1939: The only triple execution in Manitoba

On this date in 1939, the Canadian province of Manitoba carried out at Headingley Gaol the only triple execution in its history.

Peter Korzenowski and William Kanuka hanged side by side just after midnight that February 16, while their accomplice Dan Prytula waited 14 minutes for his turn on the gallows.

Less than a year before, drunk on moonshine, the trio beat and kicked 81-year-old Anna Cottick to death on her Dauphin-area farm in an attempt to plunder the place of a rumored $1,000. In fact, they only found twenty-three bucks.

According to an article that appeared on the regrettably extinct Manitoba’s Buried History site,

The process of finding enough corroborating evidence to obtain murder convictions was the stuff of modern crime dramas.

As soon as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrived at the Cottick farm, members noticed fresh tire tracks entering and leaving the yard. They were tracked three miles west to within 150 yards of Kanuka’s residence, and from there to the Gilbert Plains home of Prytula’s sister. The tire marks were a perfect match to the treads on Prytula’s 1929 Ford. It was confiscated and, while casts were taken of its treads, Prytula was arrested and his blood-stained clothes, boots and three .32 calibre bullets were seized and sent to the RCMP crime lab for testing.

As one group of police officers were arresting Prytula and Korzenowski, another searched the Cottick residence for additional evidence. Almost immediately they noticed what appeared to be fingerprints on the glass smashed by the assailants. Fragments were sent to experts in Winnipeg, along with a window frame and piece of wall where the bullets fired by Korzenowski and Prytula lodged.

The RCMP also searched the residence and yard of Korzenowski, located a few hundred yards from where Kanuka had been staying. There they found the revolvers used in the break-ins, hidden in a pile of stones. Korzenowski was promptly arrested, and three days later he and his two friends were part of an identification line-up paraded in front of the hospital beds of the Cotticks.*

To top all that off, they bugged the men’s jail cell with a dictograph and snared them in several incriminating conversations. Representative remark: the lawyers are so expensive, “No wonder one has to go robbing.”

* Anna’s 91-year-old husband survived the home invasion.

On this day..

13 thoughts on “1939: The only triple execution in Manitoba

  1. Hey law guy, I think you of all people should understand that, your words are worthy of nothing but a perspective and continuing to act like your words will only get you into to deep trouble. It’s clear you’re a family member or friend upset with what history has written and you must feel implied to speak lies. ????

  2. Hello Kirk,

    ( My message may or may not appear online as I self-admit it is outside the focus of this blog. )

    Would you be a descendant of the great writer Joseph Conrad ( Lord Jim / In the Heart of Darkness ) ?
    As seeing your surname reminds me his real name was Theodor Joseph Korzenowski.
    But perhaps it was Korzeniowski with an ” i ” ?
    Anyway even so these are variants of the same Polish name.
    And it is great to share a surname with such a talented author !

    Best Regards


  3. i need more info on the not published info. Kirk i need to speak to you. please reply what you mean by the others that may have been involved.

    • This is for you Mr.Lawguy you want to trash my grandpa, grow some balls and come and talk that crap to me !!!!!!!!!

      • The man whose name you totally misspelled was the snitch from what I recall. I knew his family…fyi, he’s long dead now, suicide after a diagnosis of cancer. Whatever shots you say he called doesn’t take away form the horrible crime committed or the guilt of the others.

  4. I’ve represented a couple of people the police found because they committed their thefts just after new fallen snow and the police followed them to their home because their foot prints were the only ones in the snow. How completely dumb. They deserved to hang.

    • you are a dumb ass. You pussy. I know more about this than you will ever know. So shut your mouth and don’t talk about things you know nothing about. You waste of skin.

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