A memorial at the Portapique church hall. Photo: Joan Baxter.

This article is sexually graphic.

In 2008, a woman in her 30s bought a Victorian house in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Next door was a rooming house owned by Tom Evans, an older gay lawyer.

In documents compiled by the Mass Casualty Commission, the woman is referred to as AA. She was interviewed by RCMP investigators on May 22, 2020.

Through Evans, AA met the man the Halifax Examiner refers to as GW — the man who would twelve years later murder 22 people in Nova Scotia. When Evans died in 2009, he willed his property to GW.

AA and GW hit it off, and soon began what AA referred to as an “intimate relationship.”

“I was in love with him,” said AA. GW “pulled out my chair, opened the door, you know, his business was dealing with elderly people, he was soft spoken, he was articulate. He was polite, and the world just fell down at his feet.”

“I didn’t know he was the devil.”

One day, GW invited AA to dinner.

“He was very excited, very, very, very excited,” said AA. “Coming up, a bouquet, great, you know, you get dressed up, you’re going out, it’s nice. He called me like probably six or seven times on the way up [from Nova Scotia]. About something to show me, he’s got something to give me. And I was like, I think it’s jewelry.”

It was a contract.

“So not jewelry, not a great dinner.”

GW was asking AA to sign something akin to a prenuptial agreement. As AA described it, the contract prevented AA from making any claims on GW’s property.

“I was like, this is weird to me,” said AA. “I’m not looking to be your second secretary.”

AA was referring to Lisa Banfield, whom GW was dating. “We spoke a lot about Lisa. I met Lisa.”

AA never visited GW in Portapique — “that’s Lisa’s life,” she said. But AA and GW maintained a relationship for several years — he’d drive to Fredericton and they’d spend the night together at the Delta hotel.

“I assumed he sees other people, of course,” said AA. “Like I knew how we sort of hit it off and I just expected him to do that everywhere.”

When GW talked about having assaulted his father in Cuba, AA tried to get him into counselling, but he didn’t go. GW kept trying to get her to sign the contract, and tried to convince her to sell her house and let him take care of her, but she said she was just starting out in life, and didn’t want to leave with him. The relationship was rocky — GW was never violent with her, but he was often cranky when he came to town, and even when things were good, he remembered that she wouldn’t sign the contract, and got in a sour mood again.

They eventually stopped seeing each other.

But after the mass murders of April 18/19, 2020, there was something bothering AA.

“Heidi,” she said. “The name Heidi would come up all the time.”

“I’ve been racking my brain… like, did he have a crush on her? How did this come up? Why is that name coming up?  It was so many years ago… but I knew he had a thing for the police.”

“In what context was the name Heidi brought up in?” asked the interviewer.

“I don’t want to misspeak,” answered AA. “Like we spoke about again, like being able to speak about Lisa, and you know, you probably have another girl. I told him, ‘somebody else will take your deal’ … and we talked about other women… you should find somebody, it was like that.”

“Do you think he knew Heidi [Stevenson], the RCMP officer?” asked the interviewer.

“I’m curious if he had some sort of a something,” said AA. “It seemed weird to me that her name came up. I was like, I know I’ve heard this name. I don’t know if, it doesn’t come to mind that he spoke like Heidi who’s a police officer, like it wasn’t in that sequence, but just name, you know. I don’t know if he had a fixation on her or if he did have a fixation on the police… I don’t know.”

•          •          •

EE met GW in 2014. “I was living there [Portapique] by myself, and he came to introduce himself to me and then we became good friends,” said EE.

GW would bring water and wood to EE’s “camp” in Portapique, which had neither electricity nor water, and he’d hire EE to do odd jobs around his property — cleaning the warehouse, raking the lawn. “He always kept me in liquor,” said EE. The two started a sexual relationship that lasted three or four years.

“He always called me Mummy,” said EE. ” And he always brought his girls back to me to give the OK, and I asked him, ‘How do you find all these girls?’ and he said, ‘They come in and sit in my chair.’” He was quite well endowed, and he said, ‘I measure their mouth to see if I can fit in them.”

“And then he says, ‘I invite them back to my house and I treat them like queens,’ because they don’t get that because they live on the streets or they’re very low income or whatever.”

