Part 2: 1981 murder of Newfoundland teen revisited

Staff ~ The Telegram
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Doctor says man’s story of Dana Bradley murder shouldn’t be written off as false memory syndrome

ST. JOHN'S — Good memories from childhood are often recalled fondly. 

The province’s only neuropsychiatrist, Dr. Hugh Mirolo, says a man who has come forward with memories of witnessing Dana Bradley’s murder in 1981 should not be dismissed by police as suffering from false memory syndrome.

Bad memories, not so much. But what if the memories are so terrible, so horrible, it’s unbearable to live with them?

What if the brain could push them somewhere deep, where they would allow the child to grow and experience, as much as possible, what life is supposed to offer an innocent, curious young mind?

For the third part of this series, CLICK HERE.

Or, could there somehow be such psychological damage to a person’s mind that terrible fictional events could play out like a movie before their mind’s eye, and to them they appear as real memories, no matter how false they were?

These are the questions that confronted Robert — a pseudonym used to protect his identity — after he went to the RCMP in December 2011 with an amazing story: he had witnessed the murder of 14-year-old Dana Bradley in 1981.

His claims detailed the murder, sexual assault and the placing of the body in the wooded area off Maddox Cove Road, where Dana’s remains were found four days after the murder.

The man who committed the murder, Robert alleged, had also sexually abused him as a young boy.

Robert claims he was in the back seat of the car when Dana was picked up hitchhiking in the west end of St. John’s about a week before Christmas 1981.

He says he saw her murderer sexually assault and kill her by hitting her in the head with a tire iron and that he was there, crying, when the killer laid her out in burial fashion among the trees off an old dirt road just outside the city.

Robert relates these memories in spine-tingling detail — how he screamed and begged the man, a close friend of his family, not to leave the body in the winter cold overnight, and of being forced to hold a lamp in the dark as the killer later cleaned out the car trunk.

His throat closes and his chest hurts at times when he recalls his own abuse at the hands of the same man — a man who was convicted in the 1990s of sexually abusing other children, and served time in prison.

Robert would have gone to the police long ago if he had remembered any of what he had seen and experienced.

Now a successful businessman, husband and father, Robert describes always looking back on his childhood fondly, though he admits he had always had a hole, a big blank spot, in his memory.

He drank from the time he was 13 until he was 35, when, he says, the booze caught up with him.

Organizations: RCMP, The Telegram, False Memory Syndrome Foundation International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Maddox Cove Road, United States Canada

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