Investigating Suspects in the Death of Peter Verigin

A critical thinking challenge for students, ages 16-18


Late in the evening of October 28, 1924, Peter Verigin boarded a Canadian Pacific Railway train at Brilliant, British Columbia, the headquarters of the Doukhobor community. About one in the morning a horrific explosion blew away the roof and sides of the coach. Verigin and eight others perished in the explosion, which investigators on the scene quickly concluded was no accident.

Known by the single name “Lordly,” Peter Verigin lived like royalty among a group of Russian immigrants to Canada, the Doukhobors, whose motto was “Toil and Peaceful Life.” The Doukhobors preached equality and rejected the authority of both Church and State. As a result, they were persecuted in Russia. In 1902, their leader, Peter Verigin, and many of his community came to Canada to take up a new life.

Who could have been responsible for the death of Peter Verigin? Although it may have been an unfortunate accident, at least five groups and individuals were identified as possible suspects in the murder of Verigin. You are invited to follow the evidence pointing to one of these suspects and decide to what degree this group/person deserves to be treated as a serious suspect in Verigin’s death.

The Task

This MysteryQuest invites you to make a recommendation to cold case detectives who might want to reopen an investigation into Verigin’s death. Your task is to examine some of the evidence related to one of five groups or individuals who are identified as possible suspects.

You are to select one of these suspects and decide whether it would be worthwhile for the cold case crime unit to pursue further investigation of this person or group. Before preparing your recommendation, you will familiarize yourself with the historical context of the case and examine four documents pertaining to the suspect you have chosen to investigate. After identifying evidence for possible involvement in Verigin’s death, you are to indicate how seriously the crime unit should investigate this suspect.

continue investigation …

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