Sharp-Eyed Transit Rider

Arrest of Dougal MacDonald by police - photo by Tony Costas
Arrest of Dougall MacDonald by police – photo by Tony Costas

On August 2, 1993, Jack Willard Bell, 58, left his home at midnight, drove to an area well-known for male prostitutes and returned shortly after with the man who would be his murderer.

Black and white photo of murder victim Jack Bell
Murder victim Jack Bell

Bell ran into Dougall Alexander MacDonald, a prostitute with no fixed address, and invited him back to his Collier St. home for Valium and alcohol. MacDonald beat and strangled Bell, then set fire to the first-floor hallway closet, but it went out before doing much damage. Shortly after 6:30am on August 3, police were alerted to the death by a long-time friend who found Bell on the second floor.

Police at the crime scene, 125 Collier St. Toronto, for Jack Bell's murder
Police at the crime scene, 125 Collier St. Toronto, for Jack Bell’s murder

Police and media cautioned people living in the Gay Village after the slaying of Bell because of the murder of Norman Rasky on Charles St. shortly before. Although police said Rasky’s murder “had nothing to do with his sexual orientation, it wasn’t gay bashing,” the local 519 Church St. Community Centre distributed community flyers, urging caution in the neighbourhood.

Removal of Jack Bell's body from his home, photo by Mark Rozitis, Globe and Mail
Removal of Jack Bell’s body from his home, photo by Mark Rozitis, Globe and Mail

On August 9, a sharp-eyed transit rider recognized MacDonald from media coverage and called 911. Police intercepted the bus at the corner of Eglinton Ave. and Swift Dr., and arrested MacDonald, 24, on first-degree murder charges.

During the trial, MacDonald said Bell “posed questions” that, combined with the drugs and alcohol, resulted in the attack. MacDonald’s lawyer insisted his client was not homophobic. On September 29, 1993, MacDonald pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 13 years, with no eligibility for parole until half his sentence was complete.

Jack Bell grave marker, York Cemetery Toronto
Jack Bell grave marker, York Cemetery Toronto

 


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Jack Willard Bell
Age: 58
Gender: Male
Date of Death: August 3, 1993
Manner of Death: Beaten and strangled
Location: 125 Collier St
Suspect Name: Dougall Alexander MacDonald
Conviction & Sentence: Manslaughter, 13 years

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