On this week’s episode of the Dark Poutine podcast, we hear about the Ballarat Bandit also known as John Doe #39-04, who was a Canadian-born burglar named George Robert Johnston who gained nationwide attention as he spent the last several years of his life hiding from police in Death Valley National Park.
In 2003, Johnston began his criminal career by burglarizing multiple areas of Ballarat, California, for various odd items with which he supported himself, as well as stealing weapons and hiding them inside of his various campsites.
Johnston was very good at eluding police and they spent many months attempting to capture him. The best trackers were called and eventually, Johnston was cornered in Death Valley, near the town of Ballarat — this is how he got the name The Ballarat Bandit.
Rather than face prison when his capture was imminent, the man took his own life. His body was identified by fingerprint-matching in 2006, when the coroner thought to send his details to the RCMP. That’s when he was finally identified as 50-year-old George Robert Johnston, a Canadian, from Prince Edward Island.
He was a beloved husband and father of four beautiful daughters. His true motives for the chase through the desert died with him. He was buried in an unmarked grave in a potter’s field in San Bernardino, California.
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