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GIVE THEM ENOUGH ROPE
Do I know what I've done?... Yes, I know
quite well what I've done. I have committed
murder. I have committed passionless,
faultless and clueless murder. I have
for the sake of danger and for the
. . . . . . . . . . . . .From the play
Rope, by Patrick Hamilton.
"The privilege of committing murder
should be reserved to those few who
are superior individuals."
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . From
Rope, by Alfred Hitchcock.
GLEN SEBASTIAN BURNS WAS A SUPERIOR individual.
Superior intelligence, demonstrated
straight-A average. With his superior
and confidence, he starred in the school
production of the play Rope. Superior
If anything, Atif Rafay was possessed
an intelligence even keener than Burns's.
Among the top 10 high-school students
all of Canada, Rafay graduated with
in the high 90s and was awarded a full
to ivy-league Cornell. A superior mind.
The two shared their friendship with
other student at West Vancouver Secondary:
Jimmy Miyoshi. Miyoshi's brilliance
less in himself than in the company
He was the mirror from which the dazzling
light of his companions could reflect:
to Rafay's Socrates, Patroclus to Burns's
Achilles. The joe-boy, police later
By their intellect and their achievements,
Burns and Rafay ranked among the elite.
is ever the burden of the few. Miyoshi
to have been their only other friend.
even women came between them. Girls,
Burns, interfered with their unique
Arrogance is another prerogative of
few. Burns and Rafay certainly had
their share of contempt for the mediocre
rich kids who were their peers and
time-servers who were their teachers.
his high-school yearbook, Rafay described
his feelings in flowery prose: "Hearing
the cries of the plebes below, Atif
through the clouds driven by a compassionate
impulse, realising all too late that
pleas are a cunning trap. The pawns
defeated Atif Rafay for the last time.
aside the hollow illusions of his peers,
he gazed bemusedly at the petty struggles
of those around him, and began to laugh-and
would continue to laugh for three years.
When will his laughter cease?'."
Burns's yearbook epistle is equally
less flowery, more brutal. "Having
tolerance for the labyrinth facades
weak," wrote Burns, "Sebastian
seized every weeping opportunity with
fist, and without regard for potential
exploited them in any way that would
Laughter; of course, is harmless. The
get a great deal of practice brushing
sniggers from the elite. But in this
the laughter may have grown hysterical,
It may not have stopped, not even short
On the evening of July 12, 1994, two
teenagers went out to a restaurant
Washington. Rafay's father, a civil
had worked in Seattle since 1992. When
graduated from high school, the family
sold their North Vancouver home and
with Rafay's father in a two-storey
on a quiet cul-de-sac in the suburban
of Bellevue, across Lake Washington
Burns was 19, Rafay 18. Rafay was back
after completing his first year at
Burns had not yet begun university.
considering taking film at UBC. Burns,
fact, was a bit of a film critic. Few
met with his approval, though he liked
Godfather and Scarface.
It was to a film that the pair went
supper: The Lion King. Then, the two
they went directly to a nightclub.
2 a.m., they came home.
To a charnel house.
Rafay's father and sister lay in their
dead, she dying. Rafay's mother lay
floor of the downstairs rec room. Also
All three had been bludgeoned to death.
VCR was missing, drawers were open,
strewn about the floor. A botched B
The Bellevue police arrived and set
dusting for prints, collecting hair
samples, looking for DNA in places
belong, even removing doorknobs and
them in little plastic bags. Among
they collected were human hairs from
drainpipe of the downstairs shower.
No charges were laid. Burns and Rafay's
checked out. They had been seen and
at the restaurant, cinema and club.
knew how the movie ended. The police
them up in a hotel for a few days,
which the pair left for Burns's North
home. Bellevue police did not try to
them. They were not suspects, merely
On July 20, 1994, a small notice appeared
in the Seattle Times. Bellevue police,
read, would like to talk to anyone
the late show of The Lion King at the
cinema on July 12. Purely routine.
Except that Bellevue police had decided
was something fishy about the break-in
No money or jewellery had been taken.
were no signs of forced entry. The
decided they had a few more questions
Messrs. Burns and Rafay. In fact, they
a DNA sample from them both. If either
foot over the border, they could expect
be taken into custody.
So Burns and Rafay chose to avoid the
of A. They also declined to provide
At any time, of course, American authorities
could have charged the pair and sought
extradition. But before a Canadian
can be extradited, a Canadian judge
see enough evidence to convince him
there is a pretty solid case. All the
cops really had were three corpses,
strands of hair and their suspicions.
and Rafay had Canadian passports and
April 11, 1995.5:45 p.m. Nine months
the murders. Sebastian Burns steps
Crimpers Hair Fashions on West Georgia.
