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This episode of Talking Date Line was recorded on October 17th. Hi, everybody. I'm Josh Mankowitz, and this is Talking Date Line.
You didn't say that with very much enthusiasm. Hi, everybody. You want to give a little bit more of a gist?
Do you want me to do that again? Yes. I think you should. Okay. All right, we'll do it. I'll put a little more pizaz in it. Hi, everybody. It's Josh Maykowitz, and we're Talking Date Line. Our guest today is….
You're actually not very believable when you do it that way.
That was the point you're supposed to say your name there. My guest is Keith Morrison. We're talking about the story that sent Keith back to his homeland of Canada.
Back to the city where I spent about a year and a half when I was eight years old. It was a great place.
Now, to our audience, if you have not seen this episode on television or listen to it on podcast, it's the episode right below this on the list of podcasts. Go there, listen to that or watch it on TV, and then come back here. Is it great to be able to go back to Canada and cover a story?
Always. Yeah, it's a wonderful country in so many ways, and it's always a delight to be there, to spend some time there.
Are you mobbed when you go there?
Gosh, don't be silly. Not mobbed anywhere, Josh.
Are you? Oh, no, no. I have this idea that when you return to Canada, it's like Frank Sinatra and the Bobby Soxars.
No, come on. Don't be silly.
Well, but it is nice to be. You lived in Edmonton when you were a small boy.
Yeah, I remember vividly tobogany down the side of the banks of the Saskatchewan River. My dad was a preacher at Macdougall United Church at the top of the hill, and we'd slide down that hill every Sunday after church. It was quite exciting. I got lost in that city one time when I was that age. A friend of mine and I went down to watch it. You don't want to hear all these.
Stories, do you? Oh, no, I think we do. Yes.
Watch a parade downtown. We lived a little far out in the sticks. It was a long walk for two little kids. We never thought of the idea that our parents would be worried about us. By the time we got home, there were police cars all around the street. People were terrified and we were in a lot of trouble for a bit.
I'm going to go a little farther down this road. What form did that trouble take in the Morrison household?
Well, they were cross with me, but no one lays a hand on you. They were just disappointed, if I can put it that way, which is certainly a punishment. One feels the sting for a long time of disappointment.
But there was no grounding. You were not confined to your room or- No.
Not that I recall anyway.
I would say, based on current evidence, probably not enough discipline exercised in your household early on.
Coming from you. I think that's a fine saying to hear.
Back to our story. Now, one of the interesting things about this story is that this originally came in through the digital team, not in the traditional way that we get stories, which is we read about it in the newspaper or local stations call us or prosecutors or cops that we worked with. This came in through the The Date Line digital portal.
From one of the detectives involved in this case, but there is more background to that as well. Producer, producer named Vince Sterla and I, Vince, who I've worked with and you've worked with for many years. A pro. We did a story in Edmonton a few years ago about a guy who thought he was going to be a movie maker and he would impersonate somebody who cut people's bodies up and so on. The Edmonton police solved that case, and it was a fascinating police procedural. Well, the detective who got in touch with our digital team was one of the detectives on that case. We talked to a different detective on that case. This particular detective was one we were very happy to talk to.
You hadn't met this guy before?
No, didn't meet the guy before at all.
But that was the connection. It was an earlier story.
You know what I mean? It's funny. You're going across country lines, but you look at those guys, I'm like, Well, those guys are cops.
They betrayed a particular attitude, a sincerity about the way they approach their tasks, which is sweet. It's lovely to watch. I accused them of playing Dudley Durey during an interview.
They do seem very guile-less. I like that.
Well, yes, and yet they are the opposite of guile-less in reality.
No, they're quite smart and shrewd, and they saw through everybody I thought that they needed to see through in this.
Talking about the differences between our two countries, one of the things that leaped out at me was how quickly the case of Dwayne, who was missing, and is the first person you meet in the story, the first character, even though you never actually see him, how quickly Dwayne's case accelerated from we can't find them and we filed a missing persons report to having some really seasoned homicide guys put on the case. I am not sure that that would happen with that speed here in this country, because one of the things that families complain about all the time that we deal with is that they file a missing persons report and then nothing happens, because for a lot of departments, missing persons is not a priority.
