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The hunters and the haunted

For retired cops, there is always one case that still keeps them up at night.

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It was Christmas morning, 1987. Bill VanderGraaf was enjoying quality time with his giddy two young children when the phone rang.

Agnes Kirk-Kirton, her five-year-old daughter Sarah and 18-month-old son Evan had been gunned down inside their townhouse hours earlier. An execution of three innocents.

VanderGraaf called in to offer help with the manhunt for the two killers, believed to be collecting a drug debt from Kirk-Kirton’s husband — who managed to duck out a window and escape.

Eventually the two accused were caught and VanderGraaf was assigned to interrogate the suspected gunman, Larry Fisher. It proved to be a gruelling 10-hour ordeal, the most challenging of a 29-year career that ended in 2001.

"When you have a man accused repeatedly in various fashions, that he is a woman and baby killer, and he remains completely silent and emotionless for that length of time, you know he is cold blooded," says VanderGraaf.

He spent several days submerging himself in Winnipeg’s shadowy drug sub-culture convincing several witnesses to co-operate with the investigation, which ultimately paved the way for murder convictions against both accused.

"One would think that in the drug underworld, the police would be stymied in conducting interview," says VanderGraaf. "Quite the contrary in this case, such people were equally outraged and more then helpful."

VanderGraaf says it was this case, more than any other, that changed his views on drugs. He now serves as a speaker and director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

"This case and many many others since on our streets, are not the result of illegal drug use but the prohibition of drugs. That should be changed to proper social health policies, with control and regulation to stop this kind of slaughter," says VanderGraaf.

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