The case the internet got wrong
A new investigation sheds light on Lindsay Buziak’s unsolved murder, revealing a vast web of misinformation
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A new investigation sheds light on Lindsay Buziak’s unsolved murder, revealing a vast web of misinformation
A new investigation sheds light on Lindsay Buziak’s unsolved murder, revealing a vast web of misinformation
A new investigation sheds light on Lindsay Buziak’s unsolved murder, revealing a vast web of misinformation
In 2019, Capital Daily embarked on a long-term investigation to uncover new information about one of true crime’s more frequently cited unsolved murders. After three years, 200 interviews, and gaining access to more than 1,500 pages of court documents filed by police to support their requests for orders and warrants for the investigation, it is finally ready to reveal its reporting. The result answers questions that have eluded 15 years of heavy media coverage, and dispels misinformation that police say could be damaging their case.
Warning: This story contains graphic language and descriptions of violence
“All true crime fanatics have that one case that keeps them up at night,” a TikTok influencer told her audience of more than 400,000 followers. “Mine is the murder of Lindsay Buziak.”
Lindsay, a 24-year-old real estate agent, was stabbed to death on Feb. 2, 2008, while showing a vacant house to an unidentified man and woman. Her boyfriend at the time, 27-year-old Jason Zailo, discovered her body. Fifteen years later, her murder remains one of Vancouver Island’s most infamous events. With no arrests and few answers from police, conspiracy theories and speculation have spread like Pacific wildfire.
In her next sentence, the TikTok creator mistakes Lindsay’s hometown, Victoria, for Vancouver. It’s the first of many errors, and among the least troubling part of her account. Throughout the rest of the three-minute video, and in the comment section, she gets fact after fact wrong—from purported details about Lindsay’s relationship to what she describes as the lack of footprints in the home—leading to the proliferation of more misinformation and unfounded conclusions.
“Many believe it was her bf,” reads one of several similar comments.
“Totally Shirley,” reads another, naming Jason’s mother.
The TikTok has more than 70,000 likes and 1,000 comments. And it’s just one of many retellings. There are more than 100 YouTube videos about the murder that, in total, have been viewed more than 10 million times. Between 2019 and 2022, an average of one video or podcast episode about the murder was made every week. Lindsay’s case has also been covered by Dateline NBC, Crime Watch Daily, Investigation Discovery, and even Dr. Phil. Much of that coverage contains inaccuracies or further propagates misinformation.
In the true-crime era of The Staircase and Serial, “the boyfriend did it” has become a kitsch-worthy slogan. To some, Lindsay’s case is no different. For the last decade-and-a-half, Jason Zailo and his family have been repeatedly portrayed as potential villains, despite the Saanich Police Department (SPD) announcing, as early as February 2009, that Jason was “not a suspect.” (The SPD declined to comment for this story.)
“It’s like a movie I watched, but I can’t seem to get out of it,” Shirley, 67, told Capital Daily. “But unfortunately, we’re in it. We are the characters.”
Until now, accounts of Lindsay’s murder have largely been driven by her father, Jeff Buziak, who has been among a few people close to Lindsay willing to speak publicly. In Jeff’s telling, Jason Zailo’s mother Shirley was a controlling and overbearing presence in Lindsay and Jason’s relationship, and purchased and renovated a lakefront house for the couple to move into. Jeff has also said that Lindsay told him she saw something “she shouldn’t have,” a claim that appears in many true-crime versions of Lindsay’s murder.
In a rare interview, Lindsay’s mother, Evelyn Reitmayer, cast doubt on several of Jeff’s claims. She said she didn’t believe the Zailos were involved in her daughter’s murder, and said she understood Shirley’s decision to take legal action against her ex-husband and two people who allegedly posted regularly to lindsaybuziakmurder.com, a website he created with the help of two supporters.
Reitmayer also wanted to make it clear that Jeff does not represent her, and that she has minimal contact with him. She said she was “disgusted” by the media frenzy and speculation surrounding her daughter’s murder.
“The internet speculation, the sensationalization, the misinformation and the defamation linked to Lindsay’s passing are all so negative while Lindsay herself was such a bright light of positivity and joy,” Reitmayer wrote in a statement following her interview with Capital Daily. “It’s all so unnecessary and has made an horrific situation even worse. I am hopeful that one day soon justice will be served, which will put an end to it all.”
Lindsay Elizabeth Buziak was born on Nov. 2, 1983. Jeff Buziak worked as a real estate agent and Reitmayer was a stay-at-home mother. In 1986, they had another daughter, Sara. From the kitchen of her home, Reitmayer described Lindsay as “such a happy little thing. She was smart. She was full of joy.”
Lindsay was social, but had a timid side and would cling to her mother. Fashion-conscious from a young age, she once asked Reitmayer for some grape bubblegum because it matched her dress. Reitmayer told her she would buy her what she needed, but not wanted, so Lindsay got her first job as a young teen at the Sirens clothing store in Mayfair mall.
