41 thoughts on “Dead Man Under a Pool Table

  1. Thanks for the great read, as usual. After a few hours and a few interruptions, I made it to the bottom of your article. My co-worker must of wondered what I was laughing about from time to time. It’s always great to hear stories from your reporter days.

    I wish I could spin a tale like that, maybe someday I’ll put my 33 years as a military photographer to type and come up with a few pages.


  2. Absolutely brilliant! I adore your blog. The stories are fantastic — and more importantly — written in a style that is absolutely riveting.

    I lived in Edmonton for a few years [in the last decade] and was lucky enough to catch your last year or so with 630-CHED. Thank you for doing what you do!


  3. What a tale you tell. I’ve never met another reporter/writer like you and must say I know of no one who can hold a candle to your REAL scoops.

    You have such a way with words: “I can’t recall if he said, “I have given this much consideration and am prepared to face the consequences” … or if he simply said, “I don’t give a fuck.” But it was one of the two.”

    Cheers my friend … and thanks.


  4. Great work Byron, as usual! I think the next thing for you to do is write a book about Landon Karas’ case and how the justice system failed him; how he was screwed over by the police and their shoddy investigation. It would make the best seller’s list!

    It has all the makings of corrupt police, love triangles, evidence disappearing, tampering of evidence; the list goes on.

    Fred Landon never lived long enough to see his son released but I know you could throw this whole case for a loop; just maybe get Landon a new trial as the first one was a kangaroo court.


    • Absolutely agree. I knew the Karas’ growing up, worked with Landon and was familiar with the case to a point it was an embarrassment to the legal system and an absolute insult to [victim] Doreen Bradley the way it was handled.


  5. Your stories are so captivating I shouldn’t be reading them at bedtime, but I couldn’t stop until this one was finished.

    Our Las Vegas crime scenes and characters would be apropos for your gritty rapier of a pen.

    Great stuff!


  6. Great stories and love the humour. Some of the good people I have met in my life were ex-cons; they seemed to have more respect for others than most people on the outside do.

    Love the picture of the 1937 olds.

    It’s comforting to know that psychopath police informants are on the loose!


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  8. Good stories from the old days, Byron. Thanks.

    I did 16 years. I was with John Schimmens in Bowden when he had a beef with the guards. They went into his cell and roughed him up and moved him back to Edmonton.

    You’re right about the staff, straight-up goofs. Some should be behind bars themselves.

    I didn’t know that John had passed. My condolences to his family.

    I also did time with Colin, read all his books, even patted his horse in Mission [British Columbia]. LOL. Glad to see him out, hopefully he can find freedom on the inside someday.

    I had to change my name to find my freedom.


  9. Just happened across your article, must say I’ve never experienced journalism like this. Very real, great focus on people, not just the headlines, Bravo.

    You are certainly the real deal.


  10. I have worked at the Edmonton Max for a while … kinda cool to hear stories that spans the past to the present.

    I know some of the staff and inmates mentioned … what a history.


  11. I have had a lot of front line work with inmates over the years … not all bad, that’s for sure.

    Over the years one develops a rapport with certain inmates. Not a friendship, but kind of a kinship.

    [Inmate] Gord Lussier was on my cellblock at one time … Michael White and others I knew.

    [Officer] Al Tessier I knew, very decent man. He retired a couple of years ago and passed on shortly after.

    You should make your way to the Edmonton Institution and see how it’s changed.

    I loved the write up … it’s quite a place.


  12. Thank you so much for bringing Landon’s wrongful conviction to light … and for all your work on this case!

    I pray for a miracle for him!


  13. Very insightful. Having spent time with some of the above mentioned, I can relate.

    I met David Warriner in Sask Pen I believe in 1989 or 1990. Got to know him pretty good. What he told me about the murder of the cabbie differs somewhat from your version.

    David was a troubled soul and a good friend to have on your side, may he rest in piece.

    I also did time with Jerry Crews, David milgaard and McDonald.

    I really believe the ones that commit murder have something in their past that drives them. They all have reasons, it excuses, to do what they’ve done. Childhood abuse is probably the biggest reason!


  14. I appreciate the work you do! You were and still are the only reporter who believed in Landon’s innocence.

    One day the truth will come out into the open and I’ll be the first one to hold the prison door as the son-of-a-bitch who really did this gets the book thrown at him!

    It’s just a matter of time until Fred can smile down from Heaven and see justice finally being served!!


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  16. I was reading “Dead Man Under a Pool Table.” I got many chuckles from your writing style. You have a great sense of humour.

    Was surprised Willie was back in prison, but that is a great picture of him, he doesn’t seem to change much over the decades. You mentioned in your story several prisoners I knew back in the day … Blair P, Willie B, Gerry M, Gord L, David M … interesting to hear about them again after all this time.

    I will be passing through Edmonton in about two months, if you could fit me in to your schedule, I would sure like a chance to talk to you. I’ll even buy you lunch …

    I spent from 1973 to 1986 under the watchful eye of CPS … many years of solitary, maximum security, and SHU [Special Handling Unit] … even spent over a year in the Alberta Hospital in the Violent Offender Program. Never made it to lower security.

    Not many people know what it was like back then, so I seek out those who do know, just to share some stories.

    Let me know if you would like to talk.


  17. As librarian at the Edmonton Max from 1981 to 1998, who was a silent witness to some of the incidents related here, these stories ring out with a powerful sense of resonance while also showing the complex nature of ‘crime and punishment’ thus affirming what Richard Lovelace once said back in 1642, “Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage.”


  18. A walk down memory lane, for sure. I know most of those culprits and been pals with some of them.

    I was just talking about Willie [Blake] the other day as I was sharing my story. I had just gotten out of the special handling unit in 1989 and witnessed his spiritual freedom. Even though I was heavily medicated and very angry at that time in my life. I secretly yearned for what he had. Very grateful for that.

    As well as the elder there at that time who led me to embrace my culture and identity, Peter O’Chiese. He definitely was not the medicine man John seen staggering across the street, that’s for sure.

    I don’t regret those days because it’s part of who I am and was very significant for where I am today. Happy to say, I’ve been out for eight years living clean and sober, working as an addiction counsellor helping men like Willie helped me. By illuminating a good heart.


  19. The article brought back memories of John Schimmens. Wow! I always wondered what happened to him.

    John and I dated for about a year and a half.

    He would call me from prison … he just wanted me to be OK.

    It was interesting to find out that John got parole. It was sad to hear about his passing. However, it seemed he turned his life around at the end.

    The article brought me closure. Just wanted to say thank you.


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  21. How interesting to find this article after so many years. I have to agree with you that “Jonny wasn’t all bad”. He certainly did have a kind side at times. Especially If he could benefit from it somehow. He was a fantastic manipulator.

    However, you forgot to mention in your article that he has a son. A son which he did absolutely nothing for even when paroled. A son who now has to live with the pain of being related to John Schimmens.

    I appreciate your take on him and your experiences, but don’t glamorize this man and the pain that John continues to cause to this day. He was certainly no hero. At the end of the day…John was only out for himself.

    RIP Jonny
    Karma is real


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