Bank-rob­ber au­thor Stephen Reid dies

Cape Breton Post - - OBITUARIES - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

He was on the FBI’s most wanted list for rob­bing banks and of­ten on Canada’s best seller lists for his lit­er­a­ture.

Stephen Reid, the bank rob­ber-au­thor, has died af­ter be­ing ad­mit­ted to hos­pi­tal on Haida Gwaii on Bri­tish Columbia’s north coast. He was 68 years old.

His wife, poet Su­san Mus­grave, said in a state­ment that Reid died Tuesday in hos­pi­tal af­ter be­ing di­ag­nosed with a lung in­fec­tion and heart fail­ure.

“It is with deep grief that I write with the news that Stephen Reid died on Tuesday June 12, 2018, at ap­prox­i­mately 1:30 p.m., in the Mas­set, B.C., hos­pi­tal on Haida Gwaii. Cause of death: pul­monary edema, and third-de­gree heart block.”

Her state­ment said when Reid was ad­mit­ted to hos­pi­tal seven killer whales came into the com­mu­nity in­let, which the lo­cal Haida First Na­tions be­lieve is a sign that some­one is go­ing to die.

Reid’s Cana­dian pub­lish­ing house,This­tle­down Press, said the au­thor held a large au­di­ence of read­ers who un­der­stood he knew about prison life af­ter hav­ing served time in more than 20 Amer­i­can and Cana­dian pris­ons over 40 years.

“What those who love no­to­ri­ety some­time for­get is that Stephen Reid grew old in pris­ons and saw more than his share of their soli­tude, their vi­cious cy­cles, and their sub­cul­ture re­la­tion­ships,” said the state­ment.

“He par­tic­i­pated in the eco­nomics of con­tra­band, the in­cred­i­ble es­capes, the in­ti­ma­cies of their tor­ture. He un­der­stood the mis­car­riages of jus­tice and wit­nessed the in­no­cent souls whose child­hood des­tinies doomed them to prison life. He met those peo­ple. He cared for them.”

This­tle­down pub­lisher Al­lan For­rie said Reid’s health was fail­ing in re­cent years.

“Stephen lived a hard life,” For­rie said in a tele­phone in­ter­view from Hornby Is­land, B.C.

“There’s a cer­tain amount of celebrity that sur­rounds Stephen sim­ply be­cause of his crim­i­nal past but I kind of knew him more as just a real hu­man be­ing who was a hus­band, a fa­ther and a grand­fa­ther.”

Reid is sur­vived by Mus­grave, his wife of 31 years, his daugh­ters Char­lotte Mus­grave and So­phie Reid Jenk­ins, and grand­daugh­ters Beatrice Mus­grave and Lucca Mus­grave.

He was sen­tenced to 18 years in prison in Canada for a 1999 shoot-out with po­lice dur­ing a rob­bery of a Vic­to­ria bank.

Reid was de­nied full parole in March 2015, but be­came el­i­gi­ble for statu­tory re­lease later that year.

At his 2015 parole hear­ing in Vic­to­ria, Reid said he trans­formed his life from a drug-ad­dicted bank rob­ber into a clean and sober grand­fa­ther who wrote screen­plays and found peace in abo­rig­i­nal drum mak­ing.

But Reid, who as a mem­ber of the no­to­ri­ous Stop­watch Gang com­mit­ted more than 100 rob­beries in Canada and the U.S. in the 1970s and 1980s, was still con­sid­ered a risk by the parole board.

Reid’s crim­i­nal record dated back to 1972. In 1980, when he was ar­rested dur­ing an FBI raid in Ari­zona he was wanted for 31 rob­beries in the western U.S. He was later re­turned to Canada to serve a sen­tence related to the theft of $785,000 in a gold bul­lion rob­bery at Ottawa’s air­port in 1974.

Reid re­ceived the 18-year sen­tence for armed rob­bery and at­tempted mur­der fol­low­ing the June 1999 heist in Vic­to­ria. He walked into a bank with a loaded shot­gun and made off with $93,000. He fled with an ac­com­plice and shot at po­lice dur­ing the en­su­ing chase.

At his 2015 parole hear­ing, Reid said he was liv­ing in a fan­tasy world fu­elled by heroin and co­caine in which he saw him­self as a drug lord look­ing to pull off a huge heist to pay mount­ing debts. He said he needed $100,000.

The parole board re­minded Reid that the judge who sen­tenced him in 1999 said the heist was “an at­tempt to ter­ror­ize peo­ple.”

In 1986, Reid pub­lished “Jackrab­bit Parole,” a semi-au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal novel about a gang of bank rob­bers.

The book, which re­ceived wide­spread lit­er­ary praise, was edited by Mus­grave, who met Reid while he was be­hind bars. Reid was re­leased on parole in 1987, only to re­of­fend in 1999 and end up back in prison.

In Oc­to­ber 2013, Reid was Vic­to­ria’s But­ler Book Prize win­ner for a col­lec­tion of es­says ti­tled “A Crow­bar in the Bud­dhist Gar­den: Writ­ing from Prison.”

“What those who love no­to­ri­ety some­time for­get is that Stephen Reid grew old in pris­ons and saw more than his share of their soli­tude, their vi­cious cy­cles, and their sub­cul­ture re­la­tion­ships.”

This­tle­down Press

CP PHOTO

No­to­ri­ous Cana­dian bank rob­ber-au­thor Stephen Reid talks to me­dia in Vic­to­ria, in 2015. Au­thor Reid who was once on the FBI’s most wanted list for rob­bing banks and of­ten on best seller lists for his writ­ing has died af­ter be­ing ad­mit­ted to hos­pi­tal on Haida Gwaii on Bri­tish Columbia’s north coast.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.