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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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Like many ex-cops, Bob Marshall can’t stop thinking about the one that got away. In this case, the heartless killer of a young boy and the toll the case has taken on so many people.

Marshall says he has "second-guessed himself" more times than he cares to remember about his handling of the Jason McQuaker homicide.

Jason had just celebrated his 12th birthday in June 1988 when he vanished from Thunder Bay. Much of the suspicion fell on the boy’s father, Barry, who was well-known to police for several petty offences and was in the middle of a separation with his wife.

But there was no evidence — and no body — and the trail grew cold.

Marshall got involved in the case in 1991 when he arrested Barry in Winnipeg following a crime spree which included bank robberies in B.C., Alberta and Manitoba. In an interview, Barry made a stunning confession.

"I buried him. My son, he’s not missing. I buried him. I didn’t kill him. I found him dead. I didn’t know what to do. I took him and buried him out of town."

Marshall, his partner and Barry McQuaker jumped on a plane to Thunder Bay, where he led them to a remote location in the bush where the boy’s remains were unearthed.

Barry would ultimately be charged with obstructing justice and interfering with a dead body, but was never charged with the homicide. He swore up and down he only found the boy, already dead and sexually assaulted, and buried him so his wife wouldn’t find out what happened.

No arrest has ever been made. The cold case remains unsolved.

"The term closure is often over-used and may be inappropriate, but a full and proper conclusion would at least bring some small measure of justice for an innocent boy who was taken forever a quarter century ago this month," says Marshall, who ended his 27 year policing career in 2004.

"I think about the case a lot, weekly, and how nobody’s been held to account for the death of a young boy and the tremendous toll the death has taken on so many other innocent people, especially his mother and family members who were so close to him."

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