The family spent summers in Lake Cowichan, where they kept a trailer on an RV lot. Sara told Capital Daily she remembered the Lake Cowichan days fondly, and learned to swim because she wanted to keep up with her sister. She and Reitmayer both described Lindsay as supportive of others. When Lindsay saw a boy being picked on at school, Reitmayer said her daughter stood up for him. “I was really proud because that’s the way you’re supposed to be.”
In the mid-1990s, the marriage came undone. After the split, Reitmayer was awarded primary custody of their daughters. In the early 2000s, Jeff moved to Calgary, Alberta, where he’s lived ever since and now works as a commercial real estate agent.
When she was 18, Lindsay started dating Matt MacDuff. MacDuff said on Dateline that he and Lindsay had a “stormy relationship,” though he denied ever being physically violent toward her. When Capital Daily reached MacDuff by phone in 2021, he declined to speak at length, saying he didn’t want his daughters reading about a prior girlfriend. Capital Daily followed up with him more recently, but he said he was travelling and “unavailable to speak for the next few months.”
MacDuff was in another relationship at the time of Lindsay’s murder, and denied having anything to do with her death in his interview with Dateline. Lindsay’s relationship with MacDuff ended around the middle of 2006. According to Dateline, they’d had no contact for “months” before the murder.
At some point, Lindsay became focused on a career in real estate. She enrolled in the UBC Sauder School of Business real estate trading services program, and got help with math from Helen Jones, a real estate tutor in Victoria. At Jones’s workshop in 2005, Lindsay ran into Jason Zailo, whom she knew from around the city and who’d previously played competitive hockey. “We just clicked,” Jason, now 42, told Capital Daily.
Lindsay passed her real estate exam in June 2006, becoming one of 20 real estate agents in Greater Victoria who were estimated to be under the age of 25, according to the Times Colonist. For most of the next year and a half, Lindsay worked for a real estate company called Maverick, which was marketing townhouses in the Westshore.
Lindsay and Jason’s paths crossed again around the same time Lindsay became licensed. By then, Lindsay and MacDuff were calling it quits. According to Lindsay’s friend, Vicky Mackie, Lindsay was impressed by the Zailos. “She really looked up to the fact that (Jason) was in the real estate industry, and his mom was too,” Mackie told Capital Daily. “It seemed like she was happy with his mom, and excited to be a part of their circle.”
Reitmayer said Lindsay specifically advertised Jason as not being a drug user. “That was a big deal for her,” she told Capital Daily.
In early 2007, Shirley purchased a home on Shawnigan Lake. Shirley told Capital Daily the home was purchased after the deaths of both her parents, and that it was intended as a vacation spot for family and friends. Lindsay and Jason spent the summer in a basement suite of the lakehouse and had free run of the upstairs when no one else was there.
Jeff has long said that Shirley purchased the home for the young couple “to move into”—a claim that, for some, seemed to suggest that Lindsay was being enticed away from her family. But Shirley, Evelyn Reitmayer, and Sara Buziak all disputed that claim. “The house on the lake that I own is a family home,” Shirley told Capital Daily. “It was never bought for Lindsay and Jason.”
Eventually, Lindsay joined Remax Camosun, the same brokerage that employed Shirley, Jason, and Ryan Zailo. She and Jason moved into a one-bedroom condo in the Inner Harbour owned by the Zailo family. After starting at Remax, Lindsay was involved in eight property transactions that grossed a total of $3.2 million.
On Dec. 15, 2007, Lindsay visited her father in Calgary, telling him that Jason didn’t seem to have the same “ambition” as her. She also told other friends, including Vicky Mackie, that she wasn’t happy in the relationship, and was considering breaking it off. Jason didn’t dispute that he and Lindsay had relationship troubles, but said as far as he was aware, their relationship wasn’t ending. “We never talked about breaking up,” he told Capital Daily. Sara Buziak described the relationship positively, saying the couple seemed happy to her, and that Jason “treated her well.”
After Lindsay returned to BC, she, Jason, and members of his family took a trip to Whistler. Reitmayer told Capital Daily Lindsay and Jason’s relationship seemed to be improving heading into 2008: “She said, ‘We had such fun (in Whistler). This was the perfect thing. We needed to spend more time together.’”
On Friday, Feb. 1, 2008, Lindsay got a cold call from a 778 area code phone number. The caller was a woman with a heavy accent, who was apparently interested in buying a home. Lindsay would later describe the accent as “Spanish” or “Mexican.” The caller provided a name, but Lindsay doesn’t appear to have written it down in her other notes from the call.
The caller explained that her husband was being transferred from Vancouver to Victoria, and they needed a brand new, $1 million home. She wanted to meet at 5:30 pm the next evening, tour some houses, and make an immediate purchase. When Lindsay asked the caller who had referred her, she seemed to say it was a “friend of her husband’s,” according to court documents.
After hanging up, Lindsay saved the woman’s phone number in her phone as “Million dollar,” and began looking for properties to show. Though she had no seven-figure listings at the time, she could sell another agent’s property and still make a sizable commission. While the potential for such a large sale so early in her career excited Lindsay, she also thought the call was “weird,” according to court documents. As the next 24 hours unfolded, her concerns only seemed to grow.
