Tuesday, March 23, 2010  
   Volume 80 - Issue 11 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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Quote of the Week
“Beauty means to have character, to live your own truth.”
- Renae Peterson  
- on the Beauty From the   
Inside Out program   

 

Looking Back - John KinnearMurder is a fairly uncommon thing here in the Pass but there have been occasions. Some of them in earlier years make for some interesting reading so here’s one I researched in 2004  from the BC side that has a neat twist.
If you happened to be walking about four miles west of the town of Fernie on the highway by the Elk River and found a rusty, old 16-gauge shotgun you could be holding a missing murder weapon.
The gun could very well be the one used by one Vince Macchione on February 9th, 1936 to kill Mike Hudock. The Hudock murder is a piece of the dark side of Fernie’s history, one that lasted two years and five jury trials before justice was served. The story goes like this.
Vince Macchione, it seems, had had a thing for Mike Hudock’s wife Annie for about two years. He visited her family regularly in Michel where he helped out her, Mike and their four kids who were on welfare by buying groceries and dinners and even gave Annie money for new dresses. He had, on several occasions, urged her to leave Mike, marry him and run off to the States.
It appears that Vince finally decided that this would only happen with Mike out of the way and devised a murderous plan. The February 14th, 1936 issue of the Fernie Free Press reported that the frozen body of 27 year old Mike Hudock was found on Monday the 10th by young Steve Drevenak, four miles west of town with a huge hole in this jaw:”evidently made by a charge from a shotgun.”
Corporal D. A. MacDonald of the Fernie detachment of the BC Provincial Police first investigated the grisly scene. He found two crumpled candy wrappers, some beer bottle caps and a cardboard disc about the size of a quarter on the river’s bank. On climbing down to where the body lay he found 6 empty beer bottles, more caps and another disc which turned out to be a wad from 16-gauge shotgun shells.
On examining welfare papers on the body he discovered his identity and immediately recognized the name, having run into the family the day before. That Sunday afternoon he had received a call from the CPR policeman saying that he had two lost kids at the CPR station. McDonald had picked them up, taken them to the police station where he asked the older of the two kids, Sammy Hudock, how they got there. The book BC Provincial Police Stories, Volume 1, provided the following responses to his questions: “Vince took us there.” McDonald asked:”Vince who?” Sammy replied:”Vince Macchione. He knows my mum and dad. He took us to the station in his car and said he’d pick us up later, but he didn’t come back.”
That Sunday McDonald went looking for and eventually found Vince parking his blue coupe in front of the Royal Hotel just as Annie, who was not with him, had emerged from a doorway there. McDonald heard Annie ask Vince where Mike and the kids were. Vince told her that he had dropped the kids at the station and gone looking for Mike but couldn’t find him. Yeah right!
Everyone went back to the police station and the kids, Annie and Vince then drove back to Michel. McDonald assumed everything was okay, not realizing that Macchione had that very afternoon driven Mike to the edge of town and murdered him.
 
Constable McDonald working with Sergeant Fairbairn and constables from Galloway and Michel interviewed Annie Hudock and Vince Macchione who both claimed they did not know where Mike had gone. Once the relationship between the two of them was uncovered McDonald went to Vince's Galloway home and questioned and arrested him. Vince denied owning a shotgun even though McDonald found shells in the jacket he had worn on Sunday and two boxes of shells on a shelf in his home. He even found two shells under the car seat of his blue coupe, all of which Vince insisted he had never seen before.
With Vince under lock and key McDonald began searching for the murder weapon and interviewed men who worked with him on the section gang. Two of them remembered him owning the shotgun and one even remembered delivering it to him as he had ordered it from an Eaton’s catalogue.
McDonald looked into the beer bottles found at the scene and discovered that Vince had ordered six bottles from Joe Perri on Saturday at the Central Hotel and told him he would pick them up Sunday afternoon. This he did because bottled beer was not sold out of licensed premises on Sundays. This was a solid piece of evidence.
The next piece of circumstantial evidence to fall into place was the candy wrappers. The officers interviewed the two kids and discovered that indeed Vince had bought them candy on Sunday and that they had thrown the wrappers on the car floor. They named the brand and it matched the wrappers found at the crime scene. They were probably kicked out by accident or blown out when the car doors were opened.
Vince Macchione was committed for trial May 18th, found guilty and sentenced to hang on August 12th of that year. Incredibly he appealed and was again convicted. A second appeal was heard in Vernon in the spring of 1938 that ended in a hung jury. A fourth fresh trial was immediately ordered and the jury was also hung..
A fifth trial was ordered but this time a new Crown witness, Rudolph Smalik testified that he has seen Vince and Mike sitting in Vince’s blue coupe on the highway about 4:30 PM Sunday afternoon as he was returning home from a curling game. Vince Macchione heard for the third time a guilty jury verdict and this time there was no reprieve. On October 26, 1938 Vince Macchione, the supposed good friend of the Hudock’s, was hanged at B.C.’s Oakalla Prison.
Candy wrappers and beer bottles! Go figure! 
A side note to this story is that a year after I wrote it a Fernieite by the name of Bill Salekin walked into the Fernie Museum and plunked down the remains of a 16 gauge shotgun he had found on the edge of the Elk River at a spot where the old bridge used to cross into Fernie. I’ll be dammed. I’m guessin’ it’s the weapon. Makes sense that Vince Macchione would fire it out the window as he crossed the bridge heading back into Fernie.
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