RCMP Say US Serial Sex Offender Responsible for 1970s Deaths of 4 Young Women

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The Alberta RCMP has identified a sex offender from the United States as the suspect in four different murder cases of young women in Calgary that date back to the 1970s.

Police said they believe the deaths were connected to Gary Allen Srery, who died in Idaho state prison of natural causes in 2011. He was serving a sentence for rape at the time, according to an RCMP news release.

The RCMP said that Srery murdered two 14-year-old girls, a 19-year-old woman, and a 20-year-old woman in the Calgary area between 1976 and 1977.

Despite the amount of time that has lapsed, Alberta RCMP said the files were never closed. As technology advanced and police techniques evolved, the deaths were reassessed.

“For over forty years, investigators did not give up in their pursuit to identify those responsible for these murders,” said Superintendent David Hall.

“Regardless of how much time has passed, we remain relentless in pursuing justice for all Calgarians,” said Insp. Kevin Forsen of the CPS Major Crimes Section. “In this case, our investigators dedicated countless hours lending their Investigative Genetic Genealogy expertise to the RCMP and are grateful to have played a part in finding answers for the family.”

Alberta Deaths

The RCMP has said that Srery killed a pair of 14-year-old girls in 1976. Eva Dvorak and Patricia (Patsy) McQueen were junior high school students in Calgary. The girls were friends and were last seen walking together in downtown Calgary on Feb. 14, 1976. The next morning, the two girls’ bodies were found under the Happy Valley Overpass on Highway 1, west of Calgary, police said.

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Later that year, the body of 20-year-old Melissa Rehorek was found in a ditch 22 kilometres west of Calgary. Rehorek had moved to Calgary from Ontario that spring, the news release says. She was working as a housekeeper and staying at the YWCA. She was last seen on Sept. 15, 1976, by a roommate. Police said Rehorek was planning to hitchhike out of the city for her days off. Her body was found the next day on what is now known as Township Road 252.

The RCMP said that Srery’s fourth known victim was Barbara MacLean, whose body was found in February 1977. She was 19 years old at the time and had moved to Calgary from Nova Scotia six months before her death. MacLean was working at a local bank, police said. She was at the Highlander Hotel bar on Feb. 25 with friends and was last seen walking alone from the hotel in the early hours of Feb. 26. A dog walker found her body about six hours later in the area of 6th Street and 80th Avenue NE.

The medical examiner was not able to determine a cause of death for Dvorak and McQueen at the time, and rather than rule the deaths as homicides, they were classified as “sudden deaths,” the release said.

However, autopsies on Rehorek and MacLean determined they died of asphyxiation from strangulation. RCMP said the two deaths showed similarities that led investigators to believe it was the same suspect in both cases.

Seminal fluid was discovered at all three crime scenes, police said, but the technology was not advanced enough to develop a DNA profile.

In 2003, police were able to use DNA technology to confirm the same suspect for both Rehorek and MacLean, the news release said.

“At that time, the suspect’s DNA was compared against the National DNA Databank without a match,” police said. “The profile was uploaded into the Databank and went without a hit for over 20 years.”

Alberta RCMP said in 2021, when Investigative Genetic Genealogy (IGG) became available, they used the tool to help solve the crime.

A family tree was built based on the single nucleotide polymorphisms profile that had been developed with IGG. A suspect hypothesis was developed, and queries confirmed that suspect’s connection to Canada, the release said.

Police also confirmed that the suspect had a criminal record of violent acts on women.

While the investigation was being conducted, crime scene evidence from Dvorak and McQueen’s case was sent to a lab for further analysis, the RCMP said. A DNA match to the suspect in the Rehorek and MacLean murders was confirmed, according to police.

The RCMP undertook a cross-border investigation into Srery, and his DNA was a match to that found on all four Calgary victims, the release said.

“Identifying the perpetrator does not bring Eva, Patsy, Melissa, or Barbara back,” Supt. Hall said. “It is our hope, however, that the families are finally able to have some answers as to what happened to their loved ones all of those years ago.”

Police say they were able to confirm that Srery had been living illegally in Canada at the time of the murders. He used various aliases, including Willy Blackman and Rex Long. The RCMP said he lived a “transient lifestyle” and occasionally worked as a cook. He changed his appearance often, as well as his place of residence and vehicles, according to the news release.

Investigators also say that before he moved to Calgary, he had an “extensive” criminal record that included sex-related crimes including forcible rape, kidnapping, and burglary. They believe he left the United States around 1974 after he was able to post bail for a rape charge in California.

Police said they believe Srery lived in Alberta and British Columbia from the 1970s until he was deported in 2003.

Alberta said they believe there may be more victims of Srery that spanned the decades he lived in Canada.

Anyone with tips or information about Srery has been asked to contact Alberta RCMP, 780-509-3306.

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