Police believe the person or people in possession of the phone used to contact Lindsay within a timeframe that is still blacked out in court documents “were directly involved in the murder” and “may be considered suspects.” On the SPD’s website, the purported clients Lindsay eventually met with are described as “still unidentified.” In 2009, police released a composite profile of the female suspect.
Sometime after the initial call with Lindsay, the phone used to contact her travelled from Vancouver to Greater Victoria. Around the same time, Lindsay went about her plans for the evening, going for a walk and having dinner with Shirley Zailo while Jason played hockey. Arriving at the condo the couple shared, Shirley walked into the foyer in time to overhear the end of a phone conversation between Lindsay and the caller. “She had these houses that she was showing,” Shirley told Capital Daily. “It was all kind of set up.”
After the call, Lindsay and Shirley walked to the downtown area before ending up at a sushi restaurant. Though Shirley said she repeatedly offered to show the houses on Lindsay’s behalf, she said the offers were made for a completely different reason than Lindsay’s apparent unease over her mystery client.
Lindsay was involved in organizing a surprise bachelorette party for a friend on the mainland, scheduled for the following night, and may have planned on attending after showing houses to the couple. “I sat right across from her and offered her help, not because she told me she was scared,” Shirley told Capital Daily. “I offered her help because she wanted to go to Vancouver.”
Court documents suggest police believed the person or people possessing the phone arrived on a BC Ferries sailing before traveling south along a “major route” into the city. According to CTV Vancouver Island, the phone used to contact Lindsay arrived in Victoria “the night before” the murder and pinged off a cell tower near Cook and Finlayson, close to downtown.
Lindsay was still awake when Jason returned to the condo around midnight. According to court documents, he and Lindsay talked about the showing set for the next day. He described his girlfriend’s mood as more inquisitive than fearful, wondering why the caller had chosen her—a new real estate agent with limited experience. Jason said he made the same offer as his mother because of Lindsay’s plans to attend her friend’s bachelorette party. “If she was concerned, she wouldn’t say no to going to Vancouver,” he said.
Sometime the next morning, the purported client phoned Lindsay and Jason at home. Jason said Lindsay was out and asked the woman if she wanted Lindsay’s cell number, which the woman told Jason she already had. To police, Jason described the caller as having a “broken Spanish” accent.
At some point, police believe there was a 10-minute call between Lindsay and the suspect or suspects. Although there has been speculation about why a now-infamous address in Gordon Head was chosen—with some suggesting the prospective buyers wanted to view that home specifically—police believe “(Lindsay) provided the suspect(s) with the address,” according to court documents. The caller had given Lindsay several parameters, including that she wanted a “separate area” for a housekeeper. Lindsay appeared to choose the Gordon Head house because it fit the caller’s purported criteria and budget, which Lindsay had copied down in her day-timer.
According to court documents, police believe the suspect or suspects may have travelled to Gordon Head ahead of time, “familiarizing themselves” with the area and possibly “planning escape routes.”
At around 2pm Saturday, Lindsay was at Remax Camosun’s head office on Chatterton Way. According to court documents, Lindsay was “freaked out” and asked two receptionists to search the caller’s name and phone number in a company database. They were unable to find any real estate history in Greater Victoria relating to the information provided.
Another colleague, Cal Faber, told Capital Daily he overheard Lindsay talking with a small group of coworkers about her new client. Faber, a former RCMP officer, said he and others who were listening to Lindsay’s story offered to accompany her to the Gordon Head address, but Lindsay told them not to worry, Jason was coming. “She had full confidence in the fact that her boyfriend was going to be there,” Faber said.
At about 3 pm, Lindsay met Jason for lunch at a restaurant by the Inner Harbour. Jason told Capital Daily he remembered Lindsay eating quickly and showing him feature sheets of properties she planned to show the mystery couple. Jason said he again offered to show the properties for Lindsay, but she declined.
After lunch, Lindsay went home to change and Jason went to a meeting at SHC Autographx, a nearby auto detailing shop. While in the meeting, Jason got several calls from Cohen Oatman, a friend and work colleague who played on the same hockey team as him. While Lindsay was at her friend’s bachelorette party in Vancouver, Jason was looking forward to “playing hockey and having a few beers,” according to Oatman’s account to police.
Shortly after 5 pm, Oatman drove to SHC, left his car and climbed into Jason’s Range Rover. Jason explained he’d gotten a call from Lindsay, and said he was going to check on her. Oatman agreed to go with him before they continued on with their plans to play hockey. According to court documents, Lindsay texted Jason the address of where she was headed, and asked him to follow her. Sometime before 5:30 pm, Lindsay arrived at 1702 De Sousa Pl. in Gordon Head.
The De Sousa Place cul-de-sac and house Lindsay planned to show were both so new they didn’t show up on the Range Rover’s GPS. Around 5:30pm, Jason called Lindsay for directions. Lindsay was about to provide them when the purported clients appeared. “Oh, I’ve got to go. They’re here,” she said. Before hanging up, Jason asked Lindsay to text him the directions.
