In the 1990's a secretive cult called "The Order of the Solar Temple" was at the centre of several mass deaths in Europe and Canada. Devoted followers believed that by committing suicide they would be transported to a new life on the star Sirius. Anyone who wavered was murdered. The cult was run by a charismatic homeopathic doctor and a paranoid businessman. Together they recruited rich, educated professionals from around the world.
Music in this episode performed and written by Lee Rosevere and Broke For Free. News clips are courtesy of CBC news archives.
On a cold night in March 1995, six teenage boys from Pickering, Ontario, disappeared on Lake Ontario. As days turned into weeks…the six became known as the lost boys. The mystery surrounding their disappearance has never been solved. The lost boys have never been found. According to Durham Regional Police it remains an open, unsolved missing persons case. But police stopped actively looking for the boys many years ago. There are some people who are still looking though. In this episode of The History of 1995, I speak with Bruce Ricketts, a part time private investigator, who works free of charge for the family of one of the boys.
Music in this episode written and performed by Kevin Macleod.
In the 1990's someone was hunting abortion providers in North America. Four doctors who performed abortions were shot and injured by an unknown sniper who hid in the dark outside their homes. A fifth doctor who was shot by the sniper did not survive. An international manhunt eventually lead to the arrest of a radical anti-abortion protestor. In this episode of The History of 1995, host Kathy Kenzora talks with reporter and author Jon Wells who has covered the case for the Hamilton Spectator newspaper and written a book about the case called Sniper.
Music in this episode is written and performed by Kevin MacLeod and Aurora Principle.
On December 14, 1995, Bosnian leaders signed a peace treaty that ended Europe’s worst conflict since World War 2. During three years of fighting between Serbs, Croats and Muslims, between two and three million people were displaced from their homes and 200,000 were killed. The 1995 peace agreement divided Bosnia almost equally between Serbs and a Croat-Muslim alliance. The agreement also stated that war criminals would face a tribunal at The Hague. In the years that followed the agreement, 14 Bosnian Serb political and military leaders were convicted. Many of the convictions were connected to what happened in Srebrenica. This episode looks back at the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys who had taken refuge at the UN safe Haven.
On November 5, 1995, an armed intruded broke into the house of Canada's Prime Minister. He wandered around undetected by RCMP officers stationed on the property until Prime Minister's wife woke up and called for help. What happened next shocked Canadians even more.
On October 17, 2018, Paul Bernardo was denied day and full parole after a parole hearing at Millhaven Prison where he is housed in solitary confinement. Earlier this year he became eligible to apply for parole after serving 25 years in prison. Bernardo was arrested in 1993 and subsequently found guilty in the kidnapping, confinement, sexual assaults and murders of 14 year-old Leslie Mahaffy and 15-year-old Kristen French. The mothers of Leslie and Kristen told the hearing that time has not healed their wounds and a woman who was raped by Bernardo in the 1980's also provided a victim impact statement at the hearing. Bernardo was questioned for more than two hours and provided long, rambling and almost incomprehensible answers.
On October 5, 2018, Paul Bernardo appeared in court to stand trial for a charge of possessing a weapon. In February, a homemade shank was reportedly found in his cell at Millhaven Penitentiary where he is serving a life sentence for murder. The trial did not proceed, instead the Crown withdrew the charge because there was no chance of conviction. After the charge was withdrawn, Bernardo's lawyer said the decision clears the way for his clients parole hearing on October 17. He said that Bernardo is looking forward to returning to the community and has the support of his loving parents.
On October 1, 1995, the biggest terrorism trial in American history ended with guilty verdicts for a man known as the "Blind Sheik" and nine of his followers.
An eight month trial had revealed that the group planned to wage a war of urban terrorism against the United States. Their overall goal was to force America to abandon support for Israel and Egypt.
Led by Omar Abdel-Rahman, a blind Egyptian cleric, the group of militant muslims had planned to carry out a string of terrorist’s bombings and assassinations that culminated with a cataclysmic day of terror in New York City.