Yeah, that is true. Although in this case also, when you find a car on fire in a parquade and there's a bunch of blood in the back seat, you can't really tell how much. Some guy is running away from the scene trying to take off his shirt so he won't be recognized. It gives you an indication that maybe you should be following this up as a crime.
I would say so, although there are plenty of jurisdictions in this country where we interviewed people who had that knowledge or something like it, and they couldn't get law enforcement to react quickly enough. Eventually, law enforcement did. I noticed that the speed of this was something that I found remarkable. One more thing I wanted to talk about with you was the the extent to which this story is driven by technology. I mean, it wasn't too long ago that if you saw somebody leaving what you thought might be a crime scene, you had no way of recording it. Now everybody's got a handheld video recorder on them at all times, and that made a huge difference.
It sure did. In a number of occasions during this whole investigation, it could have run aground because you couldn't do things then that you can do now. Obviously, there are bits of evidence, bits of DNA there that made an enormous difference, which would never have been discovered.
That cracked it.
It did. It did. Then the idea that you can send a picture, a photograph of somebody to a whole other country to the DMV in Washington state, and they would run it through their facial recognition program and come up with some good alternatives to who that person actually is and that that person did once live in Washington state. I mean, you would never have gotten that.
I would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. I love the motion-generated security video from the limo parking lot where you can see a guy hiding in the dumpster. Yeah, that is truly Gwiz video. I just love that.
It was great. It truly was. I mean, what an odd thing to do? You're hiding in a dumpster, and every once in a while you raise the lid a couple of inches to see if there's somebody there.
Let me ask you a question that... One of the things I really loved about this story was that even going into the last part, there are 12 parts in every two-hour day in line, even going into part 12, I was thinking to myself, What's going on here? What's the idea? I don't get it. I mean, why did he want a whole other identity? Jason Stedman, aka Jason no last name, which I didn't even think you could do, aka Robert Aubrey Maxwell. I mean, I was flummoxed by the whole thing. I didn't understand why he'd gone to such incredible lengths to create these new identities, and why would he want to kill poor Duane? Just because they'd had a run-in once, that's going to make you hide in a dumpster and do everything that.
Followed that? Plot and plan. Yeah, very strange. Unless he felt that Duane could expose him. Just some misplaced jealousy over a girl didn't seem adequate either, and yet it happened. About that one still can't be sure, really.
I felt like prosecutors like were offering that motive and essentially saying, This is the best we've got here. We know you want a motive. Okay, how about this? But I didn't even think they sounded like they were 100% sure as to what was really going on.
No, I don't think they are. It just doesn't make any sense. It's a strange, a certain thing. But then after that, the whole trail is very calculated to erase any vestige of what he did well in Canada and then get back into Washington State and resume his old character, having dealt with all the potential crimes against him, and nobody would ever be the wiser in Canada. It was just little bits of things like bubble gum on the back of a truck and that thing that did eye in.
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I know that there was internally here at Dayline, there was some discussion when this story was in production.
I don't know where this is going.
Yes, I know that you do. There was some discussion that you, Keith, were going to be on a jet ski. That that was the reporter involvement that you and I have both been asked to do numerous times in our careers. A lot of reporters seem to relish, although I don't, and I'm not sure you do. But there were a lot of people whether or not you were going to be on a jet ski. I will say this. When I was asked that question, do you think Keith will appear on a jet ski in this story? I said, There's no chance of that.
Well, you know me well. Yeah. I think I said at the time, No, I won't do that. I mean, I don't know about you, but I came up in a time when getting in front of the camera and acting out some stuff or getting on a jet ski or standing in the middle of a hurricane, well, the thing is blowing on your body when you know it's really windy out there. That's all just putting on a show. As a reporter, I always felt like you don't want to become part of the story. You're standing back, letting the story happen, and then simply describing it. That's our job.
I think there are probably times in which the reporter doing the thing that happens in the story helps the audience understand it. But I think that most of the time when the reporter is doing something that somebody in the story has done, all you're thinking about is the audience is, Look what he's doing, which is not what you want to be thinking. You want them thinking about the story.
Right. You get the impression the reporter is saying, Hey, look at me. Look what I can do. Look at me.
I'm glad that you did notthat you did not get on a jet ski. Let me ask you a follow-up question, as we say in journalism. Have you ever been on a jet ski?
Yes, I have been on a jet ski, and I fell off the back, of course, and the thing went around.
