If you had told me in December, 1997 that the murder of Fort Macleod RCMP commander Sgt. Pete Sopow would still be unsolved, I would have laughed in your face. I used to think there was no such thing as the perfect crime.
Sadly, the case is unsolved. To this day, no one has ever been charged in Pete’s murder, who was shot to death on Saturday, Dec. 13, 1997 along with his fiancé Lorraine McNab at her farm near Pincher Creek, about an hour west of Lethbridge. How Pete and Lorraine could ever rest in peace when their murderer is walking the streets a free man, I couldn’t say.
I was working as a reporter at the Macleod Gazette newspaper when Pete was murdered; I had been there for about a year and a half, and in the newspaper world, that’s a long time.
I worked with Pete virtually from the day I got to Fort Macleod; the day after I started there, someone slashed the tires on about 80 brand new vehicles at a local car dealership. Pete called the newspaper to see if I would work with one of the constables to put a story in the paper about the vandalism.
Pete was easy to work with, and you could tell he was an experienced police officer who understood rural Alberta. The local media can be quite effective at getting the word out about crime. All you have to do is look at the Pipestone Flyer’s website stats, and you’ll see crime stories are usually in the top readership spots. It was the same then in Fort Macleod.
I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed working with Pete. A retired RCMP officer who worked with Pete and has retired in the Red Deer area sent me this message about his time with Pete:
“While working together for about four years with Peter Sopow at Stony Plain, Alberta during the mid 1970’s, I came to appreciate his friendly, out going manner with the public and the people around him.
“Peter was a few years [about five years] more senior to me in time spent doing the job.
“I discovered his noticeable attention to detail when completing an investigation. His ability to complete details of written record during an investigation was far above average and it resulted in some very positive outcomes during the course of his cases.
“This was in a time period before video cameras or cell phone cameras/recordings. The ability to complete written record was especially important, most specific in matters involving Court Cases.
“Some of those mannerism of Peter; I tried to copy within my own work habits which later served me well in my career.”
Pete’s case may still technically be open, but it’s obvious, unless the murderer comes forward with a written confession, no one will ever be held responsible for these two murders. I spend a fair amount of time thinking about what Pete’s last moments must have been like. He didn’t deserve to die like that, and he doesn’t deserve to be forgotten about which is exactly what has happened.
If you’re a movie buff like me, no doubt you’ve seen a brilliant Noir film called “L.A. Confidential.” In the film, a police officer is asked why he joined the force. He explains his father was murdered by a purse-snatcher who was never caught, and never even identified.
He gave the murderer a name, “Rolo Telmasi,” so that he at least had something to call him.
Later in the film another cop asks “Who’s Rolo Telmasi?”
The detective answers, “He’s the one who gets away with it.”
Stu Salkeld is editor of The Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the paper.