Friday, September 12, 2014


After three months of trial; 93 witnesses for the prosecution; and three hours of chilling, remorseless testimony in his own defense that only succeeded in damning him as a heartless psychopath, Cody Alan Legebokoff has been found guilty of first-degree murder in the deaths of Loren Leslie, Jill Stuchenko, Cynthia Maas and Natasha Montgomery.

He is officially Canada's youngest serial killer.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


The trial of the young Canadian psychopath I first wrote about in my Highway of Tears story for Outside Magazine’s TheVanishing and for CBS 48 Hours, is finally over. 

It’s been a bizarre, creepy and at times horrifying event that began with Cody Legebokoff, 24, showing up in court looking like a corn-fed version of Walter White from Breaking Bad, complete with shaved head and a chinstrapped goatee—strange choice for someone pleading not guilty. 

In a strange twist at the very end of the trial, Legebokoff, who was charged with four counts of first-degree murder, tried to end run the system and plead guilty to second-degree murder.

However, the crown prosecutor didn’t accept the plea, and with good reason. By Legebokoff’s own admission, he was present and involved in the murders of all three women from Prince George, as well as a legally blind 15-year old whose family came from the same small BC town his did. 

(To clarify: None of these victims were on the official Highway of Tears list, though the teenager, Loren Leslie, probably would have been if Legebokoff hadn't been immediately tied to the crime and subsequently cleared of other Tears murders. I've followed this case because Legebokoff was caught while I was working the Highway of Tears story and because these murders all happened in towns I visited along the infamous Highway 16.) 

For his defense, Legebokoff—who was 19 at the time of the first murder—took the stand and in stilted, barely literate, and cold-hearted testimony described each of the murders.

He told the jury that the three Prince George women—Jill Stuchenko, 35, Cynthia Maas, 35, and 23-year old Natasha Montgomery—were all drug users deep in debt to their dealers. He claimed it was their dealer (who he identified only as “X” because he definitely didn’t want to be known as a “rat”) who actually killed them. 

All Legebokoff said he was responsible for was letting X, along with his friends, Y and Z, kill the women in his apartment. Oh, and he provided and handed them the murder weapons, which included a picaroon—a wicked-looking logging tool that would be right at home on a Medieval battlefield. And, of course, Legebokoff also said he watched throats get slit, heads get bashed, and lots of blood get spilled on his couch and splattered on his walls. And he did nothing to stop it, because, you know, he's a party guy. 

The Crown prosecutors rebutted his version with blood spatter and other physical evidence that was inconsistent with Legebokoff’s tale, as well as all the inconsistencies and obvious lies he’d fed to police investigators from the start.     

Legebokoff’s own attorneys told the jurors that they didn’t expect them to believe every word of their client’s testimony.

The creepiest and most cold-blooded part of Legebokoff’s testimony detailed the death of the teenager, Loren Leslie. As her father, Doug, told me, Loren was a sensitive, talented, over-trusting 10th grader who never let her vision problems slow her down. She even studied martial arts, though that wouldn’t have helped this small, nearly blind young girl fight back against the 6’2” 220-pound former hockey player when they were parked on an abandoned logging road way out in the sticks on a pitch black, snowy night.

Though their grandparents grew up together, Legebokoff found Loren while trolling social media looking for sex. He pressed her to meet in person, though their text messages showed she explicitly wasn’t interested in anything “sexual.”

On a frigid northern BC Saturday night, November 27, 2010, a young mountie named Aaron Kehler saw a black pickup come skidding out of the woods near the town of Vanderhoof. As the truck sped down the road, constable Kehler lit it up and pulled it over. When he got a look at the driver, he knew something was wrong. It was only good timing and good police instincts that led to Legebokoff’s capture near the scene of Loren’s slaying. 

Kehler testified that Legebokoff, then 20, had blood on his face and legs, and that there was a pool of blood in the truck. Legebokoff began flinging bullshit, first saying he and a friend had been poaching deer, and volunteering the disturbing fun fact that after his friend had shot the deer, Cody finished it off by repeatedly whacking the injured animal with a pipe.

While detaining Legebokoff in his car, the mountie called in a wildlife officer to hike up the logging road and check for the deer. He obviously sensed there was something way off about the kid’s story—and way off about the kid—because he also told the wildlife officer to be prepared to find something much worse than a dead deer. Up the road, he found Loren Leslie, bludgeoned and slashed to death, and with her pants around her ankles.

Caught literally red-handed, Legebokoff then tried hitting the cops with a whole stockyard of bullshit. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you, when I was whacking the deer, I happened to find a dead girl up there on the skid road. I grabbed her monkey backpack and her phone, then I touched her, which got some of her blood on me. 

Legebokoff said he didn’t know Loren… then he did. But no way did he have sex with her… then he did, twice. But absolutely no way did he kill her! In fact, he said, she killed herself, probably because she wasn’t happy about having had sex with him, but mainly, he said, because she was crazy.

No matter that forensics showed the great number of blows and stabs Loren suffered before she died, a couple of days after his arrest, Legebokoff told investigators: “The bitch went fucking psycho” and starting hitting herself and stabbing her own throat. 

He said that after she attacked herself, instead of trying to help, he stood there for several minutes and watched her die.

During the trial, a woman who says she was Legebokoff’s girlfriend at the time testified that he told her Loren had beaten and stabbed herself, but that he had “put her out of her misery” by smashing her skull a couple of times with a pipe wrench.

