Author Warren Goulding reads an excerpt from his best selling book about serial killer John Crawford, and the ‘indifference’ of the Canadian media and public to the murders of the indigenous women he killed.
Just Another Indian: A Serial Killer and Canada’s Indifference
Early the next morning the nude and battered body of a Native woman was found in an alcove behind the old Number 1 firehall, not far from the Bridge Inn. Littered with soiled blankets and sordid garbage, it was a spot frequented by solvent sniffers and drunks. In the midst of it lay Mary Jane Serloin, her flesh disfigured by bruises and lacerations, and deep bite marks on her neck and breasts. A transient had stumbled upon her corpse, perhaps while going to the alcove to sleep or to relieve himself.
News of Mary Jane Serloin’s death generated two brief reports; both buried in the second section of the Lethbridge Herald, in the two editions following her death. On the Peigan reserve west of Fort Macleod, approximately seventy-five kilometres from Lethbridge, the news was received with more attention. Mary Jane’s sister, Justine English, was shattered by it. She knew her sister had been living on the wild side, but she had never thought it would come to this.
Almost as hard to bear as Mary Jane’s death was that no one seemed to care about it. Officials never got in touch with Justine or any other members of the family. There was nothing in the media other than six column inches in the Herald, which seems peculiar, especially for a town unaccustomed to this sort of violence.
Even so, police in Lethbridge moved quickly to apprehend the killer. Less than eight hours after Mary Jane’s body had been found, officers picked up John Crawford at his parents’ home in north Lethbridge. The arrest was uneventful. The young man offered no resistance. Police reports describe Crawford as “very quiet and very subdued.”
The death of Mary Jane Serloin in 1981 changed the life of Justine English forever. She still calls it murder, refusing to accept that a brutal killing can be reduced to an act of manslaughter, even semantically. She states the obvious with natural eloquence: “We’re people too. We have feelings. Why are we so degraded by the system?”
An award-winning bestseller by Chemainus journalist Warren Goulding is enjoying renewed interest more than 20 years after it was first published.
Just Another Indian: A Serial Killer and Canada’s Indifference, released in 2001, chronicles the killing of four Indigenous women by serial killer John Martin Crawford. Goulding argued in the book that the murders went largely unnoticed by the national media and the general public because the victims were Indigenous.
“When I wrote the book, the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women was barely on the radar,” Goulding recalls. “Sadly, Indigenous women are still being victimized at a rate far greater than other members of Canadian society. The only positive that seems to have happened in recent years is that at least now we’re talking about the issue, there is more awareness.”
The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls released its final report in 2019 and that helped bring the issue to the public’s attention. Goulding says media coverage has also been more intense in the last decade as stories of the crimes of serial killers like Vancouver’s Willie Pickton have emerged.
Goulding says there has been a noticeable increase in sales of Just Another Indian: A Serial Killer and Canada’s Indifference. And partly because of the uptick in attention to this critical issue, the book will soon be available in BC Ferries bookshops.
Contact askewcreek.com for more information or to order a copy of Just Another Indian: A Serial Killer and Canada’s Indifference. Or visit Books, Miniatures & More at 9774 Willow Street, Chemainus