The Strangler

From "Refections"

Erle Leonard Nelson, 'The Strangler', whose list of murders included a large number of women in the United States and two in Winnipeg, was captured at Wakopa on June 15,1927.

The capture, following a three-province search was made possible by Albert Dingwall, Wakopa grain buyer and LH Morgan, Wakopa store-keeper who alerted the Provincial Police of the man's whereabouts.
Sgt. W.B. Gray with Const. Sewell of Killarney detachment affected the capture and lodged him in Killarney jail, in the basement of the town hall.

The man had been noticed the day before in the vicinity of Boissevain, and Constable Young was out all day and traced him to Wakopa. He was only a few minutes behind Constable Gray.

He may have been an ordinary traveller of the genus hobo--but the police were taking no chances. He had evidently been trying to make his way across the in- ternational border.

There was great excitement in town during the evening.

Residents tell us the town constable the late Wm Dunn, who was in charge of the jail, left the cell block for a few minutes to purchase fodder for his pipe. That was all the time the Strangler needed. When Mr Dunn returned, Nelson had disappeared.
After an all-night manhunt, the suspected Strangler was captured about 9 o'clock the next morning just as a special train arrived with a score o f . police and bloodhounds from Winnipeg. His escape and capture made an exciting experience. Every man in town and countryside for miles around had joined in the search.

Mr Dingwall, who now resides in Willow Lodge in Killarney, still has the letter he received advising him of his share of the reward money. Mr Morgan and Mr Dingwall each received $300. Two other persons also participating in the capture, George Dickson and Dunc Merlin, each received $150.

Recounting the experiences Mr Dingwall said the CN train had just left when he met a stranger who had just left the Morgan store. 'It was the boots he was wearing that made me suspicious', said Dingwall. 'I told Les (Morgan) who I thought the man was, and suggested to Mrs Morgan that she should phone the police at Killarney.

Morgan and Dingwall started to follow him to see where he was going. Jim Whiteford (now living in Killarney) was driving a team and wagon going to Bannerman and gave him a lift, so it was presumed Nelson was heading back to the United States.

After his escape from the Killarney jail, Nelson sought shelter in a barn where he discovered a pair of boots and skates. As he was in his stocking feet, he took off the skates and wore the boots.

Early that morning, Alf Wood a local resident reported a stranger had accosted him for the makings for a cigarette. As soon as he could, Mr. Wood got word to Const Gray where he had seen the man. Const Gray, accompanied by Const Renton of Crystal City detach- ment headed for the last place Nelson had been seen. Just hen the whistle of the train was heard and Nelson emerged form his hiding place in a local lumberyard, thinking the train he heard must be a freight and a means of escape. He was immediately captured and placed on board the train.

Nelson appeared in Winnipeg police court for preliminary hearing on June 23rd. A trial date was set for Nov. 1, 1927 before Crown Prosecutor RB Graham, QC where he was declared guilty by the jury. He was sen- tenced to hang Friday, January 13, 1928 at the Vaughan St Jail in Winnipeg.