‘There’s nothing left I can do,’ says man convinced he witnessed murder

Tara Bradbury and Glen Whiffen
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Man who says he saw Dana Bradley murdered receives final RCMP commission report

Last in a 3-part series

Monday may have been a day of reflection for a man who claims he witnessed the murder of Dana Bradley in 1981, and who shared his story with The Telegram in a series of articles that began Saturday.

The RCMP building in St. John’s. The Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP has determined that the police force reasonably handled a complaint from a man who claimed to have witnessed the murder of Dana Bradley in 1981.

And while Robert (not his real name) says a weight has been lifted from his shoulders by going public, the scales tipped the opposite way when he opened his mailbox Monday morning. In it he found a letter from the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP.

The letter contained the final report on his appeal into how the RCMP handled his information about the murder and about being allegedly sexually assaulted by the man he says committed the murder.

Robert had alleged the RCMP relied on false memory syndrome, which isn’t a medically recognized disorder, to make the decision to dismiss his complaint.

In the final report, the commission informed him that, after reviewing the police investigation, the commission found the disposition of Robert’s complaint was reasonably handled by the RCMP.

The document notes that during the 16-month investigation into Robert’s allegations, about 2,000 pages of material was compiled, along with a ground search, consultation with scientific experts regarding changes to topography, interviews with relevant individuals and DNA testing.

Robert said he provided samples for DNA tests.

In an interview with The Telegram last week, Sgt. Kent Osmond, lead investigator on the Bradley murder file, declined to comment specifically about Robert’s tip. He did say that all tips are investigated thoroughly.

Robert says he has been told by police that the investigation into his tip remains closed, but, in the past week or so, they have begun investigating new information related to it.

Commission interim chair Ian McPhail wrote in the final report that the forensic psychiatrist’s diagnosis of false memory syndrome didn’t play a role in the attention given to the investigation, and wasn’t the basis for the investigators’ dismissal of the tip.

“I emphasize that, given its place in the investigation, the psychiatric assessment was not conducted to determine whether (Robert) was lying about his memories, which would have impacted the investigation, but rather to determine what the appropriate degree of reliance on those memories would and could be. There is no suggestion in the available material that (Robert) was deceitful.”

Robert told The Telegram Monday he is surprised by what he said is a “sudden and unexpected de-emphasizing” by the police of forensic psychiatrist Peter Collins’ diagnosis.

“Dr. Collins applied for a temporary licence to practice in Newfoundland so he could deliver his false memory syndrome message, and the RCMP could close my tip that very same day,” Robert said. “He appeared to be very important to investigators at the time.

“Things could be much further along if only they had given me the benefit of the doubt.”

When asked how he feels about the lack of evidence turned up by the police in their investigation into his memories, Robert is quick to respond.

“I don’t think they looked hard enough,” he said. “I think there were a lot of investigational techniques not used. I think they focused on trying to discredit me, rather than try to find evidence. It was a shallow investigation.”

Robert’s claims detail very specifically the murder, sexual assault and placement of Dana Bradley’s body in a wooded area off Maddox Cove Road, where her remains were found four days after she went missing. He says he was in the back seat of the car that picked her up as a hitchhiker from the Topsail Road area, and saw her murderer sexually assault and kill her by hitting her on the head with a tire iron.

His memories, he says, were repressed until about two years ago when, after quitting alcohol after more than 20 years, they suddenly resurfaced. Memories of his own sexual abuse at the hands of the man came back to him first, and details of the murder followed a couple of months later. The man, whom Robert says was a family friend, served time in prison in the 1990s for the sexual abuse of other children.

Robert brought his memories to the RCMP, who investigated his information before informing him none of the avenues of investigation related to his tip had turned up any new evidence.

According to a police document Collins, an expert in forensic psychiatry, advised Robert he was not suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but was experiencing false memory syndrome, a term used to describe a condition in which a person is affected by memories that aren’t true, but which they strongly believe.

The Telegram asked local neuropsychiatrist Dr. Hugh Mirolo, an accredited expert in the courts in the area of neuropsychiatry, to meet with Robert and share his opinions. Mirolo believes Robert is genuine, and told The Telegram he believes the RCMP dismissed him too quickly and unfairly.

Robert suffered a flashback episode and panic attack during their meeting.

“This guy is the real deal,” Mirolo said. “It would be pretty damn difficult for a guy to make that up, and for me to buy it.”

Robert is insistent on the accuracy of his memories, but recognizes members of the public may be skeptical about them or feel they were influenced subconsciously by media reports of the murder. There are details in his memories that have never been disclosed in media reports, he countered.

 He admitted there were times, in the beginning, when he questioned his own sanity, but, with the help of experts, has come to accept that his memories are, in fact, true.

