This is part one of a three part series about the Kristopher Brophy and Michelle Haseloh investigation dubbed Operation MORMO which, to date, has resulted in 10 individuals facing 156 charges under the Wildlife Act and four charges under the Criminal Code.

This was a lengthy, comprehensive, and complex investigation involving the Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Branch (FWEB) of Alberta Justice and Solicitor General. The investigation involved approximately 13 Fish and Wildlife Field Officers, the FWEB Major Investigations and Intelligence Unit (MIIU), the FWEB Forensic Lab, Edmonton Police Service with AIR1, the Stony Plain RCMP and theRCMP Tech Crimes Unit. Complex investigative techniques, surveillance, multiple search and general warrants, statement taking, surrogate decoys, DNA, and computer/ cell phone forensics were utilized to complete the investigation and piece together the myriad of wildlife crimes committed.

THE BEGINNING
In 2010, fish and wildlife officers received a number of complaints about the unlawful hunting activities of Kristopher Brophy and Michelle Haseloh during the 2010 hunting season. Officers made various attempts to apprehend the pair hunting
in the field on several occasions but were unsuccessful. It was at this time that Brophy was identified as a person of interest which caused the FWEB to gather intelligence in order to curb the illegal activity and apprehend the suspects.

On November 5, 2011, fish and wildlife officers planned and conducted a surrogate operation in the Edmonton Bow Zone in an effort to deter the rampant use of firearms to illegally shoot trophy deer. On this particular operation, a grey Dodge truck stopped at the decoy and the driver was observed to fire a .22-250 rifle out of the truck window. Officers identified the shooter as Kristopher Brophy and the
passenger as his girlfriend Michelle Haseloh.

Brophy's Dodge truck after the surrogate stop.

Officers collected a significant amount of information that corroborated information they had received during the previous year. The evidence collected during the surrogate event resulted in increased surveillance of Brophy. For the next month, FWEB officers monitored the movements and activities of the primary suspects, Brophy and Haseloh.

On November 16, 2011, Brophy's Hummer was found to be parked on the edge of a dead-end road in the Evansburg District. After the vehicle left the scene, an Evansburg fish and wildlife officer followed fresh tracks from the location where the vehicle was parked next to a pile of grain, a tree stand, and a trail camera on the property adjacent to where the vehicle was parked.


Tree stand found over an illegal bait pile.

On November 23, 2011, Stony Plain fish and wildlife officers located two abandoned headless white-tailed deer carcasses in a specific area along the North Saskatchewan River. Officers gathered evidence and collected samples for DNA analysis and matching.

     
Remains of two deer associatied with this investigation found along the North Saskatchewan River.

On November 27 and 28, 2011, the suspects were followed to private property in the Carvel area. Officers suspected that bait was being deployed at the location but were not able to confirm this information until much later in the investigation.

On November 30, 2011, during the last day of the regular hunting season, Brophy and a friend were hunting the back roads from Edmonton to the Drayton Valley district. Brophy's Dodge truck stopped on the road and then entered a field near Drayton Valley and
moments later left this field. A fish and wildlife officer from Drayton Valley went to the field and collected DNA from two kill sites found in the field. 

On December 1, 2011, Brophy was scheduled to attend court in Stony Plain to appear on the charges arising from the surrogate
operation, however, the charges were set over for a new date. Immediately after leaving the court house, Brophy returned to his residence, switched vehicles, and travelled to an area east and south of Edmonton to a remote location on the banks of the North
Saskatchewan River. This location was noted to be in the same vicinity of the first carcass dump site identified on November 23. After Brophy left the area, fish and wildlife officers discovered the carcasses of another two white-tailed deer. One had been caped, and both were headless. DNA samples and other evidence were collected by officers.


Two headless white-tailed deer carcasses dumped near the North Saskatchewan River.

On December 2, 2011, Brophy's Dodge was monitored as it travelled within the Bow Zone in the Stony Plain district. Officers
watched the vehicle quickly leave the area and return to the Brophy residence. Officers watching the residence observed
two males exit the Dodge and leave in the Hummer. The Hummer was followed back to the same area that they had been in earlier, then to a secluded location within the Edmonton district. The vehicle later returned to the Brophy residence. The males went into the residence and came out with Haseloh. The three of them examined something in the back of the Hummer. Shortly thereafter, the second male left in his vehicle and Brophy and Haseloh followed in the Hummer. The vehicles were followed to the Mill Woods Golf Course children's park, within the City of Edmonton, where a white-tailed buck was unloaded from the Hummer, taken to the tree line for a photo shoot, reloaded in the Hummer, and then taken to Chad Rich's residence in Edmonton. Fish and wildlife officers collected DNA evidence from the kill site in the Bow Zone, the secluded area in the city where the deer had been field dressed, and the Mill Woods Golf Course.

On December 11, 2011, the Major Investigations and Intelligence Unit arranged for assistance of the Edmonton Police Service (EPS). Brophy and Haseloh were apprehended during a dramatic arrest by the EPS with the assistance of the EPS helicopter AIR1, after killing a white-tailed deer with a .22 magnum rifle at night within the Edmonton City limits.


Brophy's dodge with a deer carcass in the back, from EPS AIR1 video.


Brophy and Haseloh stopped by Edmonton City Police, from AIR1 video.

Following Brophy and Haseloh's arrest by the Edmonton Police Service, the task of putting the pieces together began. Statements
were obtained, multiple search warrants were executed, and forensic examinations were completed on seized phones, computers, and electronic storage media. DNA testing was done on items seized from multiple locations including the vehicles owned by Brophy. DNA comparisons where made between the seized samples and samples collected from the field by fish and wildlife officers.

During the course of the investigation, officers obtained evidence to indicate that six white-tailed deer, one mule deer, two moose, one elk and one black bear had been killed by Brophy and his associates in 2010 and 2011.

Offences included hunting during a closed season, hunting at night, trafficking in wildlife, hunting in a dangerous manner, unlawful possession of wildlife, hunting on game farms, unlawfully using bait, obtaining licences while ineligible, unlawful use of tags, wastage of usable wildlife, hunting on land without permission, shooting from vehicles, and shooting from roads.

This is one of the largest investigations into illegal recreational hunting in the history of Alberta Fish and Wildlife, revealing unprecedented levels of illegal activity with the primary goal of the participants being to obtain and collect trophy heads.


To be continued in the Summer 2013 issue of the WESTERN CANADIAN GAME WARDEN ...

Author: Quentin Isley
Quentin is a member of the
Alberta Game Warden Association..

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