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‘He fooled a lot of people,’ says brother of man suspected of blowing up Mississauga house

National Post National Post 7/07/2016 Adrian Humphreys

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Robert Nadler had two occasions to be on the front pages of the newspapers and leading the television newscasts and neither of them is at all pleasant.

On June 28, Nadler’s house in Mississauga, Ont., exploded, flattening it and damaging dozens of neighbouring homes in a spectacular blast that is still under investigation. Nadler was found dead in the wreckage, along with his wife, Dianne Page, both 55. In 1982, it was a conviction for the brutal murder of his childhood friend.

Nadler’s brother, Frank, believes there is a common link between these incidents: Nadler’s psychological problems, including paranoia and anti-social personality that went untreated.

When Nadler was released from prison on parole on Dec. 12, 1991, he was ordered to “follow psychological counselling as arranged.” However, on Oct. 26, 1994, he successfully had that requirement removed by the National Parole Board, according to parole records.

IMG_2263_edited-1.jpg © . . Frank Nadler, when told this week of the parole board’s decision by the National Post, said it was a huge mistake.

“He’d already had a lot of issues. He still had issues. I’m surprised the professionals in the system didn’t catch on and realize that. But Bob is very good at that — I can see Bob fooling them, he fooled the whole system,” said Frank.

“He fooled a lot of people for a lot of years.”

TS201600628CR024: Craig Robertson/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network © Craig Robertson/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network Craig Robertson/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network Including, he believes, Nadler’s wife. If she was not exactly fooled, she would have been manipulated and controlled, like everyone else in Nadler’s life, Frank said.

Nadler’s problems ran so deep, Frank has “a sense” the massive explosion wasn’t an accident.

“I have a sense of it that they were at their wit’s end and it was some sort of a suicide pact,” he said. That sickening sense for Frank began soon after the explosion happened.

Frank felt the concussion from the Hickory Drive blast while he was at work at a warehouse three kilometres away, where he has worked for 16 years. He turned on the radio for information.

TS20160606DA04: Dave Abel/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network © Dave Abel/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network Dave Abel/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network When he heard it was in the area of his brother’s house his mind soon went to the idea of Robert Nadler deliberately causing the blast because of his ongoing problems and past comments he made about suicide.

“Bob was obviously troubled from an early age,” said Frank.

Frank speaks bluntly about the roots of his brother’s problems. It started with his parents.

“World War Two really messed their heads up. They were ripped out of their families when they were teens,” he said. His parents were Germans living in Yugoslavia at the time. It put them in an awkward place, seen as German by the Slavs and as Slavs by the Germans.

“Nobody wanted them,” he said.

TS201600628CR012: Craig Robertson/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network © Craig Robertson/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network Craig Robertson/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network After the war, his mother, Kathe, was imprisoned in a camp but escaped and came to Canada. She met her husband, also named Frank, in Toronto. They had similar backgrounds and found comfort in that.

“They came here and were kind of dysfunctional. Felt very alienated. Came to Canada with a weird us-versus-them kind of mentality with the Western civilization having been persecuting Germans,” he said.

“They were all part of this conspiracy theory… and end-times speculation,” said Frank.

“Our dad kept telling us that we weren’t going to write the year 2000.”

In 1999, as others joined the paranoia over the possibility of a Y2K bug that would bring down the world’s computers, Robert and Frank Nadler’s parents stockpiled food and covered their windows in tinfoil. The foil was to protect them from radiation.

“That’s when the tinfoil went up and it stayed up,” said Frank.

“It filtered down to us.”

Bob most of all, he said.

“He picked up on some of that paranoia — don’t trust the government, don’t trust your neighbour, don’t trust anyone. Don’t trust, period.

“I didn’t really pay attention because I was a kid doing my own thing and he was always my little brother. So I just knew he was shy and quiet but I didn’t know that that shy and quiet meant psychological problems — until later.”

It became clear in 1980 when Nadler was arrested for murder. 

