REGINA - A Saskatchewan police officer who was instrumental in putting a stop to the string of shattered lives left behind by a globetrotting pedophile is relieved the man he tracked for more than four years will never hurt another child.
Brian Riestad, otherwise known as Louis Barron, died in custody at the regional psychiatric centre in Saskatoon earlier this week after a prolonged illness.
Riestad, 76, was declared a dangerous offender in 1997 after it was discovered he had molested dozens of children throughout Canada using dozens of aliases. When he died he was still serving the indefinite sentence that comes along with the designation.
There is comfort for many in knowing Riestad ended up spending the rest of his life behind bars, away from the temptation of children that he could never seem to resist, RCMP Staff Sgt. Andy Seidemann said Friday in a interview with The Canadian Press.
"My first reaction is ... we don't have to worry about this guy being released or being eligible for release anymore," Seidemann said. "It's always sad when someone passes away, but on the other hand I'm glad this person won't be released to the public - to society."
Seidemann was a constable stationed in Pierceland, Sask., when Riestad's name came up in 1993. A local family had gone to police with the story of a travelling missionary who had stayed at their home nine years earlier and had molested their children.
Seidemann used a newly created database to compare the pattern of the offence with others in the country. He discovered that Riestad had been arrested under a different name for molesting a 16-year-old boy in Prince Albert, Sask., in 1992.
Riestad was eventually released when the case fell through, but the fingerprints and photos from that arrest showed that he had used nearly 30 aliases in communities throughout the country and had three other sexual assault convictions on his record.
Assaults involving two dozen children dating back to 1980 were discovered in British Columbia (Fort St. John and Abbotsford), Alberta (Red Deer and Hinton), Saskatchewan (Hepburn, Macklin, Saskatoon, Duck Lake, Canora and Kuroki), Manitoba (Austin) and Ontario (Barrie).
Most of the victims were boys between the ages of seven and 16. Three were girls.
His most serious conviction in 1995 netted him nine months in prison and three years probation for molesting three victims in Abbotsford.
In most of the assaults, Riestad would arrive at a town and present himself as a travelling minister to the local evangelical Christian group. Sometimes he would instead introduce himself as a psychic or an artist.
In each case he would gain the confidence of a family, get an invitation to stay with them and then abuse the children in the household. He carried different fake IDs and would dye his hair to look different so no one could connect the dots.
It was revealed that he also spent considerable time in Europe, where he used dozens of other names. He lived in Denmark, Norway and Sweden between 1960 and 1974 before being deported back to Canada for committing forgery in Denmark. He also claimed to have spent time in California, Washington, Minnesota and Arizona.
Seidemann finally caught up with Riestad in Calgary in 1996.
The pedophile was brought back to Saskatchewan, where he pleaded guilty to charges in the Pierceland case. All of the information that had been dug up on the other attacks was used by the Crown to have him labelled a dangerous offender.
One psychiatrist who spent time with Riestad after his arrest was quoted as calling him "the ultimate predator."
Seidemann, who is now based in Melfort, Sask., was given a commissioner's commendation - the RCMP's highest award - and a meritorious service medal for his work on the case. But he's quick to point out that he didn't do it on his own.
Looking back, he uses only two words to describe Riestad
"Manipulative pedophile," he said. "He was able to disappear and he had been doing it for a long time."