On September 19, 1995, The Washington Post included a special eight page pullout that contained a 35,000 word manifesto written by someone known only as the Unabomber. Three months earlier the Unabomber had sent packages to the Washington Post that contained a inside a 56 page document entitled ‘Industrial Society and Its Future" along with 11 pages of footnotes. The Post and the Times had also received a letter that said if they published the 56 manuscript the sender would stop harming people and if they refused he would start building his next bomb.
On August 24, 1995, Bill Gates officially released Windows 95. The user-friendly computer operating system changed the way the world used personal computers. The Windows 95 OS introduced a taskbar, and desktop and the now iconic START button for launching applications. Users no longer needed to understand complicated commands to launch programs and access files. This mini episode takes a look back at the 300 million dollar marketing campaign that Microsoft conducted in conjunction with the launch Windows 95.
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On August 1, 1995, a beloved Ottawa sportscaster was shot in the head while walking in the parking lot of the TV station where he worked. Smith, a former professional hockey player, died the next day from his injuries. Initially police believed that someone with a beef against Smith had stalked him outside the CJOH TV station. But the next day a man who believed the media was broadcasting messages into his head surrendered to police. It turned out Smith was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Music in this episode was written and performed by Lee Rosevere. The closing song, What's The Frequency, Kenneth is by REM and is about the man who attacked Dan Rather and also suffered from delusions of reference.
On July 12, 1995 a dangerous hot air mass settled over the city of Chicago. A heat advisory was issued that warned of an impending record-breaking heatwave. By the time it was over more than 700 people were dead. Many of them were old, alone and poor.
For three days temperatures remained at 99 degrees or higher causing the deadliest weather event in Chicago’s history.
Sources for this episode include:
Heatwave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago by Eric Klinenberg
On this day in 1995 the trial of Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss got underway in Los Angeles. Fleiss was charged with tax evasion and money laundering in connection with her international call girl ring and prosecutors promised that the trial would reveal some of her high profile clients.
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On June 8, 1995, the Mike Harris Conservatives were elected to run the province of Ontario. Harris campaigned on a platform that he called The Common Sense Revolution. For the next seven years Ontario underwent massive changes in everything from Welfare to Health Care. Conservative Cabinet Ministers were often on the hot seat as they implemented the changes in an atmosphere of protest and push-back. This episode of 1995 looks back at Mike Harris Government and the first year of their Common Sense Revolution in Ontario.
Music in this episode courtesy of "Broke for Free"
Part three on the Exoneration of Guy Paul Moring looks back at the day he was finally acquitted of the murder of his 9-year-old neighbour Christine Jessop. After he was convicted of murder in 1992, a grass roots movement sprung up to help free Morin and prove his innocence. Lawyer James Lockyer won an appeal for Morin, but before it was heard, advances in DNA technology proved once and for all that Morin did not kill Christine.
On Part 2 of this series on the exoneration of Guy Paul Morin, I look back at Morin's two trials. At the first trial in 1986, Morin was found not guilty in the murder of his 9-year-old neighbour Christine Jessop. The Crown appealed and a new trial was granted which took place beginning in November 1991. This trial included tons of new evidence including the shocking revelation that Christine had been abused for years by two young neighbors and her older brother Kenny. The trial dragged on for 9 months and everyone was stunned when the jury came back this time with a verdict of guilty. Thanks again to author Kirk Makin for his contribution to this episode.
On January 23, 1995, Guy Paul Morin was acquitted in the murder of his 9 year old neighbor Christine Jessop. His 10 year legal battle finally came to an end when new DNA technology proved that he wasn't responsible for the brutal killing and sexual assault of Christine.
Christine disappeared from her home on October 3, 1984, shortly after she was dropped off by a school bus in front of her house in Queensville, Ontario. Queensville is a small farming town about one hour north of Toronto and the disappearance shocked the community.
Part one of this series looks back at the disappearance of Christine and the arrest of Guy Paul Morin.
