When the police finally got Jimmy Melvin Jr. out of a seedy motel room in Bedford, Nova Scotia following a tense six-hour standoff in July 2006, it was too late to save face.
Melvin Jr. had been a wanted man for weeks, and police had asked the public for help in tracking him down, labelling him as armed and dangerous. But when he ended up in police custody after being picked up in a bar-fight, he pulled a typical Ricky-from-Trailer-Park-Boys maneuver, tricking the cops by lying about his identity and presenting a fake ID. While in the drunk tank in Digby, he then told officers he had information about the wanted Jimmy Melvin Jr.'s whereabouts. The misled officers transferred him to the Halifax Police, who spent several hours hunting for Jimmy Melvin Jr. with Jimmy Melvin Jr.
Only after releasing him did they realize the man who they had been cruising around with was actually the man they were looking for in the first place: a person of interest in the recent murder of a member of the Marriott family—a neighboring clan that had worked both with and against Melvin's family for years in the local drug trade.
At the time, the two clans were in the midst of a multi-generational feud, one that had come to an explosive new peak when both Jimmy Melvin Sr. and Jimmy Melvin Jr. had been released from prison earlier in 2006. And though it appears that the two families had at one point been aligned (via a crack ring circa 2002), the subsequent murder of a Marriott made it clear this alliance was no more.
With Melvin Jr. finally arrested, the cops had gotten their man. But this would hardly be the end of the saga, nor any sort of new beginning. Just another in a long line of ridiculous and bloody moments that turned the Spryfield wars between the Marriotts and Melvins into a Hatfield-McCoy type legend.
Real-Life Trailer Park Boys
The Marriott and Melvin families don't live in trailers, but instead live primarily in and around public housing units in an area of Halifax known as Spryfield, population around 11,000. The patriarchs of both of these families became staples of the local crime scene after repeated arrests, drug busts, and murders in the 1990s. In the 2000s, their children, several of them tagged as "Jrs.," became involved in a bloody turf war over drug territory that left bodies scattered around the city in EXCO long tees and saggy jeans.
Their continued presence in the media has made the Marriotts and Melvins practically household names in Halifax, and the two notorious families have been alternately working together or fighting each other on and off for more than 25 years.
The war even briefly became national news in May 2009, when Melvin Jr. launched his short-lived website, RealLiveStreetShit.com, featuring videos of him making it rain multi-colored Canadian bills, proudly showing off his bullet wounds and colostomy bag, and a news clip of him shouting his most famous quote, "There is no rats in the Melvin family." Highlights from the videos, strangely reminiscent of J-Rock music videos, can be seen in this old CBC News clip.
"It's like a soap opera in a way, if it wasn't so tragic," Stephen Schneider, Criminology Graduate Program Coordinator at Saint Mary's University, told VICE.
"Those guys are just knuckle-dragging morons. I wouldn't waste the ink in a pen on those guys unless you're trying to do an article about a bunch of stupid criminals."
As it turns out, that's exactly what we're trying to do.
East Coast Dons
The families' illicit history begins with the patriarchs: Terry Marriott Sr. and Jimmy Melvin Sr., both of whom have been on the police radar since the late 1980s.
Terry Marriott Sr.'s criminal history began in 1966 at the age of 17, and included a dozen drug offenses. But it wasn't until 1988, at the age of 41, that Marriott Sr. had a major brush with the law when he was charged in the drug-related murder of Arnold "Smiley" Joseph Bailey. The primary witness in the case claimed that Marriott Sr. and Bailey had gone to Halifax's North End to "rip off" drugs from a local boxer, Donald Downey, when Marriott allegedly shot Bailey in the head. Downey was shot and killed months later after opening his door to a man with a Halloween mask. His killer has never been found. Surprisingly, the witness in the 1991 trial for Bailey's murder—who had been given immunity for his testimony—was never called to testify, upsetting investigators. In the end, Marriott Sr. was acquitted.
