The Early Years
Evelyn Dick was born to Donald and Alexandra MacLean on October 13, 1920 in Beamsville Ontario. The family moved to 214 Rosslyn Avenue in Hamilton the following year. Donald MacLean worked for Hamilton Street Railways as a streetcar conductor.
Evelyn’s childhood wasn’t a happy one. Her father drank too much and her mother had a bad temper. She wasn’t allowed to play with other children because her mother thought she was too fragile.
According to evelyndick.com “Rumors abounded that Donald was dipping into the coffers of the HSR. They lived very well, always had huge sums in the bank and would send Evelyn shopping with handfuls of nickels, the fee collected for a fare in those days.”
Evelyn attended public school until her parents pulled her out and sent her to the prestigious Loretto Academy attended by the daughters of Hamilton’s elite.
As a teen Evelyn wore many furs and fancy jewelry, making her the subject of rumors while spending time with older men at the racetracks. According to the Canadian encyclopedia “Alexandra encouraged her to use her good looks to entice men into buying her expensive gifts, such as jewelry and furs”. Evelyn’s lovers included several wealthy and prominent Hamiltonians
Evelyn tried hard to become recognized in the finer Hamilton circles. She was known to throw luxurious parties at the Royal Connaught Hotel.
In 1942 Evelyn gave birth to a daughter, Heather, and that made more rumors swirl about Evelyn, however, she claimed she was married to a man overseas with the last name white. Examination of military records proved this to be a lie.
In September 1944, Evelyn gave birth to a boy, named Peter, but she didn’t bring him home with her from the hospital. She claimed that she had given him up to the Children’s Aid Society for adoption because her father didn’t want another child in the house. In between her daughter and son Evelyn also had a stillbirth.
In June of 1945 Alexandra separated from Donald. Evelyn, Alexandra and Heather moved into an apartment 314 James St south.
Evelyn met a Russian immigrant, 39-year-old John Dick in the summer of 1945. John worked as a streetcar driver for the HSR. She told Dick that she was the widow of a Canadian naval officer named White who had died in the Second World War. (He never existed) On October 4, 1945, Evelyn and John were married at the Church of the Ascension.
When Evelyn realized that Dick was not well off as she thought, she deserted him and had an affair with a man named Bill Bohozuk.
Dick convinced her that he could make the marriage work and she moved into a house on Carrick Avenue with him. That didn’t work out so well because of Evelyn’s relationships with Bohozuk and other boyfriends. Dick ended up moving out and staying with his cousin. *John and Evelyn had been married for almost a month before they began to live together.
Dick went to Evelyn’s Father Donald MacLean for help, and when he refused Dick threatened to tell on him for stealing from the HSR. (Evelyn had told Dick the family secret.) Donald threatened to kill Dick, leading dick to file a report with the Hamilton police. John Dick was last seen alive on the 6th of March having lunch at The Windsor Hotel.
On March 16th 1946, a group of 5 children hiking along a trail on Hamilton Mountain found what they thought looked like the body of a headless pig laying partway down the side of Hamilton’s escarpment near Albion Falls. What they found was the torso of an adult male. His head, arms and legs were missing and police said it looked as if someone had tried to cut the torso itself in two.
The remains were soon identified as those of John Dick by his brother-in-law. Alexander Kammerer, John Dick’s cousin, told police that he was worried when he heard reports and suspected that something may have happened to Dick since his short-lived marriage had failed, and wondered if Dick had returned to the house he had shared with Evelyn on Carrick Avenue.
Evelyn was taken in for questioning by Detective-Sergeant Clarence Preston. She claimed she had no knowledge of his death, and proceeded to tell a story about a well dressed Italian hitman who arrived at her door looking for John. While Evelyn was being questioned, police searched her house. In the attic, they found a suitcase that contained the concrete-encased body of an infant. It later proved to be that of Evelyn’s son, Peter. Alexandra MacLean told police that she had seen her husband at this trunk the day before and told her to get out of the room. Police also found charred bones and bits of an HSR uniform at her parent’s house. More evidence such as bullet holes in a pipe, a revolver and cartridges, saws and blood-stained shoes that belonged to John Dick were found in MacLean’s basement.
Evelyn told police that a mysterious man had called her, and told her that John had made a woman pregnant and he was getting what was coming to him. The mystery man asked her to meet him so that he could borrow a car. She met the man who had a large sack with him. He told her it contained ‘part of John’. Evelyn went on to say that she drove this man and his cargo to the dumping site. Evelyn changed her story again and signed a second statement regarding the involvement of Italian killers, hired by Bill Bohozuk.
Investigators learned that Evelyn borrowed a large Packard car from a man named Bill Landeg. Landeg said he received the car back with blood covering the front seat, the seat covers missing and bloody clothing in the back. She left him a note explaining that her daughter cut herself and that where the mess came from
Evelyn Dick, Bill Bohozuk and Donald MacLean were charged with the murder of John Dick, Evelyn and Bohozuk were charged with infanticide and Donald MacLean was also charged with robbing the HSR of thousands of dollars.
The series of trials began on 7 October 1946, in Hamilton’s Wentworth County Courthouse. Alexandra MacLean, testified against her daughter in return for immunity. She told the courts that Evelyn was away from the home for a long period of time on March 6th. On March 8th Alexandra said she asked Evelyn about John and she said he wouldn’t be coming around anymore.
Alexandra also testified against her husband, and told the court owned a handgun and a large butcher’s knife.
The jury found Evelyn guilty of the murder of John Dick. The judge sentenced her to death, but her attorneys successfully appealed.
John J. Robinette took over the case. Robinette impressed upon the jury the strong possibility that Donald MacLean had killed Dick. This time around, the jury found Evelyn not guilty.
During the trial for her son Peter, Robinette brought in a psychiatrist who testified that Evelyn had endured a traumatic childhood and had the emotional mentality of a 13-year-old. Evelyn was found guilty for Manslaughter and sentenced her to life imprisonment.
Donald MacLean was found guilty of being an accessory to murder and sentenced to five years in prison. He received an additional five years for theft. Bohozuk was cleared of all charges.
Evelyn spent 11 years in Kingston Penn before being paroled in 1958. She assumed a new identity and started a new life. In 1985, Evelyn was granted a pardon and her file was sealed forever.
No one was ever convicted for the murder of John Dick.
The murder inspired a television drama called How Could You, Mrs. Dick? (1989). A film Torso: The Evelyn Dick Story (2002) – Phil went to school with the actress of this film. And a film noir musical, Black Widow (2005). There are also several books about the murder. Hamilton punk band The Forgotten Rebels penned the song Mrs. Evelyn Dick.