Around the same time, multiple eyewitnesses said they saw Lindsay shaking hands with a couple: He was tall, with dark hair and a long jacket. She had short blond hair and wore a swirling black and red dress. Lindsay let them inside the house, and the showing began.
A few minutes later, the tour headed upstairs. Lindsay sent Jason a text with directions to the house. Jason, meanwhile, had phoned his brother for directions and was making his way there.
The main bedroom was at the top of the stairs. As Lindsay turned to show the ensuite bathroom, she was stabbed from behind with an edged weapon. Reports of more than 40 or 50 stab wounds are false and exaggerated; so too are reports that certain parts of Lindsay’s body were targeted during the attack. According to information obtained by Capital Daily, there were multiple stab wounds, nicks, and cuts on Lindsay’s body, including her chest and abdomen. As of press time, there are at least nine stories published by traditional media outlets containing misinformation about the number of stab wounds.
The attack, at around 5:41 pm, triggered a pocket dial to a friend Lindsay was not in regular contact with, which resulted in a “muffled” voicemail message, according to Staff Sgt. Chris Horsley on Crime Watch Daily.
Immediately after the stabbing, the suspects left the scene. A trail of bloody footprints was found on the staircase, according to court documents. The suspect or suspects were in the process of regathering their shoes—apparently planning to walk out the front door—when Jason and Oatman showed up and cast the man in the Range Rover’s headlights.
Believing the showing had just begun, Jason drove past the house as the man receded through the entry, presumably toward the rear of the house. Because Jason said Lindsay asked him to not make his presence known so he didn’t interfere with the showing, Jason turned around in the driveway of a nearby house under construction and left the cul-de-sac to park a short distance away.
Jason said he saw no sign of movement inside the house. He texted Lindsay asking if she was OK but she didn’t respond. After another few minutes, Jason said he repositioned his Range Rover closer to the house and tried calling her. Lindsay didn’t answer.
Around 6pm, after getting no response from Lindsay, Jason and Oatman got out of the vehicle and walked up to the front entrance. The door was locked. Jason said he rang the doorbell repeatedly, but no one answered. He said he tried paging the listing agent, then called his mother for the agent’s cell number. When Jason explained what was going on, the agent gave him the code for the garage. Jason tried the code, but it didn’t work.
There was another door around the side of the house, but it was locked, Jason said. Jason asked Oatman what he should do and whether he should “break a window,” according to Oatman’s account. Oatman told Jason to call the police.
At 6:05pm, Jason dialed 911, explaining the situation and adding that he had followed Lindsay to the house because she was “kind of scared.” Around the same time, Oatman signalled to him from the side of the house, where there was a patio. Over the top of a wooden fence, Oatman and now Jason saw a set of open French doors that led out from the kitchen and dining areas into the enclosed backyard. (After exiting the back door, the suspect or suspects may have escaped through a gap in the fence.)
Jason boosted Oatman over the fence. Oatman ran through the yard and into the empty house, unlocking the front door from the inside. Jason ran around from the back of the house and met him at the front. Once inside the foyer, Jason and Oatman split up—Oatman took the bottom floor and Jason ran upstairs, yelling Lindsay’s name. Partway up the stairs, Jason told Capital Daily he could already see Lindsay slumped against the bedroom wall.
According to court documents, Lindsay was lying in a large pool of blood. Oatman, who Jason had summoned, made a second call to 911 at 6:11 pm, explaining they needed an ambulance right away. Jason tried to perform CPR, but it was too late. “I could hear air,” he told Capital Daily, describing how the air he breathed into Lindsay escaped through the stab wounds.
Jason said he was in shock, and that he still agonizes over arriving too late. “I think about it all the time,” he said. “If I was ten minutes earlier—if I went with her—would she still be alive?”
At Saanich police headquarters, Jason told Capital Daily it took police “hours and hours” to begin their interview. “It made me so mad,” he said, adding that he thought police had wasted time and resources questioning him and Oatman. “What they should have been doing is having eight, 10, 12 cars out searching right away … I think that they totally botched the whole investigation in the first day.”
Jason said he cooperated with investigators, took part in a polygraph test and turned over his phone and a laptop he and Lindsay shared. Jason spoke to police multiple times and agreed to participate in a filmed reenactment of how he and Oatman discovered Lindsay. Parts of his account were corroborated by court documents and other information obtained by Capital Daily. More than a decade later, Jason maintained that he had “nothing to do with Lindsay’s murder.”
“I guess I’m just the easiest target,” he told Capital Daily.
In Jeff Buziak’s interview with Dateline, he said Jason didn’t show outward signs of grief following the murder. However, Sara Buziak told Capital Daily she worked for Jason after the murder, and that he was “hurt,” “confused,” and “sad.” Sara said she was interviewed by Dateline, but her interview was not included in the final version of the episode.