Jimmy Melvin Sr.'s name first surfaced in 1991 when police linked him to roughly 3.5 tons of hashish in a truck that had allegedly been shipped from the Middle East. Melvin Sr. and nine others were charged with conspiracy and in 1994 he was sentenced to eight years in prison. Before being convicted, Melvin was also linked to a ship loaded with $20 million [$15 million USD] in cocaine that sank after a high-seas pursuit by the US Coast Guard in 1992. Reportedly, Melvin Sr. and an associate spent two days looking for the ship and its cargo, unaware that it had sank. Melvin Sr. remained in jail until the mid 2000s.
These two men, Terry Marriott Sr., and Jimmy Melvin Sr., may not have known it at the time, but they were laying the groundwork for dynasties of Spryfield criminals, and their siblings, children, cousins, and nephews would all be a part of the madness. Billy Marriott, Ricky Marriott, BJ Marriott, Terry Marriott Jr., Wayne Marriott, Aaron Marriott, and the Melvin brothers, Jimmy Jr. and Cory, very publicly got their fates tied up in this knot of fuckery, but there are an unknown number of these Marriotts and Melvins still running around the Maritimes.
Marriotts Gone Wild
In the 1990s, crime in much of Eastern Canada was controlled by the Hells Angels, from drugs to money laundering, prostitution, and contract killings, as detailed in the book Road To Hell: How the Biker Gangs Are Conquering Canada (which is also the source for much of the information in this section). Both Marriott Sr. and Melvin Sr. would find their names connected to the outlaw motorcycle gang over the years.
By the mid 90s, Terry Marriott Sr. had made a name for himself in Spryfield, running drugs with his two brothers, Ricky and Billy. A road accident had left Ricky in a wheelchair, but apparently he was still prone to getting in fights—having associates knock his opponent to the ground, he'd then run them over with his wheelchair.
Billy Marriott was said to be the family's main connection to the Hells Angels, having befriended a fully patched member, Neil Smith, while in jail.
Although the details of the relationship between the Hells Angels and the Marriotts is still murky, what is clear is that their alliance led to a string of murders in 1997 and 1998.
Two men, Robert MacFarlane and William St. Clair Wendelborg, saw weakness with the Angels' control in Halifax and began to encroach on both their territory and Paul Wilson's Reflections Cabaret—a Halifamous gay club that at the time served as an after-hours drug den—allegedly threatening his family and club. Wilson had a lengthy criminal record and was closely connected to the Angels, specifically with his childhood friend, David "Wolf" Carroll, a fully patched member of the Quebec chapter who he helped import drugs and launder money.
In early 1997, MacFarlane was gunned down by two Hells Angels associates brought in from Montreal. Wendelborg's decomposed body was found in October 1998 in the woods of Harrietsfield, Halifax County. He had been badly beaten and died of a forced cocaine overdose.
Paul Wilson would later be accused and charged in organizing the hits of both men after having fled Canada and being arrested on the island of Grenada. Before Wilson's 2004 trial, both the contract killers in the MacFarlane murder would also die under mysterious circumstances.
For the murder of Wendelborg, Wilson hired Billy Marriott and an associate. Reportedly, Wendelborg was lured into Marriott's home with the excuse that he wanted to buy drugs. He was then beaten with a baseball bat, bound in duct tape, and injected with a lethal dose of cocaine.
Weeks later, Billy Marriott was found at the scene of another double murder: his own brother Ricky and Ricky's wife, Gail Stone. Ricky was found slumped over at the kitchen table with a bullet in his temple, his wife was shot on the couch nearby. Billy claimed he found them like this, however, police suspected, by the positioning of their bodies, that they were killed by someone they trusted—perhaps Billy—but they had no proof.
Soon, Billy was arrested and charged in the death of Wendelborg. But before facing trial in 2000, Billy hanged himself in his cell. Billy's common-law wife, Wanda Lynn Campbell, would eventually be convicted for her involvement in cleaning up the blood from the Wendelborg murder. What's more, during that trial in 2001, Terry Marriott Sr. said he believed that Billy had killed Ricky.