Right now, the Legebokoff jury is deliberating. If they determine that he planned any of the murders, or committed them in relation to a sexual assault, he’ll be found guilty of first-degree murder. They can also find him guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter for each of the charges. 

Of course they could also find him not guilty, but that’s not going to happen, especially with this animal whose main priority seems to be that he not be known of as a rat.

That would be an insult to rats.  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Just got a note from our friends helping man's best friends down in Raymond, Washington. Ebay said they had to rejigger the auction of a framed collection of Colton Harris-Moore's donation to Vetter's Animal Hospital along with the police lab reports, etc, so it complies with their charity designation.

You'll still find it under the mobster memorabilia, but for some reason, because they refiled it all the previous bids were wiped away. So, if you bid... rebid. If you didn't, here's your chance for a deal because the basement bid is less than half price what it reached when I checked on Saturday.

Remember that all proceeds go to help the pups and kitties. You can find the offer here: Colton's Vet Note

Saturday, March 8, 2014


We’ve had plaster casts of bare footprints left after a chase on Orcas Island. We’ve had his mom trying to sell a confidential list of crime victims eligible for restitution. We’ve even had former prison mates of Colton’s selling letters written to him by his mom…

The latest offering of Colton Harris-Memorabilia, however, is something different: It’s of proven, police-sworn provenance showing that it’s legit; it’s famously tied to his spree and was covered in every newspaper, book, and TV story; and the money earned from its sale is going to a great cause.

This new framed collection of Barefoot Bandit souvenirs is now up on Ebay, listed under “Historical Memorabilia/Gangsters & Criminals.” 

You can see it here: .

Inside the frame you’ll find the $100 Colton left at the Vetter Animal Hospital in Raymond, Washington once he left Orcas Island and began his cross-country road trip that ended with the flight to the Bahamas on the 4th of July.

It was universally reported at the time that Colton left a $100 bill, but we discover that no, it was a collection of bills including $20s, $10s, $5s, $1s and even three $2s. Along with the fanned bills are the police report, evidence bag, and the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab report stating they recovered Harris-Moore’s fingerprints on one of the bills and on the famous note that read:

“Drove by, had some extra cash. Please use this money for the care of animals”

The original note was written on a page torn from the owner’s manual of a car Colton had stolen. So that was returned to its owner. The frame does, however, include a copy of the note.

The bids have already topped $1,000. According to Vetter’s, all proceeds of the sale will benefit the Harbor Association of Volunteers of Animals, which is an animal welfare group in Raymond involved with only no-kill shelters.

One of the coolest and most valuable things about this piece of history is that it speaks directly to one of the most interesting discussions about Colton and some of his actions, our reactions to it all, and fame—including both the seeking and reverence of it.

Colton always professed a love of animals and an interest in animal welfare, so it’s certainly in character that he would leave a donation with an animal hospital. Some folks, however, might wonder where he got the cash to make the donation.

That then leads to the Robin Hood debate: that he stole from the rich to give to the poor dogs. When I talk about this in my book, though, I have to remind readers that many of the crime victims were not rich, and most of what he stole (during the time after he fled the halfway house) went to support himself while he was on the run. Still, he made the gesture… And around we go.

What’s even more interesting about this episode, though, is that Colton repeatedly insisted during and after his run that he didn’t want the attention, that he didn’t understand why people were making a bid deal over him, about how silly the people following on his Facebook groups were. And, of course, how he hatred the press who covered him, all of whom he called “paparazzi.”

So why then instead of leaving the money anonymously—since, after all, anything he did during these months made the news—did he sign the note he left at Vetter’s:

“Colton Harris-Moore (AKA “The Barefoot Bandit” Camano Island)”?

That, to me, makes this the coolest piece of Barefoot Bandit memorabilia we’ve seen. Hang it up and start the debate: Was Colton a hypocrite? Just naive? Or was he brilliant enough to realize that he could multiply his donation to the animals more than tenfold by signing it with his real name then becoming more famous by stealing another plane, getting arrested after a shootout in the Bahamas and going to prison, knowing all along that the evidence would be returned to the animal hospital so they could auction it off?

It's the ultimate conversation piece--and it's a hell of a lot easier to display in your living room than a broken airplane. 

And to top it off, the money goes to a great cause! 

I hope the bids go sky high. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


A Spirit Bear, or kermode, hunts salmon in a rainforest stream. Photo: Bob Friel

While I've been off the outlaw (and outcast) trail for a little while to work on a couple upcoming projects, I've also been able to get back to one of my first passions: wildlife and adventure photography. Along with my life-long fascination with sharks and whales, I dig lions and tigers and bears... and jaguars, leopards and cheetahs.

On the newsstand this week is the March issue of ISLANDS magazine, and in their cruise roundup is a short feature I wrote about a sailing adventure I took through British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest.

We boarded Emerald Isle's ketch Nawalak in Ketchikan, Alaska, and cruised south into the last great temperate rainforest. The Great Bear is named for a rare variant of the black bear called the kermode, whose fur is a creamy white with tawny touches. Local First Nations tribes revere it as the Spirit Bear.

Along with the ghostly white bears, we had close encounters with "regular" black bears and their awesome cousins the grizzlies as well as rainforest wolves, humpback whales, eagles, porpoise, spawning salmon, and some of the most amazing scenery I've experienced.

While the ISLANDS story only had space for one or two pictures from the trip (I haven't seen the issue yet), I've created a slideshow of more images at my photo site: Great Bear Rainforest