“Unfortunately, his psychological issues precipitated that,” Frank said, believing his brother’s foibles collided and escalated into one tragic event.

In June 1979, Nadler was inside his parents’ house, a different house in Mississauga, and had been up much of the night taking drugs, according to Frank.

Nadler’s best friend, Eric Pogson, came busting in, woke him, and confronted him over an $800 drug debt. Pogson faced drug trafficking charges at the time and had a pending court appearance. Frank said Pogson was demanding $800 Nadler owed him.

Dianne Page.jpg: Courtesy of Camilleri family © Courtesy of Camilleri family Courtesy of Camilleri family Nadler “was still out of it,” at the time and his psychological issues kicked in — paranoia, a need for control, a façade of toughness, an inability to back down, said Frank.

“Bob had a big attitude.”

There was shoving and a fight. Pogson, 20, apparently had a hockey stick. Nadler, then 18, took a hammer and swung hard, fracturing Pogson’s skull.

Nadler later confided to a mutual friend, John Dyminski, who told the press at the time what Nadler had told him.

“He told me that after he had hit him with a hammer he went outside to smoke a joint to calm his nerves,” Dyminski told the Toronto Star in 1982. “When he got back inside, he saw the body was still writhing, probably from nerves, so he got a knife and stabbed him. Then he used a towel to finish the job.”

Nadler wrapped Pogson’s body in garbage bags, lifted it into a wheelbarrow and pushed it across the street and buried it in a shallow grave amid thick bushes near Golden Orchard Drive.

It remained hidden, and Pogson a missing person, for a year until Dyminski told police of Nadler’s confession. Dyminski secretly wore a wire for police and recorded Nadler’s conversations.

In June 1980, police and archeologists recovered Pogson’s remains. Nadler, then working as a machinist, was charged with his murder.

On March 5, 1982, in a Brampton court, Nadler admitted he bludgeoned Pogson with a hammer, stabbed him in the chest with a kitchen knife and then strangled him with a towel. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was given a life sentence with 10 years to be served before parole.

In 1994, the parole board was satisfied with his progress.

“You have been on full parole since 12 December 1991 and all reports indicate positive performance,” parole records say.

“You have not been referred to psychological counselling since 1990 and your Case Management Team determines no need for the maintenance of the condition,” the board said when lifting the requirement for Nadler to follow psychological counseling.

Mississauga Explosion: Christopher Katsarov for National Post © Christopher Katsarov for National Post Christopher Katsarov for National Post On Aug. 20, 1998, the parole board made a further change to Nadler’s release conditions.

Surprisingly, given the role drugs played in his offense, the parole board lifted his condition to abstain from drugs.

“There is no information that would indicate that drug use is currently a problem,” the board said at the time.

“In fact, it would appear that this has not been identified as a risk issue for many years. It is the view of Correctional Service of Canada that removing this condition will not increase risk to the community. The board agrees.”

Despite the confidence of the parole board, Nadler’s re-integration was quiet but not smooth. Nadler was still a control freak, said Frank.

“That’s why he had a hard time getting a job or keeping one because he had to lose control for that, someone else had to be in charge and that didn’t rub well with him.”

After Nadler’s arrest, the family moved to Hickory Drive and when Nadler was released from prison, he moved back in with his parents. He helped care for them as they became infirm. His mother died in 2001 and his father in 2011, Frank said.

“When he knew my dad’s health was failing he decided to take matters into his own hands and managed to manipulate the house away from my dad’s will. So he didn’t really inherit it, he kind of stickhandled, manhandled, his way to it,” he said.

Frank was not allowed into the home after their father died and they briefly had a legal tussle over it.

“I tried , but the phone was off the hook, no one answered the door, so it was clear I wasn’t welcome. That was Bob’s way of shutting out the world.”

Nadler married Page around the time of their father’s death, Frank said. Frank wasn’t invited to the wedding so he isn’t sure exactly when. It was a first marriage for Nadler, a second for Page.

