Thursday 23 September 2021

Book ~ "The Boy on the Bicycle" (2018) Nate Hendley

From Goodreads ~ On the night of September 15, 1956, seven-year-old Wayne Mallette, was brutally murdered on the grounds of the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto. The chief suspect was a “boy on a bicycle” seen pedalling away from the CNE.

Investigators zeroed on 14-year-old Ronald Moffatt, a former CNE employee who had the poor timing to run away from home shortly after the murder.

Moffatt was located, arrested and interrogated. He eventually confessed and was convicted.

The problem was, Moffatt couldn’t ride a bike and didn’t commit the crime. The real killer abused and murdered two more children, using his bike as a lure.

A shocking true story about a coerced confession, fumbled police investigation, a miscarriage of justice, and the star lawyer who fought to free Moffatt from custody.

"The Boy on the Bicycle" is based on police files, interviews, original newspaper coverage, reports, books and documentaries.

Seven-year-old Wayne Mallette and his family were visiting his grandmother in Toronto in September 1956.  He was bored and wandered towards the CNE grounds.  On the way he met a teenager on a bicycle, who beat him up and suffocated him with his face in the dirt there.  Moments later a teenager on a bicycle stopped a watchman at the CNE grounds and asked strange questions before pedalling off.

Ron Moffatt was 14 at the time and had spent that evening at a movie theatre.  He had a troubled home life and when he skipped school one day, he thought he would get in trouble so hid.  The police were looking for the "boy on the bicycle" so when they found Ron, who kind of fit the description, he assumed they were truant officers and went with them.  They were, in fact, Toronto police officers.   So sure were they that Ron was the teenager who had killed Wayne, they disregarded all the evidence and pressured Ron into admitting he did it.  He was sentence and sent to a juvenile facility.

In the meantime, teenager Peter Woodcock had a history of abusing young children and killed two while Ron was in custody.  He had no friends and his prize possession was his bicycle.  When he was caught, he admitted to killing Wayne and that's what got Ron released.  

At the end of the book, the author tells what happened to everyone, including the police officers, lawyers, etc.  Ron had depression issues and eventually sought help.  He got married a couple times and had children.  Peter spent the rest of his life in a psychiatric institution north of Toronto.

I thought this was an interesting story, especially since it happened not far from where I live.  It was obvious the author did a lot of research.  I liked the writing style ... there was just enough information provided without being too details.  The editing could have been better, though, as there were typos and grammatically errors.

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