crime

The Inside Story of How the Deadly Melvin vs. Marriott Feud Began

It’s a crime saga like 'Goodfellas,' but with bizarre, violent characters out of the 'Trailer Park Boys.'

by Nathaniel Janowitz
May 8 2017, 8:07pm

Photo via Christian Laforce

Halifax, Nova Scotia's most notorious criminal, Jimmy Melvin Jr., stepped into the courtroom Monday, facing murder charges for allegedly killing his long-time nemesis, Terry Marriott Jr. The Melvin and Marriott families are practically household names in Nova Scotia, infamous for a long and violent feud in a rough-ish suburb of Halifax called Spryfield, which I previously wrote 4,000 words about here.

Melvin Jr., 35, made national news numerous times during his decades of crime, but perhaps nothing is more memorable than the website, Real Live Street Shit (the url is now dead), which he launched four months after the February 2009 murder of Marriott Jr.

The short-lived website featured videos of him wearing only his underwear, proudly showing off his bullet wounds and colostomy bag while waving around multi-colored Canadian bills. It also featured local TV news clips about his various criminal activities set to hip-hop beats.

Although the website was quickly removed, highlights from the various videos can be seen in this old CBC News clip, including him shouting his most famous quote, "There is no rats in the Melvin family!" after an attempt on his father's life.

After the Marriott Jr. murder, Melvin Jr. appeared to feel invincible; nearly all his enemies were dead or imprisoned after a years-long feud. He felt so confident that in one video he referred to himself as "the cock of the walk, king of the talk."

The Melvins and the Marriotts have become synonymous with crime in Nova Scotia, and the root cause of the violence has long been a source of speculation for many in the eastern Canadian province. The media has often portrayed it as a battle for drug territory, however, inside information tells a different story—a tale of reputation and revenge

A source close to both families has spoken with me for many hours under the condition of anonymity. The source is a childhood friend of Jimmy Melvin Jr., his brother Cory Melvin, Terry Marriott Jr., BJ Bremner (Terry's half brother, son of Terry Marriott Sr.), and their cousin Wayne "Chop" Marriott and has been been publicly implicated in criminal activities with various members of both families.

The following is his explanation of the cause of Nova Scotia's most infamous feud, backed up by newspaper articles and court proceedings of various incidents.

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Terry Marriott Jr. was murdered in February 2009, but during the late 90s he'd established himself as a crime figure in Spryfield involved in small time drug dealing. Marriott Jr. was several years older than the younger generation and eight years older than Jimmy Melvin Jr.

The younger generation consisted of a group of Spryfield residents who were childhood best friends: Jimmy Melvin Jr., BJ Marriott, Derek MacPhee (the Crown's key witness in the ongoing murder trial), as well as several others. They were followed by a second group a few years younger led by Wayne "Chop" Marriott, Cory Melvin, and Jeremy Leblanc.

"We always looked up to Terry, he was older, right," said the source. "He had everything."

As teenagers, the source claimed the younger group would often hang out at Terry Jr.'s residence, where drugs and women were plentiful, as they began committing crimes themselves. But Jimmy Jr. always used to get on Terry Jr.'s nerves.

"He used to always pick on Jimmy, like slap him, try to bitch him out in front of people," said the source. "He never used to slap anyone else, it was always Jimmy man."

But although they didn't get along, Jimmy Melvin Jr. and Terry Marriott Jr. had something in common—both their fathers and namesakes were in jail, Jimmy Melvin Sr. and Terry Marriott Sr.

Jimmy Melvin Sr. was sentenced to eight years in prison in 1994, along with nine others, for his role in the importation of a reported 3.5 tons of Middle East hashish to Nova Scotia three years prior.

His sentence was extended until the mid 2000s when he was also implicated in the attempted importation of $20 million of cocaine in 1992. Unfortunately for Melvin Sr., after a high-seas pursuit by the US Coast Guard the drug-filled ship sank and he and an associate reportedly spent two days hunting for the vessel and its shipment, unaware it was underwater.

Terry Marriott Sr. had been in and out of jail for a variety of offenses since the mid-1960s. During the 90s he was incarcerated while his brothers, Billy and Ricky, continued criminal activities on the outside. Billy specifically was said to have a close relationship with the Hells Angels after a previous stint in the shoe—a Nova Scotia slang word for prison.