Sara also said she didn’t watch any of the “shows” or listen to podcasts about her sister’s murder. “If I was to listen to what other people said or claimed they knew, it would probably drive me crazy.”
* * *
In a 2012 blog post, Jeff said that he had just discovered a letter Lindsay left him that named people and described things that were going on prior to her death. “She explains what she saw that she shouldn’t have,” he wrote. Though no letter has ever publicly surfaced, Jeff has continued to claim that Lindsay “saw something,” and presented different theories and explanations about what that could be. More recently, Jeff has said that it was during a trip to see him in Calgary in December 2007 that Lindsay told him, or gave him the impression, that she saw something “she shouldn’t have,” but said that Lindsay wouldn’t tell him what it was.
Reitmayer told Capital Daily Lindsay never mentioned seeing anything to her. “I’ve talked to a lot of her girlfriends,” she said. “Nobody ever said anything like that.”
Reitmayer also said she contacted the police after learning that her ex-husband apparently discovered the letter, which Jeff said he had turned over to the authorities. Reitmayer said police told her they never received it.
Capital Daily reached out to Jeff to ask him a series of specific questions regarding the letter and many other issues reported in this article, some of which were based on emails provided to Capital Daily by one of Jeff’s former website administrators. Jeff didn’t respond directly to any of the questions, but said that he had “no other agenda” other than ensuring those responsible for Lindsay’s murder are “imprisoned for this heinous act.” Jeff also asserted that Capital Daily did not have “permission” to quote or publish the emails, and that doing so would violate his privacy and rights. “Anyone sharing this type of private information or using it publicly will be discussed publicly by name and address if applicable,” he wrote.
Emails sent from personal email accounts are often the basis of news stories, including in cases where the sender does not want the contents of those emails published or disclosed.
In this case, the emails obtained by Capital Daily reveal the inner workings of lindsaybuziakmurder.com, contain a detailed record of correspondence between Jeff and others, and offer insight into some of the best-known true crime claims surrounding Lindsay’s murder. In an email from 2013, Jeff seemed to acknowledge the letter he claimed Lindsay had left him was fake. “That faux letter is certainly bothering some isn’t it?” he wrote to one of his website administrators.
A public information officer with the SPD said police were “not in a position to comment on Jeff Buziak or the investigation into Lindsay Buziak’s murder,” in an email sent to Capital Daily on Jan. 18, 2023.
In Dateline’s episode about Lindsay’s murder, a panel of three law-enforcement experts who were not involved in Lindsay’s case speculated that Lindsay had been murdered by someone “in the same type of business.” Police previously said publicly they had found “no evidence” linking Lindsay’s job as a real estate agent and the murder, other than the apparent use of a commission as a lure. Because Shirley, Jason, and Ryan all worked as real estate agents at the time, the experts’ theory evidently led some to conclude that the Zailos were involved in the murder. Two days after Dateline’s episode aired, the SPD held a press conference announcing that “no member of the Zailo family is considered a person of interest or a suspect in this investigation.”
When Capital Daily asked Dateline if it was aware of the police’s announcement, among other questions, a spokesperson said only, “We stand by our story and our reporting process. We look forward to Lindsay’s killers being brought to justice.”
Dateline’s reporting has continued to resonate in other retellings of Lindsay’s murder. The popular Australian true-crime podcast Casefile produced its own episode in 2016. The emails obtained by Capital Daily include correspondence between Jeff and Casefile’s anonymous writer and host, known at the time as “Brad.” Brad told Jeff he intended to produce an episode sourced from publicly available information and give Jeff editorial control.
“I have no problem with you proceeding as you describe, as long as I maintain some kind of say/control over the final product,” Jeff wrote back. Brad told Jeff he wanted people to “connect the dots” about who was responsible for Lindsay’s murder without making consequential claims of his own.
Brad wrote a draft of the script, which he shared with Jeff. After an apparent phone call between the two, another script was produced that included a sensationalized description of supposed “mutilation” of Lindsay’s breasts and other details. Following his review of one of the drafts, Jeff asked Brad not to shy away from making bold claims. “Each time you rewrite, I notice you soften on parts,” Jeff wrote. “Please don’t go pussy on us.”
Casefile also interviewed Saanich Police Staff Sgt. Chris Horsley, who later told Jeff that Casefile had taken comments he made out of context. Initially, Casefile ended the episode with Horsley’s interview. When Jeff learned of that decision, he requested a change. “You blew the whole thing by giving them the last word,” he said in an email. “You need to correct that! That’s not fair reporting at all my friend. If you want this minimized show to be epic, people need to hear from me.”
Casefile did as Jeff instructed and ended the episode with his interview. Shortly after the episode was released, Brad told Jeff it had been downloaded 187,000 times.
Casefile appeared to base the first 22-or-so minutes of its episode on Dateline’s reporting, which Casefile lists as a “resource” on its website but doesn’t directly attribute its own reporting to. According to transcripts for both Dateline and Casefile, Jason was “hunched over Lindsay, covered in her blood.” Both shows describe Jason being “handcuffed, taken to the police station, (and) questioned for hours.”
