Peter Demeter (19 April 1933, Budapest, Hungary) is a Hungarian-born Canadian former real estate developer convicted in 1974 of arranging the murder of his wife. It was the longest trial in Canadian history and revealed that both husband and wife may have been plotting to murder the other to collect a $1 million insurance policy. The assailant was never found.
While serving his sentence and living in a convicts' halfway house, in 1983 Demeter was charged on two counts with trying to arrange the kidnapping and murder of the son of his cousin; the latter was managing his financial affairs. In 1985 Demeter was convicted of the charges and given a second life sentence.
Early life and education
Demeter was born in Budapest, Hungary into a wealthy family that became impoverished following the destruction of World War II and the rise of the Communist government. In 1956 at the age of 23, Demeter immigrated from Hungary to Canada. He was among 200,000 refugees who escaped from the country after suppression of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 by Soviet forces. By 1962, Demeter had started a successful career in Toronto as a land developer.
Marriage and family
In 1967 Demeter married Christine Ferrari, an Austrian-born model. They had a daughter, Andrea, together, but the marriage became strained. On 18 July 1973, the 33-year-old Christine Demeter was found murdered, bludgeoned to death in the garage of their family home in Mississauga, Ontario.
By 1985 when Demeter was convicted a second time of charges, he had a fiancée, Lisa Ross.
Demeter was charged with the murder of his wife and tried. In what was the longest trial in Canadian history, on 6 December 1974, he was convicted of arranging for the murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment. The prosecution's case was aided by tapes recorded of conversations by Demeter after his wife's murder. During the trial, it was revealed that the husband and wife may each have been plotting to murder the other to collect a $1 million insurance policy.
On 6 December 1974, the Canadian government requested extradition from Hungary of Imre Olejnyik, who was charged with the physical murder of Christine Demeter. He was never found.
In 1983 while living at a convicts' halfway house, Demeter was charged with planning a kidnapping and murder of the son of his third cousin, who had been taking care of his financial affairs and his daughter. He intended to have the son kidnapped to gain money and then have him killed. Demeter was convicted in July 1985 while in prison and given a second life sentence.
In May 2006 a judge ordered Demeter to provide a DNA sample to the country's DNA data bank, as law enforcement was collecting data from prisoners. (Demeter had refused to allow a sample to be taken.)
While in prison, Demeter has suffered a stroke and a heart attack. He has had chemotherapy administered in relation to three diagnoses of cancer. Demeter is serving his term at the medium-security Bath Institute in Ontario. In a CBC interview on 30 May 2006, he said conclusively that he will be in prison for the rest of his life.
In popular culture
Demeter's story and trial served as the basis for the 1978 fictional film I Miss You, Hugs and Kisses (also called Drop Dead, Dearest and Left for Dead), directed by Murray Markowitz. His figure in the movie, named Charles Kruschen, is played by actor Donald Pilon. His wife was played by Elke Sommer. The film caused controversy in the UK when it was listed as a video nasty by the Director of Public Prosecutions in 1984.
- "Report by Soviet Deputy Interior Minister M. N. Holodkov to Interior Minister N. P. Dudorov (15 November 1956)" (PDF). The 1956 Hungarian Revolution, A History in Documents. George Washington University: The National Security Archive. 2002-11-04. Retrieved 2006-09-02.
- Fink, Carole; Frank Hadler, Tomasz Schramm, Association internationale d'histoire contemporaine de l'Europe (2006). 1956: European and global perspectives, Volume 1 of Global history and international studies. Leipzig: Leipziger Universitätsverlag. p. 16. ISBN 3-937209-56-5.
- "Demeter guilty of murder plot". The Montreal Gazette. July 3, 1985. Retrieved 17 October 2010.
- "Demeter Convicted of Trying to Kill Cousin", The Windsor Star, 3 July 1985, accessed 13 December 2012
- "Demeter gets life for murder of wife". Ottawa Citizen. December 6, 1974. Retrieved 17 October 2010.
- The Canadian Press, "Government Requesting Extradition", Ottawa Citizen, 6 December 1974, accessed 13 December 2012
- "CBC News - Toronto - Demeter ordered to hand over DNA sample". CBC.ca. 30 May 2006. Retrieved 17 October 2010.
- I Miss You, Hugs and Kisses, Rotten Tomatoes, accessed 13 December 2012
- STANLEY GORDON, "Demeter, Peter", The Canadian Encyclopedia
- George Jonas and Barbara Amiel, By Persons Unknown: the Strange Death of Christine Demeter (Macmillan of Canada, 1977)
- "Murders & Mysteries", Archives at Zinester