'It's Bandidos that got killed'
Rival gang Hells Angels denies link to mass murder
Gary Dimmock and Kelly Patrick, with files from Mary Vallis,
National Post; with files from The Canadian Press
Published: Monday, April 10, 2006
OPP officers conduct a sweep
yesterday in the area of the worst mass killing in Ontario history, after
the bodies of eight men were discovered in abandoned vehicles in a farm
field outside Shedden, a rural hamlet southwest of London. Police said the
victims were from outside the area, which has a history of violence
involving biker gangs.
Photograph by : Adrian Wyld, The
SHEDDEN, Ont. - An entire outlaw biker crew, a small chapter of the
Bandidos, was reported missing on the streets of Toronto yesterday as
detectives working to solve the worst mass killing in Ontario history paid a
visit to the nearby home of a fellow biker, hoping to retrace the final hours
of the eight men slain and dumped in this once quiet community.
Though police at the scene -- including Ontario's anti-biker unit -- said
little publicly, associates and members of the world's second most powerful
biker gang were exchanging online sympathies and making phone calls into the
night, as a far away as Germany, to find out why their brothers died.
"I can tell you that it's Bandidos that got killed," said Ed
Winterhalder, who left the gang in 2003 and wrote Out in Bad Standings, a book
on his time inside the gang.
In a statement to the Citizen, the gang's rival, Hells Angels, said they
had absolutely nothing to do with the mass murder and would be vindicated
despite reports to the contrary.
The outlaw bikers gone missing and presumed dead were originally members of
The Loners, a gang scattered across southern Ontario. Half of their members
patched over to the Hells Angels in late 2000, which was part of a mass
defection across Ontario led by a Ottawa-based Hells Angel Paul "Sasquatch"
But half the gang didn't want to join Hells Angels, one of the largest
crime corporations in the world. Instead, they were courted over four months
by a prominent U.S. Bandido to join his club. After a lot of visits, the
patchover to the Bandidos was hatched in a Toronto coffee shop.
"We wanted those guys because they were legal and we need guys who are
employed," said Mr. Winterhalder, who led the gang's expansion into
Canada in January 2001.
Mr. Winterhalder said he would be shocked if Hells Angels Toronto were
behind the killings.
Some of the cars found in the farmer's field are linked to outlaw bikers,
and Bandido members expressed sympathy last night on the Internet.
The bikers gone missing and presumed dead joined the Bandidos in May 2001,
months after the other half of The Loners were absorbed by the Hells Angels.
It created a rivalry instantly, though there were no tit-for-tat killings
like the ones that unfolded in Quebec's biker war in the 1990s.
"The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, or any of its members, are not
involved in this crime in any way shape or form. Newspaper reports and
speculation to the contrary, will be proved completely wrong, in the coming
days," Hells Angels Toronto told the Citizen last night.
Ontario Provincial Police refused to confirm whether the victims were tied
to organized crime.
"Until we have the victims positively identified and the cause of
death properly established we're not going to comment on any
affiliation," said Det.-Supt. Ross Bingley, head of the OPP's Criminal
Police released few details, saying only the men all knew each other and
were from the Greater Toronto Area.
"We have an understanding of who some of the victims are," Det.-Supt.
Bingley told dozens of reporters gathered on the isolated dirt road where a
farmer and his wife discovered the bodies in and around four vehicles at 8:30
"We're in that process right now (of identifying them) and until that
positive identification has been made we won't be releasing any names."
A second roadblock was set up less than 10 kilometres away from where the
eight bodies were found Saturday.
Several police cars went to the home of Wayne Kellestine -- the former
president of the Annihilators, and later the Loners in St. Thomas, Ont., --
who survived an assassination attempt in 1999.
Det.-Insp. Don Bell, head of the OPP-led Biker Enforcement Unit, confirmed
that police motorcycle gang specialists are involved in the investigation, but
would not say to what extent.
"Investigators have reached out for expertise in a number of
areas," he said.
"Given the nature of the case, it is very prudent that we move
slowly," he said.
The victims' connection to Toronto was one of the few pieces of information
to trickle out through official channels on a day when even the father of a
man whose sport utility vehicle was discovered at the scene could not find out
what had happened to his son.
