July 7 marks 10 years since the day millionaire Richard Oland was found in his Saint John office.
The 69-year-old businessman was brutally murdered — bludgeoned over 40 times at some point the prior day.
His murder was possibly the most notorious in the city’s history.
Author, academic and history professor with the University of New Brunswick Greg Marquis has followed the case closely since the beginning, having released three editions of a book on Oland’s murder and the ensuing investigation.
He’s one of many Saint John residents who have no problem recalling where they were when they heard the news.
“I was in the Saint John Public Library just a few blocks away from the crime scene,” says Marquis.
“I think one of the staff there or someone I knew in the library said there was a rumour going around that an Oland had been attacked and possibly murdered.”
That rumour, of course, turned out to be true.
Oland’s personal assistant discovered him face down in a pool of blood the morning of July 7, 2011.
The fast-escalating police investigation, and perceived mistakes made in the crucial first hours, became synonymous with the murder itself.
“There seem to be, from a common-sense point of view, some mistakes at the crime scene,” Marquis says.
“Not wearing gloves, not taking notes, too many officers on the crime scene, an officer using a washroom outside the crime scene…”
The Saint John Police Force quickly zeroed in on Oland’s son, Dennis, naming no other suspects through its investigation.
That tunnel vision, Marquis says, has also garnered criticism in the years since.
“Early on, the police developed a theory that Dennis was having financial difficulty and owed his father money,” he says.
“(Evidence) was mainly circumstantial. No one saw the actual murder or attack. It was timeline evidence that was put together by cellphone and surveillance camera. Also things that were said by family and Dennis Oland himself about his relationship with his father.”
Police charged Dennis Oland with second-degree murder in 2013.
He was convicted by a jury in December 2015 but, after eight months in prison, successfully appealed his conviction.
A second trial in 2018 ended in a mistrial.
A third saw Dennis Oland acquitted in 2019.
Global News reached out to the Saint John Police Force for comment on where the investigation stands 10 years later but received no response.
Former chief of the Saint John Police Force Bruce Connell told media in 2019 that the investigation was no longer active, but that the force would consider any additional information brought forward.
“Who’s going to come up with that information?” asks Marquis.
“Mr. Oland, who was acquitted, cannot be tried again on the same evidence.”
So, a decade later, will we ever know what really happened to Richard Oland?
“I don’t know,” Marquis says.
“You hear about cases that are never solved or cases where the police think they have the killer but they don’t have enough evidence.
“Not all murders can be solved.”
For now, Marquis says he has no plans for a fourth edition of his book.
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