Colin Thatcher (born 25 August 1938 in Toronto) was a Canadian politician famous for his involvement in the murder of his ex-wife, JoAnn Wilson.
Colin Thatcher was the son of Wilbert Ross Thatcher, premier of Saskatchewan from 1964 to 1971. After his father's death under mysterious circumstances in 1971, Thatcher cultivated his own interest in politics. In 1975 he won the provincial riding of Thunder Creek on the Liberal Party ticket, but two years into his term defected to the Conservatives. The move was widely denounced by the Liberals, and also privately by his wife JoAnn, to whom Thatcher had been married since 1962. JoAnn felt disgraced by Thatcher's lack of respect for his former friends and colleagues, and their marriage began to disintegrate. Thatcher began a number of extramarital relationships which he made little effort to hide from public scrutiny. When confronted by these indiscretions by JoAnn, Thatcher is reported to have verbally and physically abused her.
Thatcher's dalliances did not adversely affect his popularity as a politician, and in 1978 he was re-elected to the Legislative Assembly. His marriage, however, did not fare so well, and in 1980, after nearly a year of legal battling, the couple divorced. JoAnn was awarded custody of two of their three children, plus $820,000 for her share of the marital property; the amount was one of the highest ever awarded by a Canadian divorce court. Thatcher formally contested the settlement and ignored its custody terms, at one point flying to JoAnn's new home in Brampton to kidnap the children. After JoAnn was shot and injured by an unidentified assailant the following year, she gave up her claim to custody of the remaining child and settled for about half of her original court award. Many people suspected Thatcher was behind the shooting, though police never charged anyone for the incident.
Again, Thatcher's political life was largely unaffected, and he won his third straight term as MLA in 1982. This term he was appointed to the provincial cabinet as Minister of Energy and Mines. However, following public criticism and disputes with then-premier Grant Devine, he resigned from the post the following year.
Four days later, on 21 January 1983, JoAnn was found bludgeoned and shot to death in the garage of her Regina home. Again, rumours abounded that Thatcher was in some way involved, though he was not formally charged until 7 May 1984 after a lengthy police investigation. Four key pieces of evidence eventually lead to Thatcher's arrest:
A gasoline receipt dated 17 January, apparently with Thatcher's name on it, was found near the murder scene.
Neighbours reported seeing a suspicious car around the time of the shooting; a car with a matching description and licence plate was subsequently found on Thatcher's property.
The ammunition used in the shooting was not commonly available on the Canadian market. However, the bullet and the type of gun thought to be used in the murder match those Thatcher had previously purchased on a trip to Florida.
Most damningly, a man named Gary Anderson confessed to police that he had been approached by Thatcher for help in the murder. Police convinced Anderson to wear a wire and visit Thatcher; in the conversation that was recorded Thatcher made several suspicious statements which implied he was involved in the crime.
Thatcher was tried for the murder of his ex-wife in Saskatoon in the autumn of 1984. He was found guilty, and was given a sentence of 25 years to life. He appealed the verdict, but the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal rejected the plea in 1986. Subsequent requests to the Supreme Court of Canada and the national Minister of Justice for a review of his case were also denied. A request for an early parole hearing was rejected in 2000, though the jury of a later hearing in 2003 decided that he was eligible to apply. He did so, and on 31 March 2004 the National Parole Board rejected his bid for early release. Throughout his trial and his appeals, Thatcher has steadfastly maintained his innocence, which he admits is probably the reason he has not yet been paroled. He was eventually paroled in late 2006.