The Unfortunate End of Peter Daday

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Picture if you will, a seventeen-year-old girl named Julia Wochuko (also saw it spelled Wockuko), living in the Wishart district of Saskatchewan in 1931. She’s young, she’s beautiful, and she’s having problems with her dad. Arguments, that sort of thing. What she really needs is to get away from him and assert her independence.

But how to achieve that in 1931 farming Saskatchewan? Especially when you are, to quote the endlessly resilient Britney Spears, “not a girl, not yet a woman”?

Simple. You marry a thirty-year-old man you don’t really like. At least, that’s what Julia decided to do.

The priest, upon hearing how much Julia disliked her fiancé, tried to convince her to call off the wedding and not go through with it, but Julia was determined. Peter Daday was her way out of her parents’ house and she was taking it.

As one would imagine with a match based entirely on escaping one’s father, Julia found herself unsatisfied.

She was only seventeen, young and beautiful, with a handful of admirers despite her married status. When one remarked that marrying Peter was a huge mistake, and that if she’d only married him instead they could have gone off together and had much more fun (and perhaps still could if she wasn’t married anymore), she decided he was correct.

But what to do about her uninspiring husband, a well-to-do farmer who was genuinely liked by everyone in the district? If you’ve learned anything about Julia by this point, I’m sure you can guess what she decided.

Simple. You have him murdered.

But she didn’t do it herself. She needled and whined and coaxed her weak-willed brother into doing it for her.

Julia made a plan with her brother, Mike, that they would meet outside the pool hall at the next dance. She slipped away from her husband and gave her brother some home brew (alcohol) and told him to go to their farm and be ready.

(Home brew is never a good sign. And if you don’t believe me, read this.)

Then she went back into the dance. When she and her husband returned home, Mike was waiting, hidden in the yard. He fired a shot at Peter, but missed because “his hand slipped”.

After this failed attempt, he tried to back out again, but Julia coaxed and whined and needled until he finally agreed to do what she wanted.

On the occasion of the next dance, on May 11, 1931, Julia got the hired girl to ask if they could go and the two of them convinced Peter to take them.

Once again, Julia slipped away to ply her brother with home brew courage.

When they got home just before dawn, Mike was once again waiting, hiding in the barn. Julia told Peter she was cold and took the hired girl with her to the house to start a fire, leaving Peter to untether the horses.

While they were in the house, they heard a shot. The hired girl suggested they go look but Julia said she was scared, so they waited fifteen minutes, and when Peter didn’t come in, they opened the door and called for him. When he didn’t answer, the two walked to a neighbour’s and explained the situation. He went back with them and the three found the body of Peter Daday, shot in the back, right through the heart with a single shot gun blast. (A little on the nose, don’t you think? Poor Peter.)

The neighbour went to contact Peter’s parents and Julia and the hired girl walked to a different neighbour’s to contact the RCMP.

May 12, 1931 – Saskatoon Star Phoenix

Now here’s the crazy part. (I know what you’re thinking. “Um, what? Now is the crazy part?” Yes.) The RCMP couldn’t figure out who’d done it. They thought maybe one of Julia’s jealous admirers had done the deed, but there wasn’t any proof and they all had alibis. The case went cold.

May 14, 1931 – Saskatoon Star Phoenix

It was a year later, when they arrested Julia’s brother and father for animal cruelty to their horses (I know, this family sucks) that Julia’s brother verbal diarrhea-ed the whole thing. No idea if it was his guilty conscience or if he misunderstood what he was being arrested for (seems unlikely), but he spilled the entire pot of beans. The jig was up.

Julia and her brother were arrested for murder, but they never went to trial. After a few months of observation by a psychiatrist, her brother was deemed unfit to stand trial and Julia was found not guilty by reason of insanity. (The doctor also diagnosed her with having subnormal intelligence, but I have my doubts. She seems more sociopathic to me.) They were both locked away, not in prison, but in mental facilities. And that was how Julia Daday almost got away with murder.

She and Peter were married for only three months.

I got information for this post from the following editions of the Saskatoon Star Phoenix: May 12, 1931, May 14, 1931, May 15, 1931, May 19, 1931, May 20, 1931, May 29, 1931, June 1, 1931, June 3, 1932, June 4, 1932, June 6, 1932, June 14, 1932, June 15, 1932, June 16, 1932, June 17, 1932, Oct 18, 1932, Nov 10, 1932, Nov 12, 1932 and Nov 16, 1932.

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Need more murder? Check these out:

Murder at Lake Athabasca

The Murder of Herbert Schill

The Straw Stack Murders

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