WINCHESTER — Trouble seemed to follow Jimmy Wise everywhere. And some of it was of his own doing.
Born in North Dundas, one of 12 children, Wise early on compiled a criminal record of robbery, theft, and weapons possessions, but went on to become a talented mechanic. He also became a person of interest in five area murders, including the 1983 murder of Brinston farmer Harold Davidson and the 1987 murder of dairy farmer Wallace Johnston. Both were shot through a farmhouse window.
Now in his 80th year, wheelchair bound, and living in a local retirement home, Wise was acquitted in the most recent case. The Ontario Court of Appeal last month declined to hear the Crown’s appeal in the murder charge for the death of Winchester Springs handyman Raymond Collison.
Collison went missing in 2009. His skull was found in a drainage ditch under Thompson Road, north of Winchester, just east of Jaquemet Farms grain elevator, by two teenagers in 2014. He had been shot once in the back of the head and four times in the back. The Crown had called more than 50 witnesses but their case was “entirely circumstantial,” the appeal court determined.
Among evidence considered during the trial, the court was told that Wise had threatened Collison and told him to stay away from his repair shop. Wise had once owned an engine belt, similar to the one wrapped around Collison’s remains. Wise also sold Collison’s truck and trailer for $1,600 while Collison was still missing. In 1987, Wise was also charged with mischief after a $2-million communications tower toppled at Williamsburg. Cables that supported the tower had been cut with a blow torch. Wise stood trial twice for mischief. He was found not guilty, then guilty. Wise appealed.
He won and sued the OPP for defamation and settled out of court in 2002, under terms that neither Wise nor the OPP have disclosed.