William (Bill) Halliday, a 49-year-old Canadian from Toronto, died around one o’clock in the afternoon on Saturday, March 10, 2018 in a hospital in San Pedro Pochutla, Oaxaca. According to a Canadian friend, Bill had come to the Pacific Coast of Oaxaca, specifically the beach at Zipolite, after the breakup of a multi-year relationship.
|The beach at Zipolite, Oaxaca|
The circumstances surrounding Bill’s death are disturbing, particularly in the context of his final text messages. The last communication to his friend, shortly before his death, was: I fucked up badly I should not have done what I did they are xom Coming to get me I am afraid (sic).
This was sent at 11:24 am on Saturday – just before he was found in distress by the side of the road near Playa del Amor and transported to the hospital, where he died.
Bill, who lived in the Dufferin and Bloor St. area in Toronto and had a private construction business, had wanted to visit Zipolite since he was a teenager. He had struggled with addiction issues in the past, but had been clean for some time. Sadly, that all seems to have changed during his holiday on Mexico.
“Bill started drinking as soon as he got to Zipolite,” says his friend. “I had never seen him drink until then.”
Bill arrived in Mexico on Tuesday, March 6. That night he went to "Bang Bang", a late night bar run by a French-Canadian of the same name – a man with “Bang Bang” tattooed on his fingers. Things got off to an inauspicious start: apparently that night, or soon after, Bill claimed to have lost an expensive pair of sandals.
During dinner at a restaurant on the 7th, Bill was present with another woman. At the meal he exhibited odd behaviour. He was fidgety, and drinking.
“After the dinner we did manage to break free from her [the other woman] and we had a lengthy discussion,” says his friend. “Mostly about his behaviour and actions. It was the last time I saw him.”
Others present at the dinner noted Bill’s odd behavior.
“He was wired,” says a Canadian who also spent some time with Bill during his brief stay. “He couldn’t sit still.”
“He looked like Sean Penn,” says a third person, also Canadian, who was present at the dinner. “Nice guy. Real fit. He told us he didn’t have any money to pay for his dinner.”
In the end, Bill’s friend paid for both him and his female companion. That was the last time she saw him alive.
According to Bill’s friend, he had been clean for over five years, and was something of a fitness nut, going to the gym every day. However, he was estranged from his family, including his twin sister, likely due to his previous drug use. (An article dated June 11, 2013, in the National Post, shed some light on those struggles.)
Accounts from locals with regard to the hours surrounding Bill’s death are disturbing. The two sisters who run the Posada Mexico, where Bill was staying, told Bill’s friend that he was found near Playa del Amor, at the eastern end of the beach, late in the morning on March 10. This is at the opposite end of the beach from his hotel, about a mile away. It seems that Bill was not found on the beach per se, but in the dusty street behind it.
The police then took him to the hospital, where he died.
Upon news of his death, the hotel immediately contacted the Canadian embassy. La politica has reached out to Canadian officials, who are typically tight-lipped due to the constraints of the federal Privacy Act.
“Our thoughts and sympathies are with the family and friends of a Canadian citizen who died in Mexico,” Philip Hannan, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada, told La politica in an email. “Canadian consular officials are providing consular services to the family. Consular officials in Mexico City are in contact with local authorities to gather additional information.”
The “additional information” provided by local officials will almost certainly determine that Bill died of a drug overdose. Police claim to have found syringes in his backpack. As well, according to an account provided by the sisters who run the hotel, in Bill’s room: “Everything was sprayed with blood. Like it was aspirating from his lungs.”
The owners of the hotel had already cleaned Bill’s room before the police arrived, getting rid of all bedding and towels. The hotel owner is apparently convinced that Bill was ill. If so, it would have been a rapid onset illness, perhaps exacerbated from drug use.
“He seemed like the healthiest guy in the world to me!” says his friend.
However, another Canadian who was in Zipolite at the time was told that Bill never slept at night and, instead, wandered around in what might have been “some kind of drug seeking behaviour.” In fact, it was only the night watchman at the hotel who ever saw Bill.
The authorities appear to be looking upon this as an open-and-shut case. That said, it is unusual that there is no investigation with regard to the fact that Bill’s personal effects are gone – neither his phone nor his wallet were on his body or in his room. This, despite the fact that he was texting his friend in distress just before he was found. At the very least, either before, during, or after his death, Bill Halliday was robbed.
The accounts of the hours leading up to Bill’s death are confusing. Second hand reports from the area claim that people saw him running in the Playa del Amor area late in the morning on March 10. He appeared to be scared. This would have been on or around the time that he sent the text message to his friend saying that he had “fucked up badly” and that unknown persons were “coming to get” him.
According to these accounts, Bill ran until he jumped into some bushes behind a small store. He was “trapped and flailing” in the bushes. Disturbingly, there were police and ambulance sirens already in the distance.
“Our local town president and the head of the lifeguards pulled him out,” says his friend. “He was extremely dehydrated.”
This is likely the same story recounted in the Mexican press, which gives Bill’s name as “William Bruce” and claims that a Canadian died “after ingesting some type of drug”. In this account. Bill is “running scared, screaming like crazy, gesturing and making grotesque movements.” The report quotes witnesses as saying that Bill suddenly fell, stupefied, into the bushes. The authorities then arrived and took him to the hospital.
The Mexican report says that “William Bruce” died in nearby Puert Escondido, which is incorrect – there have been no reports of a Canadian dying in Puerto Escondido at that time. As well, Mexican news reports often assume that the middle name of a Canadian or American is in fact a person’s last name. This is because the Mexican naming system uses two surnames, with the patronymic being in the middle. However, La politica has been unable to confirm whether or not Bill’s middle name was “Bruce”.
“He told me upon arrival that he only drinks on vacation,” says his friend. “After two days of drinking, it seems he moved to harder stuff. In his past his drug of choice was cocaine. When he was agitated at dinner the second night, I feared he might be using. After I left him Wednesday night he went on a three day bender. The only person that really saw what he was up to was the night watchman at the hotel. He claims that Bill was only in his room on the first night. He would come back in the mornings to sleep for a short while.”
La politica has been unable to ascertain if an autopsy was conducted or what, if any, action is being taken by Bill’s family or the Canadian government.
Below is a transcript of Bill Halliday’s text messages to his friend. Some content has been redacted to protect the friend’s identity:
Bill Halliday:[redacted] I cant go for breakfast! I will meet you at San cristobal just after 8 am!
Bill Halliday: [redacted] I'm not going to make it today see u when u get back
Friend: Ok! Take in some of that beach!
Friend: Hey Bill! I’m back from Puerto Escondido. [Redacted, says will go to the beach at 5:30]. I hope you had a great day!
Friend: Bill, I hope everything is OK. Let me know when you want to get together next. I'm thinking about going to Mazunte tomorrow if you're interested.
Bill Halliday: Hi [redacted] I have to be honest with you I have been having a real hard time the last day I haven't slept yet and need to pull myself together I'm so fucking upset with myself once again I have proven I can't drink as it leads me to other shit.....im so sorry
Friend: No need to apologize. Would you like to go to Mazunte in the afternoon? There is a great hike through the mountains. You can see the southern most tip of Mexico!
Bill Halliday: Not today [redacted] I really don't want you to see me like this it's not pleasant let's touch base this afternoon after I calm down I'm just trying to get through the come down
Friend: Ok. Be well. When you are feeling better send me a message.
Bill Halliday: [Redacted] I fucked up badly I should not have done what I did they are xom Coming to get me I am afraid
Friend: Who is coming to get you? Why?
Friend: Where are you, Bill?
Friend [Name redacted] called to say you went to a hospital... are you OK?