SASKATOON — Melanie Cole, a writer from Saskatoon, has developed a following writing historical true crime short stories, some with local connections.
“I’ve always been interested in true crime,” said Cole, “When I hear of something horrible happening, I’m fascinated with why?”
“I have to know who did it, why it happened, what happened, and what happened after -- the how and why is what keeps me up at night.”
Cole had been researching ghost stories within the province when she came across an interesting find in Kerrobert.
“I was fascinated with the Kerrobert Courthouse because they kept a skull in the evidence room and people thought it was haunted because of that,” she said.
Cole made it her mission to find out who the skull belonged to, however, the search led her down a rabbit hole of historical true crime cases in the province.
“That case is what sparked my whole interest.”
Cole has written about 28 true crime cases from across the province since March of 2021, including Yorkton, Veregin, and Moosomin among others.
For example, “Constable M. V. Novakowski of the Yorkton detachment went straight to the Steberl farm. After learning of the seriousness of Gustav’s injuries, he called Corporal Charles Harvey to let him know what had happened on the farm and went to Henry Suppes’ home near Rhein and arrested him,” details an excerpt from ‘The Yorkton Hammer Murder’, detailing the June 1933 homicide case of Gustav Steberl near Rhein, Saskatchewan.
Cole said she finds new cases while researching others and is constantly making notes of other murders for future stories.
“Usually one case leads to another. I compile every article and every archive document I can find,” said Cole, who has gone so far as to request a coroner’s inquest on specific cases.
Cole, who previously participated in a mentorship with the Saskatchewan Writer’s Guild and reviewed restaurants for the weekly VERB Magazine out of Saskatoon, said, “I wanted to be a writer from the time I could read.”
“I write for people like me, people who are fascinated by the local connection and the true crime.”
Cole said it is her own fascination that drives her to continue writing about the solved and unsolved cases of the past.
“No one ever talks about this stuff,” she said.
Take the case of The Unsolved Murder of Annie and Metro Zurawell from the local region.
“November 12, 1933. It was Sunday, and much like every other Sunday, Mrs. Annie Dutcheshen got her children ready and took them to visit her parents, Annie and Metro Zurawell, on their farm about five and a half miles south of Veregin, Saskatchewan. A gruesome sight awaited them,” explains an excerpt from Cole’s site.
Cole, who works a full-time day job, said she is in the process of putting together a book proposal.
“I would like to write a book on a collection of a dozen or so true crime stories and a separate book for one specific murder case,” she said.
Cole declined to mention the name of the specific homicide case because she is banking on RCMP case files in order to have the resources available to write.
Cole said she chooses to write about historical true crime as opposed to modern true crime because it typically means family members close to the victims have passed on, offering a lesser chance of garnering a sensitive reaction.
In the past, she has been contacted by distant relatives of victims; people who have discovered her website while searching for information regarding the deceased and weren’t aware of how their relatives’ lives came to an end, often showing her thanks for bringing them a sense of resolution.
“It makes me feel happy knowing that I can offer them that closure,” she said.
To read one of the 28 true crime stories that Cole has compiled, visit MelanieCole.com