“He loves the street girls,” said EE.

Doing work for low-income patients was GW’s “bread and butter,” said Olu Brown, a dental hygienist who worked in GW’s offices. “I remember one time a Quickcard or Social Services must have switched from, like, Great West Life to like Blue Cross or something like that. He’s like, ‘Yeah, Lisa and I are just going to call all of those patients because now all of those patients are on a new plan, they can come in and get dentures again.”

“He’d always take people in off the street, too,” continued Brown, “and he’d try to give them a job. And I’d check back in like a month and he’s like, ‘No, Lisa and I had to get rid of her. She’s just on the drugs, you know.’.”

EE described her sexual experiences with GW.

“He’d be the little boy and I’d be the mummy and I’d be the cop,” explained EE, who would wear an RCMP uniform GW provided to her for the event. “He was one of those diaper kind of guys, so you would have to take off his diaper and you would have to clean his bum with your tongue and stuff like that instead of toilet paper, I mean it wasn’t dirty or pooping or anything like that but it was just imaginary, just kind of weird stuff.”

GW had an RCMP uniform and what EE described as “ankle shackles.” As well, he had two pairs of handcuffs — not police handcuffs, but rather the kind bought at sex shops (EE worked at a sex shop and was familiar with them).

Olu Brown, the dental hygienist, said that Lisa Banfield once showed her a picture of Banfield wearing a RCMP uniform. “She was standing just like an RCMP would stand, like up straight, like by a fireplace.” “I just tried it on so we could take the picture,” Banfield told Brown.

Daniel Brace, a friend of Lisa Banfield’s brother Jimmy Banfield, told police that in 2016 he and his partner Carol happed to be driving by Portapique and decided to stop by to say hi to Lisa; Jimmy and his girlfriend were there as well, and Lisa invited Daniel and Carol to stay for dinner. “After dinner,” said Brace, “Gabriel started bringing these uniforms out and he had my wife Carol try a couple on. She was in a red uniform with the hat on, and he had her holding a handgun at one point.”

“He has a place in Maine,” said EE. “He always tried to get me to go to Maine, but I have a slight [criminal] record so I don’t think I could get across the border… he had a doctor friend down there… they both liked to have sex together with these other girls and Gabe wanted to take me down there to have sex and stuff and a big party weekend or whatever.”

“Then after I couldn’t go to the States, he was trying to get me hooked up with Angie’s so that I could go strip, but I’m not into that.” Angie’s is a strip club in Moncton; EE said GW was a regular at the club and liked to sit at the front table.

Like AA, EE was aware that Lisa Banfield was GW’s girlfriend.

“He used to tell me that the only reason he kept her around is she was a good cook,” said EE. “But she’s a cute little thing. She’s a sweetheart.”

“He used to take from Wednesday off [work] until Monday,” said EE. “And he would come to the beach and if the gates were open, the big red gates, so if the gates were open that was my sign that it was OK for me to go in, that she wasn’t around, and if they were closed it was meant like, ‘Stay home, mind your business, don’t come near me’… She [Banfield] would never come down until Friday evening and then she did her bingo on Saturday night and he would come see me while she was at bingo and then I wouldn’t see him until she left around Sunday morning.”

Brown confirmed that GW only worked Monday through Wednesday — and for five years GW allowed Brown to use his two offices (on on Portland Street in Dartmouth, the other on Novalee Drive in Halifax) rent-free from Thursday through Sunday. “You’ll make a lot of money,” GW told Brown.

At one point, a woman referred to as DD came to live with EE in Portapique, and EE arranged a sexual encounter between GW and DD.

“You hear the guys taking out their nephews for their 19th birthday and the strippers and all this,” said EE. “I thought it would be nice if DD — because she always said, ‘[EE] what’s a big one like?’ and I said, ‘Well’… so anyway, I arranged it for her to have somebody who was well-endowed, right, so I put them together, she went over and spent the night with him, and I picked her up in the morning.”

“She [DD] hates him, it was awful,” admitted EE.