As twisted as all of this may appear, the Spryfield scene was about to get weirder. Both Terry Marriott Sr. and Terry Marriott Jr. were among 40 people arrested in 1999 in a large operation that targeted crack houses and street level dealing. They would remain incarcerated until the mid 2000s.
But with both of his brothers dead, Marriott Sr. was ready to promote his son to help him run the family business. Soon, the younger generation would be firmly in control.
Nothing Like a Drug Connection to Bring Families Together
The year 2001 was a tough one for the Hells Angels in Canada. The Nomads in Quebec had been involved in a lengthy turf war with the Rock Machine that claimed over 160 lives. The Canadian government appeared to have had enough and cracked down on the Quebec chapter, arresting all the major players in raids except for Wilson's childhood friend, Wolf Carroll, who is still on the run today.
Jimmy Melvin Sr., a long-time associate of the Hells Angels who had recently been released from jail for his failed attempts at drug trafficking in the early 1990s, was arrested as well and charged with trafficking hashish. He would return to jail for the next six years.
This coincided with the 2001 Halifax Police initiative Operation Hammer, which led to the dismantling of the Halifax Hells Angels chapter. Most of the Halifax patched members were arrested and the clubhouse was closed, ending their era of control in the Maritimes.
With the Hells Angels decimated and the patriarchs of both the Melvins and Marriotts in jail, there was a vacuum in Nova Scotia's drug trafficking industry. The younger Melvins and Marriotts, along with their cronies, would fill the void, working together to churn out product in several crack houses in Halifax.
In May, 2002, 19-year-old Brian James (BJ) Marriott (whose real surname is Bremner, even though he is related to the Marriotts—seriously, stick with us), was arrested and convicted for the shooting death of a man outside Halifax's Copper Penny Tavern. While imprisoned, however, he still coordinated a large-scale drug operation that would provide the first major connection between the younger Marriotts and Melvins.
A manager of a crack house named Bruce Jackson had turned snitch, and through wiretaps and police-sponsored drug purchases, implicated BJ Marriott, Gary "Boo" Boudreau, and Jimmy Melvin Jr. as the ringleaders in a wholesale narcotics ring based in Spryfield.
In the months after his arrest for murder, BJ Marriott would call his mother from prison, who would then dial in Jackson so he and Marriott could co-ordinate operations on the outside, as well as the smuggling of crack, hash, and pills into the prison through an associate's rectum to be sold to fellow inmates.
In July, 2002, authorities used the collected information to conduct an undercover sting, dubbed Operation Mid-Way, ending up with more than 80 arrests and hundreds of charges against mid-level drug dealers. Even the mothers of BJ Marriott and Jimmy Melvin Jr. both spent between one and two-and-a-half years in prison.
At the time of the arrests, Jimmy Melvin Jr. was already imprisoned for cocaine possession, but in Jackson's confessions he proved that Melvin Jr. was still an influential organizer working from behind bars alongside BJ Marriott, while Boo operated things from the outside. Melvin Jr. received another five years on his current sentence.
The dysfunction within the criminal network started manifesting itself in more heinous acts around this time. On October 25, 2002, at least one Molotov cocktail and five bullets hit a property owned by Jimmy Melvin Sr. An extended family member of the Marriotts, Wayne Douglas Robinson, was arrested for the crime. Over the next few years, several houses, apartment buildings, and businesses around Halifax were shot at or firebombed. All of this unrest was believed to be connected with the growing beef between the two families.
"Death Before Dishonor"
The Spryfield wars were raging full-on when both Jimmy Melvin Sr. and Jimmy Melvin Jr. were released from prison in 2006.
The first major blow came on June 20 of the same year, when 21-year-old Wayne "Chop" Marriott was shot while sitting in a parked car in his driveway with Jeremy Leblanc. Leblanc would survive with one bullet wound to the arm, while Wayne died on the way to the hospital. Wayne was a first cousin of both Terry Marriott Jr. and BJ Marriott, and had previously been convicted of trafficking cocaine.
