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Okanagan Historical Society presents a history of murder and mayhem

On Thursday 31 March Randy Manuel, President of the Okanagan Historical Society and former Director of the Penticton Museum, gave a fascinating talk about a bizarre murder case that took place 53 years ago.

In the summer of 1958, Anita Budde, a backpacker from Germany, was brutally murdered in a picker’s cabin in a Penticton orchard.  A manhunt for the murder suspect followed, complete with posses and airplane searches.  Unfortunately the search airplane crashed and killed the three policemen inside. Meanwhile Kelowna was preparing for the visit of Princess Margaret who was to open the newly constructed floating bridge across Okanagan Lake.  At the same time an exploded car containing one decimated corpse and one badly injured man was found in a remote area.  They were apparently Sons of Freedom Doukhobors whose plan to blow up Princess Margaret and the floating bridge went terribly wrong.  Police resources were stretched to the limit dealing with both these cases.

The Anita Budde murder suspect was eventually found but turned out to be the wrong guy.  He was, however, dangerously insane and was committed to a mental institution as was the real murder suspect when he was discovered.  The result of all this mayhem was that three policemen and one “terrorist” died; Princess Margaret and the floating bridge lived to see another day; one Son of Freedomite was blown up and another put on trial, and two murder suspects were institutionalized.  But no one was ever charged with the murder of Anita Budde.

Randy Manuel’s presentation was organized by the Similkameen Branch of the Okanagan Historical Society (OHSS), and was preceded by the Society’s Annual General Meeting.  Elected to the new Board were Jon Bartlett (President and Editor), Terry Malanchuk (Vice President), Rika Ruebsaat (Secretary-Treasurer) and Directors Brenda Gould, John Henry, Ole Juul and Angelique Wood. The society has many upcoming activities, including a Mascot Mine tour for members and the cleanup of a small historic stamp mill above Hedley.  If you would like more information about the OHSS please call 250-295-6010.