Dale Merle Nelson was one of the most prolific Canadian mass murderers, alleged to have killed eight people, including five young children, in 1970 following a drinking binge, and possible use of LSD.
On September 4, 1970 Nelson drove his blue Chevrolet into Creston and purchased six beers and a bottle of vodka at the liquor store before heading into the Kootenay Hotel where he drank eight beers with friends. He left the tavern to pick up a rifle he had loaned to Maureen McKay, and then purchased 7mm rounds for the gun. He went into the King George Hotel, where he drank another six beers before joining his friends in a private room for more drinks.
Just after midnight, he drove to the home of his aunt Shirley Wasyk, knowing her husband Alex was not home. He tied Shirley's hands behind her back and left her on her bed, then began gathering his three young cousins in the youngest's bedroom. 12-year old Debbie found her mother and untied her hands, then threw a fire extinguisher through a window and escaped, running to the McKay household; from where the Royal Canadian Mounted Police was called.
When officers arrived at the Wasyk home, with Nelson's truck still parked outside, they found Shirley had been beaten to death with the fire extinguisher, and 7-year old Tracey had been killed with multiple stab wounds. They immediately drove to the Nelson household where they evacuated his wife and children, fearing that they may be the next targets. When they returned to the Wasyk home fifteen minutes later, they were "stunned" to realise that Nelson had still been at the scene of the crime and driven away with Tracey's body as soon as they had left.
Shortly afterward, Isabelle St. Amand, who lived a few kilometres down the road from the Wasyks, phoned the police to report "There's a man here with a gun". By the time police arrived, St. Amand, her common-law husband Ray Phipps, their two sons and infant had all been shot in the head. Their 8-year old daughter Cathy was missing, and police immediately launched a manhunt employing bush pilots to scour the countryside for Nelson's truck. It was found stuck in a ditch, and when police searched the vehicle they found a bloodied hammer and the bodily remains of Tracey Wasyk scattered around the area. The 150 residents of West Creston were moved into Creston for their own safety, as police continued their search for Nelson.
Dale was located the next day, wandering in the woods near his own home and surrendered to police. He told them that Cathy was dead, and pointed out the location of her body on a map and admitted committing all eight murders.
He was put on trial for the murders of the two girls he had taken with him from the houses, 8-year old Cathy Rose St. Amand whom he had sodomised and 7-year old Tracey Wasyk whose organs he tore out and attempted to eat.
Represented by lawyer M. E. Moran, he was found guilty in March 1971, despite his unsuccessful plea of criminal insanity brought about by his heavy drinking and addiction to LSD. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.
In 1972, Larry Still published "The Limits of Sanity", a book ostensibly about the murders; although Nelson's family have disputed its accuracy.
Nelson died of throat cancer while in prison.