In Dateline’s episode, Josh Mankiewicz said Lindsay and Jason’s relationship was in trouble: “In the last months of her life, Lindsay was telling family and friends that she was thinking of breaking up with Jason as soon as several real estate deals closed.” Casefile repeated the sentence nearly verbatim. In other places within the same about 22-minute time frame, which Brad refers to as “your typical rundown of the story of Lindsay Buziak,” Casefile appeared to make other minor substitutions to a script that otherwise nearly echoed Dateline’s reporting, such as changing “housekeeper” to “nanny,” and “upscale” to “upmarket.”
Capital Daily asked Casefile about the similarities between its episode and Dateline’s in an email. Casefile producer Mike Migas “strenuously denied” any claims of plagiarism, describing them as “false.” Capital Daily explained to Migas that it had been unable to verify some of the claims made by Casefile beyond the 22-minute mark, including that Shirley Zailo had purchased the Shawnigan Lake house for Lindsay and Jason. Migas provided few details, but said Casefile had spoken with “a number of people close to the case including an authoritative source.”
Though Casefile’s episode, “Case 28,” was regarded as a success by Brad and Jeff, and remains a popular true-crime account of Lindsay’s murder, it led at least one person to point the finger directly at Shirley. The person, whose name Capital Daily is withholding for privacy reasons, contacted Shirley in 2018 as a prospective client. “I just found out who you are,” they wrote in an email. “You belong in prison. Casefiles #28 (sic).”
After police locked down the crime scene on Feb. 2, 2008, they brought in a canine unit which searched the exterior of 1702 De Sousa Pl. but didn’t find a scent. The side of the house facing the street wasn’t searched because of “contamination” caused by first responders, according to court documents.
A neighbor across the street told Capital Daily she saw police going door to door and searching people's yards with flashlights. Police have never said publicly whether a murder weapon was found, and no one has ever been charged with any offence relating to Lindsay’s murder.
Police interviewed Joe De Sousa, who was selling the home and whose family owned and was developing the De Sousa Place cul-de-sac. De Sousa told police he had been inside the house prior to the showing on Feb. 2, had checked the doors and windows, and had even ventured into the primary bedroom and ensuite. He said he saw “nothing out of place.” De Sousa provided elimination fingerprints and footprints, and gave police informed consent to enter the property, according to court documents.
Police recovered little forensic evidence from the scene. A forensic pathologist told police only “one weapon” was responsible for Lindsay’s injuries, according to court documents. It’s unknown whether the suspects wore gloves when they shook hands with Lindsay. In 2019, the Office of Investigative Standards and Practices recommended that police use new technology to retest evidence from the crime scene.
The day after the murder, police obtained some initial data from Lindsay’s Blackberry, including the caller’s 778 phone number. Using that number, they filed a court application for a production order asking the service provider, Virgin Mobile, to turn over subscriber information. In time, police learned the prepaid phone was purchased in late 2007 from a Vancouver convenience store and was activated online. The information provided by the person who activated the phone, including the name “Paulo Rodriguez,” was fictitious, according to court documents. Police went to the convenience store where the phone was purchased, but by then the surveillance footage showing the sale of the phone was “gone,” as Staff Sgt. Horsley explained on Dateline.
Because the phone was used exclusively to contact Lindsay, police dubbed it the “crime phone.” Based on the purpose of the phone—to “lure the victim” to her death, as police put it—police theorized that other phones would have been used just after or before each call with Lindsay, to communicate with co-conspirators and avoid detection. Every time the crime phone was used to contact Lindsay, police obtained cell tower information relating to other cell phone users who accessed the same towers at the same times, giving them reams of information. What became of that information is unclear. Police have said the crime phone was deactivated sometime after the murder.
Police gave Lindsay and Jason’s Toshiba laptop to the RCMP’s technological crime unit. The officer who studied the computer, Paul Brookes, found that “data related to internet chat communications had recently been deleted,” according to court documents. The missing data came from the “My Documents” part of the hard drive, where there was a folder called “My Received Files.” That folder, Brookes explained, was empty. Brookes also said that he had found a Page File on the computer that contained “past word processing activity, emails, and internet browsing activity.”
Though Brookes’s account is still partially redacted, he concluded “there were chat messages … at one time, but they have since been erased.” Brookes was unable to determine when that erasure happened. Brookes declined to speak with Capital Daily, citing oaths he had sworn with the RCMP.
A different officer who studied Lindsay’s Facebook page noticed that none of Lindsay’s 700 friends posted any messages on her wall between Jan. 24 and Feb. 3, 2008. The officer found this “very odd” and inconsistent with Lindsay’s usual pattern of activity, according to court documents.
On closer inspection, however, police appear to believe messages had been deleted. In court documents filed by police on March 25, 2008 to support their request for a court order requiring Facebook Inc. to produce certain records, police argued that obtaining “deleted wall messages” could yield important information. What Facebook provided back is unclear, but the notes made by a Saanich police officer after reading about Facebook—still a new social media platform—suggest Lindsay, or someone with access to Lindsay’s Facebook account, may have deleted the messages: “Wall messages may be deleted,” the officer noted, “(but) only the user may delete messages posted on their own wall through their use of their own account.”
