Someone must know something about how and why Frederick “John” Hatch travelled from Ottawa to Erin last December, and what circumstances led to his murder.
The Ontario Provincial Police and Crime Stoppers are hopeful a kind of mobile billboard – an OPP van with photographs of Hatch and an offer of a sizeable reward printed on the side – will jog someone’s memory and help solve the crime.
The van will begin travelling between Erin and the Ottawa area this week, giving high visibility to the investigation.
“It’s unprecedented in that this van will essentially become a moving billboard,” said Sgt. David Rektor of West Regional OPP Headquarters. He was part of a press conference Monday at the OPP station in Rockwood.
The van, he said, will take the Highway 7 route from Erin to Nepean, stopping for a period of time in all the small communities along the way.
“The goal is to generate some interest in the case, and perhaps stimulate someone to say, ‘I saw that guy,’ and provide us with that type of information,” Rektor said. “It can be very helpful.”
Hatch’s body was discovered on Dec. 17 last year at the entrance to an overgrown field road about three kilometres east of Erin near 10th line. It is believed an attempt was made to burn the body.
Hatch was 65, and was last seen in Ottawa a day earlier. He was known to hitchhike, but it is not known how he got from Ottawa to Erin.
He is pictured on the side of the van wearing a denim vest with Mickey Mouse characters on the back, a black leather jacket, a blue and white bandana on his head, and black Harley Davidson boots. These are the clothes he died in. He also carried a red duffel bag and wore glasses.
The Province of Ontario has put up a $50,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the homicide.
“The loss of any human life is extremely disconcerting to the OPP, especially when foul play is involved,” Rektor added.
“It is our goal as investigators to try to find the people responsible for this,” he continued. “It is not something that will ever be left unresolved. We will keep pursuing every lead that comes in, whether small or something significant. They all matter to us.”
He said there are presently more questions than answers in the case.
Sarah Bowers-Peter, program coordinator with Crime Stoppers Guelph-Wellington, said Crime Stoppers is open to receiving any and all tips from the public related to Hatch.
“The beauty of Crime Stoppers is that people are anonymous when they contact us,” she said. “There could be people who do have information currently and just aren’t comfortable stepping forward through regular police contacts,” she said. “Crime Stoppers is a way for the them to reveal that information safely, confidentially and anonymously. We encourage people to do so, especially in a case like this.”
Tips can be made to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIPS (8477). Call the OPP at 1-888-310-1122, or visit that nearest police authority. More information is available on the OPP website at www.opp.ca.
“Anytime there is increased awareness, I think that’s a bonus,” Bowers-Peter added. “That’s really what this is about. The van will be moving east for people to jog their memory, and put it in context. The images are very clear with what he was wearing at the time and the last time he was seen. That may help people as well. Even if it is a little piece of information that you don’t think is important, let us know and we will pass it along.”
Lead by Detective Inspector Andy Raffay, there are a host of OPP resources assigned to the case.