Unsolved Mysteries Wiki
Cindy james1

Cindy James

Real Name: Cynthia Elizabeth Hack James
Nicknames: Cindy
Location: Richmond, British Columbia
Date: June 8, 1989


Details: On June 8, 1989, the quiet city of Richmond, a suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia, was shocked when a body was found lying in the yard of an abandoned house. The victim was identified as forty-four-year-old nurse Cindy James. She had been drugged and strangled, and her hands and feet had been tied behind her back. She had previously been the victim of harassment and assault by an unknown assailant. Despite this, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police believed that her death was either an accident or suicide.
Cindy had graduated from nursing school in 1966. She later became the administrator for a preschool for children with behavioral and emotional issues. She was married but did not have any children of her own. In July 1982, she and her husband, Roy Makepeace, separated. Four months later, she began receiving mysterious and sometimes threatening phone calls. During the next seven years, she reported nearly a hundred incidents of harassment. Five were violent physical attacks while others were whispering or silent phone calls. Things got worse after she involved the police. At night, she heard prowlers. Her porch lights were smashed and her phone lines severed. Dead cats were left in her yard. Her dog was nearly strangled to death. According to her friend, Agnes Woodcock, bizarre notes with letters cut from magazines began to appear on her doorstep. She believed that someone was trying to scare her to death. She became reluctant and frightened to give details. Over time, the police began to doubt her stories.
One night in January 1983, Agnes dropped by Cindy's house for a visit and knocked on the door. There was no answer, so she assumed she was taking her bath. As she investigated, she came across Cindy outside, crouched down with a nylon stocking tied tightly around her neck. She said that she had gone out to the garage to get a box and someone had grabbed her from behind. All she saw were the assailant's white sneakers. Due to the harassment and violence, she moved to a new house, painted her car, and changed her last name. She also hired a private investigator named Ozzie Kaban.
The police continued their investigation and questioned Cindy several times. Ozzie later reported that she would not tell them the entire story. She would be evasive, withhold information, and not act as a normal victim would do so. When the police gave her a polygraph test, the examiner also claimed that she was withholding information. Her mother, Tillie Hack, thinks the reason for her reluctance was that her attacker had threatened her family. By naming him, they would be killed.

Cindy james2 threatning note

Threatening note left by assailant

On the night of January 30, 1984, Ozzie heard strange sounds coming over a two-way radio he had given Cindy and went straight to her house. He went around it and found it was locked. Looking through a window, he found her lying on the floor with a paring knife through her hand. She was taken to the hospital where she later recalled being attacked and a needle going into her arm. Police never found fingerprints from a suspect, and there was no independent corroboration. Cindy saw this person sometimes accompanied by one or two others, or sometimes she said there were two or three people, but police could never find a suspect. The threatening phone calls continued, but they were too short to trace. There were never ones when the police had 24-hour surveillance on her house for days on end with up to fourteen officers, but when surveillance was off her house, another incident would happen.
As police became skeptical of the harassment, Cindy's parents believed her attacker was staying away to make them suspicious of her. On December 11, 1985, she was found dazed and semiconscious lying in a ditch six miles from her house. She was wearing a man's work boot and glove, and suffering from hypothermia. Cuts and bruises covered her body. A black nylon stocking had been tied tightly around her neck. A needle mark was found on her arm. She had no memory of what happened.
Agnes and her husband, Tom, stayed with Cindy to keep her company and help protect her. One night in April 1986, they heard noises and awoke to find the basement in flames and the phone dead. Tom went to alert the neighbors. He saw a man at the curb and asked him to call the fire department. Instead, he simply ran off down the street. The police suspected that Cindy had staged the incident. They found no dust or fingerprints disturbed on the outside of the windowsill. The fire was set inside the house. In order to set it, it was thought, the perpetrator would have needed to climb through a specific window. It was also considered odd that Cindy still freely walked her dog during the attacks.
Cindy's doctor committed her to a local psychiatric ward, believing she was becoming suicidal. Ten weeks later, she left the hospital. Her father, Otto Hack, said that she finally admitted to her family and friends that she knew more than she was saying. She told him that she believed she knew the identity of the perpetrator and would go after them herself.
In October 1988, Roy received a bizarre message on his answering machine; the raspy voice said, "Cindy...dead meat...soon." On October 26, she came home from work and was attacked in her carport. She was later found unconscious in her car, nude from the waist down. A nylon stocking was tied around her neck and her arms and legs were hogtied with a second one. Duct tape was found over her mouth, in an attempt to keep her from breathing. She went into a coma but survived. In spring 1989, she reported to her family and friends that the attacks seemed to be decreasing. She seemed to be feeling better for the first time in a while.
On May 25, 1989, six years and seven months after the first threatening phone call, Cindy disappeared. On the same day, her car was found in a neighborhood shopping plaza parking lot. Inside were groceries and a wrapped gift. There was blood on the driver's side door and items from her wallet were under the car. Two weeks later, her body was found at the abandoned house, about one kilometer from the shopping plaza. It looked like she had been brutally murdered. Her hands and feet were bound together behind her back. A black nylon stocking was tied tightly around her neck. Yet, an autopsy revealed that she died from an overdose of morphine, the sedative flurazepam, and other drugs. Police concluded that she had committed suicide and closed this case in July 1989.
Ozzie did not believe Cindy would have been able to stage the scene, but others believed it was possible. In Vancouver, the coroner ruled that her death was not suicide, an accident, or a murder. They determined that she died of an "unknown event". Otto and Tillie never doubted that she was murdered. Otto believed the police did not investigate the possibility of homicide or of somebody murdering her, instead zeroing in on trying to prove that she committed suicide. They believe someone in Vancouver is getting away with murder.
Suspects: During the investigation, Roy was a suspect along with Pat McBride, a lover of Cindy's who was a policeman. The man seen at the curb running away during the fire also is a suspect.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the February 13, 1991 episode of Unsolved Mysteries with Robert Stack. It was also profiled on A Current Affair and various other media publications. It is available for viewing on S03E18 of the FilmRise series. It was also re-profiled in Unsolved Mysteries with Dennis Farina on July 17, 2009 and this is also available for viewing in the S04E03 of the FilmRise series.
Results: Unsolved. Sadly, Otto and Tillie have since passed away.