Previously, Staff Sgt. Chris Horsley told the Times Colonist police had investigated Lindsay’s online social media chats, “even those that she deleted,” and found nothing related to any crime or potential motive. When Capital Daily asked Lindsay’s friends and family about the missing messages, they had no explanation.
Eventually, police came up with a theory that Lindsay had been falsely identified as a person who informed on a drug operation. The theory was based on several events, including Lindsay’s trip to see her father in Calgary in December 2007. A few weeks after her visit, near the end of January 2008, Calgary police raided a house in the northwest part of the city, kicking off a year-long investigation dubbed “Operation High Noon.” That investigation led to the seizure of 80 kilograms of cocaine worth $8 million, according to news reports, and was described at the time as the “largest ever” cocaine bust in Alberta’s history.
There is no evidence Lindsay was connected to the seizure. She was not a drug user, according to multiple sources, and was known to have an anti-drug stance. There is also no indication Lindsay informed police about it, and police have said there is no evidence Lindsay was involved in criminal activity.
After returning home from her Calgary trip, Lindsay visited the Facebook page of a relative of someone involved in the drug operation, and tried to contact the person by phone, according to Crime Watch Daily. As Staff Sgt. Chris Horsley explained on the show, “We don’t know the nature of the call. We don’t know why she called him. We don’t know why she was on his Facebook site.”
The investigation into Lindsay’s murder continued, slumping prior to Dateline filming its episode in 2010 but picking back up at various times. The SPD have worked with the FBI, RCMP, and other law enforcement agencies. They applied for and received more than 35 warrants and production orders for 10 companies including Facebook, Bell Mobility, and BC Ferries. They have also conducted more than 400 interviews, and have around 2,000 “entities” including people of interest and witnesses.
The best chances of solving the case appear to be advancements in science or someone making a deal with police. In a televised address in 2021, Constable Markus Anastasiades of the SPD said it was “not too late” for people who had “unknowingly” been involved in Lindsay’s murder to come forward.
In 2022, Justice Robert Punnett ruled against Capital Daily’s effort to lift further redactions from court documents filed by police in support of warrants and production orders, on the basis that, in some cases, doing so could compromise the safety of confidential informants or put the physical safety of third-parties at risk. Punnett heard days of testimony by lead investigator Detective Sgt. Damian Kowalewich in proceedings that were closed to the public and even Capital Daily’s legal team. Based on Kowalewich’s account, Punnett described the case as having “extraordinary complexity,” and said the people allegedly involved were “violent” and had “no regard for human life.”
“Despite the years that have passed,” he wrote, “the investigation is very much active and ongoing.”
In 2022, Shirley Zailo sued Jeff Buziak and two supporters for defamation in the BC Supreme Court, alleging they had “published or arranged to have published” numerous posts that falsely accused her of murder on the website lindsaybuziakmurder.com.
In a court filing responding to the lawsuit, Jeff denied the allegations. He denied ever seeing, authorizing, or jointly publishing any of the words Shirley complained about. Jeff also denied that the words had the defamatory meanings that Shirley alleged, and denied that Shirley had suffered any damage or loss. Finally, Jeff pointed to a disclaimer posted on the website that said, “Information on this site is from personal opinions and cannot be guaranteed or warranted by this site or its administrators in any way,” and relied on the fact that the words Shirley complained about had been removed from the site.
The allegations in Shirley’s lawsuit have not yet been tested or proven in court.
When Capital Daily spoke to Jeff around the time Shirley’s lawsuit became public, he declined to say whether he was the current administrator of the site, saying it could “incriminate” him. Jeff previously acknowledged taking over administration of the site in 2018. After being served with Shirley’s lawsuit, Jeff continued to refer to the Zailos by name in inflammatory Facebook posts that portrayed Shirley and her lawyer as aggressors.
Neither of the other defendants named in the lawsuit, Nora Leisa Munro and Jane Kavanagh, denied their involvement in initial correspondence with Capital Daily. In an emailed response, Kavanagh said, “Doesn’t Canada have freedom of expression? I expressed myself.” Munro told Capital Daily she believed she was advocating for “justice for Lindsay.” In subsequent court filings, both Munro and Kavanagh denied publishing defamatory online comments regarding Shirley and claimed that Shirley herself is “responsible for any perceived damages.”
The Zailos said posts about their family had damaged their business and brought them close to the brink. “I went through a bad part in my life,” Shirley told Capital Daily. “I don’t want to go back there.”
Jason Zailo said his family has had enough. “You shouldn’t be able to just throw people’s names out there and call them, you know, murderers and all the awful things that they’ve said with no knowledge or with no proof.”
