Whitehorse Daily Star

2 Sisters Slain In Dawson

Two sisters between the ages of 40 and 50 were found shot to death on a secluded mining road in the Indian River area about 80 kilometres south of Dawson City.

By Whitehorse Star on August 21, 1985

The Whitehorse Star, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 1985

2 SISTERS SLAIN IN DAWSON

Two sisters between the ages of 40 and 50 were found shot to death on a secluded mining road in the Indian River area about 80 kilometres south of Dawson City.

Dawson City RCMP are releasing few details about the incident, though several sources say one of the dead women is Donna Ryan, also known as Donna Edgar, who has placer mined in the Dawson area for at least eight years.

The second dead woman is Ryan's sister, believed to have been visiting Ryan from out of the territory.

Sources say police are seeking a middle aged man who was married to Donna Ryan for questioning.

The bodies were found on Hunker Road near a mining camp pick-up truck one of the women had been driving, sources say.

Police say they believe the shooting took place sometime Sunday evening. They would not say this morning what weapon or weapons had been used in the shooting, or if a weapon has been recovered.

Sources say it appeared one woman was shot in the truck. Then, the other tried to help her out of the truck to flee. Their bodies were found some distance from the truck.

Police said the incident was first reported as a car accident by a passing motorist who came across the empty truck.

Another driver stopped at the scene to check out the vehicle and discovered the bodies.

Ryan and her partner ran a placer mining camp called Paydirt Holdings that employed about a dozen people. Ryan operated the heavy equipment and did a lot of the mining work herself.

Friends of Ryan say she was a cheerful, happy woman. "She was the nicest person you could ever meet,” said one person, who asked not to be named. "She was always smiling and laughing.”

The person said some miners at Ryan's camp are apprehensive after the deaths, fearing that a killer might be on the loose in the bush.

"It's scary.”

The Whitehorse Star, Friday, August 23, 1985

HUSBAND, 2ND MAN, CHARGED WITH GUNNING DOWN SISTERS

The estranged husband of a Dawson City woman has been charged, along with another man, with two counts of first degree murder in connection with the Sunday shooting death of the woman and her sister.

Jack Clayton Edgar, 56, and Michael Ropchan, 52, both of Edmonton, were arrested in the Alberta city Wednesday by Edmonton RCMP. The two are to appear in territorial court in Whitehorse Monday.

Both men have been involved in placer mining in the Mayo and Dawson areas, said Whitehorse RCMP Sgt. Ed Zawyrucha.

Edgar was married to one of the victims. Donna Marie Ryan, 44, though the two had been split for a couple of years. Friends say the two used to mine together in the Dawson area.

Ryan and her sister Ardis Lorraine Conlon a 47 year old Edmonton schoolteacher - were found shot to death Monday night on a secluded mining road in the Indian River area, some 80 kilometres south of Dawson City.

Conlon had been visiting her sister.

RCMP said the incident was first reported as a motor vehicle accident at about 10:00 p.m. when a motorist spotted the empty camp pick-up the women had been driving. Another motorist stopped to check and discovered the bodies, which were some distance from the truck.

Police said the two sisters were driving into Dawson from a mining claim when they were accosted and killed.

Sources say it appeared one woman had been shot in the truck and the other had tried to help her flee.

Autopsies have confirmed the women died from gunshot wounds.

Ryan ran a placer mining company called Paydirt Holdings Ltd. on Black Hills Creek with her partner. She had worked in the Dawson area for at least eight years, friends say.

The women's funeral is Saturday in Vermilion, Alta., the home of their parents.

Comments (1)

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Becky Striegler on Aug 15, 2017 at 7:00 pm

Hi there,
I was the reporter who originally wrote these stories (for the Whitehorse Star) and covered the court case in the 1980s. The sister was Ardis Conlon, not Conion. Think it's a typo in the transition to the online version.

Moderator: Thanks. It has been corrected.

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