“I’ve come to terms with the fact that I do have post-traumatic stress disorder and dissociative amnesia,” he said, adding he’s been working with doctors since his memories have surfaced. He says although Collins met with him, he didn’t assess him before diagnosing him.

“I’ve met with the former head of the behavioural science unit of the FBI, and other experts. I’ve relied on their medical expertise to assess and verify and validate my experience. They’ve all explained to me, in layman’s terms, that what I’m experiencing is authentic. I’m satisfied with that.”

Robert’s parents said the situation has caused a lot of concern in the family.

His mother admitted the situation is “no-win” for them: if Robert’s claims are true, they must come to terms with the fact that a man who had been a close friend of the family sexually abused their child and murdered a young girl in front of him. If his memories are false, they are faced with dealing with how the memories came about, and perhaps treatment for that.

Robert plans now to get back to his family and business life. He said he’s been able to sleep better this week than he has for two years, knowing he had done everything he can to bring closure to Dana’s family, and to his own past.

“There’s nothing left I can do. The information is out there now. If the public is comfortable with the RCMP’s (findings), nothing else can be done. If they think something else could be done, their questions should be directed to the RCMP. There is a person out there who committed this crime — and a lot of other crimes — and they’re still out there. I would like to see justice for Dana and her family.”

Dana’s family was contacted as part of this series and given the opportunity to participate, but declined to comment on the record.

Read Robert’s account of the murder of Dana Bradley, updates on the investigation into the case from police and information from experts, including Mirolo, at www.thetelegram.com.

 

tbradbury@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @tara_bradbury

gwhiffen@thetelegram.com

 

Organizations: RCMP, Commission for Public Complaints, FBI

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Maddox Cove Road, Topsail Road

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Recent comments

  • Mel-dup
    March 25, 2014 - 17:06

    This is deplorable, dig up the cars, take it a little further. What's the statue of limitations on the pedeophilia. Why isn't the man arrested on those grounds?

  • Mel-dup
    March 25, 2014 - 17:04

    This is deplorable, dig up the cars, take it a little further. What's the statue of limitations on the pedeophilia. Why isn't the man arrested on those grounds?

  • Edwina williams
    March 20, 2014 - 14:36

    Dig up the car and search for DNA not rocket science

  • GP
    March 20, 2014 - 11:03

    All I can say is I am EXTREMELLY disappointed by the RCMP. Do you really think this man would come out and say this, risking his family and business, just to go on a whitch hunt. It just proves that one again the RCMP, and the RNC for that matter as they have screwed up every case in the last 15 years, are incappable of bring monsters to justice. What if he is right, what if it did happen, then there is a man that they know, that has been hurting people for 30 or 40 years, and all the RCMP say is some crap about false memory. I think as the public we need to put pressure on the RCMP to take this seriously, and get somethign done, .

  • Judith Day
    March 19, 2014 - 22:39

    can't remember reading during other investigations that a tire iron was used for the murder. I don't believe they ever knew what the murder used or it was not made public. Robert told them that the murderer used the tire iron. The parents of Robert know where the cars were buried. Why not have them dug up?

  • Morbid Memories
    March 19, 2014 - 13:02

    This case has drawn attention probably because it had the traits of a predator picking on a loner target in a remote location, rather than in a populated area where the victim was expected for supper. There are thousands of missing children in Canada. However many unlocated are fine, or even in a better situation that they fled. But if only in NL there were 3% of 1% of the missing that met foul play there would be dozens of cold cases?? This witness experienced something in his life! He may be grasping at memories AND evidence from other cases he hears from time to time?He still fears the suspect who victimized him. He would feel better if he was locked up for something?? Challenges his motive for speaking out? But there is a difference between "false" and "inaccurate" memory. For example.... If the suspect had left MacDonalds, drove over four lanes to the Christmas tree witnesses they would have noticed that. Was Burger King there (200 m west) in 1981? That would make more sense? While he was eating the predator would have studied the victim as she passed on the side walk? Then this two door/ four thing occurred in another predator case. The predator was preying on prostitutes and beating them. The Det. finally added both two AND four door cars to the database and bingo! A molestation attempt gone bad??? Whoever the witness was describing, whatever the crime, it seems as if it was not his first time. Maybe the police need not just a daatbase but a predator atlas. Where convicted suspects travelled over the years and locate the cold cases on the same map. From Oliver Twist.... "....ahh Bill Sykes.... not murder (of Nancy)..... [of all crimes] ...murder is ALWAYS found out...". "....Not a sprarrow falls...."

