For seven years, Vancouver nurse Cindy James reported more than 100 separate incidents of harassment, ranging from threatening phone calls to home invasions to ritualistic assaults, including strangulations and stabbings. Canada’s Royal Mounted Police spent over a million dollars investigating her claims and found zero evidence of foul play, leading them to suspect she was making it all up. Then, in 1989, Cindy was found dead, bound and naked, half a mile from where her car was parked in a shopping mall. What happened to Cindy James remains one of the most bizarre and perplexing true crime stories in recent memory.
Death by Unknown Event illuminates the enigmatic context around James’s life, the efforts and failures of law enforcement, and the lingering theories around how she died from those closest to the case.
October 21, 2021
6 Hours, 41 Minutes
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Listen to a sample clip of Death by Unknown Event, narrated by Pamela Adlon.
Episode 1: Cindy
Cindy James was last seen depositing a paycheck in June 1988. Nearly two weeks later, a construction worker discovered her body in a ditch beside a busy road. Police ruled her death a suicide. Her family and friends insisted that she was murdered. In the years leading to her death, Cindy reported more than 100 incidents of stalking. Now the Vancouver community was left to solve this enduring mystery: Had the stalker taken Cindy’s life? Or had there never been a stalker at all?
Episode 2: Stalker
Cindy’s stalker is becoming bolder. What started with calls and letters soon escalated into a brutal attack. The Vancouver police interrogate Cindy, and start to search for the perpetrator. At the urging of Officer Pat McBride, the police turn their attention to Cindy’s ex-husband, Roy Makepeace.
Episode 3: A Private Investigator
Frustrated with the Vancouver police’s inability to come up with any convincing leads, Cindy hires a private investigator to handle her case: Ozzie Kaban. Ozzie’s unorthodox methods lead to the first real clues.
Episode 4: A Suspect
When the perpetrator returns with an even more brutal attack, Ozzie helps Cindy remember events from her past, and those memories help the police narrow in on a suspect.
Episode 5: Clarity
Cindy confronts her ex-husband, Roy Makepeace. Lacking progress in the case, the Vancouver police invite another detective to join the investigation. With her help, the police narrow focus on a new suspect – one who’s been here all along.
Episode 6: Struggle
Cindy, her family, and Ozzie Kaban are getting frustrated with the lack of progress in catching a perpetrator, while Detective Halliday becomes further convinced that Cindy is perpetrating the attacks against herself.
Episode 7: Treatment
Regardless of who is doing this to her, the harassment is taking a serious toll on Cindy. Her doctor has her committed to Vancouver’s most notorious mental institution, where psychiatrists begin to understand her inner turmoil.
Episode 12: Answers
After the inquest jury determines that Cindy died by an unknown event, we examine one of the most persistent theories behind her death, and offer our own conclusion to this 40-year mystery.