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John Etter CLARK





Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Parricide
Number of victims: 7
Date of murders: June 3, 1956
Date of birth: March 29, 1915
Victims profile: His wife Margaret Clark, 37; his son Ross, 7; her three daughters, Jenena, 8, Ann, 5, Linda, 4; a hired farm hand and a visitor to the farm
Method of murder: Shooting (single-shot .22 caliber rifle)
Location: Erskine, Alberta, Canada
Status: Committed suicide by shooting himself the same day

John Etter Clark (March 29, 1915 June 3, 1956) was a provincial politician, teacher and farmer from Alberta, Canada. He served as a member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta from 1952 until his death in 1956. Clark committed one of the worst mass murders in Alberta history before taking his own life.

Early life

John Etter Clark was born in Alberta, Canada in 1915. He became a part-time school teacher and a farmer. Clark inherited the farm founded by his father and farmed a total of 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) of land. He married his wife Margaret Dinwoodie in 1947 and had four children with her.

Political career

Clark ran for a seat to the Alberta Legislature in the 1952 Alberta general election as a Social Credit candidate in the electoral district of Stettler. The four race was hotly contested with Clark winning on the second vote count to hold the district for his party.

Clark ran for a second term in the 1955 Alberta general election. He won a sizable majority defeating two other candidates to hold his seat.

Murders and suicide

On June 3, 1956 Pete Parrott a neighbor residing on a farm leased from Clark next to his farm in Erskine, Alberta had stopped over for a social visit. Parrott happened upon a grisly mass murder scene finding seven people who were shot at least once through the head with one victim being shot multiple times. Six of the victims were already deceased with a seventh barely clinging to life when Parrott arrived. The seventh victim was taken to a local hospital but died shortly after. The victims had been shot with .22 caliber bullets.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police descended on scene with 14 special field agents. Clark was not among the dead, and had fled the scene. A mass search began to locate his whereabouts. The dead included his wife Margaret Clark, his son and three daughters a hired farm hand and a visitor to the farm.

The murder weapon was a single-shot .22 caliber rifle that Clark had borrowed from his uncle. He was supposed to have traveled to Saskatchewan on June 1, 1956 to help manage the Social Credit campaign in the 1956 Saskatchewan general election, but failed to show without any explanation.

Police found the body of Clark lying just on the edge of a dugout approximately 600 yards from the farmhouse where the murders took place. He had a single self-inflicted bullet hole through the head and was found with murder weapon lying at his feet. Clark was found adorned in night attire as if he had been preparing to go to bed. The search was conducted by 32 RCMP Officers who traveled the range on horseback with a team of tracking dogs. A separate aerial search was conducted by team of three mounties on a Royal Canadian Air Force Otter. The mounties spotted the body of Clark from the air a few hours after the search began.

Clark had been suffering from frequent nervous breakdowns in recent years. He was hospitalized for a month and a half in 1954 after one such breakdown. He also had one during the spring session of the legislature in 1956. At the time of the mass murder, it was considered the worst such event in Alberta's history.



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