Saint John police have linked Michael Wayne McGray -- the man who says he is Canada's worst serial killer -- to the 1986 stabbing death of a gay man nicknamed Fluff.

During a face-to-face interview with The Globe and Mail, Mr. McGray said he stabbed the man in a neighbourhood in Saint John's south end. His victim was an acquaintance, he said, someone he knew by nickname after seeing him at a party, and his death took place a couple of years before the 1987 stabbing of Mark Daniel Gibbons, a killing with which Mr. McGray is now charged.

Saint John police said that when they looked back through their cold cases, they discovered the murder of James Lloyd Beyea. He was found stabbed to death in the early morning of April 13, 1986, behind the provincial building in the port city's south end. Mr. Beyea, a 43-year-old gay man, was known as Fluff.

Story continues below advertisement

Police believe that Mr. McGray was in Saint John around the time of the murder. What's more, investigators discovered, buried in the case file is Mr. McGray's name mentioned as a suspect.

According to police, Mr. McGray allegedly made comments related to the murder to another inmate while in jail on an unrelated common assault charge. When investigators questioned him, however, Mr. McGray denied making the statements. No one was charged.

Saint John detectives are now pursuing the case, hoping that people interviewed in 1986 may be more willing to co-operate now.

The stabbing of the man known as Fluff is one of 16 murders across North America that Mr. McGray said he committed -- statements that, if true, would make him the worst serial killer in Canadian history.

He has just begun a life sentence in a New Brunswick prison, with no eligibility of parole for 25 years, after pleading guilty last week to slashing the throat of a Moncton woman in 1998. He faces three other murder charges -- in the April, 1991, deaths of two gay men in Montreal and the November, 1987, stabbing of Mr. Gibbons in Saint John.

Mr. McGray, a 34-year-old drifter from near Yarmouth, N.S., said in the Globe interview that he murdered mostly strangers on a 15-year rampage through several major cities, including Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary and even Seattle.

Many of his victims, he said, were gay men and prostitutes who he enticed with drugs and money. The killings, he claimed, began in Nova Scotia in 1985, with 17-year-old Elizabeth Tucker, whose body was found near Digby after she went missing while hitchhiking to her job at a fish plant.

Story continues below advertisement

Police agencies across North America have expressed interest in Mr. McGray, but investigators have been stymied by his refusal to talk to detectives after giving several interviews to reporters last week.

Police in the Seattle area have said they don't have any unsolved murders that fit the profile of the victims Mr. McGray said he killed there -- a prostitute and a man in either 1994 or 1995.

Mr. McGray wants three conditions met before providing police with details of his purported crimes. He wants treatment in prison, and does not want to face additional charges. And he does not want two alleged accessories to be prosecuted. Investigators have refused to negotiate with him so far.

In a written statement released through a lawyer earlier this week, Mr. McGray's mother and several of his brothers and sisters still living in Yarmouth said they'd had little contact with him over the years, and "knew almost nothing of the life he chose to lead."

They also expressed "deepest sympathy for any hardship, pain and loss of life that may have been caused by the actions of Michael McGray."