On this day in 1995, February 17th, a verdict was handed down in one of the most bizarre criminal trials ever. Colin Ferguson was charged with six counts of murder in connection with the Long Island Rail Road Massacre in 1993. His lawyers wanted him to plead guilty by reason of insanity but he refused to accept that plea. Ferguson fired his lawyers and defended himself. He took on the demeanor of an experienced lawyer and referred to himself in the third person when he cross examined 17 of the 19 people who survived the shooting spree.
February 7, 1995, iconic rapper and actor Tupac Shakur was sentenced to prison in connection with the sexual abuse of a 19-year- old woman. Shakur and his road manager had been charged with numerous offences after the Brooklyn woman said she was attacked by Shakur and three other men in a hotel room. They were found guilty of three counts of first degree sex abuse but found not guilty of the more serious charge of sodomy. The judge sentenced Shakur to 18 months to 4 and half years in jail. Shakur was out 8 months later after Suge Knight of Death Row Records posted $1.4 million in bail pending an appeal in the case.
In November 1995, the Middle East Peace Process came to an abrupt halt when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated. Two years before his death, Rabin had brokered a peace deal with PLO leader Yasser Arafat that would lead to Israel's withdrawal from the occupied territories.
25 year old right wing Jew Yigal Amir along with occupiers and other extremists were against the plan. Amir decided the only way to stop it from moving forward was to kill Prime Minister Rabin.
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On January 11, 1995, the first lockout in the National Hockey League finally ended. The league had locked players out for 103 days as they tried to reach a new deal with players. The main sticking point was a luxury tax being proposed by Commissioner Gary Bettman. The union, headed by Bob Goodenow, said the tax was the same thing as a salary cap which they were dead set against.
In January 1995, Canada's elite Airborne Regiment was shut down by the country's Defence Minister. A shocking homemade video had been released by the media showing some officers make disturbing and racist comments while on a peace keeping mission in Somalia. Shortly after that video was released, a second video was uncovered that showed officers from the Airborne Regiment taking part in a hazing ritual. During the ceremony, a lack soldier was put on a leash and walked around like a dog while other soldiers were forced to eat feces. The regiment had already developed a bad reputation and was under a dark cloud because of two deaths that occurred inside the Canadian compound in Somalia. In one case a 16 year old Somalia boy was tortured and beaten to death. The main officer who conducted the beating posed for pictures with the boys battered body.
Clayton Matchee was arrested in connection with the death but attempted to commit suicide while in protective custody. He did not die but experienced severed brain damage and was declared unfit to stand trial.
Kyle Brown, was present during the beating and tried to stop Matchee who outranked him. He took pictures during the beating and eventually turned them over to authorities. Brown was convicted of charges and received a 5 year jail sentence.
The extro song in this episode is "The Longest Day" by Paul Anka. It was the official song of the Canadian Airborne Regiment.
On December 6, 1995, the Montreal Canadiens traded their star goaltender Patrick Roy to the Colorado Avalanche. The move is considered by many to be the worst trade in Montreal history. It came just days after Roy was humiliated during a home game at the Montreal Forum when coach Mario Tremblay refused to pull Roy from the game until the score was 9-1. Roy skated off the ice and went to the President of the hockey club and told him he had played his last game in Montreal.
On March 20th, 1995, a deadly nerve gas was released in the Tokyo Subway system. Passengers stumbled out of the trains coughing and choking. Many collapsed and went into convulsions. No one had any idea what was going on. Thousands were injured and 13 died in the attack which was carried out by a doomsday cult that was trying to provoke a world war. Thanks to Professor Paul Midford from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology for his contribution to this episode. Twitter: @1995podcast FB:1995Podcast Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the shadow of the OJ Simpson trial, another high profile trial grabbed public attention in 1995. The trial of Susan Smith would reveal many shocking secrets about the young woman from South Carolina accused of killing her 2 young sons. All music in this episode is written and produced by Lee Revere. Twitter: @1995podcast Facebook: 1995 podcast