Cheryl Lynne Harper

Cheryl Lynne Harper

Birth
New Brunswick, Canada
Death
9 Jun 1959 (aged 12)
Ontario, Canada
Burial
Union, Elgin County, Ontario, Canada Add to Map
Plot
Lot 502
Memorial ID
View Source
Murder Victim. On June 9, 1959, southern Ontario was in the grip of a heat wave. 12-year-old Lynne Harper, who lived on the Royal Canadian Air Force base (now closed) near Clinton in Huron County, came home from school at about 5:30 that afternoon looking forward to swimming at an outdoor pool on the base. But pool rules required either adult supervision of children swimming there or a permit for a child to swim unsupervised. Neither Lynne's mother, Shirley, nor her father, Flying Officer Leslie Harper, was prepared to accompany her to the pool. Lynne then went to the administrator of the Permanent Married Quarters (PMQ's) where the Harpers lived to get a permit and, failing that, returned home. After supper, at about 6:15 P.M., she left the house again and went walking: about 45 minutes later she arrived at the base school grounds where she met a popular 14-year-old classmate named Steven Truscott (they were in a combined seventh- and eighth-grade class). She told Steven that she wished to visit a man living north of Highway 8 who kept ponies. Steven was on his way to the Bayfield River, just south of the highway, to see whether any of his friends were there: he therefore agreed to take Lynne up the County Road on his bicycle to the highway intersection. After leaving Lynne at the highway, Steven started back down the County Road: as he was about to recross the Bayfield Bridge, he suddenly turned around and saw Lynne get into a gray late-model Chevrolet Bel-Air with license plates he thought were yellow. Lynne was found dead two days later, in a woodland not far from where Steven had started taking her northward across the bridge: she had been raped and strangled. The crime sent shock waves throughout the community which, within hours, spread to the provincial capital of Toronto. Kelso Roberts, then Ontario's Attorney-General, posted an unprecedented $10,000 reward for the capture, dead or alive, of the perpetrator of "this revolting and savage crime." The Ontario Provincial Police assigned Inspector Harold Graham of its Criminal Investigation Bureau (who would eventually retire as the force's Commissioner) to lead the investigation. The next evening (June 12) the OPP took Steven, the last person known to have seen Lynne alive, into custody, charging her later that night with her murder. They never investigated anyone else -- an especially glaring omission since three possible suspects are now known to have worked at the Clinton base at that time, two of them acquaintances of the Harper family. On September 16, Steven came to trial as an adult before Justice Ronald Ferguson in the Huron County seat of Goderich, on a charge of capital (first-degree) murder. Exactly two weeks later, an all-male jury handed down a verdict of guilty, with a plea for mercy. Justice Ferguson then immediately sentenced Steven to death by hanging, thereby making him Canada's youngest-ever death-row inmate. (Canada abolished capital punishment in 1976, partly in connection with this case; by then no executions had taken place for 14 years.) The execution was set for December eighth but, on November 20, was postponed to the new year to give Steven's lawyers time to appeal. On January 20, 1960, two days after Steven's 15th birthday, his appeal to the Ontario Court of Appeal was denied. However, because of widespread public outrage, his death sentence was commuted on the following day to life imprisonment. On February 24, his application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada was denied. (Until 1961 there was no automatic right of appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada in capital cases, barring a dissent in the lower courts.) In 1966, Isabel LeBourdais's book *The Trial of Steven Truscott* was published, citing serious flaws in the prosecution's case, renewing public interest in the case and bringing widespread public pressure on the Supreme Court of Canada to review Steven's conviction. The court heard oral testimony over five days in October of that year, and heard submissions the following January. On May fourth, 1967, by a vote of eight-to-one, the Justices upheld the conviction. On October 21, 1969, Steven Truscott was paroled. Living under an assumed name as a condition of his parole, he eventually settled in Guelph, Ontario, where he married and raised three children. In 1997 he sought to prove his innocence by DNA testing, but by late 2000 (by which time also Steven had resumed his real name) it was discovered that all physical evidence pertaining to the case had disappeared. On November 29, 2001, Steven Truscott filed a petition with the federal Ministry of Justice to have his case reviewed, with an eye to having his conviction overturned. He offered in support a 600-page brief prepared by the Association in Defense of the Wrongly Convicted (AIDWYC), alleging that the conviction resulted from a combination of police tunnel vision, shoddy forensic science and massive suppression of evidence. On August 28, 2007, after having examined some 250 pieces of new evidence, a five-judge panel of the Ontario Court of Appeal voted unanimously to overturn Steven Truscott's conviction, thus acquitting him of the murder of Lynne Harper.Lynne Harper was the victim of what remains to this day the most widely debated and famous murder in Canadian history. On the hot, humid evening of June 9, 1959, Lynne, a 12-year-old Canadian air force dependant, was last seen riding double on a bike with 14-year-old classmate Steven Truscott on a road that led past some woods near her school on the Clinton, Ontario, air force base. An hour later, Steven Truscott returned to the school without her. Two days later, her body was found in the woods. She had been raped and strangled with her torn blouse.
Truscott was later convicted of her murder and sentenced to death. His sentence was commuted to life in prison, but he was paroled in 1969 after serving 10 years.
Despite strong evidence of his guilt, and two appeals, Truscott to this day maintains his innocence, and is currently seeking to have his case reopened. The case has been the subject of a half-dozen books, countless television documentaries and even a country song by Blue Rodeo.
