On the night of January 6, 1984, a lover triangle went very wrong for twenty-nine-year-old Christine Lavery Clifford. She was stabbed to death. Hers was the first murder of the year. Clifford was attacked in a ninth floor apartment of an Ontario Housing Corp building at 31 Gilder Drive. She had been stabbed six times in the chest and back. She died while undergoing surgery at Scarborough General Hospital just a few hours later.
A second woman who was in the apartment at the time of the killing, Alanna “Maume” Smith, was treated at hospital for a drug overdose and slashed wrists. However, police could not find the weapon that killed Clifford on scene.
Just four days later, police announced they arrested Winnifred Lynn Kennedy, 29, of Flastaff Avenue and charged her with second-degree murder.
Smith said that on the night of the murder, all three women were hired to “perform a lesbian show” for a man named “Dave”, but said she had no recollection if he showed up or even if the show happened.
Smith was called as a witness at Kennedy’s trial, but said she was too high on pills and booze to remember what happened. She said she was downhearted because Kennedy was leaving for Vancouver the next day. All three women had been out drinking at a tavern with a neighbour and when they returned home after picking up Smith’s two-year-old-son, Smith said she took a handful of pills.
Smith and Kennedy were having sex in the bedroom when Clifford took out a whip and began to strike her. Although Smith sometimes enjoyed being whipped, in court she said Clifford did not know how to do it well. Smith said Clifford was jealous of Kennedy.
Smith said that on the night of the murder, all three women were hired to “perform a lesbian show” for a man named “Dave”, but said she had no recollection if he showed up or even if the show happened. Smith had a criminal record including a conviction of assault with a knife.
Kennedy, who pleaded not guilty, said she awoke from a drunken stupor to find Smith had slit her wrists and Clifford stabbed to death on the balcony. Smith’s son Troy, who had been playing with the same neighbour in the apartment, was pointing at the balcony door. The neighbour, Fred Hayman, testified that Kennedy was on the telephone and Troy had eaten dinner, when he left the apartment.
“I feel that there were other people who were with the accused that night, who have not been charged and who have not told the entire truth,”
However, neighbours said they heard a man and woman arguing in the apartment at about the time of Clifford’s death.
Kennedy said she tried to revive Clifford, which explained the blood on her clothes. She gave four different statements to police including one where she said she did not know who Clifford was. Smith was presented at trial as a possible suspect by Kennedy’s defense lawyer.
Assistant crown attorney Kingsley Wijesinha said evidence indicated that Kennedy was not drunk that evening.
County Court Judge Karen Weiler acquitted Kennedy of the murder because although there was suspicion that she was the murderer, there was insufficient evidence. “I feel that there were other people who were with the accused that night, who have not been charged and who have not told the entire truth,” Weiler said in her November, 1984 judgement.
No one else has been tried for the murder.
Murder Village Map
Name: Christine Lavery Clifford
Date of Death: January 6, 1984
Manner of Death: Stabbed
Location: 31 Gilder Dr.
Suspect Name: Winnifred Lynn Kennedy
Conviction & Sentence: Acquitted