$35 for a shampoo and style, Crimpers
not the place for a cut-rate blow-dry,
Burns likes to keep himself looking
He's dressed casually: jeans, long
unbuttoned over top of a T-shirt. Low-cut
cowboy boots. He's slim, dark, about
good-looking. He heads to the parking
where he has left his car.
As he goes to pay, Burns is approached
a man in a bright-yellow dress shirt,
a goatee and hair past his shoulders.
buddy, the man says, you know anything
breakin' into cars? He has locked his
inside his car, he explains. Burns
man walk over to the car, a black 1995
Sure enough, a set of keys dangles
ignition. Burns agrees to drive him
to his hotel, where the man has another
They get into Burns's Honda Accord
toward the Westin Bayshore. The man
himself as Gary. He doesn't mention
he's a cop, RCMP corporal Gary Shinkaruk.
The RCMP have had wiretaps in Burns's
for weeks. Knowing he'd be at the hairstylists',
they sent Shinkaruk over. His job is
At the Bayshore, Shinkaruk offers Burns
beer for his trouble. They talk cars
a bit; then Burns tells Shinkaruk about
film he and his friends plan to make,
of cultural critique of today's society.
They just need money. Burns reckons
cost about $200,000 to make. r have
with money to invest, says Shinkaruk.
to meet him? Sure, says Burns.
Two days later, the evening of April
Sebastian Burns is standing at the
of Capilano Road and Marine Drive looking
out for Shinkaruk's black Trans-Am.
p.m. Shinkaruk swings by, and they
Where're we going? asks Burns. Whistler,
says Shinkaruk. Al's waiting.
Al is RCMP corporal Allen Haslert,
veteran of undercover work. Shinkaruk
the two at a strip bar the night he
first met. Film funding wasn't much
but Haslett, a middle-aged man with
hair, dressed in a bright-green shirt,
sports coat and snakeskin cowboy boots,
ask Burns if he was interested in making
some money. I'm interested, said Burns.
On the drive up they talk film some
Burns likes Woody Allen. Shinkaruk
the allegations have been cleared,
to Allen's confused love life. Burns
and admits to Shinkaruk that U.S. cops
his DNA. If he crosses the border he'll
roughed up and his DNA will be taken.
||Up in Whistler, Burns, Shinkaruk and Haslett
meet round a table at Dusty's pub. Here's
the plan, says Haslett. In the parking garage
under the bank by the Boston Pizza there's
a car, a Crown Victoria. Gary'll break in
and start it. You, Sebastian, will drive
it back to Vancouver. Burns pales. What if
the cops stop me? he asks. Do I run? No,
says Haslett, just follow Gary's car down,
and nothing will happen.
Nothing does. Burns drops the car at the
Bayshore, and the three meet at Fogg 'n'
Suds for the payoff. Haslett gives Burns
$200. Burns is pissed off. Still nervous,
still a little afraid, but very pissed off.
$200, he says, the car is worth at least
$40,000, and you give me $200? I can get
that shoplifting videos.
And another thing, Burns says.
I don't like
finding out what's going down
before it happens. It doesn't
the crime is, I'll do anything
if the price
is right, but I like it to be
out. Me and my friends, we trust
with our lives. And when we do
all the details are planned out.
is unimpressed. When I know you
says, when I trust you better,
the payoff will come.
May 6, 1995.7:40 p.m. Burns,
Haslett are in a wired room in
the Four Seasons.
They are counting out money from
bag another undercover cop has
They finish tallying up the stacks
$250,000. Then they talk. Burns
On the couch, feet up, he describes
in more detail. It's going to
be a kind of
semi-biographical work, he says,
who admit to being criminals.
I have enough
money, Burns explains, so I won't
your services for the time being.
he adds, maybe you could blow
for me in the States, or kill
I once killed someone, says Shinkaruk.
paid $80,000 to set things right.
I do for guys I trust, Haslett
Besides, says Haslett, if anyone
me around, I know how to deal
with it. I've
killed, too. Speaking of which,
you, Sebastian, haven't been
me about those murders in Bellevue.
you did it, he says.
Burns simply stares.
June 15, 1995.1 p.m. Haslett and Shinkaruk
meet Burns and his friend Jimmy Miyoshi
the Royal Scott Hotel in Victoria.
room is wired, but Haslett doesn't
the murders. Today is a day for building
trust. He has a job for the two. Will
help Shinkaruk launder some money?
they say. In the phony crime scenario
two cops have set up, laundering money
no more than driving around and depositing
eight or nine thousand dollars in cash
various banks. Burns is into this.
a little and jokes around. Hey Gary,
next time Jimmy and I can do this on
blades? Next day, they deposit cash
five banks. Haslett meets them back
Royal Scott and gives Burns $2,000
June 20, 1995.9:21 p.m. Haslett and
arrive unannounced at Burns's Philip
house in North Vancouver. Burns is
all happy to see them, but Haslett
his way in. He wants to shake Burns
little. He has news, he says. His contact
inside the Bellevue police department
saying he had information about the
being put together down there. Haslett
he doesn't actually know what his guy
He refused to say over the phone. But
looks bad. They have you in a pretty
fucking way down there, Haslett says.
