Today’s the day. 😳
While it’s been four months and twelve days since I learned my father was a vicious murderer and rapist, it’s been sixty two years to the day, since he committed his crime.
At the time of The Knowing, my brain came up with a list of very important tasks to complete. This post is the first of those tasks:
Tell the story. Reveal all. Refuse to be a part of the cover up.
Its not my shame- I know this in my heart! – and yet I feel strongly compelled to do something. Anything, to take a nick out of the wrong. I cannot abide injustice. So. Let me tell you about my father’s crime.
In March of 1959, my father, born Richard Alexander Huculak -You can Google him – was hired on at a farm outside of Trail, BC. He was 25 years old at the time and drifting.
It’s easy for me to see why Mr. Andrew Townsend hired him. Young, strong and experienced he would have made a capable farmhand. He was a quiet person too, the kind of guy who settled into the background. I know from my own experiences that he presented as gentle. Trustworthy. A person who didn’t give much of themselves away yet seemed placid and decent. Not a threat. Mr. Townsend observed him much the same, according to one article.
In addition to running his farm, Mr. Townsend worked nights with a large employer in town. He left for work on the evening of July 29, 1959 leaving his family, wife Violet ( known as Evonne) and three children (two boys and a girl, Linda) at home. In addition to their own kids, the Townsends had a guest that evening. Another child, just a toddler at the time. The house must have felt lively with all those kids.
That same evening my dad, (known then as Dick ), headed into town with a friend and his wife for some drinks.
The party eventually returned to the friend’s house, with a case of beer and another case they purchased from a taxi driver. Later that evening the friend drove Dick- an entirely appropriate name all things considered- back to the Townsend farm.
As July 29 rolled over into July 30, my dad raped Linda Townsend, 8 years old. (Its unknown whether he raped Evonne too, the coroner wasn’t able to find any evidence but that doesn’t mean he didn’t. ) Then, my father picked up a two lb. ball peen hammer and murdered Linda and her mum, Evonne with multiple blows to their heads, while the little neighbor child lay in a crib in the same fucking room.
My dad hid the hammer behind the bed frame of the bed where Linda lay in her mother’s outstretched arm, cleaned the blood off himself, changed clothes, broke into the kid’s piggy banks, went through Evonne’s purse, stealing her money and her car keys too.
He stole the family car, (stopping somewhere along the way to purchase two bottles of Aspirin) and drove across the Nelson toll bridge, before taking the Kootenay Lake ferry to Kootenay Bay. Eventually he abandoned the car in a patch of bushes and started hitchhiking towards Calgary, AB.
As this is all going on, the Townsend kids were waking up to start their day. Hungry and wondering where their mother was they headed for their parent’s bedroom. It was clear right away that something was wrong. The oldest boy-who was only around 5 years old- lifted the littlest child out of the crib and the three of them walked a fair ways to a gas station for help. They brought a neighbor back to the farmhouse and of course that person immediately called the police.
The man hunt for my father was on.
It was one of the biggest man hunts in the area’s history. (Not a point a pride, definitely an event you don’t expect to have attached to your father )
Eventually, Dick was spotted by police officers cruising the highways for him and arrested without incident. Unbeknownst to the officers at the time, immediately prior to his arrest, Dick had swallowed both bottles of the Aspirin he’d picked up earlier and promptly lost consciousness in the back of the patrol car. He was taken to the hospital in neighboring Nelson, where his stomach was pumped. Mr. Townsend, who had been notified by then, was called upon to identify my dad and was able to correctly do so. Once my dad was stable he was released and taken to Castlegar jail where he was held under heavy guard to await trial.
The Townsend family, their friends and neighbors were left to live with the loss and trauma my father inflicted on them while he sat alive in jail, cooking up Act 2.
And what an act it was! I’m the first direct byproduct of that. Conceived and born while my dad was still under the care of the institution he was placed in.
I’m alive today because my father got away with murder. I’m alive today because my mother thought that particular man would be an appropriate and suitable spouse and parent.
Spoiler alert! He wasn’t. Nor was she for that matter, but they were absolutely perfect for each other.
Act Two to follow…