On June 10, 1958, David Pauls, 52 was shot three times in the head with a .22-calibre revolver by the back door of the family home. The killer then went upstairs and clubbed 11-year-old Dorothy Pauls to death in her bed. When Helen Pauls, 45, returned from work a short time later the killer shot her twice in the head and then beat her dead body with a blunt instrument. It was Vancouver’s first triple homicide and it remains unsolved.
When I was researching this story for Sensational Vancouver, what upset me the most aside from the sheer brutality of the murders; was why this could happen to what seemed to be such a normal family, in their own home. This was the 1950s after all, people didn’t lock their doors andVancouver was still a small town. Apparently not. A search through the newspapers of the time shows a surprisingly violent city. There was a series of violent rapes, and Vancouver had lost its innocence three months before the Pauls died, when Evelyn Roche, 39, was murdered just blocks from her East Vancouver home.
The Pauls were originally from Russia, attended the German Mennonite church until a short time before their deaths, and before moving to Vancouver in 1953, farmed in Aldergrove. David worked as a janitor for Woodwards, and in a period where most mothers stayed at home, Helen worked the afternoon shift at the Home Fancy Sausage Shop on East Hastings. Dorothy attended Walter Moberly Elementary School.
The only clues police had to go on were a partial footprint in the garden, a bloody, but unidentifiable palm print on the bedroom wall, and a dislodged rock in the garden that indicated the way the killer had fled. The murder weapon was never found, but forensics determined that the bullets came from a Rohm RG-10 Revolver. Another dead end as the guns sold in stores throughout the US for $14.95.
Police investigated several theories in the Pauls murder including connections to Russia and a communist plot. A botched robbery and a potential home invasion were also ruled out because nothing was stolen and Helen’s untouched purse lay open on the table. Police believed that David may have caught a peeping tom looking through Dorothy’s window as the partial footprint was found outside her window.
While the nature of the crime suggested an execution-style killing, police couldn’t find any leads and the murders remain unsolved.
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