|Douglas McCaul, at age 23 (l), when he committed the first of his offences and more recently in a photo published in The Client's Voice, the newsletter of the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre.
Douglas McCaul was 23 when he strangled and stomped on Carol Lynn Millar until she was dead and then dumped her half-naked body in a leaf trough in Alexander Muir Park. Three days later, the transvestite returned to her frozen corpse and tried to dress her in his sister’s pantyhose.
He decided against having sex with the dead body, but was so aroused that police would find his semen stain on the stockings.
The 1976 murder was not the first for the cross-dresser who would be declared not guilty by reason of insanity. It was during his first years locked up at Penetang that he confessed to an earlier unsolved slaying: the 1970 brutal stabbing of Archie McDougall, a custodian at the Loretto Abbey private girls school. After McCaul had an angry fight with his father, he took out his anger on the stranger, plunging a knife repeatedly into his body and slicing off his ear and a finger.
Now is this the kind of man you’d like on your genteel lawn bowling club?
McCaul, 58, is a current resident of the medium security Brockville Mental Health Centre where, dressed in ladies’ clothes, he is considered well-behaved, belongs to the patient council and runs his own sewing business. Last year, he petitioned the Ontario Review Board to release him to a Brockville group home but they wisely turned him down, saying he remains a “significant threat to the safety of the public.”
But they did agree to allow him to now venture into town unescorted, despite his diagnosis of a “severe” anti-social personality disorder and more concerning, his scoring as a very high risk to reoffend with a sex crime.
No matter. McCaul can be seen tooling around the community on his electric bike or hanging around the lawn bowlers playing three times a week on the hospital’s expansive grounds.
After years of watching, he asked them if he could join.
The members knew he was a resident of the mental hospital, but nothing more. They wanted to be inclusive and said it would be fine as long as he received the go-ahead from his doctors. In the spring, McCaul turned up with the permission letter in hand.
When some of the members gently inquired as to why he was an psych inmate, McCaul would say only that he had done “something very bad” a long time ago. He explained that he must call in to his supervisors every hour and turn in by 9 p.m. But come the fall, he starts work at a local fast food restaurant.
Polite and helpful, he still gave some of the women a strange vibe. One member grew curious and decided to Google McCaul’s name.
Imagine his shock when the insane killer’s violent history appeared before him.
Sun columnist Mark Bonokoski had long chronicled McCaul’s psycho past: Despite his confession, McCaul was never tried for his second murder because he was already considered criminally insane, or “not criminally responsible” as it’s now known. In 1981, he was transferred from Penetang to the St. Thomas Psychiatric Hospital and five years later, was discharged into the community.
But in 1987, a Burlington woman was attacked and McCaul was under arrest for attempted murder. Later acquitted by a jury, he was shipped back to Penetang because he was considered a high risk to reoffend.
Fast forward to 2009 and he’s managed to win a transfer to the medium security Brockville site and three years later, the double murderer is out and about the town and bowling with a group of unsuspecting players.
“We were horrified,” says one of the lawn bowlers, who doesn’t want their name published. “I don’t know how cured these people are. There’s a lot of single, older women who live alone in our club. He has our names. He has our addresses. It’s really scary. How can a man like this be out in the community? How can he have changed so much?”
When they brought their concerns to the police, they were told it was out of their hands. “Doesn’t the public have a right to know?” asks the player. “Is his privacy more important than ours?”
It seems that it is.