Golden State Killer suspect Joseph DeAngelo, who is now in his seventies, is certainly not the first cop to be accused of using his badge to aid in a murderous hobby.
Ronald Glenn West, also in his seventies, is currently in a Canadian prison serving an indeterminate sentence for, among other crimes, two counts of non-capital murder (which carry life sentences), armed robbery, robbery with violence and use of a firearm while committing offenses. He joined the Toronto Police in 1966, when he was in his early twenties, and left the force only a few years later, in 1972. His subsequent criminal career included home invasions, violent robberies, rape and cold-blooded murder.
An August 19, 2003 episode of Cold Case Files, “License to Kill,” covered how West, who was in prison for robberies, was ultimately discovered to have killed two women during his time as a police officer, almost 30 years prior. (A February 2019 episode of “Cold Case Files: The Podcast” also covers the case.)
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In 1991, West was also named as a suspect in a 1991 double-homicide and robbery at a Blind River, Ontario rest-stop, however, he has not been changed with those murders. The identity of “The Blind River Killer” is still something that gets much attention online as amateur sleuths try to solve the almost 30-year-old case.
A&E True Crime takes a look back at West’s horrific crimes and where is he now.
Why did Ronald Glenn West leave the police force?
Ronald West left the Toronto Police voluntarily “to seek other employment,” according to the Canadian newspaper, the National Post. He was married and had two sons, Joseph and Gavin. According to the Toronto Sun, after a second marriage, he lived with wife, Rena Lacroix, and the boys in Blind River, Ontario. According to “License to Kill,” at the time of his arrest in 1995, he already had a long rap sheet for theft, battery and drug possession.
What were his first major crimes?
In 1995, West was arrested in a series of robberies in the Sault Ste. Marie area of Northern Ontario, according to the Toronto Sun. In one case, West admitted to visiting an elderly man who was advertising a hospital bed for sale. West left, saying he needed to consult his wife. The next day he returned. As the victim told the paper, he turned his back on West and woke up the next day trussed up, gagged and missing money and valuables. This was a signature for West’s robbery spree, in which he would tie-up and/or blindfold victims in their homes or businesses (which included stores selling jewelry and furs).
In the summer of 1995, he pawned some of his stolen goods—rings and gemstones—using his driver’s license as identification, enabling police to track him down.
West pleaded guilty to the robberies on August 5, 1995. At sentencing, the judge called the crimes “shocking” and “coldly” planned and said they all ” imposed terror.”
West was serving an eight-year prison sentence at Kingston Penitentiary in Ontario, when his name came up in connection with two other grisly crimes.
When did West begin to kill?
West’s first known murder victims were young mothers home alone with their sons. On May 6, 1970, Doreen Moorby, a nurse, was at home in a small rural town north of Toronto with her 21-month-old son. When her husband came home from work that night, he found her lying on the floor. She had been sexually assaulted and shot seven times with a .22-caliber gun. Her little boy was found—unharmed—in the room with the body.
Thirteen days later—and not far away—a similar crime unfolded. Helen Ferguson, also a nurse, was home with her 9-year-old son, Dale, who was sick with mumps . A car pulled into their driveway and Dale heard his mother answer the door. She told him to stay in his room while she helped a man with a sick child. Dale later heard three gunshots. Ferguson had been shot once in the back of the head and twice in the back with a .22-caliber weapon. The child told investigators he saw the man wipe down the door for fingerprints and drive off, according to Cold North Killers: Canadian Serial Murder by Lee Mellor.
Dale’s description led to a composite sketch of the killer that provided investigators with many leads—and dead ends, including a Toronto mechanic who confessed (falsely) to his priest, according to The Gazette (Montreal). The community continued to be on edge given that the “.22 Caliber Killer”—what the unknown assailant was nicknamed at the time—was still on the loose.
How was Ronald Glenn West caught?
Veteran Detective Inspector Don MacNeil, then a constable with the Ontario Provincial Police, was on the initial task force investigating the killings of the two young mothers in their homes. Ballistics evidence, including slugs recovered from the victims’ bodies, linked the killings; they had been fired by the same gun. Before advances in DNA testing, authorities had collected semen samples, which provided the killer’s blood type.
