1984-09 Murder

Queerbashing grows into a brutal murder

Reprinted from the January, 1985 The Body Politic

By RobinMetcalfe

The sentencing of a transient in Halifax for the murder of a local gay man last September, like the advent of the AIDS- inspired GayHealthAssociation (GHA), is another sign that the gay community here finds itself increasingly faced with "big city" problems. Terry Nifort, a 34-year-old elementary school teacher, thought he had made a new friend the night of Thursday, September 27, 1984. He met Richard John Wiliams, a burly unemployed transient, at Rumours, the gay disco operated by the Gay Alliance for Equality (GAE) and took him home to his bachelor apartment in Dartmouth.

Shortly after 2:00 on Friday morning, Nifort was dead of multiple stab wounds. Williams returned to pick up his knapsack at the Salvation Army hostel and then turned himself in to Halifax police.

According to one press report, he told police he hated homosexuals. Williams confessed and pleaded guilty to a second-degree murder, receiving a life sentence with 15 years before possible parole. In setting parole eligibility five years higher than required by law, Justice A M Macintosh expressed shock at the "brutal, cruel and sadistic" character of the murder.

Williams, a 22-year-old native of Aylmer, Ontario, held up a man under similar circumstances in 1981 and served four months of a two-year sentence. He also had a criminal record for drug possession and break-and-enter.

He went to Rumours with a friend he met at the hostel who advised him that hustling or robbing a gay man was a quick way of obtaining money. According to his lawyer, Williams quickly became remorseful after the murder. Following his arrest he was examined by psychiatrists at the Nova Scotia Hospital, who determined that he suffered from a "psychosexual identity problem." He told them he had felt "warm feelings" toward Nifort right up to the time of the stabbing. Media coverage of the murder was surprisingly restrained, even in the usually sensationalistic Daily News. Nifort was described as "harmless" and "gentle," a teacher well-liked by his students who was also active in his tenants association and was president of the provincial Intermediate Teachers Association.

WaydeBrown, a member of GAE, expressed surprise that the press had "skirted the issue" of Nifort's sexuality. "I'm amazed," Brown added, "there hasn't been more discussion" of the murder, but cautioned that "suggesting it's a sign of the times may be reading too much into it." LynnMurphy, GAE Chairperson, noted: "The community has almost been afraid to talk about it. Queer-bashing has long been a fact of life here. Now it has at last resulted in murder."

ScottMacNeil, information coordinator of the GHA, described the murder as "horrifying" and linked it to general concerns about high-risk sex: "Hopefully a lesson has been learned, at the expense of the life of a very fine individual."

Murphy indicated that GAE has been "hesitant to reach out" to Nifort's family to express the group's condolences, not knowing how such a gesture would be received. "We would like to be able to tell them that Terry was known and was liked in his own community."

Other Memories

DarrellFougere? writes: I remember this very well I was to visit Terry a couple of months prior to this happening with his friend David Hicks from New Brunswick, it was shocking and still is, I do remember it was on a week night when this happened and Gloria who worked the door at Rumours witnessed them leave together, Terry lived on Oak Street in Dartmouth, quiet super nice guy.1


1. September 27, 2022 TurretMemories