June 28, 1995. 6:50p.m. The Royal Scott
Burns and Haslett are alone. Haslett
to talk. My contact, says Haslett,
me that the Bellevue police have hair
the downstairs shower, hair with blood
it. They have your DNA. They got it
a snot-rag you left behind in a restaurant.
They're growing it right now. They're
to get a match. Tell me how you killed
guys, Haslett says.
Well, the medical report says a baseball
bat and a two-by-four, replies Burns.
not a big variety of possibilities.
Answer the fucking question, Sebastian!
I can't answer the question, says Burns.
Anything I tell you may end my life.
You're fucking giving me the song and
says Haslett. The report I read, fucking
basically spells out in black and white
the police fucking know you killed
July 18, 1995. The Ocean Point Hotel
Shinkaruk takes Burns up to room 238
leaves him with Haslett. Haslett shows
a report that he says his friend lifted
the Bellevue police. The report says
police found a pair of underwear in
with a bloodstain on it, and red fibres
in with Burns's hair were in the shower.
Earlier in the week, Bellevue police
a press conference, saying they expected
to lay charges any day. They're fucking
to lock your ass up, says Haslett.
and your friend's.
Burns is scared. Haslett says his friend
in the evidence room can fix things,
he won't do a fucking thing without
knowing exactly what happened. If you
down, I go down, Haslett implies. And
not fucking goin' down. Do as I say
fucking deny knowing me, he says.
Burns confesses. He killed them, he
Clubbed them to death with a baseball
Rafay watched. The sister was hardest,
was up walking around. They left the
early, returned home and did the number,
then went to the nightclub. He did
his underwear. Then he took the bat
him into the shower and washed it and
clean. They ditched the clothes and
in dumpsters throughout Seattle.
Haslett burns the faked crime report
tells Burns he will have the Bellevue
room burned down. An East Indian will
found to confess to the murders. Great,
Burns. Maybe I'll make you an extra
July 19, 1995. Burns calls Rafay and,
Haslett's instructions, asks him to
to Victoria. Haslett says he wants
sure that Rafay isn't going to "fuck
him around." Burns says Haslett
worry. He says his friends know that
fucked Haslett around, "they'd
fucking two days after they did."
Burns introduces Rafay to Haslett.
and Shinkaruk leave. Let's be honest,
Haslett. Trust and honesty are the
things in my life. I want to trust
tells Rafay. I want you to work for
I need to know about the murders.
Rafay says he didn't do anything. He's
But he saw Burns kill his mother. And
heard him kill his father and sister.
was tough to kill them, he says, but
necessary in order to accomplish the
he wanted in life. With the money from
house and the insurance, Rafay says,
to get about $400,000.
Burns and Shinkaruk return. Haslett
his promise to burn down the crime
tells the two not to talk to their
about him and not to act excited when
crime lab burns down. You don't go
around thinking you're fucking Mr.
because this is happening, he says.
No indeed, no Mr. Cockiness, because
31, 1995 Sebastian Burns, Atif Rafay,
Jimmy Miyoshi are all arrested. (Taped
in hand, Bellevue police had filed
of aggravated murder in the first degree
against both Burns and Rafay, and now
their extradition.) In detention, Burns
Rafay are introduced to RCMP officers
and Shinkaruk, no longer in mufti.
shock of being outwitted by a pair
cops with a shaky command of English
did any violence to their notions of
the extradition proceedings must have
their ideas about friendship. Their
companion, Jimmy Miyoshi, they learned,
made a deal to testify against them.
The extradition hearing in B.C. Supreme
concluded on January 31, 1996. Defense
Patrick Beirne argued that Burns and
had feared Haslett, so much so that
made up phony confessions to please
Beirne pointed out that there were
in the confessions that had not already
made public by the media. Justice Howard
Callaghan rejected this argument and
that U.S. officials could seek extradition.
First-degree murder carries a penalty
death in Washington state. Indeed,
debate in Olympia revolves around whether
hanging or lethal injection should
method of choice.
Burns and Rafay's lawyers plan to appeal
the extradition order to the Minister
Justice, to the Court of Appeal and,
appeals fail, to the Supreme Court.
lose, they expect a final decision
a year or so. Meanwhile, Burns and
pass their days in custody.
Burns's film script is also being held.
lies in a police evidence room gathering
dust. Likely, it will never get made.
Had these two superior young men put
brilliance solely into film, they might
produced a masterpiece, a searing condemnation
of the muddled hypocrisy that is society.
We, the muddled hypocrites, would have
or at least laughed it off. Names have
hurt us. But sticks and stones do break
Shawn Blore is a writer living in Vancouver