Dennis Joseph Colby, 47, was murdered in his home at 185 Cosburn Avenue on September 9, 1995 but it wasn’t until September 12 that police were called to the residence.
Colby was described as an eccentric former Toronto school board trustee, a position he held for some time after his 1974 election. One Toronto newspaper described Colby as remarkably devoted to education affairs who “should be rewarded by election in the same ward.”
On September 10, 1976, Colby was fined $50 for “disrobing [when not] in [a] change room” on Hanlan’s Point, a popular but not legal clothing-optional area of Toronto Islands where gay men often hung out. He said he was always wearing a bathing suit, filed a complaint that the arresting officer threatened him with a “punch in the face.” Other men charged at the time were hit with a lesser charge of bathing nude, and fined $25.
He also “admitted doing bodily harm to the restaurant manager, assaulting two police officers… [and] assaulting a patron.
On January 11, 1979, after losing the school trustee election the previous November, Colby was fined $250 and placed on two years’ probation after causing about $800 in damage at a Hayden St. restaurant called The Vineyard Restaurant: he tried to take home leftover wine. He also “admitted doing bodily harm to the restaurant manager, assaulting two police officers… [and] assaulting a patron.” News media described him as “a heavy drinker.”
He had been convicted in March, 1980 of assaulting a police officer after he kicked an officer and served 60 days in jail for the assault (stemming from the Vineyard Restaurant incident). In November 1981, he was acquitted of assaulting an officer.
In 1995, Colby was found suffering from “extreme trauma to the head”, and was obviously deceased. Police believe the victim was last seen alive on Saturday, September 9 between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. He had been found under a kitchen table, and there were signs of “an altercation”.
“He was a lonely guy, apparently,” said homicide Det. John Line, and did not frequent the downtown gay community area.
Colby was known to seek men through personal ads, prompting Toronto detectives to begin “delving into the world of telephone gay-sex contact lines.”
“He was a lonely guy, apparently,” said homicide Det. John Line, and did not frequent the downtown gay community area. Line and his partner Det. Rolf Prisor described Colby as “sexually aggressive and had numerous sexual partners on a weekly basis,” media reported, who allowed “street-type people” to stay with him for periods of time.
Police thought a “crack-using drifter” might provide information into Colby’s slaying, as the man had been staying with Colby and had since disappeared. Colby had told friends his name was Michael.
The case remains unsolved.
Murder Village Map
Name: Dennis Joseph Colby
Date of Death: about September 9, 1995
Manner of Death: Blunt force trauma
Location: 185 Cosburn Avenue