‘If you talk, I’ll kill you’: The search for Stanley Morris Peters

Even in her dreams, Bernadette Dennis is haunted by her last memories of her father, Stanley Morris Peters.

“It seems like he’s mad at me,” said Dennis. “He’s not talking or letting us know where he is.”

The dreams began soon after Peters went missing in the early morning hours of Nov. 8, 1987.

That’s the night Dennis last saw her father when he told her to go home with her sister, lock the door and wait for him saying he would be back soon.

Dennis, instead, went to her uncle’s home nearby with her sister and a friend in D’Arcy, British Columbia.

Before they could get back home, without their dad noticing they disobeyed him, Peters returned home.

Worried they would get into trouble, Dennis watched from her uncle’s home, as her dad tried to get into his home, but the door was locked.

“If I was home – if we were home – to open the door, then maybe dad would have stayed home,” says Dennis.

Peters soon left in a car and was never seen by those who loved him again.

Bernadette Peters says her father comes to her in her dreams.  Rob Smith/APTN photo

For more than four years his family searched all over.

Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Washington State.


“I went all over. My wife and I went over here. States, way up north as far as I can go,” said Stanley Peters Sr., of the search for his son.

“How would you feel if that happened; that you can never, you can never catch up to what you’re looking [for]?”

Every tip turned out to be wrong and each search ended with them no closer to finding him.

Then the RCMP came knocking in early 1992 and told the family they finally knew what happened.

“They said they had good news. They tell us my son was hit and buried in a shallow grave somewhere. And these two boys are being charged. I was bottled up. I couldn’t cry for a while and I began to feel hurt in my chest. So I let go. I could have screamed. I gathered my children and talked to them,” wrote Peters’ late mother, Rosie Peters, in a letter.

Police said that after Peters left D’Arcy, he went to Mount Currie about 40km away.

Stanley Peters with his three daughters. Submitted photo

Both communities are part of the Li’wat Nation, a two-and-a-half drive north of Vancouver and it’s believed Peters was hitchhiking back to D’Arcy when he was hit a by a passing vehicle.

Robert Dennis Williams was charged with hit and run and Lawrence Alvin Pascal was with obstruction of justice in February 1992 after a tipster came forward with information that they had kept secret.

The tipster said Williams was at the wheel with five other people in a truck when Peters was struck.

“There was a wedding that night. So, usually, people come together, dance, celebrate the wedding and it was said that truck that hit our dad left from that,” said Dennis.

The truck stopped and a heated argument started when they realized Peters was dead.

They didn’t know what to do with him.

“It was said that he was put under a cardboard box in a ditch along this area,” said Dennis, as she walked along the road with APTN Investigates. “It was also mentioned that if they put him in the trunk of a car until they could come back and deal with him.”

Police laid charges without recovering the body of Peters and the trial proceeded without it, as well.

Williams admitted he was driving the vehicle striking a person sending the victim flying 60 feet, but he argued that he didn’t hit and run.

A passenger in the truck, Justin Nelson, testified Williams got the others to agree to remain silent.

“The evidence of Dennis Williams dissuading Justin Nelson from calling for help, and the next day securing the agreement of other witnesses not to talk, clearly establishes intent to avoid civil or criminal liability,” said Justice E.R.A. Edwards, in his judgement, on Nov. 16, 1994.

“I find Robert Dennis Williams guilty as charged.”

Williams was sentenced to 18 months in jail.

As for Pascal, the court heard testimony from John Jones, a band apprentice watchman at the time.

Jones said he followed vehicles that left the scene.

“He testified he saw the accused, Lawrence Pascal, dragging a body into the river and that Lawrence Pascal yelled to some observers on the shore, ‘If you talk, I’ll kill you,’” said Edwards.

However, under cross-examination Jones also said he wasn’t sure who the person was that night and that he was also intoxicated.

“I have concluded that it would be dangerous to convict on the strength of Mr. Jones’ evidence alone and I entertain a reasonable doubt about the identity of the accused, Lawrence Pascal, as the person John Jones observed,” said Edwards, finding Pascal not guilty of obstruction.

Lisa Peters holds a photo of her dad during a recent search for his remains. Submitted photo

Dennis and her two sisters, Lisa Peters and Sally Peters, continue to search for their dad’s remains to this day.

“We were told that they put them underneath the bridge,” said Sally Peters.

It’s just one of many places the sisters have searched in the mountainous area.

Each tip sends the family out in the vast territory with new hope.

“We still continue to search for our dad whenever we can, and, we just mark it on the map,” said Dennis.

Lisa Peters has lived most of her adult life in Mount Currie and runs into people she believes are keeping secrets from her.

“A lot of them that I see either walk the other way or just totally ignore me,” she said.

It was clear at the trial that the community was keeping a secret.

“It can only be hoped that anyone with information will come forward to allay the grief of his family. I suspect this event has caused considerable anxiety and tension in the community and those who testified are to be commended for having done so,” said Edwards.

The family is still waiting and the RCMP said despite a conviction for hit and run, the case remains open.

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