Wild West – Serial Killers

Murderess Agnes McVee

Photo courtesy of historical.bc.ca

Photo courtesy of historical.bc.ca

It should come as no surprise to you that the gold rush trails are full of tales (true and legend), involving gold, greed and murder. There are a few plaques along the route acknowledging the difficulty mankind inflicted upon itself in the name of greed and wealth.

While researching a few points along the route, I found this fascinating – and horrific article about the 108 Mile Roadhouse/Hotel mentioned in my last post.

To give you a synopsis (though you should really read it on your own), there is a very good reason the Roadhouse/Hotel ceased to be. One of the sets of owners, Jim and Agnus McVee were proficient serial killers, using their hotel to lure in unsuspecting guests.

Photo courtesy of bcarchives.gov.bc.ca

Photo courtesy of bcarchives.gov.bc.ca

Kidnapping, Torture, Slavery and Murder

And actually, it is WORSE than it sounds. That’s not all the ferocious couple was up to. At the time, many young runaway girls were heading up the gold rush trail in hopes of finding rich husbands. 108 Mile, being perfectly situated, was not only a common stop, but unavoidable along the route.

Agnes would pluck up these girls by force as they passed by, or when they came in on their own naive will, seeking refuge. Then she would chain them in the basement and sell them off to the highest bidder – hopefully before they starved to death.

As legend goes, 108 Mile became known for this and men from all around would come to purchase teenage girls, some priced well into the thousands. Farmers, miners, gold panners, merchants and owners of brothels – anyone who had enough money. God forbid they had too much money though…

If Agnes caught wind that you had collected more than what she thought a fair share of gold, she was going to kill you – and her husband and son-in-law were going to help.

“We are going to exchange gold for a bullet, as we always have.”

Were the words of her husband. But he was not exempt from Aggies murderous rule. After he killed a boy she was fond of, he ended up dead – poisoned. Apparently it was an unusually hearty breakfast, considering their fight the night before.

Torture, murder, kidnapping and slavery were the practices at 108 Mile Hotel – for the better part of a decade.

Agnus came to Canada a wealthy murderess, from Scotland. She had 7 untimely deaths under her belt before she even arrived.

Her cruelty went so far that it was reported she punished disobedience with a time-out in a burning fireplace. A statement later found to be true, when human bone fragments were found in many of the fireplaces located on the property.

Photo courtesy of bcarchives.gov.bc.ca

Photo courtesy of bcarchives.gov.bc.ca

Eventually she was caught when a ‘stray girl’ was able to report her. When she was arrested, eight nearly starved girls were found chained together in her basement.

Agnus did bury treasure on her property, a reported $200,000 worth of gold. After many attempts, some has been found. Two caches, containing about $8,000 worth.

The Controversy

There is some debate about the validity of this horror story, but enough ‘facts’ exist on either side for me to figure it could be true.

It is said that Agnus did not have a death certificate, but my own father, born in the 1950’s did not have a birth certificate – so that doesn’t mean much in itself. Also, after the great fires that ravaged through many of the (primarily wooden) towns in BC during that era, it is not surprising to me that they couldn’t find full records of their arrests.

Money was found buried on the property, Agnus McVee was a real person who owned 108 Mile House and came from Scotland with a long murderous rap sheet. Local historians validate the story, as does the BC Government in their historical archives.

…But who knows, right?!

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You can follow this tour by heading to the ‘Gold Rush Ghost Towns‘ section. You can find many more photos of this tour at the Habitual Runaway on Facebook.

12 responses to “Wild West – Serial Killers

  1. Pingback: Freakin Fridays #3 ~ The Horror, The Horror! | fuonlyknew·

  2. Oh my gosh!! Why does it seem so much worse because it happened in the late 1800s? It’s hard to believe there are / were people so horrible!


  3. Pingback: Gold Fever in BC: Women in the Gold Rush | Fraser River Discovery Centre·

  4. I stopped at the 108 mile house years ago. I read about the story and asked the two young hostesses there if I could get a copy. They said sure and one of them left, to get the copy I assumed. She returned about 20 minutes with a copy she had typed for me. How nice can you get. Unfortunately I lost that copy and just recently looked up the story.


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