Barbara Stoppel worked at the Ideal Donut Shop as a waitress. It was a part-time after school job for her as she was still in high school. She was sadly murdered one evening at work on December, 23, 1981 sometime between the hours of 8:15-8:45 p.m. She was found strangled in the womens washroom and was rushed to St. Boniface Hospital. She was kept on life support for a few days, however there was no chance of survival due to the severe head trauma. There were several witnesses whom observed some strange actions from outside the donut shop that evening.
The suspect was described as being a white male, 21-30 years of age, scruffy-looking brown hair with sideburns, poor complexion, with a tall and slim build. He was wearing prescription glasses, a dark brown or black cowboy hat, a dark-coloured waist length coat, blue jeans and round-toed or cowboy boots. One of the witnesses followed the suspect around behind the shopping centre and across the Norwood bridge where they had a confrontation. The suspect escaped, but not before he threw the evidence over the bridge into the river. A box, some gloves and some extra twine used in the killing.
Based on the original belief that the source of the twine was from a manufacturer based in the west coast and it being a unique piece of twine the police decided to focus the investigation there. Based on this information the primary suspect was Thomas Sophonow. He was a 28 year old Vancouver resident whom frequently travelled to Winnipeg. He was similar in appearance to the composite drawing and was in Winnipeg on the night of the murder. He was charged with the crime, however in 1985 after three trials, the Manitoba Court of Appeal aquitted him of the murder. On June, 8, 2000 he was exonerated of any wrongdoing after an internal analysis of the case determined he was not responsible.
This brings us to Terry Arnold; the other suspect in this investigation. Arnold lived directly across the street from the donut shop and occasionally went to the donut shop for coffee. It was also found out later that he used to work with Stoppel at the Red River Exhibition Park and it was rumored that he had a crush on her. He was interviewed several times however there was never any solid evidence to link him to the crime. No fingerprints, video or DNA. Arnold ended up commiting suicide in 2005 leaving a three-page suicide note and in it denying any involvement with Barbara Stoppel's murder. There are just so many reasons to believe this man was guilty. Stay tuned to learn more about this case and hope you enjoy!