Calgary Cold Case 1976: Patricia (Patsy) McQueen & Ava Dvorak
Sunday, February 15, 1976
Two 14 year old girls have been found dead West of the city under the happy valley overpass. Fully clothed, no visible gun shot wounds, no visible evidence of stabbing, they would not have died due to exposure.So What happened?Someone is hiding something, this case is still COLD 42 years later.
This overpass will eventually mark the area that is now referred to as Valley Ridge but at this time in 1976 this area was still a few miles out of the city of Calgary, city limits heading WEST. The Happy Valley area was a campground and amusement park from 1961 to the late 1970’s. Full of merry-go-rounds, carousel rides and a wading pool and the laughter of children, smell of hotdogs and the cracking of chips. This is a 28min drive by car direct from Ian Bazalgette junior high school to the place the girls bodies were found. If you look at a topical map of the city of Calgary from the SOUTH EAST area of the city to the far WEST end of the city heading out of town toward the rocky mountains a truly opposite direction from the girls end of town. Why here?
One of the girls, identified as Patricia McQueen
Patricia or Patsy as she was referred to resided at 2220 – 37 Street SE just SOUTH of highway 1a and EAST of 36 street in the Forest Lawn, Forest Heights area of Calgary. in 2012, 36 years later, the demographics in this forest lawn area had a population of almost 7500 people living in 3300 dwellings. Average household incomes in the year 2000 were almost 30% low income residents, approx 18 percent were immigrants, the main buildings and residents were condos and apartments styles and almost 60% were rental units – high density housing. From the web archive crime database as far back as I can go to 2002, still 35 years later Person crimes like asault, battery, robbery was 16/1000 and property crimes were things like break and entry, theft from vehicles etc was 57/1000.
When I look at the house Patsy lived in according to google images today this appears to be a 1950’s home Typical bungalow style with a 3 step porch up to the door, it has a short metal fenced front yard with a gates up the side walk, the house is an off white colour today with brown window trim. You can assume the two windows on the right are bedrooms and the large window on the left is the living room.
The second girl, identified as Eva Dvorak;
Of 3131 – 30 A avenue SE. – in the community of Dover, EAST of Highway 2 and south of Highway 1A. In 2012, 36 years later the demographics of the community of Dover had a population of 10,302 living in 4,722 dwellings and average household income in the year 2000 was $43,875 and approx 24% were low income residents. 15% of the residents were immigrants and almost 30% of the buildings were condo units, apartments and rental properties – high density housing. From the web archive crime database as far back as I can 2002, 35 years later; Person crimes like asault, battery, robbery was 16/1000 and property crimes were things like break and entry, theft from vehicles etc was 44/1000. Lower than in Forest Lawn but still significant.
According to google images today, Eva’s home was on the inside of a small cal-de-sac, again it was also a bungalow style duplex, her home as on the outside of the cal-de-sa with the front view facing a walking path.
Obviously these crime rates from 2002 would likely be higher then in 1976 however in 1976 people didn’t report crime like they did in 2002 and of course today. However these crime rates are significant. Higher in the area where Patsy lived then where Ava lived but we can surmise the girls lived in a rougher part of the city.
Both girls lived close to and addended Ian Bazalgette Junior High School to the north Patsy and the south Eva almost the same distance from the school. Patsy in grade 9 and Eva in grade 8. Patsy being at the top of the school and the final grade in this school, and Eva likely looking up to Patsy as she was the older one. Both of these girls were average in their academics and popular.
In the following days after the girls were found laid against an embankment in the late hours of the morning the previous Sunday an autopsy was performed on both of them. With the possibility of murder, drug overdose or liquor being involved there was still so many questions unanswered. The girls had been missing since the previous Thursday but were staying with friends and not touching base with their families. Some of the pupils at the school were interviewed and commented about the use of drugs at school and after school – things like marijuana and some chemicals but no hard needle style of drugs. They concurred both of these girls engaged in these sort of activities. However in the end the autopsy found nothing significant to realize their deaths.
