He’s still in that green house

James
James McLeod
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Telegram finds Leo Crockwell in Bay Bulls; police say ...?

The green house on St. John’s Road in Bay Bulls looks run down, boarded up and abandoned.
But there’s somebody home.
Leo Crockwell is still in there.

Following up on a rumour, I headed down to the old Crockwell house on Friday morning.

The house has seen better days — the siding is cracked, the storm door has a broken pane of jagged glass, and a lot of the windows are blocked with plywood. There are no vehicles parked in front of the Crockwell house, but around back, there’s a yellow Ram 1500 V8 Magnum pickup truck.

There are a few other vehicles on the property, but they mostly have grass grown up around them, and look like they haven’t moved in a while.

Related Blog:

Meeker on Media: The Crockwell Saga

The few windows that aren’t barricaded with plywood are dark; if I had to guess, I doubt there’s any power running to the house anymore.

I park my car, walk up and knock on the door.

Nothing.

After a few minutes, I start to look around. I wander to the back of the house and find another door.

I knock.

Still nothing.

After scribbling a few things down in my notepad, I head back around to the front of the house, getting ready to leave.

And there he is, Leo Crockwell, peering at me out of a window on the side of the house, jabbing a finger at me angrily and pointing at the road.

The window is mostly boarded up from the inside, and there’s maybe 20 centimetres of space above the wood. I can only see his face and a bit of his shoulders.

“I’m from The Telegram; I just want to talk,” I shout, trying to be heard through the window.

“You,” he shouts, jabbing his finger at me. “Go!”

Under the circumstances, given Crockwell’s history with that house and telling people to get off his property, I decided not to press my luck. I headed back to the car.

•••

Right now, Crockwell is unlawfully at large. There’s a warrant out for his arrest for breaching probation on June 16 and June 27.

He’s probably most famous for the eight-day standoff he had with police back in 2010, but he was also involved in a run-in with the law in 1998.

Back then, he spent 140 days in custody in the Waterford Hospital until lawyer Jerome Kennedy fought for his release. Ultimately, a judge found that he had been unlawfully detained and Crockwell was freed.

More than a decade later, he popped up on the public radar for threatening and assaulting his sister, who lived with him in their mother’s green house in Bay Bulls.

When the cops tried to come in and get him, Crockwell fired shots. He also shot a police robot which was sent in to deliver a message. They used tear gas and water cannons.

The RCMP had sharpshooters, and specialized officers on scene from all over Atlantic Canada. All told, the standoff cost the cops more than $400,000.

The RCMP said they had the house surrounded, but Crockwell managed to slip out in the night. He was arrested in Goulds the following day by the RNC.

It was a complicated, seven-week court saga. Crockwell went through more than six lawyers — he fired most of them — and in the end, he represented himself at trial.

He was convicted of assaulting his sister, firearms offences and mischief.

He was sent to jail, but late last year he got another legal win, when a judge ruled that his sentence had been incorrectly calculated.

On Dec. 23, he was a free man, out on probation.

Then, in June, he allegedly breached his probation.

On the day that the news broke in July, in a bizarre phone call to VOCM “Backtalk,” Crockwell seemed to suggest that his probation was incorrectly calculated, too, and therefore illegal.

Crockwell said he wouldn’t surrender willingly to police.

More than two weeks later, Crockwell is still at large, and I heard a rumour that he was back in the infamous green house in Bay Bulls, so I went looking for him.

                                           •••

RCMP Sgt. Boyd Merrill said the police are very much aware of the warrant and are actively monitoring the situation.

Merill said any warrant issued in Newfoundland and Labrador will be acted upon, but the police consider a wide array of factors when they decide how to act.

“It depends on the individual — if he’s a risk to the public, if he’s a risk to committing another offence,” Merrill said.

“There are literally dozens of considerations that police would take into account — including tactical ones — before an arrest is made.”

Merrill said Crockwell isn’t considered a danger to the public, and police need to prioritize when carrying out their duties.

“His arrest warrant is for breaching his probation order; it’s not because he has committed a highly violent offence,” he said.

