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Friday, June 23, 2000

Killer didn't want wife raising son
Suicide letter shows concern for one-year-old boy
Mark Gollom
National Post

PICKERING - "Call a cab."

Those were the first three words written on a note attached to Ralph Hadley's suicide letter that detailed the steps of his plan to murder his estranged wife.

The seven-page handwritten letter that followed revealed that Mr. Hadley wanted 35-year-old Gillian Hadley dead because he felt he needed to protect their one-year-old son from her.

"He asked that his family, his sister in particular, raise the child. He said the only way his child could be properly raised was by killing her," Sergeant Jim Grimley of the Durham Regional Police said, adding Mr. Hadley made no mention of why he took his own life.

On Tuesday morning, Mr. Hadley, 34, followed his own written instructions, taking a taxi from his Scarborough house to a street near Mrs. Hadley's Pickering home, despite a restraining order to stay away. Neighbours later told police they saw a man climbing some yard fences in the area.

Mr. Hadley climbed in through the back window of the house and fatally shot Mrs. Hadley, a mother of three children (two from a previous marriage), moments before he took his own life.

Police found the undated printed letter in a knapsack behind Mrs. Hadley's Hillcrest Road home. A clip from a handgun was also found in the knapsack.

The note details how Mr. Hadley would travel to his wife's home by cab, inspect the area around the house, and finally kill her.

"There's nothing about a gun being used. He doesn't go into that specific detail how he would kill anyone, but does make it clear he was there to do that," Sgt. Grimley said.

Two pages of the suicide letter were addressed to his family -- one to his parents and the other to his sister -- asking them for understanding and forgiveness.

Mr Hadley emphasized two quotes by using bold lettering: "A man is more than the worst thing he has ever done," and "What we do in life echoes in eternity."

In the remaining five pages, he wrote about his love for their child, Christopher Chase. He also wrote "derogatory things about his wife," Sgt. Grimley said. "The letter makes it clear that he went with the intention of killing his wife and then himself but certainly was not there to harm the child."

Minutes before the fatal shootings, Mrs. Hadley ran out of her Hillcrest Road home, naked and screaming. Two men came to her assistance and she was able to hand over her son to a neighbour before being dragged back inside by Mr. Hadley.

He had a history of violating court orders banning him from contact with Mrs. Hadley. The most recent order barred him from entering Pickering. But friends say he continued to harass Mrs. Hadley and that she was forced to change her telephone number three times in the last four months.

Yesterday, Mr. Hadley's father and brother arrived at the Hillcrest Road home to remove items, including clothes and a computer.

Their car was parked in the driveway and only metres away from a makeshift memorial of sympathy flowers and cards that has sprung up in front of the home.

Police are still trying to determine how Mr. Hadley obtained a gun and to locate the person who gave or sold him the weapon.

Mr. Hadley did not have a firearms acquisition certificate, which is needed to legally purchase a gun.

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