Shirley’s lawsuit is not the first time Jeff has been confronted about allegedly false claims. In 2017, two volunteers who had been administrators for the website for years quit working for Jeff, accusing him of feeding them misinformation related to Lindsay’s murder, and saying they could no longer support him. The names of both administrators are being withheld by Capital Daily, but one of them spoke to Capital Daily for its podcast series about Lindsay’s murder.
“Yes, you are a grieving Father (sic),” one of the administrators wrote to Jeff in an email. “But that does not give you a free pass to verbally abuse people or slander their name.”
Jeff responded by calling the administrators who had been working with him “wacky,” and saying he would release “personal information” if he did not get a response within 48 hours. (Since 2011, the administrators operated under pseudonyms online.) Jeff also contacted a family member of one of the former administrators, saying the administrator who had been volunteering for him was involved in “something very dangerous.” The former administrator reported that contact to police, and described it to Capital Daily as a “veiled threat.” Saanich Police Staff Sgt. Chris Horsley warned Jeff not to have further communication. (Horsley declined to be interviewed for this story, and retired from the SPD in 2022.)
Around the same time, Horsley and another officer made an unannounced visit to Jeff’s office in Calgary to confront him about issues related to the website. One was a false confession to Lindsay’s murder posted in 2017 that read, in part, “I did it,” and alluded to someone named Ross Addicott, who denied authoring the post. Although Jeff has previously denied authoring the post, information obtained by Capital Daily indicates that, to police, he acknowledged a degree of involvement in the false confession.
“I did confront Jeff about the site,” Horsley wrote to one of Jeff’s former administrators in an email after the visit. “Although this was three days ago, I have not received the IP address (relating to the false confession post).” Horsley said in emails obtained by Capital Daily that he believed that Jeff, as the sole administrator of the site, should have access to the IP address of the person who posted the confession. “At this time it appears Jeff has no interest in providing the IP,” Horsley wrote to the former administrator.
After the encounter, Horsley told CHEK News that “people posting false confessions, misinformation and really a bunch of nonsense on the internet” was draining police resources and could impact a potential prosecution. Jeff—who had publicly praised Horsley a few months before the encounter—began referring to him with an accusatory nickname that implied he used illicit drugs.
“He must believe he is untouchable,” Horsley wrote in an email to Jeff’s former administrator, saying he believed Jeff’s comments amounted to libel. “Sad, but it may come to legal action against him and Wordpress.”
Emails obtained by Capital Daily show the lengths Jeff has gone to respond to some of his perceived critics. In one case, he worked with someone to track down an anonymous poster who questioned a claim he made publicly. After learning the person’s name, Jeff emailed their spouse’s supervisor and coworkers and accused the couple of being “probably connected to the murder,” but provided no evidence. The emails also include one he sent to a reporter, saying he hoped the couple got “bad publicity … and more.”
In a March 2011 email, Jeff acknowledged he had “prepared for lawsuit by transferring all assets from my possession save an old pick-up truck. I will be getting aggressive soon.” A transfer of land appears to show a condominium property passed into his brother’s possession in June 2011.
In December 2018, a retired RCMP officer-turned true-crime blogger, Garry Rodgers, became interested in Lindsay’s murder. He said he sent Jeff an email introducing himself and expressing his willingness to help. According to Rodgers, Jeff showed up at his door unannounced. After speaking with Jeff, Rodgers said he began to feel like Jeff wasn’t being truthful about aspects of his daughter’s murder, and told him so.
“Somebody has to call him out on this. And the way he’s vilified the Zailo family and the Saanich police is just unacceptable,” Rodgers told Capital Daily in 2020. In interviews with the media, Jeff began referring to Rodgers, who previously worked in drug and alcohol testing, as a “pee collector.”
“I don’t feel privileged,” Rodgers said. “I knew (that) was going to happen.”
Jeff’s former website administrator described their time volunteering with Jeff as the biggest mistake of their life. “I saw a lot of red flags,” they told Capital Daily. “I did pull out a few times, but went back because I felt sorry for him.” The former administrator said it took them a long time to “de-program” themselves. “Once I did, I was able to permanently leave Jeff and never look back.”
Asked if they had advice for true-crime fans who want to get involved in online discussions, the former administrator said: “Just try to keep people’s names out of your theory.”
Reitmayer said some people have treated her daughter’s murder like a “game” or chance to play armchair detective. She said she once asked a blogger to stop writing about her daughter’s murder, but they refused. “I’m Lindsay’s mum. I asked her to not do this … Shouldn’t she have some thought about what the mother would want?”
Online, the name “Lindsay Buziak” has become synonymous with a puzzling mystery almost guaranteed to garner views. Fifteen years on, her murder remains a true-crime staple, retold hundreds of times across various platforms, and has become internet lore.
But Reitmayer still remembers her daughter as a young woman full of life and hope for the future. “It’s so wrong that she’s not here,” she said. “I don’t want sympathy, because that doesn’t help anything. I just want it over with … so that there’s no more speculation, there’s no more stories.”
Abbie Bennett fact-checked and contributed reporting to this story. It was edited by Jimmy Thomson and Tori Marlan.
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