Canadian Taxi Driver Homicides: Lucie Turmel Previous page    Next page • Driver Profiles

Lucie Turmel

Banff, Alberta / May 17, 1990

Lucie Turmel, 23, drove for Taxi Taxi in Banff. Like Jeri Kruidbos she had moved to Alberta from Montréal.

On the night of Thursday, May 17, 1990, a fellow driver saw Ms. Turmel pick up a young man and two young women at the Banff Springs Hotel. Not long afterward he saw her cab being driven by a young man and pursued it into a dead-end street. The young man abandoned the cab and fled into the surrounding bush.

Ms. Turmel's body was found lying in the middle of a residential street. She had been stabbed 17 times. Her boyfriend, who lived nearby, had to detour around the police barricade on his way home from work. He saw the covered body but did not learn whose it was until police notified him.

Inside the cab the RCMP found blood stains that did not belong to Ms. Turmel. They also discovered the discarded murder weapon -- a hunting knife of uncommon design -- in a nearby driveway. But despite interviewing hundreds of people they failed to turn up any suspects or witnesses.

The investigation was hampered by the fact that Banff's population was swollen by huge numbers of tourists and transient summer workers, Police were surprised to find that 70% of the young men living or working in Banff that summer had criminal records.

The case remained open for nearly two years without any progress. Then an anonymous tip fingered a man as the owner of the murder weapon. The man had been questioned at the time of the murder but was not considered a suspect because he had left Banff the day before Ms. Turmel was killed. Closer investigation revealed that he did not leave Banff until the day after the murder and his behaviour under questioning aroused further suspicions. He admitted to owning the knife but claimed that it had been stolen some time before the murder.

DNA analysis had by now emerged as a powerful investigative tool but under existing law police could not compel unwilling suspects to submit DNA samples. In the face of the suspect's refusal to cooperate the RCMP resorted to subterfuge and mounted an elaborate sting in which officers posed as gang members looking for recruits. The undercover operation succeeded in retrieving some of the suspect's mucous from a discarded paper handkerchief and from hair one of the officers playfully plucked from the killer's head.

DNA from the mucous and hair was compared with DNA from the blood found in Ms. Turmel's cab and a positive match resulted. The man was convicted of Ms. Turmel's murder and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 20 years. [Next column]

Lucie Turmel (Source: Unsolved Mysteries Wiki)

The killer appealed on the grounds that the RCMP had collected his DNA during an unreasonable search and seizure. The appeal court ruled that the hair evidence should not have been allowed since the killer did not submit it voluntarily, but the mucous was valid because the handkerchief had been voluntarily discarded.

The killer apparently cut himself during his frenzied attack on Ms. Turmel, accounting for his blood inside the cab. On the day after the murder the he flew out of Banff to a family reunion. The plane tickets were provided by his relatives but the killer was broke and he evidently wanted the cash he took from Ms. Turmel -- $150 -- so that he wouldn't lose face in front of his family.

The two young women who left the Banff Springs Hotel with him were dropped off at a party just before the murder.

As a result of the case, the Criminal Code was amended to allow police to obtain DNA samples from unwilling suspects. In 2001 the murder was dramatized on an episode of the TV program "Secrets of Forensic Science". In this version the name "Marie Payette" was used.

The killer was granted full parole in 2012.