Hougen Group

Murder in the Yukon part four

In the fall of 1907, a would-be prospector named Ned Elfors met Yukoners David Bergman and Emil Anderson in Seattle. The three men decided to travel together to Whitehorse. When they arrived in the spring of 1908, they bought a boat and headed down the Yukon River bound for Dawson.

They intended on living off the land so, on June 8, Ned Elfors and Dave Bergman went hunting. Elfors returned to the make-shift camp - alone.

There he convinced Emil Anderson that he needed help and, while walking behind him in the woods, Elfors shot Anderson in the neck.

Wounded but still alive, Anderson escaped and made his way to Fort Selkirk, a distance of twelve miles and told the story to the Mounties.

There, NWMP Constable Franklin Thompson began a hunt for Elfors and on June 10, about 100 kilometres downriver from Selkirk, he captured Elfors while sleeping in his tent. He had four hundred dollars and two loaded rifles by his side. The body of David Bergman was uncovered on June 17. He had taken five bullets in his head.

Elfor's trial was held in Dawson on July 6, 1908. In just ten minutes, the jury found him guilty of first degree murder. Elfors was hung in Dawson City October 6, 1908.

The last of eleven executions in the Yukon was that of Barney West. He was described by friends as a kind but simple-minded person, who worked as a delivery man for a local Dawson City store.

West was convicted of murdering prospector Mike Essansa, in a botched robbery attempt. The last Yukon hanging took place in Dawson City on September 27, 1932.

On July 14, 1976, the House of Commons passed Bill C-84 on a free vote, abolishing capital punishment from the Canadian Criminal Code.

A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin

See also: Murder in the Yukon - 1
Murder in the Yukon - 2
Murder in the Yukon - 3