More than two months after investigators revealed a man murdered on a logging road near Squamish, B.C., was an American hiding from multimillion-dollar lawsuits and allegations of neo-Nazism, his girlfriend is coming forward to try and re-ignite interest in the case.
Eva McLennan began dating a vegan rock-climber she knew as Jesse James in late 2015, a man she describes as tight-lipped about his past while claiming to have amassed millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency as he was living “off the grid."
He was found shot inside a burning vehicle in 2017.
In late October 2020, days before making a public announcement, RCMP investigators told McLennan that DNA evidence from "Jesse's" remains had matched a missing person investigation for Davis Wolfgang Hawke, who was reported missing in the U.S. in 2006.
"I never believed that he was Jesse James, I knew that that was an alias," said McLennan in a one-on-one interview outside the Zephyr Café in Squamish, B.C., where she and Hawke often went. "I knew he had a lot of secrets - everybody knew this person had a lot of secrets."'
McLennan couldn't elaborate when asked what made her suspect her former partner was keeping secrets.
Recounting the day she learned of his death, McLennan told CTV News she was camping "not far away" from the location where Hawke's body was discovered. She said she'd been wondering where he was, and why she handn't heard from him, when she "stumbled upon the police cordon looking for him."
She also said she was shocked to learn of a past that earned Hawke the "Spam Nazi" nickname.
"I was sickened," McLennan said. "That was not on the radar, no. That was absolutely not on the radar."
As a college student in South Carolina, Hawke garnered widespread media coverage and attention for advocating white supremacist ideology under a pseudonym, though he failed to gather support for an anti-government march he’d planned on the U.S. capital in 1999.
Hawke would go on to reinvent himself as a prolific email spammer, earning six-figure profits each month he hawked pornography and fake prescription drugs through countless unsolicited emails – which ultimately caught the attention of internet service providers and saw one win a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against him, as others appeared poised to follow suit.
Hawke fled the country, amidst rumours he’d hidden gold bullion bought with his profits. Whether it was buried in the mountains of New Hampshire, where he hiked with his wolf-dog hybrids, or buried on his parents’ Massachusetts property, rumours proliferated that Hawke had gold.
“At one point he was allegedly carrying around hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gold bars,” explained Brian McWilliams, a former investigative journalist who wrote extensively about Hawke in a book titled “Spam Kings," and wasn’t surprised to hear McLennan claim Hawke was wildly successful in cryptocurrency. “He put his wealth into gold and that’s just so cumbersome when you’re a guy on the run. It makes sense that at some point he must’ve cashed the gold into cryptocurrency.”
McWilliams believes Hawke had little trouble reinventing himself as “Jesse James," a man McLennan confirmed was obsessed with healthy living, nutritional supplements and rock climbing.
“This is a guy who from his earlier days when he was in college was obsessed with the idea of being able to do things anonymously, having pseudonyms, creating personas that would enable you to do things,” said McWilliams from his home in Boston. “The mere fact he would be able to get into Canada and spend years avoiding this multimillion-dollar lawsuit — the guy had some skills at hiding this element of his past and hiding what he was really up to.”
The RCMP’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team says Hawke was shot before his SUV was set on fire on the Cheekeye Forest Road on June 14, 2017. Despite tips stemming from the media coverage in the fall, they haven’t seen the kind of breakthrough they’d hoped to for.
“We’re not any closer to solving his murder,” said IHIT spokesperson, Sgt. Frank Jang at E-Division headquarters in Surrey. “His history in Canada is very limited; all we know about him is he went by Jesse James, he wanted to live in the wooded areas of Squamish.”
Jang emphasized investigators have no evidence to suggest Hawke was involved with drugs or gang activity, and that they believe it’s possible a hunter or target-shooter in the area could’ve accidently shot him. The fact he was found in a burning truck makes that theory less plausible, leading to more questions.
“Perhaps he was living in that vehicle, maybe he had a fire source to keep himself warm,” said Jang. “There’s so many things in our minds right now but we are certainly appealing to anyone with information.”
He was very clear that McLennan is not a suspect.
“We know of her and have spoken with her and no, she’s not – at this point, we really don’t have a suspect,” Jang revealed. “Even after three years there’s still so many questions left in this case and even our victim is really shrouded in a lot of questions himself.”
A secretive life
Hawke was an eccentric character, writing a book on seduction still available on Amazon and avidly researching and consuming nutritional supplements “the aim of which is eternal life,” he wrote on a blog. Despite his vague past, which McLennan says she never asked him about, his former partner says their relationship was a happy one.
“He was very affectionate, very caring,” she said. “We pursued a minimalist lifestyle in a lot of ways.”
But McLennan also admitted there were no photos of her and Hawke together, though she felt it was for a good reason.
“Because of his need for anonymity, (photos) don’t exist because this is somebody who lived with extensive anonymity,” she stressed. “The reason as it was explained to me, as I understood it, was just the fact of his large wealth in cryptocurrency putting him at potential risk.”
That explanation is at odds with the clear, camera-facing photo homicide investigators provided when they announced Hawke’s true identity; he felt comfortable enough with someone in his life to allow them to take that photo.
A mythical fortune or the real thing?
If it’s true that Hawke had amassed a digital fortune, the same qualities that would’ve made it attractive to a secretive character like himself also would’ve quashed any hope that it could lead investigators to his killers. Crypto-currencies, like Bitcoin and Ethereum have sometimes proven to be lucrative investments over time, but the same system that allows total anonymity for investors also makes the funds completely inaccessible if you lose the passcode.
Conversely, all it takes is access to the passcode and the money can be claimed by anyone, with no one the wiser.