Son battles OPP for late cop's diaries

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Son battles OPP for late cop's diaries

Postby Thomas » Wed Aug 31, 2016 11:06 am

Dennis Alsop Jr.: Fighting to get back the diaries of his father, who probed some of the area's biggest unsolved crimes, the London man is taking the OPP to small claims court

Dennis Alsop Jr. says he lent his dad’s work diaries to the Ontario Provincial Police in hopes of solving some of London’s biggest crime mysteries.

Now, he says, they won’t give them back.

“As far as I’m concerned, that’s a renege of their promise. And all I wanted was a good photo-copy of them back. They won’t give me that,” said the Londoner who found the diaries of his father, retired OPP Supt. Dennis Alsop Sr., shortly after his father’s death in 2012.

Alsop is now taking the unusual step of filing a lawsuit in small claims court against the OPP, hoping to get his property returned as promised.

“I can understand if they can do something with those diaries, they need the originals,” he said. “But the truth of the fact is they’ve done nothing with those diaries for the last two years except sit on them.”

Alsop’s father was the main investigator during a string of unsolved murders of young people in London and the surrounding area in the 1960s and 1970s, including the cases of Frankie Jensen, who was found murdered in 1968, Jackie English, who was abducted and murdered in 1969 and Priscilla Merle who died in 1972.

His notes offered some clues to the cases and were the backdrop for Western University criminologist Michael Arntfield’s recent book, Murder City.

“I really don’t want to give up the diaries because they are a fascinating glimpse into my father’s life,” Alsop said.

From his early days as a small-town cop in Ingersoll, through his time as an identification officer and respected investigator, the elder Alsop’s 27 books chronicle the career cop’s journey in small snippets.

Only the years between 1958 and 1963 were missing from the collection that Alsop Jr. found in a cardboard box stored in the basement of his parent’s Mississauga home.

He’s convinced that his dad kept the files for good reason and hoped someone might be able to pull together his clues using modern-day investigation tools.

“My father had a sense of history,” Alsop said. “He knew they were an interesting time capsule of the London area.”

Two and a half years ago, Alsop lent the OPP the investigation files — different than the diaries — found about the English and Merle cases on the condition that he would get copies of them.

“Six months later, they returned them to me,” he said, but added that they really wanted the diaries.

“I lent them to the OPP so they would work on it,” he said of the original books.

“Six months ago I got a hold of them and I was advised that a deputy commissioner doesn’t want to give them back to me.”

Alsop told the OPP he wanted them back. He was told that “it wasn’t resolved.”

He hasn’t been contacted since, and said he knows “they won’t contact me again to say it’s official.”

Frustrated, Alsop weighed his legal options and decided his best bet was through the small claims court that will handle cases worth up to $25,000.

“I don’t know what other way to do it,” he said.

Not that Alsop can put a value on the books.

“I’m not interested in the money. The money is irrelevant. It’s the stories that are fascinating. Their problem is I’m willing to share these stories with people.”

Alsop said the stories that emerge from the books start with a sense of fun and adventure. But at the time of Jensen’s death, the tone changed markedly.

“This was a bad omen and the diaries just screamed that at you. Things were changing.”

What followed was an alarming number of violent, unsolved deaths of young women and men. Alsop’s father was in the thick of trying to solve all of them.

Most prevalent was the English case, a murder Alsop said haunted his father long after his retirement in 1979, along with the unsolved murder of Western University student Lynda White, who disappeared in 1968 and whose remains were discovered in Bayham Township, in Elgin County, in 1973.

Alsop still has the packing slip that was sent with the books to his father at the time of his retirement, indicating that the OPP had agreed to give up the notes.

“We didn’t hide them in a cupboard so the OPP wouldn’t know about them,” Alsop said. “They gave them to him. He had them.”

The OPP had no comment on Alsop’s small claim.

“If there is a matter which is before the court, the OPP does not speak to those issues until the proceedings are complete,” said OPP Sgt. Peter Leon, provincial media relations co-ordinator.

“If there is civil litigation that is anticipated to take place, we need to allow that process to transpire before we make any comments at this time.”

The case could take months to resolve.

Alsop’s fear is that the diaries have been destroyed, the same fate given to old notes and files of retired officers.

“I would be so disappointed,” he said.

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