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Paul Coates

August 13, 2007 |  9:40 pm
Paul_coates Aug. 13, 1957

SUBJECT'S NAME--Jack Pearson.

SUBJECT'S DESCRIPTION--Age, 41. Height, approximately 6 feet. Probably husky build. Blue eyes. Dark, possibly graying hair. Fingers of both hands, once frozen during childhood, have slight twist.

Any person with information as to subject's whereabouts is requested to contact Walter Pearson, 14720 Strathern St., Van Nuys.

Twenty-five years ago, Jack Pearson shot his 7-year-old brother.

It was an accident.

But Jack, then 16, panicked and ran away.

He thought, apparently, that his brother would die.

Yesterday, I detailed the events which led up to the shooting, the shooting itself, and Jack's disappearance a few hours afterward.

The accident occurred on their father's farm in Central Canada. After the younger brother was bundled onto a sleigh by his parents for the nine-mile trip to a doctor, Jack stood in silence at the door of the farmhouse, awaiting their return.

Then, without speaking to his other brothers and sisters, he walked out into a growing blizzard and disappeared.

I talked this week with the victim of the accident--Walter Pearson.

He's 32 now. He arrived in Southern California a few months ago with his wife and two children. He had been shot in the mouth, but no scar remains. 

The lasting scar, he fears, may have remained with his brother.

Plenty of confused 16-year-old kids have tried to meet the world with a bundle on the end of a broomstick--but few carried the extra burden of guilt which Jack took along.

1957_0809_ads And that's what bothers Walter most.

"I guess, to this day, he thinks I'm dead," he told me.

"And that he was the one who killed me."

How such a belief might have twisted Jack down a wrong path was pretty obvious to both of us.

"The whole family was aware of it," he said. Then quietly, he added:

"We've tried very, very hard, to find him."

The search, Walter told me, was started by the youth's parents when they returned from Grandview the day after the shooting.

"They went back to town immediately, and checked all the farms along the way."

They asked and received assistance from the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and the police.

There were theories (the main one being that Jack hopped a freight to Winnipeg, 250 miles distant) but that was all.

Walter's personal theory was--and still is--that his brother went to sea.

"It's been a lot of years, but I can still remember how enthused he used to be with the little boats he'd carve for me."

The theory, however, was almost exploded a year ago--by a set of startling coincidences

Or maybe they weren't coincidences.

Jim, another of the eight grown Pearson children, wrote Walter about them.

In his letter, Jim--9 years old when Jack disappeared--related that he was watching television one night when a vaguely familiar face came on camera.

The man was being interviewed.

He said his name was Joe. He said he came from a large family. And he said that years ago, as a boy, he had run away from home. When asked where, he replied:

"From a farm in Central Canada."

He was one of several men interviewed, and that's about all he said.

The man conducting the interviews was a Vancouver (British Columbia) minister.

And the interviewees were the floaters and bums of that city's Skid Row.