RCMP stand by murder charge after accused offered new theory in letter before killing self

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Police believe John MacAulay murdered the Outlaws Motorcycle Club member despite letter saying otherwise

RCMP say the investigation into the death of Outlaws Motorcycle Club member Norman Playter in Saskatoon is closed.

Sgt. Earl LeBlanc says investigators stand by the murder charge laid against John MacAulay, another member of the same bike club.

MacAulay killed himself while on remand at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre in March 2016. Hours before he died, MacAulay sent a letter to his lawyer describing what he claimed happened to Playter — and it wasn't that he killed him.

LeBlanc said RCMP considered the allegations.

"We were aware of the contents of the letter," he said.

"The investigation is currently complete, as the accused is now deceased."

Fatal road trip

Playter, from Calgary, was on a road trip east when his family say he vanished in 2014. 

He was reported missing to Calgary police, and their investigation showed that he'd been in Saskatoon at the time he disappeared.

​MacAulay was also in Saskatoon at the time and, as members of the same motorcycle club, were known to each other. Police told CBC that "witness evidence" led them to MacAulay. They suggested that the death followed from a fatal altercation between acquaintances.

Untested theory

Kevin Hill, MacAulay's lawyer, said that the allegations in his client's letter seemed to line up with the evidence, but also offered an alternative scenario: MacAulay may have helped dispose of Playter's body, but he maintained that he did not kill him.

Hill suspects that MacAulay was there when Playter died, but that he was not alone.

"Our view is there was another individual present who does know the full details of what occurred, and that individual was responsible for causing his [Playter's] death accidentally," he said.

"So, it was going to be very interesting to see how that case unfolded."


Kevin Hill with John MacAulay's final letter. (Dan Zakreski/CBC)

Hill said he's not surprised that RCMP did not charge another suspect based on the contents of the letter. It would have made for a tough prosecution, he said.

"Mr. MacAulay would have been the best defence that person would have had," Hill said.

"A good defence lawyer would simply raise the fact that, 'Well, you've already charged somebody else in the death of this man.'"

Inquest concluded

A coroner's inquest this week looked at the circumstances of MacAulay's death.

It determined that he died of asphyxiation.

The jurors made no recommendations.

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