The Globe and Mail’s Greg McArthur explains how he and the Ottawa Citizen’s Gary Dimmock obtained the story of the informant who got away with murder By Greg McArthur Imagine you were asked to write a profile of a murderer, except no one knew anything about him. No one knew where he went to high school. No one could name any of his family members. Everything he had ever told anyone about his life appeared to be a lie. That’s what happened to us. The lack of answers tipped us off to a dark secret that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police wanted desperately to keep from the public. Interestingly, there was no actual tip. Instead, the “lack of answers” provided the tip. The fact that no one knew anything about him was the tip. Under the Witness Protection Program Act, it is illegal for us to disclose the identity of the murderer or the circumstances behind his horrific slaying. All we are legally allowed to say is that the murder took place somewhere in Canada over the past eight years, and that we wanted to write about the man who committed it. But after months of knocking on doors and phoning his ex-colleagues, neighbours and friends, we were still empty handed; everyone had a different story about where he grew up or where his parents were. Nothing checked out. About the only thing we knew for sure was his birthday. Chasing his story was like chasing a phantom, but we were undeterred. His empty past was too intriguing to let go. We finally got a big break when a source gave us the murderer’s resumé. Almost all the information on the document was bogus: companies that didn’t exist and an address for a residence that was, in actual fact, a parking lot. The phone numbers on the resumé were out of service, and when we checked British Columbia’s registry of corporations, we learned that one of the construction firms he said he worked for had never been registered. Buried in all the lies, however, was a legitimate link to his past the name of a Victoria, B.C., pub where the murderer claimed he used to work as an assistant manager. The pub had since closed, but we tracked down its former owner. When the owner was shown a picture of the murderer, he said he knew the man under a different name Richard Young, a fast-talking con man who hadn’t been spotted in Victoria for years. We finally had his real name. The floodgates opened. The name was key, because it provided us with a slew of resources — newspaper archives, high school yearbooks and Canada411.ca — to help us figure out who Richard Young really was. I flew to Victoria, while Gary worked the phone from the Ottawa Citizen newsroom. We tracked down Young’s family and old associates, who, at first were somewhat reluctant, but eventually pulled back the curtain on Richard — or, as his brother calls him, “the biggest liar in the world.” But we still didn’t know how Richard Young became a murderer. We knew his beginning — lying and cheating his way through life in Victoria — and we knew his end — killing someone under a new identity — but the transition was still a mystery. It wasn’t until I got back to Ottawa that our eyes were opened. Using an Internet database, we found a British Columbia Supreme Court decision that showed exactly who was responsible for turning Richard Young into the man he is today, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The decision showed that Young had been a secret agent for the Mounties and had been admitted to their witness protection program. Ever so slowly, we started to piece together a complex fraud that had been perpetrated on Canada’s national police force. It turned out Young had tricked the Mounties into paying him hundreds of thousands of dollars for manufactured evidence, only to be rewarded with his new life. When he used that new life to kill someone, the Mounties pushed their secret even further under the rug, deciding not to disclose to anyone, not even the victim’s family, about their history with this murderer. All in all, we conducted more than 30 interviews, cultivated key sources, and reviewed more than 1,000 pages of court transcripts to draft the 5,000 word narrative. The story should have ended with our discovery, but in a classic example of bureaucratic self-preservation, the RCMP and the Justice Department decided it was more important to fight the truth than own up to their mistake. When word trickled back to the Mounties that we had figured out who this murderer really was, government lawyers quietly obtained a court order that barred publication of our findings. This order was obtained behind closed doors and our lawyers were only notified of its issuance after it had been signed by a judge. The powerful forces who wanted this to stay a secret were now playing hardball. The telling of the story was complicated further when I was hired by The Globe and Mail. Fortunately, the editors-in-chief of the Citizen and the Globe put their corporate and competitive interests aside and teamed up to fight the publication ban. A rare deal was hatched between Globe editor Edward Greenspon and Citizen editor Scott Anderson: They agreed that, if the judge ruled in favour of the press, both publications would run the same story on the same day and the public interest would be served. Citizen lawyer Rick Deardon and Globe lawyer Peter Jacobsen grilled two senior Mounties during an in-camera examination and used the evidence to convince a judge that the publication ban was unconstitutional and should be partially lifted. The public would be allowed to know at least part of the story but the judge’s decision, as well as the transcripts of the Mountie examinations, were ordered sealed. When the stories finally ran in both newspapers on March 23, 2007, more than two years after we first starting asking some simple questions about the murderer, reactions were swift. The House of Commons public safety committee voted unanimously to review the witness protection program. The Mounties launched an internal investigation. The RCMP continues to deflect questions about the case, arguing in its final internal report that there was “nothing” that could have alerted them to the eventual murder that took place. The story would not have been possible if we had not lobbied for more time during those first few months, and our editors were kind enough, and had enough confidence in us, to provide it. Given the murderer’s vacant history, it was pretty obvious that something was fishy. We knew that if we pushed hard enough, we would figure it out. It is also a great example of trusting your gut. If an aspect of a story just doesn’t make sense — like a murderer without a past — then there probably is something more to it. When you stumble across a situation like that, jump on it.