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The Unsolved Murder of Jillian Fuller

The Unsolved Murder of Jillian Fuller

 

Case File Overview

 

On March 3rd, 1993, Jillian Fuller spent the late hours of the evening reading at the pub upstairs at the Fraser Arms Hotel, located at 1450 S.W. Marine Drive in Vancouver, British Columbia.

A few hours later, at around 1:30AM on March 4th, Jillian headed to the pub downstairs called the Rock Cellar Pub. She hung out there for about ten minutes before stepping out into the cool spring air to begin her short walk home.

A newspaper delivery person called 9-1-1 to report a fire at an apartment building located at 8770 Granville Street at approximately 4:00AM. The Vancouver Fire Department responded and found Jillian’s apartment on fire and the young woman dead on her bed.

Crime scene photos

Photo of Jillian Fuller Crime Scene
Source: Vancouver Police Department

 

Photo of Jillian Fuller Crime Scene
Source: Vancouver Police Department

 

Photo of Jillian Fuller Crime Scene
Source: Vancouver Police Department

An autopsy later determined that Jillian had been assaulted (it is not specified if this assault was sexual in nature) and was dead before the fire, leading the authorities to believe that the fire had been set specifically to conceal the crime.

Despite an investigation that has spanned decades and has included numerous tips and interviews, Jillian’s case remains unsolved.

 

Case File Theories

 

According to the police, there is only one real possible theory —Jillian was murdered by someone she knew. There was no sign of forced entry at her apartment, which indicated to the police that Jillian willingly opened the door for her killer. The top mortise and strikeplate in the photo below were in use at the time, not the lower set that appears somewhat damaged.

Crime scene photo showing no forced entry

Photo of crime scene in Jillian Fuller case showing no forced entry
Source: Vancouver Police Department

I am left wondering, though, how well the person who killed Jillian knew her. Could her murderer have been someone from her inner circle, such as a friend or an ex? Or perhaps a person she had just met? Who would Jillian have opened the door for in the wee hours of the morning?

Friend or ex from Jillian’s past

There are mixed messages about Jillian and the kind of life that she led, which is pretty uncommon in murder cases. More often than not, victims are portrayed through an angelic lens, even though we all know the majority of people are far from perfect.

On the one hand, Jillian is described as athletic, intelligent, and outgoing. At one time she was ranked as a top Canadian outdoor speed skater and was a competitive runner. She was also considered an expert pianist and extremely proficient in French. Jillian was said to enjoy time with her family and friends.

On the other hand, it has been reported that Jillian was “a loner” who lived on government assistance, had previously been in treatment for alcoholism, and often spent time with “questionable characters” at the Fraser Arms Hotel.

No doubt the truth about Jillian is complex, as it is for most of us, and falls somewhere in between. However, her own father, George Fuller, told the media that she had been assaulted twice in recent months by drinking companions and had been engaged to a man “with a lengthy criminal record.”

Could Jillian have been murdered by her ex-fiance? Or even by one of the questionable friends she had been drinking with in the months leading up to her death? If we believe that Jillian would only have opened the door in the middle of the night for someone she knew, then either one of these scenarios are possible. The police undoubtedly questioned her ex-finance and friends, but must never have turned up anything that could inextricably link them to Jillian’s death.

Unidentified man

On the night of Jillian’s murder, during the ten minutes or so she spent at the Rock Cellar Pub in the basement of the Fraser Arms Hotel, she was seen chatting with an unidentified man.

Some accounts say Jillian was seen leaving the pub with this man, whereas others indicate that they left separately but made plans to meet later. In either case, the police are still anxious to talk to this person of interest, hoping that he can provide insight into what happened to Jillian.

Sketch of the person of interest

Photo of person of interest in Jillian Fuller murder case
Source: Vancouver Police Department

This unidentified person of interest is described as a dark-skinned white male, 28-29 years old, of average height, with thick eyebrows.

The letter

A bizarre twist in the case occurred in November 1993. The Vancouver Police Department received an anonymous letter sent from Washington, DC. Although the police have kept confidential much of the information in the letter for investigative reasons, a friend of Jillian’s family informed me that the letter included information about a possible suspect. The name of this potential suspect has never been released, and the sender of the letter remains unknown.

Anonymous letter and its envelope

Photo of tip letter in Jillian Fuller murder case
Source: Vancouver Police Department

 

Photo on tip envelope in Jillian Fuller murder case
Source: Vancouver Police Department

Considering the numerous cold cases that have recently been solved using DNA evidence, I cannot help but hope that the police have forensic evidence in this case that they have not disclosed. The letter and its envelope could have resulted in the tipster’s DNA if the stamp and letter flap were tested and the DNA matched someone already in the system. If this tipster is legitimate, determining who they are could bring the authorities one step closer to identifying Jillian’s killer.

Also, although the police will only go as far as to say that Jillian was “assaulted,” I think it is probable she was sexually assaulted. The neighbours said there was blood in the apartment and that Jillian was naked on her bed when she was found. If she was sexually assaulted, the killer could have left behind semen that could be tested for DNA.

Keep in mind, though, this requires that the evidence was collected and stored properly, and that the fire did not damage the evidence. Additionally, if a viable DNA sample was collected, it still would have to match someone already in the DNA databanks.

Given all of the “ifs” necessary for forensics to close this case, I believe that it is crucial for members of the public with any information about Jillian’s murder to come forward.

Who do you think murdered Jillian?

Shortly after the 20th anniversary of Jillian’s murder, Jillian’s sister Jane released a statement on behalf of the Fuller family:

“The toll that my sister’s death has caused my family over the last twenty years is truly immeasurable. It cast a dark cloud on our family that has never been lifted. Her loss has left a deep wound in all our lives, and the fact that her killer was never found means that wound will always be unhealed.”

Photo of Murder Victim Jillian Fuller
Source: Canadian Lawyer Magazine

Both of Jillian’s parents have died without knowing who was responsible for the death of their daughter. Her remaining loved ones deserve answers and at least some measure of justice.

The Vancouver Police Department has made numerous appeals for information that could assist with closing Jillian’s case. Police Constable Brian Montague explained, “It’s pretty rare that someone commits an offense like this and keeps it to themselves. They usually tell somebody or they usually make some sort of a mistake and leave some information behind or leave some sort of trace and there’s a witness out there that has that piece of the puzzle that will allow us to solve it. Somebody out there has information that will be helpful … to the investigation.”

If you have any information about Jillian’s murder, contact the Vancouver Police Department Homicide Unit at (604) 717-2500 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Related Reading

“Crime Stoppers: Can you solve the 1993 murder of Jillian Fuller?”Global News article

“Tips wanted for 20-year-old unsolved murder of lawyer’s daughter”Canadian Lawyer Magazine article

Jillian Fuller – Vancouver Police Department case overview

Interested in unsolved murders? Check out the unsolved murder of Ricky McCormick and the slaying of Valerie Graves.

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