Watching the drunk girls die
Michele Mandel looks at the sinister Boozing Barber, who is heading back to jail. Again

Fri, August 13, 2004

THE BOOZING Barber, once alleged to be Vancouver's most notorious lady killer, is headed back behind bars after taking a trip to Winnipeg. Gilbert Paul Jordan, a wealthy 72-year-old former barber, is headed back behind bars, just days after violating his probation by leaving Vancouver Island. He was arrested in Winnipeg on Wednesday night.

He has been linked to the deaths of 10 women who have died suddenly of alcohol poisoning. Jordan would prey on the vulnerable in Vancouver's seedy Downtown Eastside, ply them with dangerous amounts of booze, have sex with them and then watch them die. Three of the women were found in his barbershop; four died in flop hotel rooms he had rented.

At the time, most of the deaths were declared accidental overdoses of alcohol, even though Jordan was involved in reporting many of them -- after consulting his lawyer. But almost all his victims were native alcoholics, and authorities seemed to care as little as he did.

"They were all on their last legs," he coolly told a Vancouver reporter in 2000. "I didn't give a damn who I was (drinking) with. I mean, we're all dying sooner or later."

Jordan has been convicted of manslaughter just once, in the 1987 death of Vanessa Lee Buckner, 27, who was found naked on a hotel room floor after a heavy drinking binge with Jordan.


Her blood alcohol level was more than 11 times the legal limit for driving. Court heard that, as black liquid oozed from her mouth and nose, Jordan fled their hotel room and left her alone to die.

"He poisons them first and then has sex with them," Buckner's angry father, Nick Basaraba, said yesterday. "No parent should have to go through this."

A month after her death, police found Jordan's fingerprints in another Skid Row hotel where Edna Shade's nude body was discovered. Police had him under surveillance 11 days later when they rescued another woman from his hotel room.

"Down the hatch, baby. Twenty bucks if you drink it right down," police overheard Jordan telling her.

"You want another drink? I'll give you 50 bucks if you can take it."

Jordan was arrested, but charged only with Buckner's death.

An alcoholic who consumes more than 50 ounces of vodka a day, Jordan has a criminal record dating back to 1952 that includes convictions for rape, indecent assault, abduction, hit and run, drunk driving and car theft. He has been in and out of jail countless times for breaching his probation after being found drinking in the company of women -- usually native alcoholics.

"Sober people wouldn't go out with me so I didn't have much option," he explained during his 1988 trial. "I didn't want to drink in my room all by myself."

His quest for drunken sex was insatiable. By his own estimation, he was with 200 women a year, hunting for his prey in the city's seediest dives.

In 2000, he was acquitted of sexual assault. A few months later, he was charged again in Victoria with sexual assault and administering a noxious substance -- alcohol. Those charges were eventually stayed.

The savvy predator came close to disappearing completely.

In December, 2000, an innocuous legal notice appeared in the classified pages of a Victoria magazine.

Jordan was quietly serving legal notice that he was changing his name to Paul Pearce. At the time, unlike in Ontario, a B.C. name change application did not require fingerprinting or a criminal background check.


An unsuspecting police officer checking on Paul Pearce would not pick up his history of manslaughter or rape. There would have been nothing to stop him from luring more women into his web.

But once Jordan's bid to change his name became known, authorities moved quickly to close the loophole. He abruptly dropped his bid to change his name.

So the Boozing Barber goes back to jail once more. But only for a short time.

He has admitted that a sizeable inheritance, wise investments and playing the stock market has ensured that he can hire the best lawyers and ensure that he's not declared a dangerous offender.

While his victim's father wonders how many chances a killer should receive.

"He's a worm; he's a lowlife," Basaraba says bitterly over the long distance line from Abbotsford. "He should be squashed, just as he squashed a lot of girls' lives."