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March 31, 2015 - News Leader
LOOKING BACK TO CAWSTON MURDER
Thirty years ago, everyone in the Similkameen Valley was talking about the headless corpse found in an orchard on Ferko Road in Cawston. The corpse was identified as Florence Ottilie Deflers of Toulan, a small town near Paris, France. The head had been removed from her body by a very strong blow that cut one of her dangling earrings in half. Florence Deflers had been reported as missing in July, 1984. She had left her boyfriend’s residence in the Cariboo in late June to travel to Cawston to meet with friends. She bought some food at the health food store in Keremeos, then walked to Cawston to her friends’ house. They were not at home. Somehow, she arrived at the Nicholson home on Ferko Road. The Nicholsons were gone for the summer. The house was empty. Her boyfriend contacted the friends, then tried to contact her. The 26 year old French citizen was a student at a university in California. When she did not arrive at the university, and nobody had heard from her, her parents and her boyfriend became seriously worried. In November, her photograph appeared in a local newspaper asking for any information as to her whereabouts. Nobody came forward. Deflers father was an important member of the Paris media community, and he put pressure on Canada’s diplomats to find his daughter. The diplomats managed to put pressure on the RCMP, but there were no real leads. Deflers boyfriend heard of a psychic who had assisted police during the Clifford Olson murder investigations. The boyfriend contacted the psychic, taking personal belongings of Deflers to the psychic. The psychic said Deflers was located in an orchard in the Cawston area. The search for Deflers began and ended at the Nicholson property, where evidence had been found indicating Deflers had been there. When the Nicholsons had returned home in the autumn of 1984, they found a few women’s items that did not belong to them. They knew somebody had been in their home, but they did not know who it might have been. Then they found a paper bag containing food from the health food store, and they found Deflers wallet in the bag. They reported it to police.
Police swarmed the Nicholson property and found the shallow grave under a loose piece of plywood. The head was never found. A person who had been caretaking the property was arrested, but was acquitted in a trial held two years later. The true identity of the murderer remains a mystery.