I think everybody does, right?
Yeah, probably. You know, once was enough for me, though.
This was what year, roughly?
Oh, God, I don't even remember. It's a long time ago. Thing is, I have always been the person who falls off things. I can't trust. Somebody said because they heard I was from Canada, they said, Well, you probably want to talk about hockey. Of course, I don't because I haven't played hockey since I was 10 years old. But when I did play hockey, I used to fall down all the time and hurt myself. So I don't.
Have- Yeah, you know why? You know why? Because it's on ice. That's why.
That's very true. It's very slippery. Yeah. That's why I didn't play it. Yeah, I like keeping my footing. We talked a little bit about this story happening in the age of modern technology and the age of surveillance… One of the things that some of the homicide detectives that I know that I've gotten to know in this job, one of the things they talk about is that the cops today who come out of the academy and are doing homicides early on, they're very good at getting the security footage, and they're very good at dumping people's phones and getting information like that and setting up a thing where they can figure out which tower the phone was on and thus charting someone's movements through that, and looking through their social accounts and all of that. And it's very important, and I don't want to minimize that. And then also they know everything about DNA and how to make sure that the forensic samples are submitted in the right way or that they're lifted from the right things. Dna costs a lot of money, so you can't test every single thing. You have to have a best guess as where you're going to take your samples from.
But the art that's going away, I always hear about, is talking to people in that little interrogation room. They're not training for that as much.
Perhaps not. Although there are more written and unwritten rules in various different jurisdictions about how should be done. I think that's good because we have seen, and both of us have done stories in the past, more than a few about interrogations that went wrong and produced the wrong result in a case, or at least got somebody going down a tunnel of wrong evidence toward a solution, a parent solution of a crime that wasn't a solution at all. Now, I don't know how many jurisdictions have a rule that you must record both and audio of an interview. I don't know how many jurisdictions have rules in place about having somebody in the room with a young person if they're being interrogated.
It's increasingly happening everywhere. Also, the other thing now is that juries now, they don't want to hear the cop saying I asked him this, and he told me that. They want to see the video.
That is perfectly understandable. How many times have you had a conversation and a month, two months, six months later, you're telling somebody about the conversation? He said this. I said that. Then you hear a tape of the conversation, and it's nowhere near correct. I know. To understand it.
Well, that's something we run into all the time here, which is that people's memories are frequently not as good as they think they are as we think they are. I love the reference to Encyclopedia Brown, whose books I read all through school. I was very big on that.
Those are great books. I recall them being great books. It was delightful seeing them being talked about by a guy who called himself the cowboy.
Right, the cowboy. I really loved how Duane's friends marshalled themselves into this impromptu army and set out to come up with answers like the cowboy and the woman who I get the feeling should have been his girlfriend, but wasn't. I thought that was all. I love that.
Duane was from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, which happens to be my central hometown, as are his parents, who still live there. His brother, who is the one who appeared on a television show. Nice man. All of them very sweet, soft-spoken people who just want the right thing to be done. You go back to the place of your beginnings, of your roots. When you discover that people are really nice there, it's a good thing. It makes you feel good.
Well, they certainly were good people, and it was great to see them rally around their friend and try to basically solve his murder, even when they recognized that the.
Were doing something.
Right. Now, there was a thing in this story, which I'm sure you saw going by, that has always troubled me and troubled others who have been there, who have worked on other stories there with me, which is the downtown east side of Vancouver, which is where poor Robert Aubrey Maxwell ended his days. It is a nightmare of a place, several square blocks of area in the.
Of a city I lived in back in the early '70s. Beautiful city then and an extraordinary city today.
Was that the Skid Row of the city back then?
It was becoming that beginning in the '60s, I think, and then it got worse and worse. The place you always think is going to somehow get better, and it doesn't. Right smack dab in the middle of that little neighborhood is the main police station. I think intentionally so, in a way, that they gather around there for safety's sake. The Salvation Army is there and various other social agencies and government agencies to look after them in whatever way they'll allow. But it goes on and on and on and it's a hell on earth in those little few square block area. It's a very sad thing to see. In the middle of arguably the richest, if not one of the richest countries on the planet.
