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#ChildMolester | CRIMEHUNTER: War clouds distracted public from horrific Niagara murder | #parenting | #parenting | #kids


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There was a deep sense of foreboding in Canada that early summer of 1939.

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War clouds were being conjured over Europe by Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler whose maniacal ravings were becoming a regular feature of newsreels and radio bulletins.

Canadians had other things on their minds across the ocean.

They could be forgiven if they missed one of the most heinous crimes in the nation’s history.

Stewart Nighswander was a deeply troubled 25-year-old machinist with Curtiss Aircraft in Buffalo who lived with an aunt and sometimes with his parents.

He had already been busted for molesting a child in the Queen City. But because he was taking care of his bedridden mother, he received just a tap on the wrist.

And like a lot of pedophiles, Nighswander began plotting his next conquest.

Bigger worries. Adolf Hitler, right, at Compiegne in 1940 after dictating terms to France for their surrender, in Compiegne, north of Paris. With the world at war, even the most heinous domestic murders faded to the back pages. (AP Photo)
Bigger worries. Adolf Hitler, right, at Compiegne in 1940 after dictating terms to France for their surrender, in Compiegne, north of Paris. With the world at war, even the most heinous domestic murders faded to the back pages. (AP Photo) AP

The boy’s name was Henry Doto, who was just 12 years old.

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Somehow a friendship developed between Henry and Nighswander, who bought the lad popcorn in early June 1939. They even went to the movies and a few ball games, according to Henry’s mom Dolores, who reported that her son said his older friend was a “nice man.”

On June 19, 1939, Nighswander and the boy rented bicycles and took the ferry to Fort Erie.

It was the last time Henry Doto would be seen alive. Three days later, his nude and trampled body was found on the outskirts of Fort Erie in a thorn bush. Henry had been strangled to death, pieces of cloth stuffed in his mouth.

His wrists had been bound with rope and there was a cut on his arm.

On the day of the murder, his heartbroken dad Mark Doto told reporters he had dreamed about his son. A voice, he explained, came to him and saying: “Henry is dead.”

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And now he was at the morgue in Welland.

Henry Doto told his mom that his new friend Stewart Nighswander, pictured, was a “nice man”.
Henry Doto told his mom that his new friend Stewart Nighswander, pictured, was a “nice man”. Photo by HANDOUT /BUFFALO POLICE

Nighswander had tried to slash his wrists and walked into a Fort Erie’s Douglas Memorial Hospital. He told staffers he had just murdered someone. Suspicious staff tipped off cops and soon the suspected child killer was in bracelets — charged with attempting suicide.

Eighty years ago, the justice system — for better or worse — moved very, very quickly.

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Nighswander murdered Henry Doto in June and was on trial for his life by Thanksgiving. If convicted, he would likely swing before Christmas.

The glorious summer of 1939 became the terrifying autumn and the world was now at war — and that included Canada. No one was paying attention to a smalltown murder.

The trial was held in Welland and the Crown was absolute manifest in their quest to see Nighswander hang. And it looked like things were going their way.

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Only insanity would save the reed-thin pedophile.

Henry Dotos devastated father, Mark, dreamed his son was dead.
Henry Dotos devastated father, Mark, dreamed his son was dead. Photo by COURTESY /FIND A GRAVE

Prominent Buffalo psychiatrist Dr. Karl Matzinger was blunt: “(Nighswander) is a psychopathic personality of the sexual type.”

In the five months preceding the murder, Matzinger had treated the accused who was desperate to cure his “unusual tendencies.” But the headshrinker didn’t think the young mechanic was insane — he knew wrong from right.

In court, it emerged that even his mother “hated” Nighswander and that he had an “inferiority complex.”

The question rested on whether Nighswander was insane or not.

His lawyer, J.P. Cromarty, asked: “Could a man in his right mind commit such a crime?”

But the Crown pointed out that the murder was “meticulously planned.” Nighswander was done like dinner.

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At 12:08 a.m. on Dec. 18, 1939, Stewart Nighswander walked the 13 steps up the scaffolding at the Welland Jail, where a black hood and a rope were placed over his head.

The tortured life of Stewart Nighswander was over.

He is buried at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Perth County — alongside the mother who “hated” him.

Twenty years later, the slaying of Kathleen MacVicar remains unsolved.
Twenty years later, the slaying of Kathleen MacVicar remains unsolved. Photo by HANDOUT /OPP

UNSOLVED

KATHLEEN MACVICAR

411: The OPP is offering a $75,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the June 13, 2001 murder of Kathleen MacVicar. The 19-year-old was last seen leaving a pal’s residence on foot. Her body was discovered on the National Defense property of CFB Trenton.  MacVICAR was the victim of murder.

CONTACT: Anyone with information should contact the Criminal Investigation Branch, OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or 705-329-6111, the “Project Shadow” office at 613-962-5637, their nearest police authority, or Crime Stoppers.

bhunter@postmedia.com

@HunterTOSun

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