File and Evidence Missing from 1976 Murder Case


Robert Thomas

In 1976 Moose Jaw was home to one of most sensational and brutal murders in the history of the province. As of today the original file and exhibits related to the murder are missing. 

According to the now defunct Moose Jaw Times Herald, on November 11th, Dr Isabelitta “Beth” Joven was found murdered and the house at 605 Main Street South was intentionally set on fire. The cause of death was multiple stab wounds. The victim had also been struck with a blunt instrument according to a November 12, 1976 front page report. 

Theft was ruled out as a reason for the murder, as there was no forced entry, the Times-Herald reported.

Dr Joven originated from the Philippines but had lived elsewhere in Canada before moving to Moose Jaw in the early 1970s. She worked as a pediatrician at the Valleyview Centre. She also held an office in the Hammond Block.

After an investigation Ann Schepens was charged and an initial trial was held in Moose Jaw. The trial ended in a mistrial due to the jury hearing evidence “not properly admissible in a court of law,” according to the book Moose Jaw Murders and Other Deaths by Bruce Fairman.

The brutality of the murder was detailed in a report from the pathologist who said the body had a minimum of 126 wounds.

After a change of venue and a second trial in Saskatoon Schepens was subsequently acquitted due to a lack of evidence. She was found innocent of the crime. 

Throughout the entire interrogation, trial and meetings with the police she consistently maintained her innocence and in the end was vindicated. At trial it was revealed that she was in the house before the fire and police departments arrived.

After 39 years a police report dated May 28, 2015 said that in relation to inquires into the case a search found the original police file no longer existed nor could any exhibits be found.

The file was part of a group of police files obtained through the Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (LAFOIP) by MJ Independent. Saskatchewan municipal police forces came under FOI and privacy guidelines effective January 1st of this year. The RCMP was already subject to FOI and privacy legislation.

So far one of the most noticeable public changes from the new regulations has been that the daily Moose Jaw Police Services (MJPS) crime reports no longer contain the locations as to where any incident happens. This is due to privacy concerns. 

The LAFOIP request asked for all items stolen, lost or misplaced, including anything which might be construed as evidence in possession of the MJPS from January 2013 to June 2018. The record of the missing police file and evidence came up as part of that search. 

SEE RELATED- MJPS: Lost, Missing, Stolen & Misplaced

The documentation also stated the officer searching for the original file and evidence then went to the Court of Queen's Bench where he secured all documentation. 

“The court documents only relate to the original indictment and exhibit list, a psychiatric examination, a bail order and related documents to a mis-trial and a change of venue. These documents will be enclosed in this file,” the report stated. 

The report also stated that the crime scene photos still existed and would be exhibited with an indefinite retention date. 

Although the documents released are redacted and protect the identity of the murder victim as, well as the identity of the individual subsequently charged. Given the severity of the crime the files provide enough information that when combined with a search of old newspapers from that time identify all involved.

It needs to once again be noted that the individual charged was, in the end, acquitted (found not guilty) at trial. 

MJPS did not respond to questioning about this file by press time.

The police do not confirm or deny involvement in any open and active cases. A reliable source familiar with the case, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the case is still an open file. 

The one page report does not state when the original file and exhibits went missing. There is the potential, given that the case is almost 41 years old, that the file and evidence may have gone missing or been misplaced before the tenure of any officer now active with the MJPS.

There also is NO EVIDENCE of anything nefarious about the files and exhibits now missing. 

To this date nobody has ever been convicted in the 1976 murder of Beth Joven, if you have any information relating to this crime contact MJPS or Crime Stoppers.

If you are getting older and if the victims screams and the brutality of the crime is eating away at your conscience and you would like to confess for committing this crime the MJPS would like to hear from you as well.