Finally, I ask Murdock if he hopes I won’t write his story.
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I was feeling a wave of sadness and regret.
Tell me not to do this. Give me a reason
Ken Murdock: A native of Hamilton, Ontario who lives in western Canada under a false name.
His memories include friendship and love. and beatings and murders.
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Articles called him mob muscle, hitman and contract killer; One of the most successful people in Canadian history, who shamelessly killed a great crime boss mafia war,
I have interviewed half a dozen men over the years who have been killed.
I believed I wanted to explore the human condition. Maybe I wanted to feel uneasy.
If you look hard, crime stories can offer a ray of redemption in the dark.
But where was the redemption, the high ground, in Murdock’s story?
Something else weighed on me, and he didn’t eat blood-stained.
And Murdock? None of these.
I had talked with him for hours on the phone, and was prompting him in my passive way – an old habit – to stop me.
“I don’t expect anything,” he replied in response to my question. “You’re from The Spectator. This is my hometown. I’m just telling you what you want to know.”
He didn’t ask.
He told me what I wanted to know.
And which I didn’t expect.
You can start the story in 1977: A mother and son, riding in an Oldsmobile east on Highway 401, is filling the Lake Ontario skyline, calm and blue and still as a painting.
This may not seem like an unusual sight, except that 15-year-old Ken Murdock is at the wheel. He has no license or experience other than driving his stepfather Burt’s car in the lane since he was eight years old.
Ken’s mother urges him to pass a bigger rig that he is following; He’s tried a pass on a highway for the first time, and he pulls it off.
He is taking his mother from Hamilton to Collins Bay Federal Prison in Kingston for three hours, so that she can visit one of her boyfriends, John Akister. Big John is six feet, 300 pounds, and is doing 11 years for the armed robbery of Hamilton Bank.
He is also like a step father. Ken eventually starts calling him the “old man”.
You could have started the story 10 years ago.
echo of a bullet.
Murdock is five or six years old, and has peeked out of his bedroom on the main floor of a house in the Hamilton neighborhood on Lake Ontario, called the Beach Strip.
He sees it all over the kitchen.
A large glass bottle of Heinz ketchup is blown to pieces, shot for kicks.
Big John and Burt are at home drinking with Ken’s mother Edna, as they often do.
Kane walks out the front door, down Beach Boulevard, up a driveway, and hides under a neighbor’s parked car. johnny evansJoe is one half of the “Love Brothers”, a professional wrestling duo.
“I was a kid, I thought someone had died,” Murdock says.
He hides until Stan Murdock comes looking for him. Stan is also a stepfather.
Ken Murdock was born in 1962, two weeks before Christmas. His home sat in the shadow of Burlington Skyway, who was four years old at the time and had not yet had twins.
One of his earliest memories was the repeated jackhammer-like drone of the J-Brake on trucks colliding over the bridge.
The strip of beach, the large sandbar separating Hamilton Harbor from the lake, has always been a community in its own right, with unique characters and close neighbors.
For a long time there was also a shore for the beach. Historically, it was an outpost, cut off from the city, with its own police force and residents who were known as “marsh residents”.
The clubhouse of Canada’s first biker gang, the Red Devils, was 200 meters down Boulevard from Murdock’s first school. In 1984, 20 rounds were fired from a semi-automatic rifle in the house, killing a biker standing at the bar.
Hamilton is a port city with a long history of organized crime, with its mafia families bearing names such as Lupino, Papalia and Musitano.
During the 1920s, prohibition gave rise to infamous local bootleggers such as rocco perry
Perry and Papalia worked side by side, yet Papalia was rumored to have played a role in the shotgun murder of Perry’s wife, Bessie, who was also his partner in the crime. In 1944, Perry disappeared, eventually, many believed, at the bottom of the harbor in cement boots. Antonio Papalia’s 20-year-old son, Johnny PapaliaWas rumored to be responsible.
Mafia violence will rise and fall over the years, but will never completely go away. Hamilton’s nickname had long been “Steeltown,” but in the 1970s and early 1980s, crowd-connected explosions at restaurants inspired a new nickname: “Bomb City.”
Murdock, whose roots were Scotch-Irish, shared no blood ties with any crime family. But one day they will feel the family bond of loyalty.
She had her first child, a boy, with Stan Murdock, husband of Beach Strip resident Edna Godbout, but she gave him up for adoption. When she was 20, and still with Stan, she became pregnant with a man named Jim, who drove a truck and came in and out of her life. He named this second child, and named him Ken.
She had a third child, a boy, with Jim, and adopted him as well.
And then she had a girl with Stan, and a fifth child, a boy, and had both.
Ken grew up with his half-brother and half-sister.
At times Stan lived at home, like Burt – who ran a boat business on the beach called Burt’s Boat – and John Akister, who shot a ketchup bottle.
They all under one roof with Edna and the kids.
“It was a strange situation,” Murdock says.
Most of all he considered Stan as his father.
“Stan worked at (steelmaker) Dofasco, was an easygoing, excellent guy. If he loses his temper, it’s a matter of concern. But the guy never did, that’s all.”
Jim, Murdock’s biological father, never lived there. Murdock caught a glimpse of him once or twice when he was young.
His mother was a constant presence.
“She was perfect when she wasn’t drinking. But she was horribly drunk when she was drinking. You have to put your toe in the water to check the temperature before approaching her.” Will happen. “
She would often hit Ken, either with a broom, or a strip of plastic track on the back of his head from her Hot Wheels car set.
He says that Burt killed him too, though not as much as his mother.
When his mother bought his younger brother a bicycle, she warned him not to touch it.
“The first thing that came out of the old lady’s mouth was, ‘I’ll kick your ass if I see you near the bike.
He rode anyway. He lost her and beat her badly with a broom. Scratches everywhere.
“Stan pulled her away from me. I was six or seven. When he was cleaning me up, I remember him coming in and saying he was sorry.”
He saw his mother and Burt fight. He saw her taking the shot, and hit back.
Shortly after the ketchup bottle incident, Edna took Kane to a family that lived nearby on a beach bar.
A year later, he returned and he moved her to a new family, a farm 30 minutes northwest of Hamilton.
He liked it there. He used to get on a bus to Greensville Elementary School every morning.
And then his mother took him back again.
Murdock did not know his grandparents. Edna was not feeling well with her mother either.
“His mother Hazel—the typical farmer’s wife—was four-foot—nothing but a big stick, that.”
After Edna eventually married Burt, Stan left.
Meanwhile, Big John Akister writes letters to Edna from prison, and when he is out, Hamilton Police detectives keep an eye on him.
“The police would come around the house, sit on the front porch and talk to the old man and the old woman.”
The beach holds some good memories for Murdock. simple time. As a child, he put pins in a bowling alley at the Beach Strip amusement park.
Burt and Edna moved the family to the Hardscrabble North End in Hamilton. Things changed.
Murdock was bullied from the start in Grade 5. He was an easy target for the big boys: new to the neighborhood, and a big kid of about six feet, but with no will or ability to hit back.
Friends continued to fight with him at Ainslie Wood Secondary on Main Street West, an all-boys vocational school in the late 1970s.
One day, when he was about 16, Murdock walked out the door of a variety store with a friend.
“I came out with an ice cream cone and went down the stairs, cornered and the next thing I know I’m on the ground. A guy punched me from behind.”
By the time he regained his attention, he was lying on his back, ice cream melting on his chest.
It felt like a switch had been flipped inside.
“It was the last straw. I had the samurai sword at home. I went and took it and went looking for the man, but he was not found.”
“You want him dead, he’s dead.”
Murdock studied boxing at a boys’ club in James Street North.
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