Frustrated, Virgilwood Cres. resident Brandon (no last name given) attempts to work out family issues as Barrie Police begin the forth day of an intense investigation of a home linked to a cold case murder. Brandon is one of hundreds of people effected by the investigation which caused the evacuation of 25 homes in the area.
Credits: MARK WANZEL/QMI Agency
BARRIE, Ont. -- A weekend in a normally peaceful north-end Barrie neighbourhood has been anything but, as police and bomb experts have removed about 50 explosive devices from 30 Virgilwood Cres. so far.
Almost 60 residents of that street and those nearby who have been evacuated are hearing it will still be a few days before they can return home.
The drama began after a father and son who lived at the home were arrested and charged in a 1978 cold case murder in Barrie.
Donald Feldhoff, 54, is changed with the murder of Michael Traynor, 26, more than three decades ago. Feldhoff's father, William 'Willy' Feldhoff, 75, is charged as an accessory in the slaying.
After closing off a portion of Virgilwood Crescent Thursday afternoon, police uncovered two cement bunkers in the rear of Feldhoff's home, one measuring about 20-by-10-feet long, by seven-feet high, and numerous homemade explosive devices and volatile chemicals inside and around the home. About 20 families have been evacuated.
"The numbers have increased and I'm told we're up to 50 explosives removed,"Barrie police Const. Angie Butler said Sunday afternoon. "They're going step by step through the house, very slowly, and keep coming across more items all the time.
"These chemicals aren't ones that are readily available to someone, that you or I could go and pick up at Home Depot. How they managed to come in possession of them is still part of our investigation. It'll be a couple more days at least, and we understand the inconvenience this is to residents, but they've been very supportive and understand we're doing this for their safety."
But what neighbours can't understand is how such a dangerous setup could be right under their noses and undetected for years.
"I'm wondering who he's affiliated with. Probably more paranoid people," said one Virgilwood neighbour, who didn't want her name used. "He can't have just gotten a hold of all these chemicals and explosives by himself. Someone had to sell them to him."
The woman said she, like many living on the street, commented anonymously for fear of any reprecussions.
"You just don't know with someone like that. You don't know what kind of people they're connected to," she said.
Neighbouring Deerpark Drive looks like a ghost town with driveways empty, backyards silent and the only sound is that of yellow police tape flapping in the breeze.
Otherwise, you could hear a pin drop.
A Barrie police cruiser blocks off entrance to homes, with only emergency service vehicles being allowed past.
"But because of this a---hole, this has been a big disruption to all of us," said the woman, looking past police tape toward the scene. "We can't get our mail, our garbage picked up. We've got a lot of kids and grandkids living down this street. There are brand new babies at (one house)."
Her son, Brandon, who wouldn't give his last name, said things have been in turmoil in the neighbourhood since Friday.
"A couple of days ago, it was pretty intense. It's not as bad now," Brandon said, adding he's not fond of his neighbour. "We've been living here since 1995 and we've never known anything about this going on."
Another man, who says he lives across the street from the elder Feldhoff, is among the evacuees.
"We've been staying with another neighbour for a few days, but we'll be going to a hotel now for a couple days," said the man, who asked his name not be used. "We've lived right across the street for 10 years, and I knew Willy. He's not a nice guy. He's one of those guys who'll come and talk to you, and then yell at your kids for walking too close to his property."
He said he believed Feldhoff and his wife, Renata, were the original owners of the house.
Coun. Doug Shipley checked out the scene Sunday morning.
"I don't live far from here so I come down to see what's happening and get a briefing," he said, shaking hands with neighbours. "They're aren't going to be back home anytime soon. From what I'm told, they're still removing a lot of stuff from the home."
The murder victim, Michael Traynor, a plumber's apprentice, was last seen around 3 a.m. Sept. 13, 1978, at a bar with friends. In an interview at the time, his wife, Bev, said she spoke to him that evening and he told her he was going to an end-of-season party for the local baseball team he played for.
His family reported him missing Sept. 18. He was found by a hunter in a shallow grave, partially dressed, in what is now Springwater Township. He had been shot twice in the chest and his arms were bound behind him with copper wire, which was also wrapped around his feet.
Police have said there doesn't appear to be any type of a relationship between the victim and the two accused.
Both father and son remain in custody at the Central North Correctional Centre in Penetangishene, Ont., and are scheduled to make a court appearance via video this week.