Certainly, that's the case here in Los Angeles, where Skid Row is in the shadow of these gorgeous office towers and all this money. So Robert Aubrey Maxwell, first of all, this story I thought first proved and then later disproved a maxim that I've always believed in, which is that people who have three names are criminals. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald. I thought Robert Aubrey Maxwell was going to be among them. And then it turned out, of course, he was blameless in this. Let me ask you about Robert Aubrey Maxwell. His body has never been found, right?
His body has never been found. That's right.
We don't really know whether our suspect in this, Jason, whether he was involved in killing him or whether he just found out that maybe happened upon him after he died or somehow helped him down that road, maybe by giving him too much of whatever drug he was taking. We don't know. We just know he assumed his identity.
That he encountered him, and I think there was some evidence that he encountered him well alive there on the downtown East Side. Then a few days later, he was going around with the man's ID, and nobody ever saw him again.
We were talking earlier about the extent to which you, the viewer, are left wondering in this thing. Look, a lot of times in Dayline, you know what's going on. Sometimes you don't know, but usually by the time the final act begins, like Act 12, you know what's going on. In this case, I did not know what was going on. I thought that for you and Vince, that was really a triumph of storytelling because I was hanging on the edge of my seat the whole way I was watching this thing. That's hard to do to not tip the story at any point while you're telling it.
It's tricky. Vince and I worked with Tim Ulinger, who was the original producer on this. But we'd sit together and he'd explain to me how he figured that we could probably put this together in a way that made sense. It was a circuitous route. We had to cover several bases just in case that we had to go a different direction.
Did the people at the limo company... I'm assuming you tried to talk to them and they said no. Presumably, they didn't want to talk. They didn't want to talk about their employee? Why would they not want to talk?
Just general reluctance, I think, to talk about to go on television to discuss the crime that occurred there. The other person who thought about it for a while, but in the end didn't, was the girlfriend, the angel. I think out of fear, out of concern for what could happen to her.
When they're looking at who they think is Robert Alby, Maxwell, the cops are realizing like there's no social media presence. There's nothing. Who doesn't have any photos of them anywhere online? It looked like the only photos of him were required photos, like ID photos or driver's license photos.
I think he was careful to avoid those things. You got to know, if you're living that life, you probably need to avoid that stuff. He didn't even reveal to his friends where he lived, or even his girlfriend wasn't sure.
Yeah, I get the feeling that most people didn't know who he was and didn't know his true colors, although it's pretty clear that his wife and the mother of his child did see him pretty clearly, and she was right to be frightened of him. And once again, domestic violence, so much a factor in date lines, so much in the background of so many stories that we do, made another appearance here, which you don't think it's going to because it looks like this is just about a murder between a couple of guys. And then it turns out, no, there's DV in it somewhere.
There always is. Yeah, absolutely. How it got its start, really.
She told a great story. I thought you did a great job with her.
She was very good and very affected by what happened. I found myself feeling for her child and hoping that it didn't become a long-term problem.
He's up. I don't think he's getting out.
Think she could probably breathe a little easier.
They are at least safe, yes. But can you imagine being in that position where your child is in the presence of a person like that and you're nowhere near and you got to get there as quick as you can, but God knows what's going to happen.
That was an unbelievable part of the story. I know what she said. I made that 30-minute drive in eight minutes or.
Whatever it was.
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Com. By the way, it's time that we brought up something here on talking date lines. It's been a big issue with me for a long time, and it involves you. You are too nice and you are too self-effacing and you never talk. You always argue with me about how great you are, and the truth is, you're like, Oh, no, no, no. I don't know. It's about this. No, no, no. You're a giant icon in our neighbor to the north. You are. They love you. Oh, he's getting up and leaving. He's getting up and leaving like it's a date-line interview when the person doesn't like answering the tough questions. You're not even in focus right now. You're so far from the camera. The truth is, Canadians think you are a huge success story and a wonderful journalist and reporter, and the reason they think that is because it's true.
Right. When do you have to call people to get them to appear on The Stateline? Let's go back to that.
Well, about the same time as you do, Josh, which is- Not that often. I think, well, no, not that often. But because the people we work with are extremely good at that thing. But occasionally it just needs probably a reminder that appearing on our program is not a big, terrible, horrible thing to do in most circumstances because we're doing a story and we want to portray them well, portray them fairly and get it right.
I always say to people who are reluctant to be on, Look, this story is going to happen with you or without you, and you're going to like it a lot better if you're in it.
