The Chilling Death Of Cindy James Is Still A Mystery

On June 8, 1989, a woman's body was found outside an abandoned home in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada. As reported by Unsolved Mysteries, the woman's hands and feet were bound behind her back. Further examination revealed a black nylon stocking was secured tightly around her neck, and a toxicology test confirmed she had several drugs in her system — including a fatal dose of morphine. At a separate location, authorities found an abandoned vehicle with blood on the driver's side door. They also found several personal items — including a wallet — scattered around and underneath the car. The car and wallet belonged to 44-year-old Cindy James, who was also identified as the woman found outside the abandoned home.

Although it initially appeared that James had been abducted and murdered, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police ultimately ruled that she died by suicide. Unsolved Mysteries reports the way James' body was found was enough for her family and friends to doubt the authorities' conclusion. However, disturbing details about the seven years preceding James' death raised even more questions. Over those seven years, James claims she was incessantly harassed, physically attacked, and stalked by an unknown person who left her in fear for her life.

She said the stalking began four months after her divorce

As reported by The Vancouver Sun, Cynthia "Cindy" Elizabeth Hack James was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia. Following her graduation from high school, James attended college and earned a degree in nursing. In 1966, she married Roy Makepeace, who was a psychiatrist. James spent 12 years working with preschool-age children with special needs, a job that she found greatly rewarding. She then went on to work at Richmond General Hospital.

In 1982, James and Roy separated. Four months later, James began receiving harassing phone calls from a man whose voice she did not recognize. In an interview with Unsolved Mysteries, James' mother, Tillie, described the unusual calls her daughter received. According to Tillie, James "said it was just a voice. Sometimes it would change, the sound, and sometimes it was just whispering. Sometimes it was just nothing, just silence." As the calls continued, James began reporting the incidents to authorities. However, the harassment only intensified.

She told authorities she was physically assaulted multiple times

In addition to the harassing calls, Cindy James began receiving threatening letters on her doorstep. She also reported hearing someone creeping around outside her home. As reported by Unsolved Mysteries, she also reported that someone destroyed the lights on the exterior of her home and cut the telephone line. On four different occasions, James reported finding dead cats in her yard. Per The Vancouver Sun, she also reported someone broke into her home and slashed her pillow with a knife or other sharp-edged object. However, the most disturbing incidents involved physical violence against James herself.

In an interview with Unsolved Mysteries, one of James' close friends recalls a disturbing incident she encountered when visiting James' home. Agnes Woodcock said her friend did not answer the door when she knocked. Although she initially assumed James was taking a bath, she became concerned when she heard unusual noises. She eventually found her friend crouching in the yard with a nylon stocking tied around her neck.

James told Woodcock someone grabbed her from behind and assaulted her while she was walking to her garage. However, she did not see the man's face, and all she remembered was that he was wearing white sneakers. The incident prompted James to move to a new home, paint her car a different color, and change her last name. Despite all of those measures, James said the harassment did not stop.

Cindy James reported nearly 100 incidents of harassment

On one occasion, The Vancouver Sun reports Cindy James was found unconscious with a knife embedded in her hand. When interviewed by police, James said a man entered her yard through a back gate and struck her on the head. On another occasion, she claimed she was attacked while walking her dog. Over a period of seven years, James reported nearly 100 incidents involving her unknown stalker. In addition to the calls, letters, and physical attacks, Edmonton Journal reports that James' home was severely damaged in a fire — which was determined to be caused by arson. However, authorities had begun to suspect she was personally involved in many, if not all, of the incidents.

Following one of the reported physical attacks at her home, authorities asked James to take a lie detector test. As reported by The Vancouver Sun, she ultimately consented to two tests, and both suggested she was being untruthful. Although she ultimately changed the details of her story, James insisted she was physically attacked. At one point, James suggested her former husband, Roy Makepeace, may have been responsible for the harassment. However, authorities organized week-long surveillance of Makepeace and were unable to prove he had any involvement.

It has been suggested that she experienced mental illness

At the request of authorities, a doctor — with the last name Marcus — examined all of Cindy James' reports and police documentation related to those reports. He also personally interviewed James on two occasions. As reported by The Vancouver Sun, Marcus said he believes James was sexually abused as an adolescent or a child. As a result of the abuse, she developed a "borderline personality" and had trouble distinguishing between periods of neurosis and reality. Marcus also suggested James may eventually commit suicide.

Although Marcus concluded James had a mental illness, he noted that she was genuinely experiencing fear. He also acknowledged that he could not rule out the possibility that James actually was being stalked and attacked. Unsolved Mysteries reports that private investigator Ozzie Kaban, who James hired to try to identify her stalker, said he understands why authorities doubted his client. "She would be evasive, she would withhold information, and she simply would not act as a normal victim would act," he said. However, James' mother said her daughter was in fear for her life, as her stalker had threatened to kill her and her family if she told anyone what happened to her.

Authorities, however, focused on James' changing stories and a lack of evidence despite spending countless hours and an estimated $1.5 million investigating her complaints (per Unsolved Mysteries). Authorities also had James under surveillance, but the incidents only happened when they were not around.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Nobody knows what really happened to Cindy James

It has also been suggested that Cindy James set fire to her own house. As reported by Unsolved Mysteries, journalist Neal Hall noted there were no signs of forced entry into the house, and the fire originated inside. However, a family friend, who was inside the home when the fire started, said he saw a man standing outside the house who ran away when confronted.

James' father said he is disappointed that authorities determined his daughter died by suicide. In an interview with Unsolved Mysteries, he said the sheer amount of drugs in James' system would have prevented her from tying her own arms and legs together behind her back. However, others have argued that she would have had enough time to tie herself up before the drugs took effect.

Although Canadian authorities have concluded James died by suicide, the coroner was unable to determine the manner of death and listed it as an "unknown event."

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.