London Free Press

Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Shot wife to save son, taped note contends

London Free Press

TORONTO -- A man shot his estranged wife to death and then turned the gun on himself to protect his year-old son from future neglect by his mother -- "a fate worse than death," he said in a recorded suicide note played at a coroner's inquest yesterday.

"And while I'm still able, I must save my son from the darkness within (Gillian)," Ralph Hadley said in a recording made in June 2000.

"The fact that I must resort to such drastic measures sickens me more than anyone will ever know, but I must do what I feel in my heart to be the right thing."

Five months before killing Gillian Hadley, her husband found out she was having an affair. He expressed anger on the tape because he felt his wife was ignoring the needs of her three children, including one that he fathered.

Another child, Mikey Jr., who was severely disabled, was taken from the Hadleys' home because Ralph Hadley was alleged to have abused him.

Ralph Hadley denied on the tape that he had ever harmed the child.

He also advised his parents that he wanted to be cremated and, if possible, for his "ashes to be mingled" with his wife's and spread over the lake where the couple spent their honeymoon, "one of the happiest days of our lives."

Police discovered the tape and transcript in the Hadleys' back yard after they stormed the house, finding Gillian dead in the front hall and Ralph in the master bedroom, dead of a gunshot to the head from a .45-calibre semi-automatic handgun.

Also found was a bag containing duct tape, nylon rope, lighter fluid, a pornographic magazine, women's lingerie, photo albums containing pictures of Gillian and two other women dressed in lingerie, a book of matches inscribed with the couple's names and their wedding date, and a dog collar to which was attached a man's wedding ring, also inscribed with the October 1997 date.

Det.-Const. Mark Collins said an "unfortunate circumstance" led Durham police to the wrong house when responding to a 911 call June 20, 2000. Before they arrived at the correct residence, a distraught neighbour described in a 911 call the gruesome scene that had just played out before her eyes.

"(Ralph Hadley) opened the door and (Gillian Hadley) was trying to get out," a breathless Deborah Gordon told police in a call that was taped and played for the coroner's jury.

"She had a baby in her hands. Somebody took the baby from her. He dragged her back in and closed the door and I heard the shots."

Copyright (c) 2001 The London Free Press,