“On the end of the serious scale, it would be considered in the mid-range to the lower range of seriousness.”

                                           •••

After Crockwell kicked me off the property, I knocked on the doors of a few neighbouring houses, to see what people think of the whole situation.

Across the road, Marcella Tobin invited me in to talk. From her kitchen window, you can see the green house, and she remembers back in 2010 when the standoff happened.

The day it happened, Tobin said she had a party planned for her husband’s 60th birthday, with 50 or more guests coming. Instead, they had to abandon the house because it was inside the police perimeter for the standoff.

They left in such a hurry that her daughter had to come back in later with the SWAT team to get the cats out of the house. Tobin said the following month, their light bill went through the roof because the RCMP was running extension cords through her windows for all the floodlights they were using on the Crockwell house, but the police paid for that.

“It seems like so long ago now,” she said.

Tobin told me she saw Crockwell puttering around in the yard by his truck a week ago.

She said the situation doesn’t worry her at all.

She said the only time she’s ever had problems with him is when he was a little kid. He and his friends used to pelt people with snowballs.

Tobin said she mostly just feels bad for Crockwell.

“He’s got problems, and I don’t think he recognizes it,” she said. “He certainly hasn’t been any harm to us, I don’t know if he’s just trying to prove a point or what.”

                                           •••

Before I head back to my car, I walk out onto the road to get a photo of the Crockwell house.

In the front window, I can see the dim outline of a man wearing a plaid shirt. It’s hard to make out much detail about what he’s doing, until a bare arm raises up defiantly against the glass.

Leo Crockwell is giving me the finger.

 

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Crockwell house, RCMP, Waterford Hospital RNC

Geographic location: Bay Bulls, Bay Bulls.When, Atlantic Canada Goulds Newfoundland and Labrador

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Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Matt
    August 05, 2014 - 17:40

    What journalism school is turning out this sort of immoral journalist?!

  • Billy boots
    August 04, 2014 - 23:40

    Agree with all the negative comments being tossed at the reporter on this one, I won't even start to give my take cause I could write a novel on it. The night before this story was published Mr. Bowtie Mcdummy here posted to his twitter that he had a great story for the next days Telegram. This guy is so oblivious to what a stupid "story" this is that he was promoting it on twitter. How about a response to your readers now after the fact?

  • Sheila
    August 04, 2014 - 12:23

    I wonder how much of this was blown out of proportion in the beginning regarding the assault on his sister. Was it a beating or more of a shove to get her to leave his property and mind her own business. As for the guns, many Newfoundlanders have rifles for hunting, etc. I think what was a mental health issue within a family was blown into the standoff that in my opinion was so silly and we all know failed. Leave this man in peace, with the hope he will get some help. He is breaking no law! This is harassment

    • mainlander now
      August 23, 2014 - 06:06

      thank you for talking to others ive known Leo for years. He is a GOOD Man and a very proud Newfoundlander and landowner. if you send this out or go back to the Green house...leave FOOD,WATER, SMOKES AND SUPPORT (for me).leave him a note..... CAP,,,Don't let the system take your MIND. xo Cap tons of thanks James

  • Betty
    August 04, 2014 - 11:39

    Innocent people reaches out all the time to our justice system, for help. just to be turn away. But those who committed the crime walk away scot free. Example, Presenting false document in court to make that person look guilty, while at the same time, holding on a document, that could of proven that person was innocent,

  • Frank
    August 04, 2014 - 10:52

    Thanks for at least investigating where a man wanted on an outstanding warrant is, and why police aren't pursuing him. Maybe next time you could look further into why he has so much support, but from the looks of it you'd be lynched.

  • Richard
    August 03, 2014 - 20:52

    You could have gone out there to help in some way, like leaving a basket of fruit, some water etc. Instead you went out there to kick a person who's already been kicked around by the system. In my opinion, your need to be noticed has brought you closer to the ground than Leo's feet are.

