Toronto Star

June 23, 2000

Husband's suicide note spelled out death plan

Man who killed wife wanted to `save' son

By Stan Josey and Jim Rankin
Toronto Star Staff Reporters

MISSION: Ralph Hadley had a meticulous plan for killing his wife Gillian.
Ralph Hadley went to the home of his estranged wife Gillian with a detailed written plan.

He would hop the fence in the back yard, climb in the bedroom window, shoot Gillian and then himself - all to ``save'' their baby son.

He left all the details - printed in block letters on seven pages of ruled paper - in a suicide note he took with him to the house on Tuesday, a note police found in a backpack after they discovered the couple's bodies.

The reason for Ralph Hadley's deadly mission was to ``save the child'' from a danger that police won't reveal.

``It would appear that there was some thought put into it, handwritten in advance, but when, we do not know,'' said Staff Sergeant Jim Grimley. ``I think when you read this, it's a desperate man, taking desperate measures. He's basically saying what he is going to do.''

Also in the backpack was a spare, loaded ammunition clip for a small-calibre handgun.

Gillian Hadley ran naked into the front yard of her Pickering home Tuesday morning, carrying her 11-month-old son Christopher Chase and screaming for help.

Close behind was Ralph, who had been ordered by the courts to stay away from her and out of Pickering because of earlier problems between the couple, who were married for three years before splitting up in January.

Neighbours took the baby to safety but abandoned attempts to wrench Gillian from her husband's grip when they saw he had a handgun.

Hadley dragged his wife kicking and screaming back into the suburban backsplit, where he shot his wife in the head just inside the front entrance as police arrived on the scene. Police believe he then went to an upper-level bedroom, where he killed himself.

`I think when you read this, it's a desperate man, taking desperate measures. He's basically saying what he is going to do.'
- Staff Sergeant Jim Grimley Durham police

Grimley said he was given five pages of the suicide note yesterday by homicide detectives. Two other pages addressed to individual family members will not be released by police.

``He made it clear he wanted to protect the child from what he perceived as a danger,'' said Grimley, who would not reveal what threat Ralph was referring to.

The note also contains ``derogatory'' comments about Gillian Hadley, which Grimley would not discuss.

On two pages were sentences Ralph had emphasized by pressing harder on the pen. Grimley, who consulted with the man's parents before releasing anything about the note, read out only those two lines.

One, apparently from the movie Gladiator, reads: ``What we do in life echoes an eternity.'' In the movie, which was recently released, a character says: ``Whatever you do in this life, echoes for eternity.''

Police say Ralph Hadley's gun was not registered

The other line highlighted in the note reads: ``A man is more than the worst thing he has done.''

It's believed to be a paraphrase of comments by U.S. anti-death penalty activist Sister Helen Prejean, the subject of the movie Dead Man Walking.

Grimley said police decided to release information about the note's contents out of fairness to Ralph's family, as the note dispels suggestions he had intended to harm his son.

In the two pages addressed to his parents and sister, Ralph begs for forgiveness and says he wants his sister to care for the child.

Durham police now have an intensive investigation under way to find out where Ralph got the handgun he used to kill his wife and then himself.

``He did not have a firearms acquisition certificate so we know the gun was not registered,'' Grimley said.

Out front of Gillian Hadley's Pickering home yesterday, a makeshift memorial of flowers and handwritten notes continued to grow.

Gillian Hadley's funeral will be held at 1 p.m. tomorrow in the chapel of the Ogden Funeral Home, 4164 Shephard Ave. E, Scarborough.

Visitation is today from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at the funeral home.

Ralph Hadley's family will receive friends at Pine Hills Cemetery in Scarborough today between 1 and 3 p.m. The funeral will follow at the cemetery at 3 p.m.

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