Dilleen Hempel Murder: Who Killed Her? How Did Steven Beirnes Die?

Image Credit: Calgary Herald

Crime Beat Podcast’s ‘The Second Shift’ covers the murder of a 26-year-old Canadian waitress, Dilleen Hempel, in Calgary in November 1992. The police found her body about five months later and had to mount a months-long sting operation to catch the perpetrator. If you’re interested in learning more about the case, including the killer’s identity and why they committed the crime, we’ve your back. 

How Did Dilleen Hempel Die?

Dilleen “Tinker” Hempel was born to Sharon Skogman-Doran in Calgary, a cosmopolitan Alberta city in Canada, in 1966. Her nickname, Tinker, came from Tinker Bell, the fairy-tale character in Peter Pan. Dilleen was exceptionally close to her elder sister, Jilleen, and was adored by her friends and family. At her funeral, the family pastor said, “She had that little spunkiness to her, a real charming individual.” Sharon reminisced, “She loved to laugh and socialize. When you meet her, you fall in love with her.”

Dilleen lived with her newlywed husband, Troy, then 22, in their dream home in Dalroy, a small town northeast of Calgary, in November 1992. The 26-year-old was a waitress at Confetti’s Restaurant and Bar in Calgary. Dilleen had completed her night shift on November 17, 1992, and was on her way home when she suddenly disappeared. When she did not return home that night, her concerned family informed the authorities the following day.

The young waitress was last seen driving home in her light blue car while returning home. The police and her family searched for the missing woman for five months before her body was discovered in early April 1993. According to Dilleen’s autopsy report, she had been shot twice behind her left ear and then buried. Moreover, she was still wearing the clothes she was reported missing – a black top, a white skirt, and a dark green bomber-style jacket.

Who Killed Dilleen Hempel?

After she was reported missing, the authorities found Dilleen’s car at the intersection of Highway #1 and Highway #9 to the east of Calgary. Dilleen’s sister, Jilleen Kosko, searched for her younger sister incessantly for months–sometimes even putting her life in danger. She said, “I spent nights in my car, parked in the intersection where they found my sister’s car, kind of setting myself up as bait. Thinking perhaps that I might be able to do something.”

However, the authorities soon had a person of interest when several informants reported Steven Roy Beirnes had been bragging about killing the newlywed woman. According to reports, he was born in Cheadle, a hamlet just east of Calgary, on October 31, 1963. Steven’s relatives recalled his toxic childhood, growing up in a home filled with alcohol and beating. His brother, Jim, recalled how the former regularly prostituted himself to a brewery maintenance man when he was just eight.

By 15, Steven was hustling on the streets of Edmonton, fuelled by his desire for money. In a letter he wrote to his attorney, he claimed, “It’s like I have a disease for greed that I cannot control. It doesn’t matter how much I have it always seems I want more.” As the investigation for Dilleen’s murder progressed, officers started closing in on Steven. For five weeks during the 1993 summer, two undercover Canadian Mounties befriended him, trying to coax an admission of guilt out of him. They posed as players in a mini-crime organization and took Steven to a Red Deer strip club to celebrate a phony cocaine deal.

After draining eight one-liter jugs of tequila paralyzers, Steven’s story trickled out on the drive back to Calgary as he explained to them how he killed Dilleen. At one point during the investigation, he also admitted to the agent that the police questioned him and hooked him up to a lie detector. Steven said, “They don’t think I’m guilty. Between you and me, I’m f***** dirty. I whacked her.” Yet, he never told freely why he shot Dilleen hours after she served him drinks at the bar. Yet, Steven bragged to the agents he killed the waitress because his partner allegedly told her about a bank robbery the two had committed, and she knew too much.

Steven Beirnes Died by Suicide in Prison

Steven was quoted as saying, “It was strictly business. I shot her in the back of the head at close range. She went down hard.” He was arrested for the murder on August 5, 1993. Steven already had an extensive criminal record by then, beginning in 1980. He was first arrested for trafficking narcotics, possessing stolen property, contributing to juvenile delinquency, stealing an automobile, escaping custody, and other charges. He was detained again in 1982 over escaping custody, stealing over $200, and narcotics charges.

Steven was charged with possession of property obtained by crime in 1986 before being sentenced to seven years in prison on robbery charges on January 8, 1988. Later, he was found guilty of first-degree murder in Dilleen’s death and sentenced to life in prison on November 10, 1994. Even from prison, he allegedly terrorized his friends and family and tried to double-cross them.

According to Steven’s father, the former wrote a letter and asked him to pin Dilleen’s murder on his brother, Jim. He also tried to convince his former wife, Helen, to murder Jim and his best friend, noting down explicitly detailed instructions about how to commit the crimes. Steven, in his early 40s, died by suicide in prison in 2005. Dilleen’s sister, Jilleen, said, “I can only hope it was because of remorse.”

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