  • H G Mitchell
    August 03, 2014 - 19:14

    It has been well publicized that Mr. Crockwell has an illness. The Telegram would know this. In this article it states about Mr Crockwell that"he spent 140 days in custody in the Waterford Hospital ." In spite of this, The Telegram publishes this piece which has no news, but rather, is a documented case of harassing Mr Crockwell. who suffers from an illness. How low can you go?

  • Dood
    August 03, 2014 - 19:04

    Let Leo live free!

  • Laughable
    August 03, 2014 - 12:08

    James, you wanted to do a story? Do a story on the town of Irishtown/Summerside, Concerning Charles Murphy. First contact the Western Star in corner brook, to get some history on this subject.

  • David H.
    August 03, 2014 - 10:02

    Judging from your reader response there is more then Crockwell giving you the finger.

  • Leo Fan
    August 03, 2014 - 00:18

    Leo Crockwell is my hero. Say what you want about him b'ys but he knows his facts. The media are obviously taking sides and it's not just the Telegram either.

  • C S. Frampton
    August 02, 2014 - 17:19

    Would people just leave that poor man alone. He has issues. We all know that, but antagonizing him by trespassing on his property is just wrong. He is not hurting anybody, he just wants to keep to himself, so I say let him be.

  • Foolishness
    August 02, 2014 - 16:52

    So this is what makes the news these days? As one of the "top stories"?! Going to a man's house (and I'm sure if the police were really concerned about his whereabouts they would know how to find him) and describing what he looked like as well as the exact make and model of his truck? All when you weren't welcome?! Complete foolishness and just one more reason (along with the annoying pay per view) to not read The Telegram.

  • guy incognito
    August 02, 2014 - 16:39

    Leave him alone. Why would you antagonize Leo (or anyone) like that? Is The Telegram a tabloid now? You should report the stories, not create the stories...

  • None of your business
    August 02, 2014 - 15:59

    Any journalist can trespass on any ones property and get a story. Mind your own business buddy, leave the man alone. He ain't doing no harm to anyone and he is still getting raked over. How would you like it if people were looking in through your windows. Think about it. Idiot!!!!!

  • Krista
    August 02, 2014 - 15:39

    Why was this even published? Seems like something TMZ would run, not a newspaper.

  • Swhite
    August 02, 2014 - 15:31

    This is disgraceful. The Telegram happily takes part in Bell Let's Talk campaign supporting awearness about mental illness then turn around and prints a article about a man who is clearly suffering. This is bullying in it's worst form, you heard a rumor, approached the person who did not comment but still feel the need to print a article in the newspaper. I hope the telegram starts thinking before it posts otherwise they will quickly loose all their readers.

  • Kay
    August 02, 2014 - 14:48

    Wow. Reporting at its finest. Am not sure what you were there to "talk about" in the first instance; I suspect nothing. Suggestion: if you don't have a better story to write, take up some volunteer work - at least your time would have been better spent vs. trying to be the Telegram's very own "Republic of Doyle"... (the same could be said for me too....I just wasted five minutes reading that article..)

  • Peggy Lawlor
    August 02, 2014 - 11:50

    The house doesn't look "boarded up" to me.

  • Bob Hooper
    August 02, 2014 - 11:33

    Harassment of a man is not great journalism. Leave him in peace.

  • Erica
    August 02, 2014 - 11:30

    Cannot believe the telegram would even publish this !? First of all you trespass on a mans property then you ask him for an interview? Think ya could've knocked on his door first instead of creeping around his property.....What was achieved by this story ? Not one thing just dragging on a story that's not even news worthy, leave this man alone. Saddest excuse for journalism I've seen in a while.

  • Ash
    August 02, 2014 - 11:15

    This is disgusting! You're antagonizing a man with mental health issues, and for what? What story did you get out of it? That he is residing in his family home and fixing it up piece by piece, that he parks his car around the rear of the house (which he always does), that he told you to leave...what a news day it must have been for you to decide this was the running story for the front page of the weekend paper. Mr. McLeod and the Telegram should be ashamed of themselves. I believe this article should be revoked and an apology giving to Mr. Crockwell and his family.

  • Newf on 'da lose
    August 02, 2014 - 10:30

    I would have gave you the "finger" as well. Get a real job.