After Marriott Sr. became a free man in the mid 90s, Terry Jr. was already a well-known Spryfield drug dealer in his own right. But little did they know, their lives would change as Marriott Sr.'s two brothers, Billy and Ricky, would both soon be dead.

It's unclear exactly what relationship Billy had with the Hells Angels, however, he was charged for carrying out a Hells Angels hit in 1998 on another Nova Scotia criminal named William St. Clair Wendelborg (this is explained in more depth in my previous Melvins and Marriotts article).

Weeks after Wendelborg's decomposed body was found, Billy Marriott claimed to have discovered his own brother Ricky, and Ricky's wife, Gail Stone, murdered in their home. Due to the positioning of their bodies police suspected that they were murdered by someone they trusted. Shortly after, police arrested and charged Billy for the Wendelborg hit, but before his 2000 court date, Billy hanged himself in his cell.

A graphic of the two crime families from late 2015 by Ben Ruby, 2015

In 2001, Billy's common-law wife, Wanda Lynn Campbell, went to trial for her involvement in cleaning up the blood from the Wendelborg murder. Both Terry Marriott Sr. and Terry Marriott Jr. testified during the trial, and Marriott Sr. said he believed that Billy had killed Ricky.

In Spryfield, like many neighborhoods, "no snitching" was an unwritten rule. The source said that in Spryfield, being called a "rat" was the "worst thing you can be called."

After the trial, Terry Marriott Sr. and Terry Marriott Jr. were reportedly personas non grata in the neighborhood. It's unclear whether the father and son were imprisoned for the following years, or whether they simply left the province. Either way, they were off-the-radar until the mid 2000s.

BJ Marriott, who already had a strained relationship with his father and half brother, took a hard stance against them.

"I don't know if he really hated them," said the source. "But he pretended he did at least. He had to after they ratted."

In 2001, the Halifax police initiative Operation Hammer decimated the city's Hells Angels chapter. Nearly all patched members were arrested and the clubhouse shuttered, effectively ending their control of the drug trade in the Maritimes.

These arrests created a void in the Spryfield crime scene. The younger group led by BJ Marriott and Jimmy Melvin Jr. stepped in to fill it; their main rackets were selling drugs, smuggling drugs into prison, stealing cars, committing extortion, and breaking and entering.

In May 2002, BJ Marriott was arrested and convicted for killing a man outside Halifax's Copper Penny Tavern. Around that time Jimmy Melvin Jr. was incarcerated for cocaine possession. While imprisoned the two coordinated a large-scale drug operation that included dealing on the outside, as well as smuggling drugs into jail through an associate's rectum.

In July of the same year the Halifax police flipped the manager of a drug den named Bruce Jackson and recorded several phone calls with the incarcerated Marriott. Authorities collected information and conducted an undercover sting, called Operation Mid-Way, that led to more than 80 arrests and hundreds of charges against mid-level drug dealers.

During the Bruce Jackson testimony in the following trials he showed how BJ's mother, Dawn Bremner, would connect BJ and Jimmy Jr. on the phone from their various prisons to discuss life and business. According to the source, the feud began on one of these calls after Jimmy Melvin Sr. was finally released from prison.

Allegedly, BJ Marriott called Jimmy Melvin Jr. on the phone and claimed that the reason that Jimmy's father had been released was because he had ratted. Jimmy took offense, telling BJ if he could produce his father's testimony that he'd never speak to his father again. But BJ never produced any evidence or records that showed Jimmy Sr. was a rat, and Jimmy was pissed.

"[Jimmy Jr.] never forgave [BJ]," said the source. "Everything he did after that was to get back at BJ."

On the outside Cory Melvin and Wayne "Chop" Marriott carved out reputations as shrewd money makers while their relatives were in jail. However, the younger relatives relationship fractured as well, as the feud between BJ and Jimmy Jr. extended to their cliques on the outside.

Firm lines were drawn in the feud. Cory Melvin, Derek MacPhee, and other associates sided with Jimmy Melvin Jr.

Wayne "Chop" Marriott, Jeremy Leblanc, and other associates sided with BJ. These two groups would be responsible for a majority of the violence in Spryfield over the following years.

