Early in the morning on Thursday Feb 26, 1976, a young First Nations man named Eugene Lloyd Pelly was fatally stabbed in an apartment at 4272 Watson Street, east of Main near 28th. After escaping out a window Pelly collapsed in the middle of the road and, as snow fell, succumbed to his injuries. That same morning Jeanette Reinhardt noticed Pelly’s bloody body from her window. Paul Wong, whom she was living with at the time, shot a roll of 35mm film documenting the scene – first from their window, and later at roadside. The quiet violence of the scene captivated Wong, and together with collaborator Kenneth Fletcher, the two embarked on a project to research the crime in full detail.
Using a press card obtained through the Satellite Video Exchange Society, Fletcher and Wong gained access to the coroner’s office and the morgue, where they photographed the body, as well as the accompanying police report. Documentation of the crime, the body, news clippings and television reports related to Pelly and his accused murderer Jeffery Alfred Gladeau became the basis of a script towards a video that recounts the event. As a manner of processing the eyewitness account of a crime, the Mainstreeters also restaged postures of violence with surrogate murder weapons, recombining ideas of a violent crime with small drawings and a gathering of pulp fiction references. These materials became part of the fabric of a collaborative project that reworked the facts of a murder case into a commentary on the status of the murder victim and the prevalence of sensationalized representations of murder in popular culture.
In May 1977, Murder Research was mounted as an exhibition and performance at the Western Front as a series of 36 photographs and text panels and an event that included an accompanying slide, video and voice performance by Fletcher and Wong. The project gained critical attention and was published in a book format by the Toronto-based Image Nation Series in 1980. Critical attention continued as various forms of the exhibition toured widely 1980. In 2001 the Vancouver Art Gallery acquired the work.