Evelyn Dick and the Torso Murder
By Rupert Taylor
When the headless and limbless body of John
Dick was found in a wooded area of Hamilton, Ontario suspicion
turned to his young wife, Evelyn.
On Saturday, March 16, 1946 a group of children
were playing on the Niagara Escarpment, known locally as The
Mountain, in Hamilton. Part way down the slope, in amongst the
trees, they found what they thought was the body of a pig. Police
quickly realized they were dealing with the naked torso of a man,
and it was soon identified as belonging to John Dick.
Evelyn Dick’s Unconventional Marriage
In his book The Torso Murder: The Untold Story
of Evelyn Dick, Brian Vallée recounts the story of the murder and
It seems that the beautiful and young (she was
26 at the time of her husband’s death) Evelyn Dick had many
She moved in the upper-class circles of
Hamilton society so her marriage to John Dick, a Hamilton Street
Railway conductor came as a surprise. By all accounts the
relationship was stormy and ended quickly. According to Time
Magazine, “Five days after her marriage (in October 1945) she
committed adultery. Shortly after, she and John separated.”
Investigation Points to Evelyn Dick
The 2002 movie Torso says that when Evelyn Dick
was questioned by police about her husband’s fate her response was
“Don’t look at me. I don’t know anything about it.” Then, she
started to tell stories about a Mafia-style hit man and a jealous
husband who claimed John Dick had been fooling with his wife as
the likely suspects.
But investigators weren’t buying any of
Evelyn’s stories because they were turning up hard, physical
evidence. About the time of John’s disappearance she had borrowed
a car and returned it with bloodstains on the upholstery that were
the same group as John’s. “Out in the back yard of her home,”
wrote Time, “police found bits of human bones mixed with some
cinders from the furnace.”
Evelyn Dick Charged with Murder
Then, another gruesome discovery was made; in
the attic of Evelyn’s home the body of an infant boy was found
encased in concrete inside a suitcase. The body was identified as
that of her son Peter.
Police charged Evelyn with the murder of her
husband and son and she came up with yet another version of what
had happened. She signed a statement that John Dick had been
killed by a lover named Bill Bohozuk and her father, Donald
Now, all three faced charges of murder.
Trial Garners Sensational Coverage
In October 1946, Evelyn Dick’s case came before
Writing for Maclean’s Magazine, Charlie Gillis
comments that “It was the golden age of newspapers, and they had
a…field day with Hamilton’s ‘black widow’ trial. Constant
front-page treatment of the story transfixed readers, drawing
hundreds to gather outside the courthouse during the proceedings.”
After nine days of testimony the jury took less
than two hours to return a guilty verdict. Evelyn was given the
death sentence, although her conviction for the murder of her
husband was overturned on appeal.
Bill Bohozuk walked away a free man when Evelyn
refused to give testimony in his trial. Her father was convicted
of being an accessory to murder and got a five-year sentence.
Evelyn Dick Sentenced to Life
However, Evelyn did not escape the hand of
justice. She was found guilty of the manslaughter death of the
infant Peter and received a life sentence. Writing in The Globe
and Mail, John Allemang points out that Evelyn’s “charm endured,
even in captivity. She served only 11 years before friends in high
places engineered her freedom. And then…she disappeared.”
But author Brian Vallée claims she married a
wealthy man after her release and moved to Canada’s West Coast
where she lived without anybody knowing about her past.
“The Torso Murder: The Untold Story of Evelyn
Dick” Brian Vallée, Key Porter Books, 2002.
“Canada: ONTARIO: The Dick Affair.” Time
Magazine, October 28, 1946.
“A Killer Vanishes.” Charlie Gillis,
Maclean’s Magazine, March 15, 2005.
“A Moment in Time.” John Allemang, The Globe
and Mail, March 16, 2011
Evelyn Dick - The 'Torso' Murder
The Torso murder case is one
of the most sensational and talked about murder cases in Canada's
history. Half a century after the crime was committed, it has
spawned a play that has received rave reviews and much public
interest. However, like the Lizzie Borden case, the public remains
largely unaware of what transpired legally after the dismembered
body of John Dick was recovered.
When And Where?: Hamilton, Ontario
Canada. March, 1946
Who?: Evelyn Dick was
born to Donald and Alexandra MacLean on October 13, 1920. A year
after her birth in Beamsville, near Niagara Falls, the family
moved to 214 Rosslyn Avenue in Hamilton. The elder MacLean worked
for the Hamilton street Railway as a streetcar conductor. He later
attained an office position that gave him access to company
revenues. Evelyn's childhood was not particularly happy.
Her father indulged too much
in alcohol, and her mother demonstrated a wicked temper. The
parents didn't get along and often spent time apart. Evelyn didn't
associate much with the neighbourhood children. Her parents
considered her too fragile to be out playing on the streets.
Rumours abounded that Donald was dipping into the coffers of the
H.S.R. They lived very well, always had huge sums in the bank and
would send Evelyn shopping with handfuls of nickels, the fee
collected for a fare in those days. With parental encouragement,
Evelyn tried hard to become recognized in the finer circles in
town. She would host lavish parties at the Royal Connaught Hotel,
Hamilton's finest, and spend money freely on acquaintances. her
social acceptance was never reciprocated in the way that she
The attractive Evelyn became
the focus of rumours while still in her mid-teens. She had more
expensive jewelry and furs than was considered proper. She spent
time in the company of much older men and at places out of town
and at race tracks. In 1942, Evelyn gave birth to a daughter. This
further fuelled rumours. Evelyn announced that it was OK, that she
was married to a man stationed overseas by the last name of White.
