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N.B. businessman's death investigated as homicide

Richard Oland at the 2010 Rolex Cup Regatta. Mr. Oland, a member of one of the best-known families in Atlantic Canada, has died under suspicious circumstances, according to police.

Guy Perrin/Guy Perrin

The nightmare deepened for the family of Richard (Dick) Oland with the revelation that the death of the prominent businessman is being investigated as a homicide.

Shock waves have been rippling across New Brunswick and throughout the Canadian business community since late last week, as news spread that Mr. Oland, a member of the brewing family that created Moosehead Breweries Ltd., had been found dead in his office.

Saint John police have only called the death "suspicious" since his body was discovered on Thursday morning.

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On Monday, they confirmed it was the result of foul play, but offered little additional detail.

"There is no evidence at this time to suggest that this was a robbery, or a random act," Chief Bill Reid told a press conference. "The manner of death and any apparent motive will remain with the investigational team at this time."

He did not reveal whether police had a suspect, nor whether a weapon was used. He did, however, suggest that the investigation would probably show that Mr. Oland and his killer knew each other. He said there was no reason for others in the Oland family to believe they are in danger.

On Sunday, his brother and sister released a statement thanking supporters.

"Richard is being remembered kindly by many in the community and elsewhere and we truly appreciate these words of comfort," the statement read. "Our thoughts now are with Richard's family and our focus is to help them through the difficult days ahead."

There was no additional comment from the family on Monday after police confirmed that the probe was a homicide investigation.

"We are collectively committed to bringing anyone involved in Richard Oland's death to justice," Chief Reid said. "However, we must be cognizant of the rules of evidence and procedural fairness. Grieving family and friends need answers to the question 'who is responsible?' "

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Fifteen officers have been assigned to investigate the death.

Mr. Oland was part of the brewing dynasty that controls Moosehead, where he was credited with designing an ultrafast production line. His older brother, Derek, succeeded their father, and the younger Mr. Oland left the firm in 1981.

He retained an ownership stake in the brewery and moved into trucking and then the investment business. It was at the offices of Far End, an investment firm, that his body was found last week.

Those close to Mr. Oland said he was actively involved in his community. He was a director of the United Way of Greater Saint John, president of the 1985 Saint John Jeux Canada Games and a councillor for the Town of Rothesay, an exurb of Saint John. He served as president of the New Brunswick Museum and played a key role in helping establish the institution.

He was also a keen sailor, who raced the 15.6-metre Vela Veloce, a carbon-fibre craft built for him in New Zealand. With his crew, he won international races last year in New Brunswick and Rhode Island.

The family is expected to gather for his funeral Tuesday in Rothesay.

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To contact the author of this article, e-mail omoore[at]

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