Toronto Sun

Wednesday, October 24, 2001

A voice from the grave

Killer's recording said he murdered wife to 'save' son


Ralph Hadley believed killing his estranged wife was necessary to "save" their year-old son from someone "void of morals, compassion and love."

The eerie message recorded by Hadley was played yesterday at an inquest into the murder of his wife Gillian and his suicide at their Pickering home on June 20, 2000.

Hadley, 34, shot Gillian, 35, in the head, then turned the gun on himself, four days shy of their son Christopher Chase's first birthday.

The chilling tape recording, which Hadley called his last will and testament, was found by police in a gym bag Hadley brought with him to Gillian's home the day of the deaths.

"I don't know how things got so out of control," Hadley says in a cool, emotionless, hushed voice. "All I know is that in order to save my son ... I have to do this."

Hadley, a postal clerk, was under court order to stay away from the Hillcrest Rd. home he and Gillian once shared.

On the tape, he describes the events driving him to the killings and calls Jan. 7, 2000 "the worst day of my life" -- when he found Gillian in bed with another man.

"To the best of my knowledge Jill has never done anything like this before. That's when I knew, that's when I was certain that she'd probably had a nervous breakdown. She wasn't Jill anymore, she was somebody else," Hadley said on the recording.

Moments after discovering the pair, he assaulted Gillian outside her boyfriend's home. The attack led to a charge and a bail order that he stay away from Gillian.

OPP Det.-Const. Mark Collins told the inquest Hadley informed his parents that he and Gillian had a two-pronged pact that prevented them from "sleeping around" and being physically violent with each other.

Hadley also entered into a peace bond, requiring him to stay away from Gillian's profoundly disabled son from a previous marriage, after bruises were found on the boy's body.

On the day of the murder-suicide, Hadley snuck out of his parents' Scarborough home, where he was required to live, and took a cab to Gillian's house.

He waited in the backyard until she was alone in the house, then broke into the home through a bedroom window.

Neighbours stopped to help when they saw a naked Gillian on the front lawn trying to escape.

"She's psychotic," Hadley repeated to witnesses as he dragged her back in the house, Collins testified.


Six 911 calls were made -- one recording the sounds of two gunshots coming from inside the house.

Durham Regional Police fired tear gas into the semi-detached bungalow before entering the house 2 1/2 hours later to find Gillian dead at the front door and Hadley dead in the master bedroom, still gripping the .25-calibre handgun.

The inquest continues today.

Copyright © 2001, Canoe Limited Partnership.