Sgt. Robert James SCHRADER – October 9, 1970

Reg. # 15445, Sgt. Robert James SCHRADER

October 9, 1970, near Macdowall, Saskatchewan         Age: 41 years

Sgt. SCHRADER was born at Rimbey, Alberta on June 29, 1929 to Lawrence and Annie SCHRADER.  He attended Rimbey High School and worked on the family farm and in a Creamery.  He was engaged in the Force as a Recruit Special Constable at Edmonton, Alberta on June 10, 1948 and posted to Depot Division for Basic Recruit Training.  On August 31, 1948, he was discharged as a Recruit Special Constable and engaged as a Constable as part of Troop #2.  He received additional training at Rockcliffe, Ont.

He served at Weyburn, Broadview, Castlegar, B.C., Cranbrook, B.C. Regina Town Station, North Portal, Moose Jaw and Prince Albert.

While stationed at Moose Jaw, on April 24, 1953, Sgt. SCHRADER married Constance Freida Bohn at Broadview, Sask.

On October 10, 1954, twins Diane Lynn and Lawrence Philip were born   On October 6, 1956, twins Barry James and Garry Robert were born.  On September 22, 1959, son, Terrance David was born.

He was promoted to Corporal on May 1, 1960 and Sergeant on May 1, 1967.

In 1970, Sgt. SCHRADER was the 2 i/c of Prince Albert Detachment.

This is a case where two solid, experienced policemen let down their guard for a brief moment and paid for that mistake with their lives.

On Friday, October 9, 1970, Sgt. SCHRADER and Cst. ANSON were on patrol in their cruiser working the dayshift out of the Prince Albert Detachment.  Just after 5:00 PM, they heard the radio dispatcher direct another RCMP cruiser to attend to a domestic dispute on the farm of Wilfred Stanley Robertson some 15 miles south of Prince Albert near the village of Macdowall.  Sgt. SCHRADER told the dispatcher that their car was in the vicinity and it would be easier for them to investigate the complaint.  The dispatcher agreed and described the situation.  Apparently, Wilfred Robertson was insanely jealous of his wife, Ethel, and the day before had found her sitting in a car with a neighbour, Edward Neudorf, on a deserted country road.  Robertson, a crack shot with any type of gun, confronted the two with his high powered rifle and ended the discussion by throwing his wife into the cab of his truck.  In the process, he tore out some of her hair.  Then he took a shot at Neudorf that whizzed past his head.  Neudorf phoned the police to file a complaint.

When ANSON and SCHRADER got to Robertson’s place, they pulled up in the driveway behind his three-ton pulpwood truck.  The house was a ramshackle frame hovel that sat in a small clearing surrounded on three sides by bush.  Cst. ANSON got out of the cruiser and walked up on the front stoop to knock on the door.  Sgt. SCHRADER got out of the car and checked the interior of the truck for any evidence of the assault on Robertson’s wife.  He left his sidearm in the cruiser.  It was in his holster on the back seat of the cruiser.  Robertson’s wife answered the door and Cst. ANSON asked, “Is your husband at home?”  When the officer heard Robertson say, “What does he want?” ANSON returned to the cruiser to get his clipboard.  He then went back up the stoop, opened the door and asked, “Can I talk to you?”  Robertson was standing in the living room holding his rifle and didn’t answer.  ANSON stepped inside.  He was four feet from Robertson when the woodsman raised his gun and shot him in the chest with a slug that would kill a deer.  The policeman, cried, “Oh, no!” and stumbled backwards, turning to get out the door.  “Now talk,” Robertson said, and fired a second time hitting ANSON in the back.  When Sgt. SCHRADER saw his partner come out the door and fall down the steps mortally wounded, SCHRADER ran for the cover of the bush.  He made it there safely, but found himself in a terrible dilemma.  SCHRADER knew he should run and save himself, but he didn’t want to leave his fallen comrade.  He also wanted to get his gun from the cruiser or at least get to the radio in the cruiser and call for help.  But, because the cruiser was parked so close to the house, he realized it was too dangerous for him to do that.  So he played for time.  Under the cover of the bush, SCHRADER circled behind the house hoping for a chance to get to the police cruiser from the other side.  As the sergeant assessed the lethal situation, he kept constantly on the move.  Most of the time, Wilfred Robertson knew exactly where he was.  The wide yellow stripe on the Mountie’s pants gave away his position in the thinning fall cover of the bush.  Robertson went to the north door of the house and stood on the doorstep with his rifle.  SCHRADER his behind a spruce tree 100 feet away while Robertson’s 12 year old son, Darrel, played in the yard nearby.  Ethel Robertson was afraid for the safety of her son, but Wilfred assured her that “he’s O.K.”

Then Robertson raised his rifle and fired at SCHRADER.  His first shot hit the tree.  From a crouched position SCHRADER called, “Will you help my man?”  Taking deadly aim, Robertson replied, “I’ll help your man.  I’ll help you too.”  His next shot hit Sgt. SCHRADER in the abdomen with such force that it knocked him to the ground.  A third shot to the pelvic area left the sergeant bleeding to death in the snow.

Robertson then fixed himself a meal.  When he was done, he gathered together his provisions and went out on the porch.  After collecting Cst. ANSON’s revolver and ammunition, he threw his .308 rifle and his supplies into the police cruiser and drove away.  It wasn’t long before the RCMP came looking for ANSON and SCHRADER.

Finding their two dead comrades set off the biggest man-hunt in the history of Saskatchewan.  Airplanes, helicopters and dogs were used to supplement the manpower of the huge posse that was massed to find Wilfred Robertson.  The search party found the missing cruiser, but not the killer.  This was primarily because it turned colder that night and snowed, and the dogs couldn’t pick up the scent on the newly frozen ground.

A reward was posted for Wilfred Robertson and his name was added to the list of the RCMP’s “Most Wanted Men.”  Tips and sightings of the small and wiry 40 year old Robertson were reported from across Canada all winter long.  None of them proved to be genuine.  Then in the spring, when the thaw came, the dogs were brought back out and they led the police directly to him.  He was found in the dense thicket no more than a mile from his house.  Wilfred Stanley Robertson had committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.  His body had lain frozen in the bush all winter.

The death of the two policemen rocked the Prince Albert community.  Both of them were well liked and highly regarded.  Sgt. SCHRADER was a kind and gentle family man who left behind his wife, Constance, and five children, including two sets of twins.  Both policemen served most of their careers in Saskatchewan.  A joint Prayer service was held in Prince Albert on October 13, 1970.  A joint funeral service with full military honours was held at the RCMP Depot Chapel on Wednesday, October 14, 1970 by Archbishop C. Jackson.  They were buried side by side (plots 219 (SCHRADER) and 220 (ANSON) at the RCMP Cemetery at Regina.

(Personnel File reviewed)