On Aug. 15, 1967, James and Evelyn Peterson and seven of their children were murdered in their home near Shell Lake, Sask. in a shocking crime that still stands as one of the worst random mass murders in Canadian history.
More than 50 years later, a new podcast from Rawlco Radio explores the untold story of the Peterson family and the events surrounding their deaths.
Over six episodes, you'll get to know the Petersons with the help of Kathy Hill, the only remaining family member, as she shares the most intimate details of their story in this exclusive series.
Listeners will meet the neighbours who arrived at the Peterson farm to discover the horrific mass murder and learn about the circumstances that led to this unimaginable crime. The podcast covers the RCMP search for the killer and the eventual confession of Victor Hoffman.
Brittany Caffet, host of The Shell Lake Massacre, grew up near Shell Lake and has a personal connection to the tragedy: Kathy Hill is the great aunt of her spouse.
The Shell Lake Massacre Episode 1 - The Petersons
In the early morning hours of Tuesday, August 15th, 1967, a complete stranger entered a small white farmhouse near Shell Lake, Saskatchewan. By the time this stranger left, nine people inside the home were dead. Episode One explores the Peterson family with the lone surviving daughter.
The Shell Lake Massacre Episode 2 - The Night of Fear
On the morning of August 15th, 1967, the community of Shell Lake was thrust into chaos with the discovery of a horrific crime. 9 members of the Peterson family were found dead in their own home. With no apparent motive and no indication as to who the killer was, people locked their doors and loaded their guns... terrified that their family would be next. Episode 2 explores the events surrounding the discovery of the mass murder of the Peterson family.
The Shell Lake Massacre Episode 3 - The Last of the Petersons
19 year old Kathy Hill was just over one month into life as a newlywed when an unexpected knock on the door changed everything. Within hours she was in a car heading toward the home she had left just a few weeks earlier, but the family she had left behind wouldn't be there when she returned. All but one member of her family had been annihilated in a crime that still stands as one of the worst random mass murders in Canadian history... and she had no clue who the sole survivor was. Episode 3 explores Kathy's journey back to Saskatchewan, the police hunt for the killer and the funeral for 9 members of the Peterson family.
The Shell Lake Massacre Episode 4 - The Killer
Less than three weeks after being discharged from a hospital for the mentally ill, 21 year old Victor Hoffman found himself driving along the highway away from his family's farm. As he traveled toward the small community of Shell Lake, an urge to kill that had settled deeply within him over the last number of months grew stronger and stronger. Within the hour, he would commit one of the worst random mass murders in Canadian history. Episode 4 explores the early life of Victor Hoffman, his mental health struggles, and previously unheard details about the police investigation that led to his arrest.
Sources used in this episode include "Schizophrenia, Mass Murder, and The Law," an article by Fannie Hoffer Kahan, as well as "Shell Lake Massacre," a book by Peter Tadman.
The Shell Lake Massacre Episode 5 - The Confession
They say there are three sides to every story: your side, my side, and the truth... But when one of us is dead, can the truth ever really be known? We’ll never know with complete certainty what happened in the home of Jim and Evelyn Peterson on that fateful day in August of 1967, but we do have one side of the story. Days after the family was slaughtered, Victor Ernest Hoffman confessed to committing one of the worst random mass murders in Canadian history. Episode 5 explores the confession of Victor Ernest Hoffman and shocking details that were revealed throughout the course of the trial.
The Shell Lake Massacre Episode 6 - The Aftermath
On January 11th, 1968, Victor Ernest Hoffman was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the murders of James and Evelyn Peterson... but our story doesn't end there. It's been more than five decades since nine people were slaughtered in that small white farmhouse by the highway near Shell Lake, but the weight of this crime is still felt daily by those who were left behind. Episode 6 explores the lasting impact that the murder of Jim, Evelyn, Jean, Mary, Dorothy, Pearl, William, Colin and Larry Peterson has had on those closest to them and the community as a whole.
The right person told this fascinating story!
The success of this podcast really underlines the value of having the right people tell the story. Rather than an ogling look at a horrible crime, the creator—because of her connection to and respect for the family—does a wonderful job of highlighting the heartbreak of the event, the failure of the system, and the triumph of the people who survived it. Truly well done, well researched, appropriately spare and respectful. Highly recommend!
Informative and very well done!
This podcast is so tastefully done, in particular with the horrific murders of the Peterson family. The story is told along with narration coming from the Petersons eldest daughter and you can still hear the grief in her voice (along with SO much love for her lost parents and siblings). I am so terribly sorry. My prayers go out to the entire family.
I need more podcasts exactly like this.
This is so well done. I kind of wish it were longer but it’s already so perfect. I mostly just wanted more of the way this podcast is done. It’s got great narration, real interviews, historical audio, and more. Love it!