Community Opinion

Upside Down Under

Murder mystery solved…..

One of the greatest murder mysteries that involved someone from North Dakota didn’t happen here at all but took place in the community of Jackson’s Cove, Ontario.

By Marvin Baker

Dr. Henry Janssen, who had spent 10 years as a family practitioner in Linton, was shot in the back with a sawed-off shotgun and killed Jan. 22, 2008, as he drove home from work.

Dr. Janssen, 58, was a well-liked physician, in Linton as well as in Ontario, who treated a lot of us from new babies to the elderly.

He and his wife, Lynn, later moved back to their native Ontario where he started a practice.

On that winter day, he was headed home which is near Kitchener, Ontario.

Just before he turned into his own driveway, he was ambushed and killed with a sawed-off shotgun. Lynn later found him slumped over the steering wheel.

News of the homicide surfaced four days after it happened, but then for three years nobody seemed to know anything about it. After the initial story broke Jan. 26, 2008, in the Toronto Globe & Mail, some of the smaller papers around Jackson’s Cove picked it up, and that was it. The trail went cold.

It was later reported that in the three months following the murder, family members and even defense attorneys were kept in the dark about Janssen’s murder.

There were no follow up newspaper reports, no TV coverage, nothing. Then on Jan. 22, 2011, Janssen’s neighbor confessed to the killing in an Owen Sound, Ontario, court room. He admitted using the shotgun he had stolen from Janssen’s home.

Allen Powney, 66, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison with no chance for parole for at least 10 years. His confession came just as jury selection for his alleged murder trial was beginning.

In the three years that passed from Janssen’s death to Powney’s confession, there were a lot of rumors including Janssen having an affair with Powney’s wife and someone killed Janssen because they were jealous of his popularity in the area.

Court documents indicate, however, that it was actually Lynn Janssen who had an affair with Powney. When she broke it off in two years, Powney stole the weapon and used it to kill Dr. Janssen. Powney told the court he was enraged that Lynn Janssen broke off the relationship, and he wanted to see her suffer because of it.

Oddly enough, there are no court documents indicating when or if Lynn Janssen told her family members about her affair with Powney.

What it all means is that Dr. Janssen was an innocent bystander and was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He left behind his wife and children, Rebecca and David, and six siblings.

The 6’7” Janssen was a star wide receiver with the University of Western Ontario in London and was drafted by the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League.

However, he chose to go to medical school. He graduated from Western Ontario’s Medical School in 1978 and completed his internship at Scarborough General Hospital in 1979 where he and Lynn met.

A short time later they came to Linton, spending 10 years at the clinic and hospital, before moving back to his hometown of Woodstock, Ontario, where he started a family practice. They later purchased their home in Jackson’s Cove where they would meet Powney and his wife, Elaine.

During his time in Linton, he often talked about what it would have been like to play professional football for the Stampeders, but everyone knew he loved medicine more than football.

Ken Pritchard, an Ontario colleague of Dr. Janssen, released a statement upon Janssen’s death.

“Henry was a commanding presence towering over most of us and bringing with him a sense of humor that was infectious and much appreciated in the hectic world of hospital care and medical practice,” he told the Globe & Mail. “To say that it will be difficult to move forward without him is an understatement.”

In his spare time, Janssen thoroughly enjoyed hiking, boating, rock landscaping and, of course, keeping up with the CFL. Family members said he wasn’t slowing down in his late 50s. He was his own man, and he had a passion for what he did.

Court documents have only recently been released to the public domain. A short newspaper article appeared in the Owen Sound Sun-Times after Downey confessed in 2011 then quiet until now