307: Three on the Tracks: Kenny Novak, David Burrows and Terry Burt

Episode 307: On Friday, July 10th, 1970, around 7 a.m., near Ludlow, Maine, 45 kilometres from the border with Canada, the crew aboard a northbound Bangor & Aroostook Railway train noticed something lying on the tracks ahead. They thought at first it might be trash but reacted quickly regardless. Despite the immediate application of the brakes, the locomotive, towing 19 heavy boxcars, could not stop in time to avoid a collision. The objects on the tracks were sleeping bags containing three young males. All appeared to be in their teens or early twenties. The bodies were found without official identification, and among them, they carried just over 5 dollars in Canadian cash. After a very brief investigation, the Aroostook County Sheriff, Darrell Crandall, said he considered the deaths either accidental or a group suicide pact.

The young men were soon identified as Kenny Novak (fifteen) and David Burrows (seventeen), both from Sydney River and Terry Burt (twenty) of Whitney Pier, in Sydney, Nova Scotia. It was discovered that they had hitchhiked to the location, but they were a long way from home. Their families initially had no idea why they would cross the border. There were no indications that any of the three were suicidal. Why were they there? If their deaths were accidental, how had they not heard the train approaching? And why would they have chosen to sleep on the train tracks?

Information soon came to light that there may have been a darker reason for their journey, leading to speculation that the three might have been murdered and placed on the tracks to make their deaths appear accidental.

Their families and friends are still looking for answers.


The Standard 11 Jul 1970, page 1

Death Notices — The Bangor Daily News 13 Jul 1970, page 26

Biddeford-Saco Journal 13 Jul 1970, page 10

The Bangor Daily News 19 Jul 1970, page 34

Remembering a Mysterious Summer of ’70 Tragedy by Ken Jessome

Who Killed the Three Cape Breton Boys on the Tracks? by Ken Jessome

“An Unfortunate Mishap”: Three Cape Breton Deaths by Ken Jessome

“Sleeping Victims”: A Cape Breton True Crime Story? By Ken Jessome

QUEST FOR JUSTICE: The Cape Breton 3 (Interview with Lorne Novak)

Cape Breton Three: The Boys on the Tracks — Murder, She Told: Maine & New England True Crime

The Three Cape Breton Boys on the Tracks — Nighttime Podcast

S1 E2 The Cape Breton Boys on the Track — Locating the Lost

Federal Railroad Administration

Rail-HwyGXing_Accidents– DEC. 31, 1972

The Mysterious Deaths of Don Henry & Kevin Ives – Unsolved Mysteries

SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS: the 1970 deaths of 3 Cape Breton Youth in Maine | Facebook

Aroostook County Murder Mystery | Facebook

Ingonish Beach and Freshwater Lake – Cape Breton Highlands National Park | Tourism Nova Scotia, Canada

Petition to Re-Open the Investigation — Change.org

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