O n August 27, 1999, Jason MacCullough goes to a party with a group of friends in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Just 1am on the 28th, Jason leaves the party alone to make the 1km (just over a half-mile) walk to his parent's house.
He decides to take a shortcut through a playground to save some time. It was a well-used path taken by many youths in the area that cuts through a playground.
This decision turned out to be a fatal one. At 1:30am, for reasons unknown, someone shoots Jason in the back of the head at nearly point-blank range, killing him instantly. Neighbors hear the shot and the sound of someone running away from the scene, and many of them call the police.
At 2:30am, with the assistance of police dogs, Jason’s body is discovered. He died less than 6 blocks from his home.
Police said that Jason was not involved in criminal activity, they could not find any motive and they had no suspects. They said he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. His family believes that Jason must have been mistaken for someone else.
Just a Normal Nice Kid
“He was the sweetest guy you could have met, would give you the shirt off his back, and I know that he did in one case… like that’s kind of guy that he was.”— Vanessa Clark, Jason’s cousin.
H e was a down to earth guy, even helping elderly neighbors with groceries or yard work. He had a reputation for being a nice helpful young man, but a little shy. He had just turned 19 in July, the month before his murder.
“The next day after that, the 29th, I was delivering the newspaper with the front page… the whole front page of the Chronicle Herald was my aunt’s face bawling her eyes out, and I had to deliver 32 papers around the neighborhood looking at my aunt. And that’s all it was, literally for the next two to three weeks, every day on the front page was my cousin.” Vanessa Clark
More Speed Bumps For Police
Jason’s murder is a difficult one for investigators. He had never been involved in criminal activity. There didn’t seem to be any financial, sexual, or personal motive. Jason wasn’t robbed. Whoever killed didn’t steal anything.
He was also murdered in a densely populated area that was a high traffic area. Many people heard the shot and called the police, but no one saw anything.
Witnesses Keep Silent
F or years, investigators believe that there were multiple witnesses to Jason’s murder, but no one has ever come forward. The people in Dartmouth have been tight-lipped.
Police have five “persons of interest” in the case. Three of them had broken into an apartment and demanded money at gunpoint. Although the 3 men were caught, none of them were charged with Jason’s murder.
20 Years Later
On August 28, 2019, on the 20th anniversary of Jason’s murder, the Halifax Police once again stated that their investigators believe there were several people in the area at the time of Jason’s murder and strongly believe there were witnesses to the crime.
At the time of Jason’s death, the family states that there was a kind of “code of silence” and not many people were willing to talk to the police. On the 20th anniversary of Jason’s murder, his family reiterated that they believe the investigation was hampered by the relationship between the Halifax police and the people of Dartmouth.
“It’s been so silent,” she says. “It’s just been 20 years of nothing” Vanessa Clark
The site of Jason’s murder now holds a park in his honor. Hopefully, the tips will keep coming with the park as a reminder or will spark some memory that leads to his murderer or murderers being brought to justice.
Although family hold drives and marches to keep the memory of Jason alive and hopefully generate more leads, at the time of this writing, the murder of 19-year-old Jason MacCullough remains unsolved.
The Police’s Relationship is Nothing New in Canada
Jason MacCullough’s murder highlights the issues between police and the general population in Canada. Multiply this a hundredfold for anyone with a First Nation’s background.
For years, the Police/RCMP have been used as a very physical deterrent for protests or blockades by First Nations people. Recently the RCMP were called to remove a blockade by the Wet’suwet’en people that were protesting a pipeline being built on their traditional territory. On this occasion, a handful of people were arrested. Other times have been more physical.
Police have been seen as the strong arm of the government when they should — no — need to be seen as protectors of the people.
The police, unfortunately, have a long road ahead of them to repair the trust that they once had.