January 20, 2012
Duncan MacPherson: Cold Case
Injuries decimated MacPherson's career almost before it started. He never played a NHL game, and was released from his contract at the age of 23.
In 1989 MacPherson decided to pursue a job as a player-coach with a team in Dundee, Scotland. Before starting with the team he headed to Europe seeking adventure and enjoying life.
MacPherson was scheduled to arrive in Dundee on August 12th, but mysteriously failed to show up. Six weeks later the car he had borrowed was found in the parking lot of the Stubaier Gletscher resort in the Stubai Alps in Austria, where he had rented a snowboard.
His disappearance was famously detailed in the CBC news show The Fifth Estate (click to watch full documentary). Authorities and family searched desperately for hints as to what had happened to MacPherson, but nothing was found. The Austrian authorities had handled the case suspiciously, adding wild theories to the drama. They had told the family that MacPherson had indeed returned the rented ski equipment, and therefore it seemed unlikely he would have gotten lost on the slopes.
Rumors swirled that he was contacted by the CIA about working as a spy, and may have faked his death.
Over 14 years after his disappearance his body was found by another skier. His body was fully encased by ice. The ski equipment was with the body. But the authorities continued to bungle the case. The body retrieval was sloppy and the autopsy somehow went missing.
As a result, MacPherson's death remains mysterious. Is this really a case, as the authorities insist, of a adventurous skier losing his life in an out-of-bounds accident? Or is there something more sinister behind the story and being covered up by authorities, as the family can not help but wonder? The MacPherson family may never really know.
The case is the focus of John Leak's new book, Cold a Long Time: An Alpine Mystery. You can also watch the full The Fifth Estate documentary.