  • marg
    March 19, 2014 - 12:27

    I think the RCMP have already proven themselves incapable, too lazy or too corrupt to deal with this case. It should be handed over to the RNC. A quick google search of 'repressed memory' and any idiot will see by the countless publications/articles/etc, that although it is a hotly debated topic, it does have many expert supporters. I would like to think that allegations of this magnitude would be investigated much more thoroughly and at least given a second opinion. It doesn't seem like Dr. Hugh Morello was very difficult to get a hold of. The RCMP needs to get it together. Allegations of murder and sexual abuse against a child warrants much more work then they have put into this, especially considering the accused is already a convicted pedophile. There is so much injustice involved already. How can we possibly trust them to do their best? Have they given up on the Dana Bradley case? Is this how all child sexual abuse cases are handled? Disappointing and disgusting.

  • worried in the bay
    March 19, 2014 - 05:51

    It's time this was solved.The only one that doesn't believe Robert seem to be the police don't they want answer's-the public are shivering out there since this story has been told.Seems like a cover-up to me did money and influence pay for freedom of a pervert once again.

    • Others in the bay
      March 19, 2014 - 21:45

      There're lots of people who don't believe 'Robert'. He maybe trying to come up with a way for this guy to pay for the sexual abuse. He did his time. Move on.

    • baymendude
      March 21, 2014 - 19:43

      To: Others in the bay.. if "Robert" was trying to come up with a way for this pervert to pay, the best way would be for him to press charges against the man himself for child molesting. The time he served in jail was for charges from other people. Put this sicko away so he is not out roaming the communities

    • Marg
      March 21, 2014 - 23:12

      Did his time!? He has not done his time for Robert and it probably more victims. Move on? Is that a joke? I believe in justice and this man has taken more than just 4 and half years away from his victims. I think 'others in the bay' just don't want to face the problems in the bay. Sweeping it under the rug is not the solution.

  • bill
    March 18, 2014 - 22:51

    ..watching too much CSI and the ID channel ..me thinks ..

  • Mona
    March 18, 2014 - 15:27

    I believe everything Robert said. Our justice system sucks. But the murderer will get his due. It might not be until he dies but he will answer to someone. What goes around comes around. So proud of you Robert. Hope you live the rest of your life happy and knowing you told the truth.

  • Beth
    March 18, 2014 - 14:31

    I can't understand why they drop this the facts that "Robert" gave are so detail how could he make this up. I really think this monster who done it should be more looked at and not prob still out walking out streets!!! Makes me so mad ,yes who cares how much it costs to dig the car up or else things they can put money on ROD and that's jut a show. I would love for this to be more looked at and search more into it!! This is not right for Robert and the bradly family to keep going thru. I'd keep on this Robert good luck .

  • Bernie
    March 18, 2014 - 11:18

    You are all so assuming. Who says he is lying..Nobody! Who says it was not investigated...Nobody!! We are hearing one side of the story. I am sure they investigated it as stated by the Complaints Commissioner. I am sure any of you can become weekend slueths and have a crack at solving the case. Good on Robert for coming forward with his info.

    • Jessie
      April 15, 2014 - 20:54

      criticism of Loftus' research and ethics "Lost in a Shopping Mall" A Breach of Professional Ethics http://users.owt.com/crook/memory/

  • Steve
    March 18, 2014 - 09:06

    Filmed June 2013 at TEDGlobal 2013 Elizabeth Loftus: The fiction of memory "Psychologist Elizabeth Loftus studies memories. More precisely, she studies false memories, when people either remember things that didn't happen or remember them differently from the way they really were. It's more common than you might think, and Loftus shares some startling stories and statistics, and raises some important ethical questions we should all remember to consider." http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_loftus_the_fiction_of_memory?utm_medium=on.ted.com-facebook-share&utm_content=awesm-publisher&awesm=on.ted.com_a03Ol&utm_source=direct-on.ted.com&utm_campaign=

    • Mike
      March 18, 2014 - 09:27

      This article demonstrates trouble with Elizabeth Loftus... http://blogs.brown.edu/recoveredmemory/2013/09/26/loftus-misrepresents-important-case/

    • mwh
      March 18, 2014 - 09:49

      This could be an option but there is also the opinion of Dr. Hugh Mirolo, who met Robert in person and believes him. Robert needs to be taken seriously and the man he is accusing - a convicted sex offender - needs to be investigated thoroughly.

    • Steve
      March 18, 2014 - 10:17

      @ Mike, as your article refers to an antidote in Elizabeth Loftus' talk on her subject, it does not take away from the subject and should be held separately. By all accounts known to me Elizabeth Loftus was exonerated of this except for one minor charge that was settled. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Loftus#Criticisms_and_harassment_related_to_research I'm not here to defend Elizabeth Loftus, I'm certain she can do a far better job herself, I merely posted a portion of a highly respectable organization one of the T.E.D. talks. The police do not just act indiscriminately and ignore evidence without prober due course and just cause. Sometimes mistakes are made, but more often than not the mistakes are made by lawyers.

