There was no obvious sign of death. 

Witnesses were interviewed. Investigators examined tire impressions found at the scene and did extensive toxicology tests that ultimately ruled out drugs as a factor in their deaths.

The manner of death was ruled to be asphyxia but the circumstances of the girls’ deaths remained a mystery for decades.

Then, in 2022, RCMP received a tip about the case that would act as a catalyst for a re-examination of the DNA evidence, and ultimately the identification of Srery as the killer.

Melissa Rehorek

In the fall of 1976, Srery killed Melissa Rehorek on the western outskirts of Calgary. 

Rehorek, 20, who had moved to Calgary from Windsor, was living at a downtown YMCA and working as a housekeeper at a nearby hotel. She loved spending time outdoors and told her friends she planned to hitchhike out of the city and west down the highway to spend the weekend in the mountains.

A Calgary transit driver told investigators that he may have dropped her off in the Bowness area near Highway 1 on Sept. 15. 

Her body was found the next morning in a ditch off a remote gravel road, 22 kilometres west of Calgary. 

There was evidence of a struggle. An autopsy determined she had died of asphyxia by strangulation. She had also suffered a blow to the head.

In her hand, investigators found she was grasping long black hairs that were not hers.

Hair analysis was done but a suspect was not identified.

RCMP said many persons of interest were investigated in her killing, including known offenders in the area, but no arrests were made.

Police said the DNA evidence recovered from Rehorek’s body was analyzed in the 1990s when the technology first became available. But it would be years before a national database was developed. 

More to come…

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