In the early morning hours of May 17, 1990, a high-speed car chase occurred in the small town of Banff, 80 miles west of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. Two cars raced through the sparsely populated streets at speeds reaching 80 mph. The nearly two-mile chase ended when the driver of the pursued car drove down a dead-end street. He abandoned the vehicle and fled on foot into the woods.
The police often encounter such a situation. In this instance, however, it was a cabbie, not a cop, chasing the criminal. One cab had been stolen and was being pursued by another. But the taxi theft was the least of the perpetrator’s crimes.
As the chase ensued, police came upon a gruesome scene two miles away. The body of a young woman lay in the street. Twenty-one-year-old taxi driver Lucie Turmel, whose cab had been stolen, had been brutally stabbed to death.
DNA was recovered from the scene, and everyone who was asked willingly submitted a sample . . . with one exception.
It would take undercover police work and subterfuge to identify the killer of Lucie Turmel. Lucie grew up in La Vie, Quebec, Canada. She moved to Banff, a popular resort town in the mountains, in the fall of 1987 and worked part-time as a driver for the Taxi Taxi Cab Company.
On May 16, 1990, Lucie began her shift at 8:00 p.m. She had a good evening, clearing over $100 in tips working Banff’s busy downtown tourist district.
The evening of May 16 had been mundane for Lucie; the morning of May 17 would be murderous.
At 1:40 a.m. the morning of May 17, Lucie arrived at the Works Night Club, a popular hangout of young people, hoping to pick up patrons as the club’s closing time neared. Her friend and fellow cab driver, Larry Landreau, had the same thoughts as he was already parked at the club.
They chatted for a few minutes before a young man, and two young women got into the back seat of Lucie’s cab.
Lucie called in her destination to the dispatcher, Bruce Farienchek. She said goodbye to Larry and drove away for what would be her final fare.
After completing a couple more fares, Larry called Bruce to say he was calling it a night. He was surprised when his supervisor told him that Lucie had not yet checked in.
Both Larry and Bruce attempted to contact Lucie by radio, but she did not respond. After about 20 minutes, as it was after 2:00 a.m. and all of the bars and clubs had closed, Larry drove around Banff looking for Lucie. He found no sign of her at her last reported stop or her home.
However, while driving less than a block away from Lucie’s home, Larry came upon her cab. He initially felt relieved, as he thought Lucie might have been bringing one of her neighbors home. As he drew closer to the cab, however, he noticed it was being driven erratically; as he drew nearer, he could see it was not Lucie behind the wheel.
Larry tailed the cab for two miles, cornering it at the end of a dead-end street. He caught a brief glimpse of the driver as he fled into the woods. All Larry could make out was that he was a white male.
As Larry was giving chase to the stolen cab, police responded to a report of a body lying in the middle of Squirrel Street, two miles away. When police arrived at the scene, they thought it was likely someone drunk who had passed out in the street. As they neared the body, however, they saw a pool of blood. Lucie lay lifeless, having been repeatedly stabbed in her neck.
Police learned of the cab chase two miles away. They found blood splattered on the front seat, dashboard and steering wheel when they examined the stolen taxi. Lab tests, however, determined none of the blood was Lucie’s.
Police surmised Lucie and her killer had struggled, and the perpetrator had cut himself and bled in the cab, which he stole after killing Lucie. It was unclear whether the killer was Lucie’s last fare or someone who flagged her down.
The murder occurred in a sparsely populated area of Banff in the early morning hours when most people were sleeping. No one reported seeing or hearing anything.
On the evening of May 17, eighteen hours after Lucie’s attack, the murder weapon, a rare kind of hunting knife, was found in a resident’s driveway at the end of a dead-end street. Police learned the knife, wiped of fingerprints, had recently been stolen from a Banff Spring Hotel employee and theorized the killer may have been from out of town.
Lucie’s wallet was also found nearby, but all of her money was missing. Robbery appeared to be the motive for her murder.
The value of Lucie’s life to her killer was little more than $100.
Police received a tip from a man saying his former roommate, Ryan Love, had owned a knife similar to the one used to kill Lucie Turmel and that he had once worked at the Banff Spring Motel as a housekeeper. Love refused to submit his DNA for testing.
Two police officers went undercover and befriended Love. After two-and-half years of earning his trust, they finally caught the break they needed.
In November 1992, the undercover officers seized a handkerchief discarded by Love; DNA matched the blood found in Lucy’s taxi.
In 1994, Love, 18-years-old at the time of the murder, was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 20 years life in prison. His appeal that the DNA evidence used to convict him was obtained illegally was rejected in 1996. An appellate court ruled the evidence was lawfully seized because he willingly discarded the handkerchief.
In 1996, after his appeals were exhausted, Love confessed to killing Lucie, saying he had been high on alcohol and drugs at the time.
Love confirmed he was the man seen by Lucie’s co-worker, Larry Landreau, getting into Lucie’s cab on the morning shortly before she was murdered. Love said Lucie had dropped the two women seen getting into the cab with him at a house party shortly after that. They had no involvement in Lucie’s murder or any knowledge that Love intended to kill her.
Love also confirmed he killed Lucie for her money, determined to be $130. He said he was perpetually broke and wanted to impress his family at a family reunion the following day by arriving with money.
In September 2012, Ryan Love was granted day parole and transferred from a minimum-security prison to a halfway house under curfew.
Under the conditions of his day parole, Love was ordered to undergo psychological counseling, refrain from drugs and alcohol, and forbidden from contacting Lucie’s family.
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More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:
Ian Granstra is a writer and a native Iowan now living in Arkansas.Growing up, he enjoyed watching real-life crime shows and further researching the stories featured. He wrote about many of them on his personal Facebook page, and several people suggested he should start a group featuring his writings. Ian founded the Facebook group “Murders, Missing People and More Mysteries” in August of 2018 he writes about many cold cases. The group also features many current criminal cases in the news. When Ian isn’t writing, he enjoys exercising, traveling and collecting sports cards. He’s also a big animal lover (his Facebook nickname is “beagle lover.”)
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