A news article almost 6 weeks later mentioned that both girls willingly took drugs, LSD, marijuana and drank alcohol but non of this would have caused their death. Being asked to leave school on the Friday before their death due to having alcohol on their breath, then proceeded going from party to party all weekend long, taking drugs, drinking and visiting with friends. They were hitch-hiking on 9ave SE when a neighbour stopped to offer them a ride – which they declined, this was the last time they were spotted alive. Then they were discovered under ironically called “Happy Valley” overpass which in itself should be a delightful place to visit and make memories not be found under it stopping any future memories of existing.
The autopsy nor the crime lab tests showed any proof as to how they died. No signs on their bodies to indicate foul play against them and nothing in their systems revealed any drug or alcohol reference that would have proved their fate. Their bodies based on the position of them and how their clothes were – showed they were dumped. Strangulation is most likely the cause but there we no marks on their necks to indicate this, possibility of smothering by drug related accident like passing out with face in pillow was also speculated as a cause. The weather was not a factor altho it was Feb in Calgary which can be typically the coldest winter months but since the girls were moved to this location – weather was determined not a factor.
The Judge KJ Plomp called the deaths a sad and tragic situation which leaves many questions unanswered. The thing that concerns me is that conditions and situations such as we’ve encountered do exist, and 14 and 15 year old girls are running free like this, they are just children.
In closing, Calgary Cold Case: 1976 Mystery Deaths of Patricia (Patsy) McQueen and Ava Dvorak marking the 42nd year of their COLD case. In reflecting back to my 8th and 9th grades in school, by all accounts could be classed as one of the hardest times in one life especially for a girl, going through puberty, finding friends you can trust and trying to be independent of your parents. Who doesn’t want the attention of older kids and someone to lookup to. At this time in ones life you just hope these ‘older’ kids influence you for the positive. Who gave the girls these drugs and how much they took and what they decided to do before during and after is on them, they made this decision alone, together. They were influenced and pressured and didn’t have their thoughts inline because they were only 14 years old. They were Children as the judge said. Coming from an area in the city that proved to be low poverty and crime heavy also gave them a more difficult start and possibly not the best environment to grow up in and be influence by.
According to Eva’s sister, Martha and Brother Gord in this CBC article they touted Eva as a normal girl, who was fun to be around. They also commented that these two girls were just 14 years old. They are missed by their families, siblings and friends – they all want closure – what happened to these girls?
You can’t help but wonder and want to know.
Were you around in Calgary at this time? Did you know the girls? Were you one of their friends? Did you attend the school in 1976 Ian Bazalgette, what was it like?
If you have any information about this case or a story about the girls that you want to share, let me know.
Thanks for listening to the podcast and this new series, Calgary history and let me know what you think by leaving me a comment/rating on iTunes, stitcher, google play, blubrry and tuneIn radio or wherever you get your podcasts.
Photos and snapshot pictures curtesy of me Valerie Moss and spending the day at the Central Library, articles used for reference are:
Articles Used for Reference are:
- Two Girls, 14, Found Dead, Feb 16, 1976 by Charles Sterling (Harold Staff Writer)
- Autopsy results awaited for clue to girl’s deaths, by Charles Sterling (Harold Staff Writer)
- Girls in mystery deaths took LSD, pot, alcohol, March 30,1976 (no reference to journalist)
- Some Has Answers to Deaths of Five Women, April 15,1976 by Charles Sterling (Harold Staff Writer)
- Inquest Draws Blank on Teen-agers’ Death Mystery, September 21, 1976 by Deborah Lehman (Harold Staff Writer)
Families of Eva Dvorak and Patsy McQueen still hope for break in cold case, February 16, 2016 by Colleen Underwood, (CBC News)
The intro and outro for this podcast is recorded by London Moss. The music for this show is written and produced by Jason Schnell, title Tascam 40. Thanks to Jeff Moss for being the voice of the Judge.
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