Days later, a money loaning business called Spryfield Fast Cash owned by Jimmy Melvin Sr. was destroyed by a molotov cocktail, a now favorite modus-operandi of the two families. It was speculated that this was retaliation for Wayne's murder. The day following the firebombing, gunshots were fired at the former home of the jailed BJ Marriott—which was still occupied by members of his family.
Jimmy Melvin Jr. was named as the primary suspect in Wayne's murder, resulting in the aforementioned ride-along debacle and six-hour motel standoff with police. But even when he was finally arrested, the violence was far from over.
Several more firebombings ensued in the following months, including one that injured the widow of Billy Marriott, Wanda Lynn Campbell. Cory Melvin, the younger brother of Jimmy Melvin Jr., was charged in several of these incidents.
Melvin Jr. would not be charged in the murder of Wayne Marriott. Instead, he spent two years in prison awaiting trial on charges for an unrelated home invasion, but was released from custody on November 14, 2008 after some key witnesses changed their stories.
A Cold Beer and a Shower of Bullets
When he was released, Melvin Jr. shouted "Hallelujah" and said he "was looking forward to a cold beer." The 26-year-old likely got his beer, but the celebration was short lived. Three days after being freed, his father, Jimmy Melvin Sr., was the intended target of gunfire outside of a pizza shop in Spryfield.
As reporters tried to interview the younger Melvin behind the yellow police tape after his father's failed assassination, he shouted in a thick Nova Scotian accent, "There is no rats in the Melvin family!," before spitting on the ground, getting in a car and yelling, "Death before dishonor!"
The following day, Melvin Jr's best friend, Jason Hallett, was the subject of another failed assassination attempt outside of Halifax's downtown Children's Hospital after visiting his newborn baby. This brazen shooting in broad daylight in front of a hospital shocked the city and further underscored the notoriety of the warring families. The attack left Hallett with one bullet wound—it was the third time Hallett had been shot at that year.
On December 4, Melvin Jr. himself would be hit by two bullets in the upper body, but survived after several days in the hospital.
Shortly after, Jeremy Leblanc, the man sitting beside Wayne Marriott when he was murdered in 2006, was arrested and charged for the attack on Melvin Jr. (A second man, Daniel Edward Borden, who was also charged and convicted as an accessory in the attack on Melvin Jr., would be murdered in 2011 after his release from prison.)
Jeremy Leblanc was also charged as the ringleader in the attempted murder of Hallett in front of the hospital. The trigger man in this shooting was 18-year-old Aaron Marriott.
Beyond the sheer audacity of this violent spree, court documents later identified Leblanc as a lifelong friend of Hallett and Melvin Jr. However, as the beef between the Melvins and Marriotts intensified, he had sided with the latter clan. Leblanc was also linked as the boss of a gun trafficking ring operated by a local Spryfield high school student. (Leblanc is currently serving a 26 year prison term for his crimes.)
A Fallen Marriott
Terry Marriott Jr., who had been released from jail years earlier, was the next to lose his life. On February 20, 2009, he was sleeping on a couch at a friend's house when he was shot to death. Five other people were in the house at the time, all of whom claimed to have seen nothing.
Following Marriott Jr.'s murder, internet trolls and Marriott sympathizers on a popular Halifax message board got into an extended war of words over the merits of grieving for a known drug trafficker and member of an infamous Halifax crime family. The internet spat hit high gear when someone, claiming to be Terry Marriott Jr.'s daughter, wrote:
These familys are causing trouble ?
im pretty sure my dad was trying to get out of this life just no budy could get that though your head , hes been trying to be a perfect dad , but looks like her cant do that now , that some FUCKHEAD , did what they did .
gotta a problem hallla ?
rip dad .