  • Nellie
    March 18, 2014 - 08:41

    I know the parents are probably aged but can they remember back to that day?? Was Robert taken somewhere by someone else?? Who was the other child in the car?? Do he/she remember anything?? Was the man that Robert said did this questioned?? Where was he that day?? I think that this should be further investigated, don't let it go!!

  • Nellie
    March 18, 2014 - 08:40

    I know the parents are probably aged but can they remember back to that day?? Was Robert taken somewhere by someone else?? Who was the other child in the car?? Do he/she remember anything?? Was the man that Robert said did this questioned?? Where was he that day?? I think that this should be further investigated, don't let it go!!

  • Milton Spracklin
    March 18, 2014 - 07:55

    I can't believe that in this day and age where the Police are held to such a high standard, they dismiss this guy "Robert" with a bogus diagnoses like false memory syndrome. Shouldn't they be doing a complete investigation into the alleged killer?

    • James
      March 18, 2014 - 09:22

      Please don't hold the RCMP in high regard. They SHOULD be in such a place. Search online for RCMP wrongdoing before respecting them too much. They do protect their own informants to the point of immunity. Search and read. Also, if it doesn't come up, check the Mindy Tran site.

    • seanoairborne
      March 18, 2014 - 11:50

      In "all" real cases involving murder there's always some details of the crime that are left out deliberately.Only the police know what detail that is.What was left out deliberately in this case to be able to ID the perp if he came forward at a later date?I'd like to know that?If the Police didn't leave out anything and published all the details of the crime then this screw up is on them!If, on the other hand, they held some important details back and Robert can not plug that hole then something stinks in China!Which is it I wonder?

  • original townie
    March 18, 2014 - 07:31

    @ Neelie....if "Robert" is that certain he did witness this crime, why not use his real name anyway? Why hide his identity?

    • JJ
      March 18, 2014 - 08:18

      Are you really that dense?

    • neelie
      March 18, 2014 - 11:20

      He used his real name with the police, so he's not hiding his identity to them! If he wanted fame, he'd use it in the media as well.

    • Val
      March 18, 2014 - 13:43

      This man "robert" may have a wife and even children.. I completely agree not using his real name in the media.. Why drag his family though the press... It proves he's not looking for a sudden shot at fame! He believes these things happened.. It should be looked further into and the vehicle should be located and dug up.. Who cares the price it costs, it could potentially solve a horrible murder of a poor innocent child!

    • harbour dog
      April 08, 2014 - 18:21

      are you for real there townie?lol

  • Lisa
    March 18, 2014 - 07:10

    I totally believe in this man. What would he have to gain by lying. I am not comfortable with the RCMP's findings. Knowing that this man witnessed this murder and can detail it exactly as it happened and the police can dismiss is as "false memory syndrome" is disturbing. Thanks for sharing your story Robert

  • Sam
    March 18, 2014 - 07:10

    what is the harm in investigating this further. dig deeper. if this is true evidence will surface

  • just wondering
    March 18, 2014 - 06:59

    Did Robert give the RCMP any details that they didn't already have? Was all those details released years ago? It's not easy when your bad childhood memories come back at you like a sledge hammer, I know, it happened to me. Good luck Robert.

  • original townie
    March 18, 2014 - 06:40

    Robert....is this a case of fifteen minutes of fame? It is well documented people come forward it such cases seeking notoriety.

    • Neelie
      March 18, 2014 - 07:09

      Original Townie: If it was for fame, then why would he not want his real name used?

    • harbour dog
      April 08, 2014 - 18:25

      did you fall down and strike your head?

    • harbour dog
      April 09, 2014 - 15:37

      hey townie the circus is coming to town again this summer at a location near you.Go check it out because you would fit in there rather nicely!Oh my some people's children I tell ya lol.you don't seem to be the sharpest tool in the shed,just saying.

  • James
    March 18, 2014 - 06:25

    This one member of the public is not comfortable with the RCMP's findings, not by a longshot. Thank you Robert.

    • Stephen  Redgrave
      Stephen Redgrave
      March 18, 2014 - 09:56

      You are so right my friend. Making up a "syndrome" to avoid doing "The Job" right is and embarrassment , and insult to anyone with a working brain. Thier polygraph testing is nothing short of a joke, and absolutely does not rule out suspects--it never has , and it never will. Wake up RCMP and start working with the RNC--not against them!!