Canadian Monsters

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Peter Woodcock

The Toronto Bicycle Killer

Peter Woodcock was born on March 5, 1939 in Toronto, Canada. His mother was a 19-year-old prostitute who gave him up for adoption soon after his birth. Even then it was evident that something was not quite right with the baby. He cried constantly, something that saw him passed from one foster home to another during his first three years. By then he’d developed an intense fear of strangers, cowering and hiding whenever someone unknown approached. He was also unable to talk and had adopted a strange way of walking, moving the same-sided arm and leg together.

It is to their eternal credit that Frank and Susan Maynard agreed to adopt this troubled child. Frank was an accountant and the well-to-do couple lived in the upmarket area of North Toronto. Susan, a homemaker, was devoted to Peter and determined to cure his psychological problems. Soon that task would consume her life to the extent that she even neglected her husband and her own son. Peter repaid her by vandalizing her home, cutting up clothes and drapes, scarring furniture with a knife and, on one occasion, killing and mutilating the family’s pet canary.

Animal cruelty is, of course, a trait present in many fledgling serial killers. And there were other signs too of the boy’s abnormal psychology. While strolling through the Canadian National Exhibition with a social worker assigned to his case, Peter casually remarked that he would like to see a bomb dropped on the fairground to destroy all of the revelers. That comment got him admitted to the Sunnyside Children’s Center, a facility for kids with mental health issues.

Peter remained at Sunnyside until 1954, whereupon he was sent to Lawrence Park Collegiate and later to Bloordale College to complete his education. He even got a part time job while at Bloordale and impressed his employer with his honesty and work ethic. To all the world, it appeared that Peter Woodcock had turned a corner. In truth, he was just doing what all psychopaths are adept at, showing his best face to the world. Behind that facade, Peter Woodcock inhabited a scary fantasy world - a world of torture, death and mutilation.

Woodcock’s descent into murder began with a new bicycle, a sporty red and white number that his parents bought him when he was in the eleventh grade. The bike was the envy of the neighborhood kids, so when Woodcock began offering rides they jumped at the chance. It wasn’t long before Woodcock began demanding a price. In exchange for a ride, the child would have to undress, so that Woodcock could examine his or her genitals.

It was while running this voyeuristic enterprise that Woodcock met a suicidal ten-year-old. The girl, according to Woodcock’s later account, was being sexually abused by her father and wanted to die. Woodcock offered to do the deed for her and the girl agreed. However, after walking with the child to a secluded wooded area and placing his pocketknife to her throat, Woodcock lost his nerve. Later, thinking about how close he’d come to slitting the girl’s throat, he became sexually aroused. Next time, he assured himself, he’d go through with it.

On September 16, 1956, Woodcock was cruising on his bicycle when he spotted seven-year-old Wayne Mallette. The boy and his older siblings from Seeley’s Bay, Ontario, were visiting their grandparents in Toronto. On this day, however, the older children had headed downtown on a streetcar, leaving Wayne to play on his own in the garden. He soon became bored and wandered off, following a railroad track that snaked through the deserted Canadian National Exhibition grounds. It was there that Woodcock spotted him.

Woodcock began talking to the blond-haired little boy and soon found they shared a mutual interest in trains. Then he veered the conversation off in a darker direction, and told Wayne to remove his clothes. When the boy refused, Woodcock attacked him, kicking and punching and biting the helpless child. Wayne tried to fight back but was no match for the teenager. Eventually he fell to the ground. Then Woodcock was on him, pushing his face into the dirt and holding it there until Wayne suffocated to death. Woodcock then undressed the child and examined his naked body. Having satisfied his morbid lust, he put Wayne’s clothes back on and fled the scene, leaving the body out in the open.