Jimmy, who claimed to be the brother of a woman involved with the Marriotts, wrote:
Terry was trying to change, its hard when you grow up in the lifestyle that he grew up in.but he was a grteat dad,some people have to play with what they ve been dealt its sad but true.So for all you people who are out there mouthing about crime this and bad that ,go back into your little house with your white picked fense and SHUT UP cause you think you know but you really dont know the half of it !rip terry and wayne my lil sis will love you 4 ever bro
Marriott Jr.'s obituary said that he "had a love of music and good times. In his spare time he enjoyed four wheeling, working on his cherished lime green Mustang and working with wood."
Whether or not Marriott Jr. was truly out of the game is unknown. However, his murder would reverberate throughout the two families for years to come.
Melvins Gone Wild
In the following months, Melvin Jr. was hit with another bullet and survived. His father's house was also fired at without injuries.
As a response, Melvin Jr. tried something different; he launched his now infamous but short-lived website RealLiveStreetShit.com, where he referred to himself as "the cock of the walk, king of the talk."
According to news reports at the time, it featured media reports detailing his brushes with the law, and a highlight reel set to rap music. In one video, he shows off his wounds, flashes cash, and gloats, "Who wants to get rich or die? I know I ain't dying, and I'm rich."
That particular video showed Melvin sitting in a recliner chair and swearing while he held a large amount of cash and dropped bills on the floor one at a time. At one point in the video, Melvin walks up to the camera wearing only his underwear and turns his backside to the camera to show his scars from gunshot wounds and a part of his colostomy bag.
Melvin Jr. received a large amount of national press for this brash flaunting of his criminal lifestyle, but in a surprisingly smart decision, he soon removed the website.
Still, with two of the younger Marriotts dead, two others in jail, the war seemingly finished, and Melvin Jr. finding fame on the internet, he apparently felt untouchable, and turned his attention back toward crime.
Unfortunately for him, his freedom didn't last long.
In February, 2010, he was arrested on charges of kidnapping and assault with a baseball bat. His prison stay was extended until 2013 for a variety of offenses, including accosting prison guards on separate occasions with spit, feces, and a banana.
Fading Into the Sunset
With much of his family dead or in jail, Terry Marriott Sr., who had not been charged with a crime since 1999, would find himself back in the news in 2012 when he was charged and convicted of possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.
At his trial, his lawyer claimed Marriott decided to get back into the game in order to try and track down his son's killer(s) because that was "where information is readily transferred and given for drugs."
After serving two years for that crime, Marriott Sr. would see the possibility of justice for his son's murder when an associate of Melvin Jr.'s, Derek Thomas MacPhee, fingered Jimmy for the crime. Macphee had been arrested for a violent home invasion and struck an immunity deal with the Crown when he agreed to testify against Jimmy Melvin Jr. in the 2009 murder.
Jimmy Melvin Jr. was arrested on July 18, 2015 and is currently in solitary confinement in a Dartmouth, Nova Scotia jail as he awaits his 2016 court date. With his lengthy rap sheet, a conviction for first degree murder would possibly put Melvin Jr. away for life.
If Terry Marriott Sr. felt any satisfaction for the arrest of Melvin Jr. it was likely short-lived. He was arrested on July 31 in his Spryfield apartment and was charged, then later convicted, with one count of possession for the purpose of drug trafficking. He'll spend the next four years in jail and be released at the age of 70.
With the recent arrests of Terry Marriott Sr. and Jimmy Melvin Jr. many Nova Scotians are wondering if the real-life Trailer Park Boys are finally finished.
"Even if the Marriotts and Melvins are in the sunset, their moment of glory gone, they've still captured the public attention for some reason," Dr. Don Clairmont, director of the Atlantic Institute of Criminology at Dalhousie University, told VICE.
"In many ways they're kind of a story of local guys going bad. But it's also a triumph for the police because most of them are in jail. But we shouldn't get too carried away. They weren't the cleverest in the first place. The main thing is that they were ours and they lasted a long time."
And as the second generation ages, one can only wonder what the future holds for the third.
Follow Nathaniel Janowitz on Twitter.