Septic Tank Sam was discovered by a couple who were looking around their abandoned farmhouse property for a septic tank pump on 13th April, 1977. When they hit the septic tank, they saw a leg bobbing in the water. The couple then called the Tofield Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
Once his body was recovered, the medical examiner determined the cause of death to be gunshot wounds to the head and chest, but there could have been more if any of the bullets did not reach his skeleton. Before his death, Septic Tank Sam had been tortured. He had been beaten, tied up, burnt with a small butane torch and cigarettes, as well as being sexually mutilated with farm shears. The sexual mutilation was so severe that it took the medical examiner months to positively identify him as male. His body had been covered in quicklime, most likely to speed up the decomposition process.
The police believed that he had been killed elsewhere and then dumped in the septic tank, and since the septic tank is in quite a rural location, they believed that his killers were local to Tofield. The police also believe that the killers and Septic Tank Sam knew each other, due to the violent nature of his death.
It is thought that Septic Tank Sam died between 1976-1977.
The discovery of Septic Tank Sam caused the 1,200 residents of Torfield to be shocked, and horrified. Farmers started checking their own septic tanks, and business owners were scared that the murderers could be regular customers.
Due to lack of evidence, this case remained cold for quite sometime. The police spent of $1,000,000 Canadian dollars on this case, and sent X-rays of Sam’s teeth to over 800 dentists.
However, on the 30th June 2021, police announced they have finally been able to ID Septic Tank Sam.
His real name is Gordon Edwin Sanderson. Gordon was born in Manitoba, on the 22nd October 1950. Gordon was placed into foster care when he was 9 years old, and had various run-ins with police and struggled with addictions.
In the 1970s, Gordon was living in Edmonton, and was planning to visit his brother Arthur in Calgary.
Gordon is survived by an older sister and a daughter.
Although it is amazing to finally have a name for Septic Tank Sam, it is unlikely that his killers will ever face justice. The police have acknowledged that his killers may already be dead.
Now the only questions that remain are who killed Gordon Sanderson? And why was it such a brutal death?
Unsolved, true crime, Canada