Tragedy in Elk Point
A tragedy occurred in Elk Point on August 4, 1936. At approximately 7:30 a.m. one of our prominent citizens was murdered on fifty-first street, about a half block from the Old Senior Citizen building(NW corner of 49 Avenue and 51 St). Apparently this tragedy was the result of an all-night drinking party near the Walter Johnson residence. Prior to this, Mrs. Johnson had been shot at by one of those attending the party. With the bullet narrowly missing her head she suddenly screamed for help. Her call was answered by Mr. Jack Fitzimmons who was the grain agent for the Alberta Wheat Pool at that time. Mr. Fitzimmons lived in the corner residence now occupied by Mrs. Doreen Younghans(SE corner of 49 Avenue and 51 Street). When Mr. Fitzimmons entered the middle of the street he was suddenly gunned down by the killer. He died instantly on the spot.
The day of the tragedy I was visiting in Edmonton and as I was walking down 101 Street I heard a newsboy calling out the headlines in a shrill voice "Man murdered in Elk Point". I quickly bought an Edmonton Journal and read of this tragedy.
Immediately after Mr. Fitzimmons was killed, the R.C.M.P. were called in from nearby St. Paul and the hunt for the killer was on. The hunt involved a number of police as well as some local residents and a bloodhound which had been brought in from Edmonton. The bloodhound soon picked up a scent and lead the search party a few miles north, next the search shifted to the west. The dog then changed his direction again and followed a creek, finally arriving back at the starting point. Finally. the tracking dog gave up the chase altogether. At that time it was thought that the bloodhound had picked up a false scent, however that was not the case. Later it was proven the killer had taken this path and had returned to our village. During the following three days it appeared the killer had completely vanished. Many of our local residents felt uneasy, knowing a killer was loose somewhere in our district. On the fourth day after the murder one of our district residents (Harry Smith) was walking near the Victoria Grain Elevator when he detected a strong odor. Upon investigating he discovered the badly decomposed body of the killer. It was laying in a clump of willows about where our present bottle depot stands(5214 Railway Avenue). Apparently the killer had taken his own life rather than try to evade the police. The weather had been extremely hot at the time and the quick decomposition of the body aided in its discovery. Needless to say our local residents were greatly relieved knowing the killer no longer was at large.
This tragedy was a great shock to our community and to the Fitzimmons family. They were well known and respected in Elk Point. Mr. Fitzimmons was known by all farmers throughout the farming district. The Fitzimmons family consisted of a number of teenagers, namely Russel, Dora, Edward, Tommy, Ella and Harold.
After this tragedy the family moved to St. Paul. With the outbreak of World War 11 some of the family went their separate ways. Later I learned Russel had joined the Canadian Navy and served for the duration of the war. Edward became an airline pilot in England and Harold, I believe, was employed by the Edmonton Journal for many years.
Ironically, Mrs. Johnson, who was shot at by the killer, died violently in an automobile accident-some years later. A son, George, was killed in an oil drilling accident.
Ella, the youngest of the Fitzimmons girls, paid Elk Point a visit about three years ago; she was accompanied by her lawyer son. She came back to visit her father's grave, which is in our west cemetery. It was her first visit to Elk Point since the tragedy which occurred 56 years ago.