While BJ and Jimmy were in prison, several houses, apartment buildings, and businesses around Halifax were shot at or firebombed, including properties owned by Jimmy Melvin Sr. and various members of the Marriott family. According to the source, Wayne "Chop" Marriott allegedly got into an altercation with Cory Melvin during this period, that resulted in Cory getting shot in the hand, although this was never reported to the police.

But shit really hit the fan when Jimmy Melvin Jr. was released from prison in 2006. On June 20 of the same year, one month after Melvin Jr.'s release, an unknown assailant gunned down Wayne "Chop" Marriott in his driveway, as well as injuring Jeremy Leblanc who sat in the passenger seat.

Days after the murder, unknown assailants firebombed a money loaning business called Spryfield Fast Cash owned by Jimmy Melvin Sr. The following day gunshots were fired at the incarcerated BJ Marriott's home, where members of his family still lived.

In the months that followed several firebomb attacks took place, including one that injured Wanda Lynn Campbell, the deceased Billy Marriott's common law wife. Cory Melvin was charged in several of these incidents.

Police named Jimmy Melvin Jr. as the primary suspect in Chop's murder, and while hiding from the cops, Jimmy became a national celebrity for the first time.

Police labelled Melvin Jr. as armed and dangerous, and asked the public to help track him down. One night Melvin Jr. went drinking in the small Nova Scotian town of Digby, and after being involved in a bar fight, he was arrested. But Melvin Jr. gave the cops a fake name, and told the Digby police that he had information about the wanted Jimmy Melvin Jr.'s location. The police transferred him to their Halifax counterparts, who spent several hours searching for Jimmy Melvin Jr. with Jimmy Melvin Jr. and when they couldn't find Jimmy Melvin Jr. they released the real Jimmy Melvin Jr.

When the police finally realized they'd released the man they were looking for, Melvin Jr. was on-the-run again. After a tense six-hour standoff at a seedy motel weeks later, they finally were able to arrest him. But by then the story of police incompetence had become national news.

To make matters worse, the police were unable to prove Melvin's involvement in the murder, and never charged him for the crime. The murder of Wayne "Chop" Marriott remains unsolved.

Melvin Jr. would spend two years in prison awaiting trial on charges for an unrelated home invasion. However, he was freed on November 14, 2008 after key witnesses changed their testimonies.

Melvin Jr. being taken to court. Photo via CP.

While Jimmy was imprisoned, Terry Marriott Jr. returned to Nova Scotia and once again made a name for himself in criminal circles.

"He done so much shit, he was just trying to get his reputation back," said the source. "Anybody that called him a rat, he'd go after them."

During that period, Terry Marriott Jr. would align himself with numerous criminals in Spryfield, occasionally working with members of Jimmy Melvin Jr.'s clique. Terry Marriott Jr. actually was more of an enemy of his half-brother BJ's old crew, which was now headed by Jeremy Leblanc and other associates. BJ remains in jail.

Once again, Jimmy Melvin Jr.'s release from prison led to an uptick in violence in Nova Scotia. Days after his release unknown assailants attempted to shoot his father, Jimmy Melvin Sr., outside of a pizza shop in Spryfield.

As journalists tried to interview the younger Melvin after the failed murder attempt on his father's life, he twice shouted in a thick Nova Scotian accent, "There is no rats in the Melvin family!"

That quote has become somewhat of a catchphrase related to the Melvin family, often referenced in Halifax gossip circles.

When asked about it, the source chuckled, "Strictly for BJ, everybody knew it was for BJ that knew what was going on. Everybody else was confused."

It's unclear who attempted to murder Melvin Sr., however, the ensuing violence would suggest BJ's crew, headed by Jeremy Leblanc—the wounded man sitting next to Wayne "Chop" Marriott during his 2006 murder.

Although Leblanc never implicated Melvin Jr. in the 2006 murder, the two former friends had their own complicated relationship. Allegedly as children, Melvin Jr. treated Leblanc with the same disrespect that Terry Marriott Jr. used to show Jimmy Melvin Jr. According to the source, after a botched robbery prior to the BJ-Jimmy beef, Melvin Jr. once violently beat up Leblanc in the woods with a broomstick.

The day after the Melvin Sr. attack in front of the pizza shop, assailants shot another associate of the two cliques, Jason Hallett, outside of Halifax's downtown Children's Hospital after visiting his newborn baby on November 18, 2008. The brazen daylight shooting in front of a hospital shocked Halifax and increased the notoriety of the warring gangs. Hallett survived the attack with one bullet wound.