She moved into the Hickory Drive home.

Neighbours said neither Nadler nor Page mixed with the neighbours socially. Some found the tin foil off-putting and said the house and yard were unkempt. 

Paul Camilleri, Page’s nephew, said his aunt was “a good woman” who became depressed and unhappy in her marriage. Nadler seemed nice at first but grew increasingly depressed.

Page was a former part-time elementary school teacher who met Nadler at church about 10 years ago, Camilleri said. The family felt Nadler was a controlling influence on her, contributing to her estrangement from her family.

Her two adult children from a previous marriage did not like Nadler, said Camilleri.

But she remained a deeply religious person.

After the explosion, disturbing handwritten notes fluttered about the debris. Some were recovered by neighbours and turned over to police.

The notes detail financial ruin, personal pain and mental suffering, as well as hint at suicide and appeal to God for forgiveness.

Bob-Nadler.jpg: <span style="font-size:13px;">Robert Nadler.&nbsp;</span>Courtesy of Frank Nadler © Courtesy of Frank Nadler Robert Nadler. Courtesy of Frank Nadler Police are studying the notes to determine their authorship.

Both Frank Nadler and Paul Camilleri, however, said the notes were written by Page and document the couple’s deteriorating state.

“Yes she wrote it,” said Camilleri, “but he could have told her to write it. People change over years, but I do believe they were happy but struggling.”

Frank is also confident Page wrote them.

“It rang true. It just sounded like things they would say. I can’t see anybody else on the street writing that sort of stuff. Just knowing them and knowing the family, to me it just fits right in. I’d be shocked if that wasn’t her writing,” Frank said.

The notes are undergoing handwriting analysis, comparing it to Nadler’s and Page’s penmanship, as well as to that of other neighbours whose homes were destroyed, said Sgt. Josh Colley, spokesman for Peel Regional Police.

There was wide speculation the papers were meant as suicide notes.

“Is it possible? Absolutely. But investigators have to go into this with an open mind,” said Colley.

The notes are odd, sad, personal and apocalyptic.

“Dear God,” begins one. “As of next week everything will fall apart for us.

“We owe mortgage company, house taxes, water bill, gas bill, hydro bill, TV bill …. Our outside looks like crap, unkept lawn, overgrown plants, bricks on wall cracking, weed growing through concrete. The upstairs bathroom electricity is off, the back bathroom shower has problems and we have No Money to fix or Pay anyone.”

“It’s time to check out of this unfoefilled (sic) life of sorrower (sic) and pain,” reads another.

And a third, also addressed to God, says: “Thank you for keeping us safe in this house until you call us home. Why are we still here God?” It then lists three passages from the Bible.

Even though the letters refer to a husband, Frank doesn’t see Page as being behind the explosion, if it was deliberately caused.

“She kind of documented it in those letters,” said Frank. “You get a picture by reading all of those letters — they paint quite the picture.

“It doesn’t need much explaining.

“But if anything happened, he would have been the instigator and she would have been ‘Yes, Bob,’ ‘OK, Bob.’ Bob would have dreamed it up, he would have planned it out.

0705 na explosion: Damage from explosion of a home in Mississauga. © Tyler Anderson / National Post Damage from explosion of a home in Mississauga. “He was very manipulative. Bob was not whimsical. He was very planned, very careful. Very controlling, manipulative; he must be in control of the situation.”

Page’s family has turned to a public campaign to help fund a Catholic funeral service for her.

“Due to estrangement and financial hardship, we request public assistance for basic funeral costs to celebrate my aunt’s life and lay her to rest respectfully and with love,” writes her niece, Olivia Camilleri, on gofundme.com.

“As investigation continues not much can be said by us about the relationship or life they shared, but we are the ones now left with the obligation to claim her remains and administer her Catholic service as she deserves.”

About 700 homes were evacuated and, on Wednesday, the last of the families were allowed to return to their homes.

The cause of the explosion and the causes of death for Nadler and Page are still under investigation.

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