Arrest in Tess Richey murder

Graffiti on a sign memorializing the murder of Tess Richey

Graffiti on a sign memorializing the murder of Tess Richey

On February 5, 2018, police announced the arrest of 21-year-old Kalen Schlatter. He was charged with second-degree murder in relation to the death of Tess Richey. A trial is pending. Just before police made the announcement, a member of the Richey family explained that they were told that postering efforts weren’t required because, apparently, Schlatter had been a suspect for a while. That explains our earlier concerns about the absence of Person of Interest posters.

Just An Observation

Black and white photo of Toronto homicide victim Tess Richey

Today when I was out and about in The Village, I saw someone who made me think “Is that the murder suspect in the Tess Richey case? I could not find any flyers that showed the guy’s picture. Why is there none out there that I could see?  Isn’t it the police’s job to plaster the flyers everywhere? Maybe the BIA? Surely it is not the grieving family’s!

Once I got home and checked on the computer it wasn’t him. I’m grateful.

Disappeared Then Dead – Victim 8

Black and white photo of Toronto homicide victims of a serial killer
Photos of murder victims Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faisi, Majeed “Hamid” Kayhan, Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, Soroush Mahmudi, Dean Kisowick, Selim Esen, Andrew Kinsman

Andrew Kinsman, 49, disappeared from the area of Parliament and Winchester Streets , just outside the Toronto Gay Village, on June 26, 2017. He disappeared just 10 weeks after Selim Esen, triggering fear of a serial killer operating in the Village.

During a press conference, friend Ted Healey said “I’ve never known Andrew to just pick up and disappear like this… He wouldn’t not tell his housemates and his neighbours that he was leaving. He had a cat. He loved that cat [Oom] very much. He had responsibilities around the house that he lived in.”

Kinsman was well-known in the local community for his advocacy work, as a staff member of Toronto HIV/AIDS Network, and as a long-time volunteer at People With AIDS (PWA).

The 519 Church St. Community Centre held a town hall meeting for concerned citizens on August 1 to discuss these and other missing people from the community. At that meeting, Toronto Police Supt. Tony Riviere, the unit commander for 51 Division, said there’s no evidence at this point to “substantiate any criminality” or “to tell us [Kinsman and Selim Esen] are not living.” There was some talk that the disappearances of Esen and Kinsman were linked to men reported missing in 2010 to 2012, but police did not officially connect the two disappearances.

Black and white photo of Toronto homicide victim Andrew Kinsman

The police set up Project Prism, an 8-person task force to investigate the disappearances of Esen and Kisman. At the time, there was no evidence of a serial killer, no evidence the murders were linked and in fact no evidence of murder at all.

Kinsman’s family and extensive circle of friends held rallies, conducted ground searches and even interviewed people in the area, in an effort to assist police. They set up a website and ensured his “missing posters” were spread across the Village.

On January 18, 2018, police announced they had made an arrest in Kinsman’s murder. Bruce McArthur, 66, of Toronto, was arrested on Thursday morning after uncovering new evidence on Wednesday. Police had been investigating McArthur for about two months, but only found enough evidence for an arrest on Wednesday.

McArthur is a self-employed landscaper for Artistic Design who had previously had a sexual relationship with Kinsman. Investigators searched four properties in Toronto and one in Madoc, Ont., about 220 kilometres away, that were connected to McArthur. McArthur lived in Madoc

He has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder (Kinsman and Esen). Police have evidence there are other bodies. In 2012, police set up Project Houston, to investigate three missing men. “They’re all linked by geography (Church and Wellesley area); to a certain extent they’re all linked by lifestyle,” said Toronto police Det. Sgt. Michael Richmond, adding Navaratnam, Faizi and Kayhan are all also of “Southeast Asian origin.”

Project Houston failed to determine what happened to Navaratnam, Faizi and Kayhan at that time.

Kinsman’s body has not been found as of January 18, 2018. However, the police investigation is ongoing.

As of March 2018, McArthur, 66, has been charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of eight men.

Police have conducted extensive forensic searches and found the dismembered, skeletal remains of three unidentified people in planters at 53 Mallory Crescent, where an older couple allowed McArthur to keep some of his landscaping equipment. Police are using fingerprints, dental records and DNA analysis to identify the remains.

Police report that McArthur is not cooperating with the investigation, and that it may take months or even years to complete, as they will be investigating missing persons reports over a period of decades. McArthur is currently on suicide watch.

Various organizations have criticized the police for their handling of the case, suggesting that had the first three men identified in Project Houston been white, the alleged killer may have been caught earlier. Police Chief Mark Saunders said in an interview that if people who knew McArthur had come forward during Project Houston with the information they came forward with during Project Prism and after McArthur’s arrest, the alleged killer may have been caught earlier.

