Peter Woodcock was born on March 5, 1939 in Toronto, Ontario. He was given up to the Children’s Aid shortly after he was born and spent the next three years moving from foster home to foster home.
I believe this part of his life was crucial because it laid the groundwork for what he would later become – a serial killer.
Peter wasn’t just moved from foster home to foster home, he was basically ignored for those three years. The foster parents who took him in were doing it for the money that Children’s Aid provided to them and they didn’t want to form a lasting bond with young Peter, because they knew he would be leaving soon.
He was also mistreated in some of those temporary foster homes. He was once brought to the hospital with a twisted neck after a guardian had abused him. He would scream and kick when anyone came near him and he wasn’t able to speak at all until he was two years old. Even when he was finally able to form words, people described his speech as ‘strange whining noises’ rather than words or sentences.
At three years old, Peter’s life changed drastically. He was finally adopted by the Maynard family.
The Maynard’s were a middle class family who lived in a predictably middle class neighborhood. His new mother (Susan Maynard) became very attached to Peter. Peter would still cry and yell when anyone else came near except Susan.
Once Peter became more comfortable in his new family, he began to display class-snobbery. He looked down on the kids who came from lower income homes and thought that he was better than them. This would later hold greater significance because Peter carried out his crimes in low income neighborhoods.
Susan Maynard was described as ‘overbearing, forceful’ and as having an ‘over-developed sense of what was proper’, which probably contributed to Peter’s continued class-snobbery. Peter’s new father was described as being a quiet type and didn’t play much of a role in Peter’s overall life. He worked long hours and was usually exhausted when he came home.
Peter was also sickly. He wore thick glasses and had a hard time associating with anyone besides Susan. In other words, he was a prime target for bullies once he reached school age.
At the age of seven, Peter began treatment at the Hospital for Sick Kids for his behavior problems. Peter would continue to be treated at Sick Kids for five years.
As Peter grew, he became fascinated with streetcars. He would talk about them all the time, watch them as they passed and he would ride them at every opportunity. In fact, some nights he would ride the streetcar from one side of the city to the other and not return home until the morning.
One morning, Peter’s parents found him cowering beneath a bush after riding the streetcars all night. When his parents asked him what he was doing, he said that he’d wanted to stay out where God could protect him.
When Peter was eight years old, strange things began to happen around the house. For example, Susan Maynard found her canary dead, window blinds that had been torn down, socks that had been chopped up and strange symbols that had been carved into the dining room table. Peter would always deny that he had been involved and Susan would shrug it off on account of his growing behavioral problems.
However, the pressure on Susan was mounting. She was having a hard time coping with Peter and eventually she began to hit him with a beaded cane.
Meanwhile, Peter’s problems at school continued and worsened. He was often picked on because he wore glasses, had a ‘weird walk’ and because he acted strangely – Peter just couldn’t fit in. It reached the point where Susan felt it necessary to pull Peter from the public school and place him in a private one.
But the private school was no better. Peter was still bullied and he would sometimes come home with a facial twitch that would last up to two weeks.
At age eleven, Peter was walking with a Children’s Aid worker at the Exhibition Place when he suddenly said: ‘I wish a bomb would fall on the Exhibition and kill the children’. The Children’s Aid worker wasn’t happy about the statement and they ended up sending Peter to Sunnyside Children’s Center in Kingston, which was a school for children who had been deemed ‘disturbed’.
It was in Kingston at the age of fourteen that Peter was caught fondling an eleven year old girl on the school premises. At the age of fifteen, Peter was sent to Bloordale College, where he was again reunited with the children he had previously attended public school with. Many of the kids remembered him and began to bully him once more.
Despite Peter’s growing behavioral problems, he received excellent marks in science, history and English.
But something else was beginning to happen to Peter – he began to fantasize about killing children and wondering what their genitalia would look like. He also developed an imaginary gang that would ride with him on his long bike rides. He of course was the leader of the gang and his gang would do anything he wanted.
He would spend hours riding his bike around town, reinforcing his delusion that he was the leader of a bike gang.
Peter began looking for small children and offered them bike rides. He would ride out of the neighborhood, take them to a remote spot and ask them to strip for him. Once he had seen them naked, he would allow them to put their clothes back on and return them to the spot where he had found them.
However, Peter began to realize that stripping wasn’t enough for him any longer. He was too full of rage. Instead of just stripping the kids he found, he began to choke them unconscious before removing their clothing. Using a physiology textbook that he’d gotten from school, Peter would examine the body. He would then put their clothing back on and leave them where they lay.