Later examination of military records failed to prove the
existence of such a person. Heather White was born with mental
retardation, and would require much attention from her mother and
Evelyn gave birth the next
summer to a stillborn baby, and then on September 5, 1944 Peter
David White was born. No one is certain of who the father was for
any of these children. In June of 1945, Evelyn. Heather and
Alexandra MacLean, who had recently separated from Donald, moved
into an apartment together in downtown Hamilton. After a month or
so together, Evelyn astounded her mother by announcing that in two
weeks she was going to marry John Dick. Alexandra MacLean had
never heard of him.
It was Saturday, March 16, 1946 when a group of five children
found what they they thought looked like the body of a headless
pig laying part way down the side of Hamilton's escarpment, or
what locals call 'The Mountain'. Their find proved to be more
gruesome. It was, in fact the torso of an adult male. The head,
arms and legs were missing and no where to be found. A deep wound
in the abdomen told investigators that someone had tried to cut
the torso itself in two.
An identification of the
remains by doctors and a positive i.d. by his brother-in-law led
police to the conclusion that they had found the remains of John
Dick, a conductor for the Hamilton Street railway. Dick's cousin,
Alexander Kammerer, had reported to police that John had been
missing since March 6.
He told them that he became
worried when he heard reports of the torso and began to suspect
that something awful may have happened to the man who had been
living with him since his short-lived marriage had apparently
failed. Kammerer had wondered whether Dick had returned to the
house on Carrick Avenue where he, his wife and step-daughter had
resided together for only a brief period of time.
Strange as it seemed, John
and Evelyn had been married for almost a month before they began
to reside together. She remained in an apartment with her mother
and Heather, telling John that there wasn't enough room for all of
them. Alexandra wondered about Evelyn and John, all the while
remembering the name, Bill Bohozuk, the man that she believed her
daughter to be very much involved with when Evelyn's perplexing
marriage announcement was made. It was Evelyn herself who bought
the Carrick Avenue home. John Dick's name was not on the mortgage,
and it is believed that he put none of the initial deposit money
A few stormy months resulted
in John's departure. Evelyn was taken to police headquarters for
questioning soon after the body was identified. What followed was
astounding to investigators. Evelyn Dick responded to the news
that the torso belonged to her husband by remarking " Don't look
at me. I don't know anything about it", then proceeded to tell a
story about a nattily dressed Italian hitman kinda guy who arrived
at her door looking for John. He said that he was going to "fix"
him for messing around with his wife. He then left without telling
Mrs. Dick who he was. Days later, police had learned that Evelyn
borrowed a large Packard car from a man named Bill Landeg. Landeg
received the car back with blood covering the front seat, the seat
covers missing and bloody clothing in the back.
Evelyn left a note
explaining that Heather had cut herself and made the mess.
Investigation proved the blood to be the same type as John Dick's.
At this point, Evelyn told police that a mysterious man had called
her, told her that John had made a woman pregnant and that he was
getting what was coming to him. The man then asked her to meet her
so that he could borrow a car. Evelyn explained that she met the
man and he had a large sack with him. He told her it contained
'part of John'. Evelyn's story went on to say that she drove this
man and his cargo to the dumping site.
Mrs. Dick took police on the
route that she claimed they followed. When asked if it was at all
alarming to her that her husband's body was in the vehicle she
said that she wasn't happy about his demise, but that it was a
"pretty mean trick to break up a home", referring, evidently to
the woman who Dick had allegedly impregnated. She emphatically
denied conspiring to kill her husband. Evelyn's responses and
demeanor were inappropriate. it was no surprise to those who dealt
with her that psychiatrists later found her to be on the
borderline between having dull normal and moron-like intelligence.
In addition, it was reported
that she had the mental capacity of a thirteen year old girl.
Later, Evelyn changed her story again and signed a second
statement regarding the involvement of Italian killers, hired by
Bill Bohozuk. During all of this, investigators at the Dick's
Carrick Avenue residence made a gruesome discovery; a beige
suitcase in an attic trunk. The suitcase was filled with concrete,
and in the concrete were the remains of a baby boy; Peter David
Alexandra MacClean told
police that she had seen her husband at this trunk the day before
and told her to get the hell out of the room. Faced with this turn
of events, and having been told that Bohozuk had been brought in
for questioning, Evelyn Dick told yet another story. She said that
Bill Bohozuk had murdered the child and John Dick as well.
Incriminating evidence such as bullet holes in a pipe, a revolver
and cartridges, saws and bloodstained shoes that were almost
certainly John Dick's were found in Donald MacLean's basement.
Evelyn Dick, Bill Bohozuk and Donald MacClean were charged with
the murder of John Dick.
Trial and Outcome:
In her first trial, Evelyn Dick was found guilty of John Dick's
murder. She was sentenced to death by hanging.
Although she had
probably not killed John with her own hands, Evelyn Dick was
guilty by participating in the planning and carrying out of the
crime. When the case was heard on appeal, the verdict was
overturned because, it was ruled, Evelyn's statements to police
were improperly admitted into evidence and that the trial judge
had not properly instructed the jury. Bill Bohozuk and Donald
MacClean were held for an unheard of length of time before their
joint trial was to take place. Bohozuk walked because Evelyn Dick,
the only witness prosecutors had, refused to testify.
was found to be guilty as an accessory after the fact and
sentenced to five years in prison. Evelyn however, was not so
lucky. She was found guilty of manslaughter in the death of her
infant son and sentenced to life in Kingston Penitentiary. Evelyn
Dick was paroled in 1958. What happened to her after that is
**Note: This page
appears in the Extra Features section of the Torso movie DVD,
starring Kathleen Robertson**