February 2019 Update: Bruce McArthur pleaded guilty to 8 counts of murder, for:

He was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. Please see our post on What is a “Life Sentence” in Canada for an explanation on the complexity of murder sentences in Canada.


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Andrew Kinsman
Age: 49
Gender: Male
Date of Death: June 26, 2017 (estimate)
Manner of Death: unknown at this time
Location: unknown at this time
Suspect Name: Bruce McArthur
Conviction & Sentence: Life in prison, with no chance of parole for 25 years

Never Reported Missing – Victim 6

Black and white photo of Toronto homicide victims of a serial killer
Photos of murder victims Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faisi, Majeed “Hamid” Kayhan, Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, Soroush Mahmudi, Dean Kisowick, Selim Esen, Andrew Kinsman

Dean Lisowick had a tough life. Struggling with homelessness and drug addiction, the 47-year-old would rely on panhandling, digging through garbage to find booze bottles to return for cash, and prostitution. Sometimes the local bars would hire him to clean floors or stock shelves. He would stay in shelters around the downtown core, and sometimes with friends.

Black and white photo of Toronto homicide victim Dean Lisowick

Because of his lifestyle, although he had friends and was a fixture in the Gay Village, Lisowick was never reported missing. Police believe he disappeared some time between April 2016 to July 2017, although people remember seeing him on April 21, 2016.

As of March 2018, Bruce McArthur, 66, has been charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of eight men including Lisowick. Police have conducted extensive forensic searches and found the dismembered, skeletal remains of three unidentified people in planters at 53 Mallory Crescent, where an older couple allowed McArthur to keep some of his landscaping equipment. Police are using fingerprints, dental records and DNA analysis to identify the remains.

February 2019 Update: Bruce McArthur pleaded guilty to 8 counts of murder, for:

He was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. Please see our post on What is a “Life Sentence” in Canada for an explanation on the complexity of murder sentences in Canada.


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Dean “Laser” Lisowick
Age: 47
Gender: Male
Date of Death: April 21, 2016 (estimate)
Manner of Death: unknown at this time
Location: unknown at this time
Suspect Name: Bruce McArthur
Conviction & Sentence: Life in prison, with no chance of parole for 25 years

Cancer Researcher Murdered

Colleagues and friends of Dr Ernsting gather for a memorial where he died, photo by Caryn Lieberman
Colleagues and friends of Dr Ernsting gather for a memorial where he died, photo by Caryn Lieberman

On December 15, 2015, Dr. Mark Ernsting went for his regular nightly walk. It would be his last.

Ernsting, 39, was a well-respected cancer researcher who lived with is husband Robert Iseman on Carlton Street in downtown Toronto. His walk would take him around the nearby Ryerson University campus, where he was also an adjunct professor. Then he ran into his killer, Calvin Michael Nimoh, 22, a stranger to him. Ernsting was stabbed nine times, including five times in the head and face, during an attack on the public sidewalk, in front of 40 McGill Street. He was stabbed with such force, the blade broke off and remained lodged in his skull.

Photo of murder victim Dr. Mark Ernsting
Photo of murder victim Dr. Mark Ernsting

Nimoh was arrested an hour later and charged with second degree murder.

Police originally thought the attack as a robbery-gone-wrong, but there was evidence of forcible confinement during the attack, according to Toronto police Detective Paul Worden. This resulted in an automatic upgrade under the Canadian Criminal Code, to first-degree murder.

On the first day of the first trial, Nimoh tried to plead guilty to manslaughter, by the crown attorney Michael Cantlon rejected the deal. Nimoh then pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, with Cantlon claiming that the plea offer was proof there was no question as to who the killer was. The only question that remained- one that would affect the charge and the verdict – was why.

Ninety minutes before Ernsting’s death, Cantlon said Nimoh had attacked a 65-year-old woman and stabbed her four times before knocking her to the ground and kicking her. Nimoh then got into a fight with his girlfriend before attacking Ernsting.

Murderer Calvin Nimoh
Photo of murderer Calvin Nimoh

A witness testified she saw Nimoh standing over Ernsting, stabbing him. She yelled out, causing Nimoh to flee. Shortly after the start of the trial, false information was given to the jury despite cautions from the presiding judge that jurors not use social media and the internet during the trial. A publication ban prevents knowing who introduced the fake news.

A new jury was called, and a second trial begun. At this trial, which began just days later, Nimoh said he had become enraged when, after stabbing and kicking the senior, he found out his girlfriend was bisexual and became enraged.