Peter ended up finding a ten year old girl who told him that her father was sexually molesting her. She confided to Peter that she’d tried to commit suicide several times. Peter, saw the chance to live out his fantasy and offered to kill her. They made arrangements to meet in the Toronto ravines.
The problem was that Peter and the girl showed up late. Neither one (especially Peter) wanted to be found out since it was so close to morning and they decided to call the whole thing off.
Peter wasn’t at all satisfied with the outcome. He continued to fantasize about murder and on Saturday, 16 September, 1956, Peter got his chance to act out his fantasy. Wayne Mellette was seven years old and he wandered away from his grandmother’s front yard to watch the trains. He met Peter, who tried to convince the boy to play sex games. When the boy refused, Peter brutally beat him, bit his legs, stuffed garbage in his mouth and choked him to death. He then took off the boys clothes, looked at his body and then put the clothes back on.
The police mounted a search to find Wayne and found the body the next morning. Although an eyewitness had seen Peter riding away on a bicycle earlier and the forensic team was able to make a caste of the teeth imprints left on Wayne’s legs, the police ended up arresting the wrong person and convicting him.
Peter had gotten away with murder.
While Peter waited for the publicity to die down after his first murder, he continued molesting children. Three weeks after his first murder, Peter struck again by luring nine year old Gary Morris to Cherry Beach. The boy was savagely beaten. The police found bite marks on his neck and he’d been beaten so badly that he died of a ruptured liver. Once the boy was dead, Peter removed the boys clothing and then put them back on, just as he’d done with his previous victims. Peter then hid the body in tall grass and it wasn’t found for ten days.
One of Wayne’s friends had been with him when Peter offered to give him a ride on the handlebars of his bike. He was able to provide the police with a description, but once again the police were unable to solve the case.
The police should have been able to solve the case, since the second murder was the same as the first one and the descriptions provided by both eyewitnesses were similar. The problem was that at the time, the police who patrolled the boroughs and the police who patrolled the downtown core didn’t like each other and wouldn’t share information. This allowed Peter to get away with the second murder, just like he had the first.
Shortly after this, the Toronto Police departments were merged and the Metro Toronto Police Department was born.
On Saturday, 19 September, 1957, Woodcock went out for a bike ride and found two four year old children (one boy and one girl) playing in their front yard, while their mothers visited each other inside. Peter asked them if they’d like to take a ride on his bike and they both answered ‘yes’, but the bike was only big enough to hold one of them so Peter chose the young girl.
Carole Voyce happily sat on the handlebars and Peter rode toward the Prince Edward Viaduct. Once there, he convinced the girl to walk down the hill. Peter choked her from behind until she passed out. He then jammed his fingers in her eyes, removed her clothing and began to examine her. Carole regained consciousness and Peter choked her again and then stuck his fingers and then a stick into her vagina. The stick caused internal injuries, which caused her death.
The newly minted Metro Toronto Police put all of their resources towards trying to find the murderer. They had composite drawings provided by the other boy in the yard that were bang-on. They began stopping any teenager who even remotely looked like Peter but initially failed to find Peter himself.
In fact, Peter walked to the police station the next day and chatted with the officers. He had been going there for years and the police knew him well.
In desperation, the police put out a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. A few days later on January 21, 1957, police were finally able to match the composite to Peter and they arrested him.
Peter signed a confession later that day, admitting to two of the murders, since someone was already serving time for the first murder Peter had ever committed.
Peter Woodcock was found not guilty by reason of insanity, and placed in Oak Ridge, an Ontario psychiatric facility located in Penetanguishene.
By all rights, this should have been the end of Peter Woodcock’s killing spree. However, in 1991, Woodcock was sent to a medium security hospital because he was deemed ‘greatly improved’. He was allowed to obtain a weekend pass and within one hour he had stabbed fellow psychiatric patient Dennis Kerr to death, because Kerr had supposedly rejected Peter’s sexual advances.
But it gets better.
The person who was supposed to be supervising Peter was a former patient named Bruce Hamill, who had spent time with Peter in care. Peter had been able to convince Hamill that he was working with the Imperial Order of the Guard (much like his bike gang) and that they’d look after them after they had successfully murdered Kerr.
After the two had killed Kerr, Hamill fell asleep at the scene. Peter walked to the police station and told them what he’d done and led them to Kerr and Hamill. Both were placed under arrest and again found not-guilty by reason of insanity and sent back to Oak Ridge.
Peter Woodcock would legally change his name to David Michael Krueger in 1982.
He spent fifty three years in custody and died at Oak Ridge on March 5, 2010, at the age of seventy one.