  • M
    August 02, 2014 - 09:37

    While some people think that Mr. McLeod was in the wrong or what have you, he simply wanted to talk to Mr. Crockwell if the rumors were true that he was still living in the house. While everyone will jump on the bandwagon and say that Mr. McLeod was just trying to sensationalize it all and wrote a gossip piece, there is a much bigger problem. Mr. Crockwell is in breach of his probation according to the RNC. Why they have not gone to his home to arrest him is obvious in my opinion - the unpredictability in attempting it is a main concern and they don't want a repeat of before. That being said, if they know where he is and handle it right, he could easily be arrested and the issue can be dealt with. It is very apparent that Mr. Crockwell has some rather serious issues whether he is a danger to the public or not. If the house is in the condition stated here, he really should not be living in it. I don't know him or his family, but it seems a shame that no one can/will help him. It is clear from past press, that Mr. Crockwell is completely oblivious to his issues. He has committed offenses and "got off" with it due to technicalities instead of the system recognizing and attempting to treat his issues. It's truly a piece on how the system as whole, on every level, is failing it's people.

  • Shauna Tobin
    August 02, 2014 - 09:25

    If you had that much time to trespass on Leo Crockwells property and disturb him, maybe you should have focused on something more important in the community, like the bridge on the main road which is causing a massive detour. Its sad to think that you'd miss an opportunity to write about something that everyone in the community is concerned about but spend the day bothering a man that obviously has a mental illness and then to talk to nosey neighbors. You should probably lay down the pen and retire from your "journalism" career. You definitely deserved that middle finger. Consider it from all the residents of Bay Bulls. Go continue to write hard hitting stories about cats stuck in trees, aka shit no one cares about.

  • Heather
    August 02, 2014 - 09:24

    I'd give ya the finger too if I asked you to leave my property, then caught you outside of my house taking pictures! I think he made it clear enough to you that he wanted to be left alone. This story is just plain garbage!

  • E Hillier
    August 02, 2014 - 08:25

    I have to agree with the opinions expressed by the two previous respondents. Why would a professional journalist go looking for a 'story' from a man who has had more than enough problems already and is simply, it appears, minding his own business. There must be better things to look into and present a positive story for your readers. I, for one, would enjoy that so much more.

  • Greg
    August 02, 2014 - 08:23

    What needs clarity is did James Macleod do the right thing and contact the RNC after discovering this fugitive or did they have to read about it in the Telegram. Crocker probably took off after the encounter when Macleod identified himself as a journalist. I think there was an obligation on the part of Mr. Macleod as a citizen to immediately notify the police regardless of his job. He already had his story.

  • Brian Johnston
    August 02, 2014 - 07:21

    Trespassing on Mr. crockwell's property to feed a penchant for sensationalism is not journalism and was.otherwise irresponsible.

  • Jessica
    August 02, 2014 - 07:17

    I was originally interested in reading your article. I quickly realized, however, that it must have been another slow news day for you guys, and you were desperate for some sort of "story". You should learn how to read over and edit your work before getting it published. I don't know what sort of prize you consider yourself to be, but what gives you the right to walk up to the door and invade people's space like this? You were uninvited and unwanted and couldn't just let that go. You chose to talk to some nosy neighbor who must have been bored enough to talk to you, to basically tell you the man is no threat and obviously has issues. The POLICE are in no rush to make this man a priority to get arrested but YOU, Sir chose to catch this guy and tattle on him. If you heard the rumor of where he was "hiding" obviously lots of other people did. So why did you go so far as to go visit someone who does not wish to be bothered? You cast a shameful glow on someone who in all likelihood has some mental health issues. It's none of your business, not the reader's business, only his and his family's personal business. Quite frankly, I'm glad Leo Crockwell gave you the finger. You deserved it. So suck it up and grow up out of it!!

    • Matthew
      August 02, 2014 - 20:26

      This is harassment, not journalism.

    • Lothar
      August 02, 2014 - 22:10

      You hit the nail right on the head Jessica, could'nt have said it better myself.