MacNeil was re-assigned to the case, 27 years later, in 1997 as part of a cold case initiative, according to the National Post.
Not long after West’s conviction in the robbery spree, his house in Blind Riverwas sold. According to “License to Kill,” during renovations, the new owners found an envelope hidden in a wall. Inside were firearm permits in West’s name, from 1969 and 1970. The new owners shared the documents with a police detective, who, in turn, shared them with a colleague, MacNeil, who then recognized the permit matched the same gun used in the 1970 killings.
MacNeil dug into West’s history. However, the fragmented bullets recovered from the bodies were too hard to match. Investigators turned next to semen samples from the two victims that had been carefully preserved since May 1970—long before the technology existed to unravel DNA secrets.
The seal on a letter home to West’s wife provided a saliva sample that narrowed things down enough for investigators to get a court ordered blood test. It was a match.
Nearly three decades after the crimes were committed, this conclusive DNA evidence led police to arrest West for the unsolved sex slayings of the two women.
According to The Vancouver Sun, this was one of the oldest cold-case arrests in Canadian history. At the time of the murders, the police had interviewed over 3,000 suspects and West would have likely have been involved in the original manhunt for the murderer in 1970. “His name was never on the list [of suspects],” a police officer told the Ottawa Citizen.
On August 26, 1999, West, then 52, was charged with first-degree murder in the 1970 sex slayings. He pleaded guilty and received two life sentences.
Is Ronald Glenn West the Blind River Killer?
West was also under investigation and named as a suspect in the so-called Blind River killings, though has not been charged.
In 1991, Gord McAllister, 62, and his wife Jackie, 59, were on their way to visit relatives in Winnipeg when they passed a scenic rest stop near Blind River, according to The Vancouver Sun. The couple, who had been married for 39 years, pulled their motor home into the site and decided to spend the night. At about 1 a.m., someone banged on the RV door, identifying himself as a police officer. When Jackie opened the door, the assailant told them it was a robbery.
Gord remembered the man as being about 6 feet tall and having long, stringy blond hair. Once inside the RV, the man fired his rifle, instantly killing Jackie. Gord was shot in the back as he escaped from the vehicle, but he managed to get to a main road and call for help.
Another man, 29-year-old Brian Major, pulled into the rest stop and was shot dead.
At the time, West lived near Blind River with his second wife and two sons from his previous marriage.
How is Ronald Glenn West’s story similar to the Golden State Killer suspect?
West is one of many officers of the law who have been suspected of heinous crimes. In Blind River, where he lived with his wife and sons, West was described to The Toronto Star as a quiet man who kept to himself. Joseph DeAngelo, a California police officer in the 1970s, is the suspect in a string of unsolved murders and rapes in California known as the Golden State murders. He, too, had run-ins with the law over theft and lived near the site of many of the crimes.
For DeAngelo, DNA also led to his arrest. Police used DNA from one of the Golden State Killer’s crime scenes and submitted it to a genealogical-testing website, GEDmatch, to see they could track one of the suspect’s relatives. Once they did, they homed in on DeAngelo, eventually obtaining his DNA from a discarded tissue. The match came back positive and DeAngelo was arrested. He’s currently awaiting trial.
It may seem as though serial murderers and those who work in law enforcement make strange bedfellows, but, according to criminologist Michael Arntfield, co-author of Murder in Plain English, one of the three top “professional/government occupations” for serial killers is police officer.
Where is Ronald Glenn West now?
As a sex offender and a former police officer, West was thought to be vulnerable in prison, according to reports in the Edmonton Sun. He is currently serving an indeterminate sentence (meaning that no definite period of time is set during sentencing) in the custody of the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC). A spokesperson for CSC told A&E True Crime that West was eligible for day parole in 2006 (which is up to the offender to request) and for full parole in 2009 (which is automatically scheduled, unless waived or postponed by the offender). A spokesperson for the Parole Board of Canada confirmed that, to date, there has been no decision to release West. CSC would not confirm his location within the prison system.