According to the source, Hallett had been a member of BJ's crew, but they turned on him after Melvin Jr. allegedly abducted Hallett and forced him to tell him the whereabouts of Jeremy Leblanc, and other associates. The hospital attack was the third time Hallett had been shot that year.

On December 4 of the same year, Melvin Jr. was shot twice in the upper body, but survived after a few days in the hospital.

Leblanc is currently serving a 26-year prison term after being sentenced in two separate trials for the attempted murder of Melvin Jr., and as the ringleader in the hospital attack of Hallett. Hallett would disappear from the province soon after, many speculating that he landed in the witness protection program after testifying against Leblanc and his associates.

Three others went to jail for their roles in the Hallett shooting, and BJ Marriott's crew had been all but dismantled. But according to the Crown, Jimmy wasn't done.

On Monday, the first day of Jimmy Melvin's trial, Crown prosecutor Christine Driscoll explained how they will prove Jimmy Melvin Jr. shot Terry Marriott Jr. while he napped on a friend's couch, as Terry tried to shake off a hangover from the night before. According to Driscoll, their key witness, Derek MacPhee, drove Melvin to the house on a four wheeler to commit the murder.

The source explained that after Terry Marriott Jr. had returned to Nova Scotia, he did everything he could to lose his reputation as a rat.

"People called him a rat, we'd stalk them, we'd fucking shoot up their house, we'd chase people around shooting at them, beat them up, we done all kind of shit," explained the source. "Someone calls you a rat, you gotta shoot them. It's the only way to defend yourself, or else people are going to think you're a rat"

Contrary to news reports, Marriott Jr. was not aligned with the BJ Marriott crew. In fact, he actually worked more often with the Melvin Jr. group while Jimmy Melvin Jr. was incarcerated between 2006-2008, according to the source.

"Jimmy was jealous because Terry stole his friends," claimed the source. "Plus it's BJ's brother, that's another reason. He wanted to hurt BJ, but a lot of that shit was because of how he used to pick on him when he was younger."

The trial currently taking place may finally provide some answers to the long-standing rumours in Spryfield that Jimmy Melvin Jr. was involved in Marriott Jr.'s murder, and that will largely come down to the believability of the Crown's key witness—Derek MacPhee.

After the Marriott Jr. murder, MacPhee went to jail for shooting another Spryfield crime figure in 2009 until 2014.

During this period Melvin Jr. released his aforementioned www.reallivestreetshit.com, would be in and out of jail for a variety of offenses, and reportedly spent two years in Africa where his brother Cory owns a call center.

Derek MacPhee, flipped on Jimmy Melvin Jr. after being given immunity for a 2015 home invasion and facing another long bid in the shoe.

On Monday, MacPhee was the Crown's first witness, and detailed his version of the murder of Terry Marriott Jr. He said Marriott Jr. had become a friend of his as well, and said he spent the day of the murder trying to keep Melvin Jr. away from Marriott Jr., who was hungover after a night at a strip club. However, after MacPhee gave Marriott pills to sleep, including valium, he testified he drove Melvin Jr. to where Marriott Jr. was sleeping.

"I could have stopped it, but that's a different story," MacPhee said Monday, then claimed he told Melvin Jr. "'If you're going to do it…get in there and do it. Don't fuck it up.'"

MacPhee testified he heard five slow shots, then claimed Melvin Jr. came out and told him that he'd shot Marriott Jr. twice in the head, and three times in the chest.

The defense is expected to argue there are several reasons why MacPhee is an unreliable witness, and according to the source, this will probably be based around a relationship between MacPhee and Marriott Jr.'s wife, and possibly an outstanding debt between Melvin Jr. and MacPhee related to an alleged firebombing paid for by a prominent Nova Scotian.

But for many in Spryfield, this trial may represent the end of perhaps its most tragic and violent period in its history.

"From the day that big Terry and little Terry ratted, that put stress on everything," said the source. "Then BJ and Jimmy, the two of them, ruined Spryfield, ruined it, ruined it."

"When everyone got along, everyone had money, everything was fucking perfect," said the source. "It's depressing and fucked up what they did."

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