The police found Wayne’s body at around 2:30 the following morning, along with some strange clues that had been left at the scene. The killer had defecated on the ground between Wayne’s feet. He’d also scattered some coins around the body. More useful was a report of a teenager seen racing away from the exhibition grounds on a red bicycle. That seemed a promising lead but in the end it led the police to the wrong suspect. Fourteen-year-old Ronald Mowatt was arrested and charged with the crime. The real killer, meanwhile, remained at large. Three weeks later, he killed again.

On October 6, 1956, Woodcock managed to lure 9-year-old Gary Morris, to Cherry Beach, a squalid, industrial port in East Toronto. This time, Woodcock didn’t bother asking the child to remove his clothing. He simply waited until they were in a secluded spot, grabbed Gary by the throat and strangled him into unconsciousness. Then he undressed the boy and stood for a while leering down at his naked body. As Gary began to stir, Woodcock launched a vicious attack, kicking and stamping, punching and biting the little boy, rupturing his liver and leaving deep bite wounds on his throat.

Gary Morris had been in the habit of running away from home, so when he failed to come home his parents assumed that he’d done so again. It would be a week before his body was found. Again witnesses reported a teenager on a red bicycle fleeing the scene, but unfortunately the police failed to make a connection to the Mallette murder.

Like most serial killers, Peter Woodcock was not particularly intelligent. However, he had enough criminal smarts to know that another child murder in close proximity to the Morris murder would escalate the police hunt. He therefore suppressed his urge to go hunting for another victim, keeping it in check until January 19, 1957. On that day, Woodcock approached four-year-olds Carole Voyce and Johnny Auld, as they played on the sidewalk outside Auld’s home. He offered them a ride on his bicycle, which both were eager to accept. After some haggling it was agreed that Carole would go first.

Placing the four-year-old on the handlebars, Woodcock set off through the icy streets, heading for a ravine under the Prince Edward Viaduct, which he had preselected. Once there, he convinced the child to walk into the ravine with him. Halfway down he attacked, grabbing Carole and choking her until she passed out. Then he ripped off her clothes, gorged her eyes, kicked her. Finally, he rammed a tree branch into her vagina and then fled the scene.

This time however, several people had seen Woodcock with the victim, including a former classmate who was able to identify him. Carole Voyce’s tiny, brutalized corpse was found at 11 o’clock that night. Two days later, Woodcock was in police custody. It didn’t take long before he confessed to all three child murders, as well as a string of sexual assaults against children.

Found not guilty by reason of insanity, Peter Woodcock was sentence to life at the Oak Ridge maximum-security psychiatric facility in Penetanguishene. There he lived out the next three decades of his life in relative obscurity. In 1981, he changed his name by deed poll to David Krueger. Ten years later, he was considered greatly improved, and was sent to a medium-security hospital in Brockville, Ontario.

Then, in July 1991, Peter Woodcock was back in the news. On July 13, Woodcock was allowed out on a day pass under the supervision of former Brockville inmate, Bruce Hamill. Unbeknownst to the authorities, Woodcock and Hamill had been lovers a Brockville and Hamill was heavily under Woodcock’s influence. On the day of the furlong, Woodcock had instructed Hamill to obtain a knife, a hatchet, some sleeping pills and a sleeping bag. These items were to be hidden in a grove of trees, all part of an elaborate plan by Woodcock to murder fellow Brockville inmate, David Kerr, who had spurned his sexual advances.

David Kerr was duly lured to the tree grove where both Woodcock and Hamill attacked him, hacking and slashing until all that remained of Kerr’s head was a bloody pulp. They then took turns sodomizing the corpse. When they were done, Woodcock instructed Hamill to swallow the pills and to lie down in the sleeping bag.

Woodcock’s plan had been to rape and murder Hamill after he passed out. But the murder of David Kerr had exhausted him, so he walked instead to the nearest police station and gave himself up.

Both Hamill and Woodcock were found culpable in the murder of David Kerr and were returned to Oak Ridge. Peter Woodcock died there on March 5, 2010, his 71st birthday.

Canadian Monsters includes 24 more riveting stories of Canada's worst serial killers