W5 tracks down elusive prime suspect in mysterious murder of Canadian in the Philippines
It’s one of the core principles of responsible journalism, drilled into young reporters early and often: there’s more than one side to every story. But what if one side chooses not to tell it?
That’s the dilemma that confronted our W5 team during its reporting on ‘Who Killed Harry?’
Our investigation stretched almost a year and a half as we sought to collect and confirm what a police investigation uncovered about the circumstances of a New Brunswick man’s murder.
Harry Doyle was 62 when he met a violent death on the Philippine island of Mindanao. Police allege, and eyewitnesses confirmed to us, that two men approached Doyle at a beachfront resort outside Surigao City.
He was shot at close range and lay bleeding and breathing for another few minutes before paramedics arrived too late to save him. His wife, Jane, was a witness to the murder. The couple’s 12-year old son, Joseph, was there too.
Harry Doyle had come to the Philippines in 1999 looking for someone to be his wife, and found Jane. He was 49, she was 23. He had considerable wealth, earned from owning major pieces of commercial real estate in Fredericton and trading stocks. He told friends he was in love with Jane, and boasted about it on his Facebook page.
According to his sister Joan, Harry for the most part enjoyed his life: “He loved the Philippines, he loved the weather,” Joan Doyle told us. “He liked the fact that he could share the wealth, not just with Jane and lift her out of poverty, but also help out her family.”
The murder investigation conducted by the Philippine National Police force and led by Officer Rose-Marie Almazan took a year to complete. Charges of murder were laid against three men, two of whom were found and arrested. A fourth charge was also laid, one that is unique to the Philippines and crafted to reflect the cultural importance Filipinos place on family: Parricide.
The penalty for it is even more severe than murder because the victim in a parricide case must be a family member. The arrest order was in the legal name of ‘Erma Undang-Doyle’, and her nickname of “Jane” was added in parentheses.
Harry’s wife, Jane, was not arrested in the Philippines because 13 days after her husband’s murder she left Surigao City for Canada, where she remains living today. Our W5 investigation found multiple eyewitnesses that questioned Jane’s behavior in the days after watching her husband shot, many of them the same people who provided sworn affidavits to Philippine authorities.
Two of Harry’s sisters travelled from New Brunswick to express their suspicions about Jane to a court in Surigao City trying the two apprehended suspects for murder. The case against Jane, by the police investigator’s own admission, is mostly based on circumstantial evidence regarding her behavior in the days leading up to and after Harry’s murder - and the fact she would not co-operate with the investigation.
That created a dilemma for our team as we had multiple witnesses on camera questioning the motives of Jane Doyle, but no evidence or detailed statements from her regarding her husband’s death. We reached out to the New Brunswick lawyer representing her in the legal battle over Harry’s Estate, but received no response. So we needed to try to find Jane ourselves, somewhere in Fredericton, where she was hardly ever seen.
We found her apartment, and tried phoning her, but an answering machine interrupted every attempt. So with no other option to try to get Jane’s side of the story, we waited outside her building. Days and hours were spent waiting for her to emerge from her apartment so we could ask her to respond to our questions. We never saw her.
Finally, an opportunity presented itself, but it didn’t yield many answers. She told us she had nothing to do with Harry’s murder and to talk to her lawyer, which we had already tried, so we went looking for anyone else who could credibly represent Jane’s opinion of the charges and allegations made against her.
We found her lawyer in the Philippines, who told us Jane was innocent and suggested several other scenarios for who might have killed Harry. Intriguing theories which only deepen the mystery. Jane, herself, remains in seclusion in her Fredericton home. Waiting for judges on opposite sides of the world to decide if the Philippine police investigation correctly identified her husband’s killers and if she gains access to Harry Doyle’s considerable wealth in Canada.