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Donald Sherman STALEY






A.K.A.: "The Sex Pervert"
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: The boys were sexually assaulted before and after death
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: July 5/24, 1946
Date of arrest: August 17, 1946
Date of birth: June 13, 1917
Victims profile: Garry Billings, 11 / Donnie Goss, 6
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia/Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Status: Executed by hanging at Provincial Gaol, Lethbridge, on December 18, 1946

The Canadian army veteran, Donald Sherman Staley, 29, of Bracebridge, Ont., was convicted of the sex slaying on July 24, 1946, of 6-year-old Donnie Goss in Calgary, Alta. Police said he also confessed killing 11-year-old Garry Billings in Vancouver, B. C.


Donald Sherman Staley

The summer of 1946

It was a sunny Fourth of July in Vancouver when eight-year-old Bobby Sherman and Garry Billings, elevan, headed to Stanley Park Beach to cool off. As the two friends splashed in the cold saltwater, enjoying the first summer without war in six years, they were approached by a pleasant young soldier who offered to buy them peanuts and popcorn.

The unlikely trio spent the better part of an afternoon together, indulging in salty snacks and ice cream, even chatting amicably with an RCMP constable. The young soldier told the constable that his name was Donald Sherman Staley and that he had recently discharged from the Scottish regiment.

Befor they parted ways, Staley handed the boys some money and promised to have more for them if they come back to see him at noon the following day.

To Bobby Sherman and Garry Billings it must have seemed like a dream come true. In fact, they were so excited about the experience, they regaled their parents with tales of the generous man who had bought them treats and ridden partway home with them on the streetcar. Neither mentioned their plans to meet with him again.

The next day Bobby showed up late to Garry's house to find that the older boy had left for the beach without him. His disappointment soon turned to concern  when weeks later there was still no sign of his friend. It was as if Garry Billing had been swept away with the tide.

Nineteen days later, another innocent chils disappeared on Calgary's St. George Island. Six-year-old Donnie Goss, the third of four brothers, had been playing with some other children by the swings. Within twenty-four hours, his body was located by police; beaten about the head, throat, and chest, stabbed nine times, and abandoned behind some bushes.

Simultaneously, the decomposing corpse of Garry Billings was unearthed from a shallow grave in Stanley Park. Like Goss, Billings had been savagely kanifed to death, his body secreted beneath some logs in a nearby grove. Perhaps most grotesquely, both boys had been sexually assaulted before and after death.

On August 8, Staley broke into the Diamond Cafe at 233 9th Avenue E, making off with some cigarettes and others small items. Though he would escape the wrath of Jung Tai, the iron-bar wielding tenant who lived downstairs, four days later he was arrested for the theft by Calgary detectives. Pleading guilty to shop-breaking, and with a previous record of indecency, house-breaking, and mail theft, Staley was sentenced to one year in Lethbridge jail.

Meanwhile. back in Vancouver, authorities had been building a solid case against him for the murder of Garry Billings. Identified by both Bobby Sherman and the RCMP constable who had spoken with him on July 4, they had collected Staley's photograph, fingerprints, and army record, and were waiting for him to resurface ir order to make an arrest.

When word came that he had been incarcerated in Lethbridge, detectives from Vancouver arrived at the jail on August 17, where they began to press him about the murder of Garry Billings. To their surprise, Staley not only confessed to the Vancouver slaying, but also the stabbing death of Donnie Goss on St. George Island.

In the case of Billings, he had met the boy at 11:50 a.m. and walked with him around the park for an hour before enticing him into the bushes with the promise of a dollar. There he proceeded to sexually assault the eleven-year-old, choking him unconscious and stabbing him to death with a four-inch paring knife. Placing the body in a hollow, he engaged in post-mortem sex with the child's corpse before concealing it under logs and bushes.

Staley had refined certain elements of his modus operandi during the second killing. Using the same ruse to lure Donnie Goss to a remote area of the island, he struck the six-year-old with a blackjack, but failed to subdue him, bursting the weapon and scattering buckshot about the area. The two continued the struggle before Staley drove his blade into Donnie's body, rendering him helpless. With the blond-haired child lying dead before him, Staley sexually assaulted the body before leaving it to rot in the summer heat.


In the end, Donald Sherman Staley was convicted by a jury of his peers and sentenced to hang. His attorney made a passionate appearance before Alberta's Supreme Court, seeking a reprieve on the basis that if his client did not meet the definition of insanity, then nobody did. Despite his efforts, on December 18, 1946, Staley was executed alongside four German prisioners of war in what was the largest public hanging in the Canadian history.

"Cold North Killers" by Lee Mellor


Donald Sherman Staley



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