“He was making me drinks,” recalled DD in a separate interview with Emily Hill, an investigator with the Mass Casualty Commission. “I was sitting there drinking. I remember being nervous because, like, I don’t know this guy, and clearly we’re going to have sex in a minute… I was trying to get more drunk because I didn’t like the situation.”

DD was then in her early 20s. She had recently been divorced. She was trying to attend university, but she had no place to live, so moved in temporarily with EE.

“I was just coming out of a breakup… I was a little, for lack of a better term, fucked up in the head about it,” DD told Hill. “I was trying to do whatever to cover up the pain I was feeling.”

“There’s two times I remember being at his house and having sex with him,” DD continued. “I think the way it works is he always gives you a bath first because he had a bathtub in the bedroom… I distinctly remember him giving me a bath… from what EE had told me, that’s what he did with these girls that he brings back.”

They had sex. “That was not a pleasant experience,” said DD.

At one point, EE agreed to a threesome with BE, a woman she had never met. The three met at the warehouse.

“She was very confident and she gave me a great big hug when I first came in, and she knew my name,” said EE. “She was prepared… I guess because they had a talk in the office when he was doing her teeth, that she’d be into a threesome.”

EE brought the handcuffs.

“I stayed at the bar and drank a lot,” continued EE. “My head is like, ‘Yeah, you go guys! Yeah!’… [and I joined them later to] make it look like I was enthused about it.”

“Would you ever expect anything like this [the mass murders] to happen?” asked the investigator.

“Well, when he told me he was going to go out in a bang and that I wouldn’t be in it but I would see it, or I wouldn’t see it but I would hear it, that kind of — I’ve been waiting for something, and yeah,” replied EE.

That echoes what GW had told Lisa Banfield. “He used to always say, like, ‘when I go out I’m going out with a bang. It’ll be in the news,’” Banfield told police investigators after the murders.

•          •          •

On April 30, 2020, police interviewed a woman referred to as II by the Mass Casualty Commission. II was mostly incoherent, but her statement can be paraphrased as follows:

II for a short while lived in Portapique with DD, who II described as a “young girl.”

One day, II was drinking with DD and EE, and the three ended up going to GW’s warehouse, where they had more drinks. II was very disturbed to see a police car in the warehouse, but EE told II that GW was “one of us.”

II explained that EE was involved in biker culture, while working at a sex shop.

At the warehouse, II had more drinks, but felt that she had been drugged. She said GW kept groping her, grabbed her breast so hard that it hurt, and suggested that they send DD home so that II and EE could reenact some sex scenes EE had filmed and given to GW on video. According to II, EE tried to talk her into performing oral sex on GW.

II’s telling of events is unclear, but it appears there was an altercation of some sort that ended up down the road, and somebody called the police. II said the RCMP showed up, and she tried to explain to the responding officers that GW had sexually assaulted her, but EE said she was simply drunk, and the responding officers didn’t investigate further.

Given II’s incoherence, it’s impossible to know if RCMP officers actually came to Portapique in response to the altercation. But as II told it, had the responding officers gone to the warehouse, they would have seen the fake police car, and perhaps “all of this” — the murders — could have been prevented.

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Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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  1. What leaps out at me – putting aside the sordid details and ugly exploitation of vulnerable women – is the question of money, particularly if this guy was only making dentures three days a week.

    A quick DuckDuckGo gives a top salary range for denturists in Nova Scotia of a bit over $60,000. Where was the rest of the money to support himself, Banfield, other women, multiple properties, collections of cruisers and motorbikes, etc., etc., etc., coming from?

    I’m now going to go have a shower, and rinse my brain off with bleach.

    1. My thoughts exactly. Sordid story. But I believe it must be told. That world exists even if most of us (I think!) don’t live in it.

  2. I know all of this is tough going for you, for Jennifer, for anyone else involved in covering the MCC. I hope you’re taking good care of yourselves.

  3. ‘“And then he says, ‘I invite them back to my house and I treat them like queens,’ because they don’t get that because they live on the streets or they’re very low income or whatever.”’

    Poverty, isolation, and lack of social services has horrific consequences, especially in rural areas. However, people who benefit from the status quo, and rural myths of self-reliance, make change difficult.

  4. Wow. I appreciate that there was a warning given to preface this but it seems insufficient. Beyond foul.