The CSI complex and Paula Gallant’s murder

While I shy away from serious issues as often as I can, it’s impossible to ignore bad things that touch on our lives, if only through the news and my watching of all the CSIs ad nauseam.

I was at Acadia University in Wolfville when missing local resident Leslie Ann Conrad was found dead in the fall of 2006.  Though I remembered to double check my locks and put the stick in my window (high-tech security device) I wasn’t totally frightened by the possibility there was a murderer walking about.  Because often, it’s those closest to the victim who are to blame.

The spire of the chapel at Acadia University.

Almost two years later, in January 2008, a little girl went missing from Bridgewater.  I wanted to think a stranger was in Lunenburg County abducting children (because randomness would almost be more comforting) but as time proved, it was the woman closest to Karissa Boudreau convicted of first degree murder.

This week police finally arrested a suspect in the Paula Gallant murder, a nearly five-year old cold case that would have been forgotten by the public if it hadn’t been for her sisters keeping the sunny, wholesome schoolteacher’s name in the public eye, and Frank magazine’s ongoing counter as to how many days have gone without a charge in the murder.

Watching David Caruso and Laurence Fishburne on the many CSIs I’m subjected to thanks to my 2.5 channel universe has led me to believe crimes are solved by happy coincidences and some savvy tricks in the lab.  Add in a few raids, guns drawn, and sobbing confessions, and you’ve got a case all wrapped up in time to go to bed.

It’s well known that CSI has led many people to believe police can do their work quickly and efficiently thanks to technological advances.  Just scan a picture and the computer will tell you who the killer is because you can see his figure reflected in someone’s sunglasses.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

While the Karissa Boudreau case was solved relatively quickly, the murders of Paula Gallant and Leslie Ann Conrad have lingered, unsolved, for years.  Who is still out there, cocky they’ve been able to outsmart the authorities all this time?

Though the sexy investigators and police of the CSIs, Bones, and the rest of the crime shows out there make criminal investigations look easy peasy, it’s a fact of life that patience is what is required when solving murders, especially those of the suspicious domestic sort.  If the investigation is not done properly, defense lawyers can rip apart a case like a dog taking down a roll of toilet paper.

Hopefully the generous $150,000 rewards for unsolved murders such as I’ve mentioned above will compel someone to come forward and help investigators shut these cases so the victims’ families can finally move on to the next stage of their lives.  Perhaps it was this very reward which led to the arrest in Paula Gallant’s case.

Now there’s a few more investigations to go, including the local murder of Jason Barkhouse in East Dalhousie in 1980.  It’s been 30 years since he was beaten to death in his home, beside his partner who was also attacked until she was seriously injured.

Let’s hope investigators are able to close this case along with a few others that taint Canada’s ocean playground and prove bad things even happen in paradise.

The next time I watch one of my favourite shows, I will be heartened by the fantasy that all the bad guys are caught by the end of the hour, and I can crawl into bed, satisfied I’m protected from the evil-doers of the world.  Fantasy is always so much better than reality when it comes to crime solving.

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