"Yes, it has been a very difficult day," said the father, who
learned when the National Post phoned him yesterday morning that a 2003 silver
Infiniti FX registered to his adult son had been found in a woodlot at the
scene of the massacre, about 25 kilometres southwest of London, Ont.
Newspapers ran aerial photos of the Infiniti with its hatch open. One of
the victims, a heavyset man clad in striped pajama bottoms, was pictured lying
in the back.
"Now I have to wait until there's been identification of the eight
victims," the father said.
After he was contacted by the Post, the father phoned OPP and gave a
He was unable to reach his son yesterday.
The Post agreed not to release the name of the father or son, pending
identification of the victim.
Another vehicle discovered at the scene was a grey 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix.
The Pontiac was rented in Toronto from Avis on March 16 and was due to be
The rental was in the name of Tara Stolarski, who lives in Milton, Ont.
Ms. Stolarski did not return calls yesterday. But a source close to the
family said Ms. Stolarski's boyfriend is missing.
"He hasn't been heard of. We're not really sure," the source
said. "She doesn't really know anything, other than what she's heard on
The source said the police had not contacted the family by yesterday
"Until they do, we don't know anything."
Also found at the scene was a tow truck registered to Superior Towing in
Etobicoke, with a silver Volkswagen Golf attached to the back.
George Jesso, a Toronto-area man in his late 50s or early 60s, is believed
to be the driver of the tow truck, said Cindy Stunden, owner of First Image
Towing in Toronto, who knew Mr. Jesso through the industry.
Danny Creatura, manager of Superior Towing in Toronto, confirmed last night
that Mr. Jesso was a driver for his company, and hasn't been heard from since
the bodies were discovered.
OPP would not confirm how many victims were in each vehicle.
They also would not say how the men died or whether they had been killed at
the scene or elsewhere.
"Obviously we're not used to having eight people at one homicide
scene," said Det-Supt. Bingley.
Officers combed the scene all day Saturday. Then, under cover of darkness,
around 10:30 p.m., an OPP transport truck arrived to begin removing the
vehicles, the bodies still inside, from the road and the woodlot.
Det-Supt. Bingley said the bodies were to be taken to the Ontario Coroner's
office in Toronto, while the cars would be sent to OPP headquarters in Orillia
for detailed analysis.
Toronto West regional coroner Dr. David Evans confirmed that the bodies
were in the city and that post-mortem examinations would take place today, but
he refused to discuss what condition they were in.
"We're undergoing our routine protocol for doing homicide
autopsies," Dr. Evans said.
"It's going to take a bit of time -- it may take all day and sometime
into the evening to have it all completed."
The woodlot and cornfield where the bodies were found belongs to Mary and
Russell Steele and is located just off Highway 401.
Shedden, Ont., a hamlet of approximately 270 people, is a quiet farming
community known as the rhubarb capital of Canada where residents know each
other's vehicles and keep an eye on each other's properties.
"We were just blown away," said Charlene Armstrong, 41, who lives
about a kilometre west of the Steele property.
Still, she added, residents felt sure the mass killing originated outside
"We knew it had to be from a bigger city."
Chris Mathers, a Toronto crime and security consultant, said there's little
doubt that organized crime in some form had something to do with the killings,
though it's still too early to say whether biker gangs were involved.
"This isn't a dispute between the 4-H Club or the Lions or the
Masons," Mr. Mathers said. "Who else in the world settles disputes
in this fashion?"
Word from police that the victims all knew each other and all came from the
Greater Toronto Area did little to assuage residents' concerns that their
community had once again been breached by the urban blight of violent crime.
"We went through this a few years ago with the bikers there, just west
of us," said Joan Giles, 74.
In separate incidents in 1994 and 1998, the bodies of a man and a woman
were found dumped in county fields. Both had been beaten to death, and neither
of the murders were ever solved.
In October 1999, Mr. Kellestine himself was wounded in a shootout near
Highway 401, apparently the result of a rift inside one of the gangs.
"That's the first thing I thought about," Ms. Giles said.
"What surprises me is they picked our little town here to do what they
Andrew Hilton, a spokesman for Community Safety Minister Monte Kwinter,
said the ministry would not discuss what he called a "very tragic, very
horrific" case because the investigation remains at an operational stage.
"Obviously we're monitoring, but we have no comment," Mr. Hilton
© The Ottawa Citizen 2006