Canadian man convicted of girl’s ‘64 strangulation

Herald staff

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The jury took little more than a day to close the last chapter on a 36-year-old story.

Byron George Blue, 51, was convicted Friday of the first-degree murder of a 12-year-old Squamish girl who was attacked while walking home from school in May 1964.

Blue was 15 years old when Judy Howey went missing one day after school.

A desperate search ended with the discovery of Howey’s strangled body later the same day.

She had been strangled with a blood-soaked T-shirt and her body was found partially hidden under a pile of logs.

Blue was questioned the day after Howey’s murder and he remained the prime suspect.

He wasn’t charged until 1998, after undercover officers investigating the case garnered a videotaped confession.

Blue, who worked as a landscaper before he was arrested and jailed in March 1998, appeared distressed when the verdict was read.

He faces an automatic life sentence.

The jury will decide this week when Blue will be eligible for parole.

Had Blue gone to trial in the mid-1960s and been convicted of first-degree murder, he could have faced the death penalty.

  • Ferry service to Lopez returns to normal: Ferry service to Lopez Island in the San Juans returned to normal on Sunday after being canceled because of equipment problems and rough weather. Service to the island was cut off Saturday, following an incident at the dock Friday night in which the ferry Kaleetan was tangled in anchor chains for nearly four hours. The chains help guide vessels into the terminal. Ferries still can dock without the chains, but not in rough weather, Washington State Ferries spokeswoman Susan Harris said. A gale warning was canceled on Sunday, and ferries were able to dock as normal, she said.

  • Alaska Flight 261 hearings set: The National Transportation Safety Board will conduct three days of public hearings in December on the crash of Alaska Airlines Flight 261, in which 88 people died. The hearings will examine the Seattle-based carrier’s safety and maintenance practices, along with the Federal Aviation Administration’s surveillance of the airline, the board said. The hearings will take place from Dec. 13-15 in Washington, D.C. They are aimed at fact gathering, and a final report on the crash won’t be available until an unspecified date in 2001, the board said. The MD-83 crashed off the coast of California near Los Angeles Jan. 31. Dozens of those on board were from the Seattle area.

  • Animal rights activists stage protest: Animal rights activists took their complaint of monkey abuse at a research center to the home of Oregon Health Sciences University’s president on Saturday. More than a dozen demonstrators stood outside the Portland home of Peter Kohler to request a public forum on alleged abuse at the Oregon Regional Primate Research Center. Matt Rossell, a former animal technician at the research center, held an Aug. 28 news conference to show video he said showed traumatized monkeys kept in unclean cages. The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a complaint urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to address the claims. Arthur Hall, director of animal care at the research center, said the primates receive good care. He also rejected demands by animal rights supporters to release some of the primates to an animal sanctuary.

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