Lynne Harper's grave is in the Union Cemetery near Port Stanley, Ontario, Canada.
Murder Victim. On June 9, 1959, southern Ontario was in the grip of a heat wave. 12-year-old Lynne Harper, who lived on the Royal Canadian Air Force base (now closed) near Clinton in Huron County, came home from school at about 5:30 that afternoon looking forward to swimming at an outdoor pool on the base. But pool rules required either adult supervision of children swimming there or a permit for a child to swim unsupervised. Neither Lynne's mother, Shirley, nor her father, Flying Officer Leslie Harper, was prepared to accompany her to the pool. Lynne then went to the administrator of the Permanent Married Quarters (PMQ's) where the Harpers lived to get a permit and, failing that, returned home. After supper, at about 6:15 P.M., she left the house again and went walking: about 45 minutes later she arrived at the base school grounds where she met a popular 14-year-old classmate named Steven Truscott (they were in a combined seventh- and eighth-grade class). She told Steven that she wished to visit a man living north of Highway 8 who kept ponies. Steven was on his way to the Bayfield River, just south of the highway, to see whether any of his friends were there: he therefore agreed to take Lynne up the County Road on his bicycle to the highway intersection. After leaving Lynne at the highway, Steven started back down the County Road: as he was about to recross the Bayfield Bridge, he suddenly turned around and saw Lynne get into a gray late-model Chevrolet Bel-Air with license plates he thought were yellow. Lynne was found dead two days later, in a woodland not far from where Steven had started taking her northward across the bridge: she had been raped and strangled. The crime sent shock waves throughout the community which, within hours, spread to the provincial capital of Toronto. Kelso Roberts, then Ontario's Attorney-General, posted an unprecedented $10,000 reward for the capture, dead or alive, of the perpetrator of "this revolting and savage crime." The Ontario Provincial Police assigned Inspector Harold Graham of its Criminal Investigation Bureau (who would eventually retire as the force's Commissioner) to lead the investigation. The next evening (June 12) the OPP took Steven, the last person known to have seen Lynne alive, into custody, charging her later that night with her murder. They never investigated anyone else -- an especially glaring omission since three possible suspects are now known to have worked at the Clinton base at that time, two of them acquaintances of the Harper family. On September 16, Steven came to trial as an adult before Justice Ronald Ferguson in the Huron County seat of Goderich, on a charge of capital (first-degree) murder. Exactly two weeks later, an all-male jury handed down a verdict of guilty, with a plea for mercy. Justice Ferguson then immediately sentenced Steven to death by hanging, thereby making him Canada's youngest-ever death-row inmate. (Canada abolished capital punishment in 1976, partly in connection with this case; by then no executions had taken place for 14 years.) The execution was set for December eighth but, on November 20, was postponed to the new year to give Steven's lawyers time to appeal. On January 20, 1960, two days after Steven's 15th birthday, his appeal to the Ontario Court of Appeal was denied. However, because of widespread public outrage, his death sentence was commuted on the following day to life imprisonment. On February 24, his application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada was denied. (Until 1961 there was no automatic right of appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada in capital cases, barring a dissent in the lower courts.) In 1966, Isabel LeBourdais's book *The Trial of Steven Truscott* was published, citing serious flaws in the prosecution's case, renewing public interest in the case and bringing widespread public pressure on the Supreme Court of Canada to review Steven's conviction. The court heard oral testimony over five days in October of that year, and heard submissions the following January. On May fourth, 1967, by a vote of eight-to-one, the Justices upheld the conviction. On October 21, 1969, Steven Truscott was paroled. Living under an assumed name as a condition of his parole, he eventually settled in Guelph, Ontario, where he married and raised three children. In 1997 he sought to prove his innocence by DNA testing, but by late 2000 (by which time also Steven had resumed his real name) it was discovered that all physical evidence pertaining to the case had disappeared. On November 29, 2001, Steven Truscott filed a petition with the federal Ministry of Justice to have his case reviewed, with an eye to having his conviction overturned. He offered in support a 600-page brief prepared by the Association in Defense of the Wrongly Convicted (AIDWYC), alleging that the conviction resulted from a combination of police tunnel vision, shoddy forensic science and massive suppression of evidence. On August 28, 2007, after having examined some 250 pieces of new evidence, a five-judge panel of the Ontario Court of Appeal voted unanimously to overturn Steven Truscott's conviction, thus acquitting him of the murder of Lynne Harper.Lynne Harper was the victim of what remains to this day the most widely debated and famous murder in Canadian history. On the hot, humid evening of June 9, 1959, Lynne, a 12-year-old Canadian air force dependant, was last seen riding double on a bike with 14-year-old classmate Steven Truscott on a road that led past some woods near her school on the Clinton, Ontario, air force base. An hour later, Steven Truscott returned to the school without her. Two days later, her body was found in the woods. She had been raped and strangled with her torn blouse.
Truscott was later convicted of her murder and sentenced to death. His sentence was commuted to life in prison, but he was paroled in 1969 after serving 10 years.
Despite strong evidence of his guilt, and two appeals, Truscott to this day maintains his innocence, and is currently seeking to have his case reopened. The case has been the subject of a half-dozen books, countless television documentaries and even a country song by Blue Rodeo.
Lynne Harper's grave is in the Union Cemetery near Port Stanley, Ontario, Canada.

Bio by: Anonymous