On August 25, 2003, Cassandro Do, 32, was found in her bathtub sexually assaulted and murdered in her 60 Glouster Street apartment by police who were responding to a call. An autopsy showed she was manually strangled. She had been scheduled to meet a client that day.
Do, a preoperative transsexual who had once worked as a nurse, was saving money for her operation, and working as a prostitute in the Gay Village. Do, who also went by the name Tula, solicited clients on her website and ads in the back of weekly Toronto newspapers. Because six transsexuals were killed that year in Washington D.C., there were fears that Do’s murder might be the start of targeted murders. Her death sent a shockwave through the community of transgendered sex workers.
“I’m nervous, but at the same time I have to survive. This is something I have to do… [I am being] more cautious, not accepting private callers or cellphones,” Alicia, a transsexual sex worker, to a local newspaper.
Do’s death occurred within days of two other women’s deaths, prompting concerns from citizens and the media. Police said there was no connection, and had not at that time confirmed how one woman, a drug addict found in Parkdale, had died.
According to a friend, Do, a Vietnamese-Canadian who was fluent in French, did not use drugs and carefully screened her clients, including keeping a log recording her interactions. Do was well known in the Village, and the friend wondered if “Do’s high visibility in the Wellesley St. corridor between Yonge and Church Sts. May have opened her up to a stalker.”
A vigil was held the following Sunday at nearby Allan Gardens, and a memorial formed outside her home.
Police included in their investigation a man who had had an altercation with Do just a week prior to her death. Detective Sgt. Craig Sanson said Do had been threatened with a beer bottle, but police eventually cleared him of the murder.
those who don’t want to bother the police, or assume someone else has already reported the same information, should keep in mind they may have the missing piece of the puzzle that investigators need to close a cold case. No call is insignificant.
On October 4, 2003, police issued a description of the suspect in Do’s killing: a black, muscular man, aged 30 to 40, 6′ 5″, about 230 pounds, wearing wire-rimmed glasses. He went by the name “Victor”. They warned all sex trade workers to be extra vigilant. DNA tests linked the assailant to the sexual assault of a prostitute in 1997, and that is where police drew their description of Do’s murderer from.
After the suspect description was released, four prostitutes contacted police to say there were beaten and sexually assaulted by a man who fit the description. On October 15, police reported the murder of another prostitute. She was from Vietnam, although her escort ads said she was from China.
Police have not yet solved Do’s murder, but believe solving her case is “the proverbial phone call away,” said cold case Det. Sgt. Steve Ryan in 2012. Ryan told a local newspaper that those who don’t want to bother the police, or assume someone else has already reported the same information, should keep in mind they may have the missing piece of the puzzle that investigators need to close a cold case. “No call is insignificant,” he said.
Murder Village Map
Name: Cassandra “Tula” Do
Date of Death: August 25, 2003
Manner of Death: Strangulation
Location: 60 Glouster Street
Suspect Name: Victor