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Suspicions remain in strippers’ deaths

In August 2005 two young US strippers — 20-year-old Steve Wright of California and 23-year-old Mark Kraynak of Pennsylvania — disappeared after a night on the town in Montreal.

The young men were in Canada to perform at Remington’s in Toronto, where Kraynak performed under the name Nick and Wright performed as Trevor. They were part of a group of six US citizens who made news in June 2005 after being initially denied work visas to perform as exotic dancers.

On Aug 21, 2005 Kraynak and Wright spent the day taking in Montreal’s tourist sites with Stephan Sirard, CEO of French Connection Français, the modelling company that hired them, and fellow US stripper Deric Manzi. That night they partied at the Vatican, a straight club in downtown Montreal, where Kraynak tipped a waitress $200. From there they headed off to a trendy afterhours club in nearby Laval called the Red Light, calling Manzi to tell them they were in a cab en route.

“When Deric came back to the hotel room, I remember checking the clock and asking, ‘Where are the other boys?'” Sirard told Xtra in 2005.

When they weren’t back by morning Sirard repeatedly called their cell phones.

“They were the most reliable guys,” said Sirard. “Always prompt, always polite, never late for a shoot. It was really unsettling that they weren’t contacting me.”

Ten days later their bodies were found in a Laval quarry, a couple of hundred metres away from the Red Light club, not far from where the taxi driver let them off. After reviewing surveillance tapes, which show the two men running toward the quarry, police theorized that the pair left the cab in haste after stiffing the driver what would have been an approximately $40 fare. Police concluded their deaths were accidental, that in the dark they fell 50 feet into the quarry and died of their injuries.

But suspicions remain. “I have reason to believe my son was being threatened at the time,” Janice Kraynak, Mark’s mother, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in October 2005 after seeing the surveillance tape. “To me, he was running for his life. That’s what it looks like to me.”

Kraynak’s mother is suing the Montreal police and the quarry company in connection to her son’s death.