Josh, you know this as well as anybody that when you have the material, when you have the interview with somebody, you're going to use it. What that does is it shifts the focus of the story so that it portrays the story from that person's point of view for a time. If they don't appear on the program, there's really nothing you can do about seeing the sympathetic side of that person. We're going to we're going to engage the sympathetic side. We're going to explore the sympathetic side if they're on our program.
I always say to people, Look, I will try to tell your side of the story if you're not here. It's not like I'm going to ignore what you have to say, but you're going to do it better than I am, and you're going to like it more if you're on here.
Sure. Whenever you're on, you are the focus of the story. The story comes through you.
Talking about storytelling, because storytelling was a big part of the way that you laid this out. We begin every part of the story, as I said, with me thinking to myself, What exactly is going on here? About halfway through, I was thinking like, Okay, it's going to turn out that we didn't know everything about Duane, that Duane and Robert Aubrey Maxwell, John Wilkes Booth, that they're in league together, that there's some criminal conspiracy. No, wrong about that. Duane had nothing to do with anything. But what I didn't think was... What I was going to learn was that Robert Aubrey Maxwell was not really a Robert Aubrey Maxwell. And when you do that thing where the cop shows the photo to the ex-girlfriend, as soon as I see that, I think, Oh, my God, it's not the same guy. It's not going to be the same guy. This is great. The storytelling part of me is thinking like, Oh, what a good idea. We're going to wait until about halfway through to realize, Oh, yeah, that guy you think we've been pursuing, he's probably dead. That's right.
Yeah, it came together rather nicely, didn't it?
That's the date-line twist that our audience expects from us and from you.
That's a phrase you have registered yourself, haven't you? A date-line twist?
I should have registered that, but I have not. One of the things, getting back again to technology, all those CSI-type shows on television have the audience that you can give somebody the grainy black and white videotape of the person sticking their head out of the dumpster, or the guy walking by the dumpster, and that a computer can tell you who that is, can pull up their driver's.
License picture. Yeah, they go in closer and closer and closer, right?
Right. And it's perfect video. It's perfect. You can see exactly who it is. Well, that doesn't exist, at least not yet. Maybe within our lifetimes, but it doesn't exist right now. However, comparing two driver's licenses to two-footed photos, that does exist. And in this case, that made a giant difference. And they can do it with other kinds of photos too, like passport photos.
Yeah, that's right.
Those cops, are they convinced that they have found the last of Jason Stedman's victims, that it was only Robert Aubrey Maxwell and poor Dwayne?
I don't think that they would... They would swear to that, that's not where their focus is. They would still love to know what happened to Robert Aubrey Maxwell as much as anything so that they could let his family know. Maybe someday they'll find out. I think it would require some cooperation from a man who is not cooperative at all.
I mean, there's nothing to persuade him to cooperate. It's not like he wants to see his family more, because I get the feeling probably nobody's coming to visit him.
How do Canadian prisons compare with prisons in the United States? I'm guessing they're probably nicer.
I don't know. They run the gamut, I think. There's some that have a terrible reputation, others not so much.
First of all, we don't do that many stories in Canada.
One of the main reasons we don't is not because they are Canadian stories, but because the Canadian system of justice is, I want to say, more protective of the process. Getting media access is not an easy thing to do. Frequently, we're shut down when we want to do a story about a crime that's occurred in Canada. I want to say that's loosened up some in recent years, but it still tends to be somewhat difficult process.
You mean like court access for taking pictures at trials? That's not a guaranteed thing the way it frequently is here.
No, not at all.
I've learned a lot about Canada by being friends with you.
Yes. Well, it's a nation of extremely nice, extremely civil, and extremely self-effacing people. The dark side. Opposite for me, in other words. Yeah, in other words, very much not like me.
Yeah, you're a nice guy. I'm sad to say.
I don't know about that.
Okay, Keith will be back to talk about other episodes, and I'll be further complimenting Keith, and he'll be evading responsibility for having done anything wonderful in future episodes. I want to say this because we were talking about it earlier. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. That's 1-800-799-7233, or visit www. Thehotline. Org. Thanks for listening, Keith. Thank you.
Been a delight, as always.
Yeah, I wish I believed any part of that. See you guys Fridayis on date line on BBC.
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