Nimoh claimed Ernsting came on to him, with the comment “Want to have some fun?” The defence said Nimoh, “who was trying to work through about homosexuality in the context of his (own) sexual  abuse,” blacked out and could not remember his attack on Ernsting.

On June 8, 2018, more than two and a half years after the murder, the jury found Nimoh guilty of first-degree murder, and he was sentenced to an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.


Murder Village Map

 

 

VITAL STATISTICS

Name: Mark Ernsting
Age: 39
Gender: Male
Date of Death: December 15, 2015
Manner of Death: Stabbed
Location: 40 McGill Street
Suspect Name: Calvin Michael Nimoh
Conviction & Sentence: first-degree murder, life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years

 

Mysterious Man Murdered – Victim 4

Black and white photo of Toronto homicide victims of a serial killer
Photos of murder victims Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faisi, Majeed “Hamid” Kayhan, Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, Soroush Mahmudi, Dean Kisowick, Selim Esen, Andrew Kinsman

Soroush Mahmudi, 50, was married to a woman and lived in the suburb of Scarborough with his stepson. When he went missing in August 2015, his wife never imagined it would take two years before she would learn a horrible truth.

Described by his wife as a great guy with a good heart, Mahmudi, originally from Iran, met his wife in Canada and had been together for 12 years before he disappeared.

Black and white photo of Toronto homicide victim Soroush Mahmudi
Homicide victim Soroush Mahmudi

Police are not yet clear on how Mahmudi met his killer, Bruce McArthur.

As of March 2018, McArthur, 66, has been charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of eight men.

February 2019 Update: Bruce McArthur pleaded guilty to 8 counts of murder, for:

He was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. Please see our post on What is a “Life Sentence” in Canada for an explanation on the complexity of murder sentences in Canada.


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Soroush Mahmudi
Age: 50
Gender: Male
Date of Death: August 12, 2015 (estimate)
Manner of Death: unknown at this time
Location: unknown at this time
Suspect Name: Bruce McArthur
Conviction & Sentence: Life in prison, with no chance of parole for 25 years

Serial Killer Chose Man With Double Life – Victim 3

Black and white photo of Toronto homicide victims of a serial killer
Photos of murder victims Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faisi, Majeed “Hamid” Kayhan, Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, Soroush Mahmudi, Dean Kisowick, Selim Esen, Andrew Kinsman

Majeed “Hamid” Kayhan, Abdulbasir Faizi and Skandaraj “Skanda” Navaratnam were all targets of Project Houston, a task force set up in November 2012 to investigate their disappearances. Kayhan and Navaratnam were also alleged targets of gay Toronto alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur. Project Houston did not find any evidence that the men were murdered, and therefore McArthur was never a suspect.

Kayhan, 58, was last seen on October 14, 2012 near Yonge and Alexander Streets and was reported missing by his son ten days later.

Kayhan’s double life was part of the difficulty police had in tracking his whereabouts. It was reported in media that Kayhan lived with a man part-time in the Gay Village, at the City Park Cooperative at 484 Church St.

Black and white photo of Toronto homicide victim Majeed “Hamid” Kayhan

In 2017, the police set up a new task force, Project Prism, to find these three missing men, and others. On January 29, 2018, police announced that McArthur was facing charges of first-degree murder against Kayhan.

As of March 2018, McArthur, 66, has been charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of  eight men.  McArthur is currently on suicide watch.

February 2019 Update: Bruce McArthur pleaded guilty to 8 counts of murder, for:

He was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. Please see our post on What is a “Life Sentence” in Canada for an explanation on the complexity of murder sentences in Canada.


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Majeed “Hamid” Kayhan
Age: 58
Gender: Male
Date of Death: October 14, 2012 (estimate)
Manner of Death: unknown at this time
Location: unknown at this time
Suspect Name: Bruce McArthur
Conviction & Sentence: Life in prison, with no chance of parole for 25 years

Long Time Relationship Led To Murder – Victim 1

Black and white photo of Toronto homicide victims of a serial killer
Photos of murder victims Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faisi, Majeed “Hamid” Kayhan, Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, Soroush Mahmudi, Dean Kisowick, Selim Esen, Andrew Kinsman

Zipperz was a bar at the edge of the Gay Village, operating for 16 years at the corner of Carlton and Church Streets. Known for its piano players and retro dance feel, it attracted an older crowd. That’s where police believe Skandaraj “Skanda” Navaratnam, 40, met his killer.

Navaratnam was last seen in the early morning hours of September 10, 2010, leaving Zipperz, leaving with a man. He is an alleged victim of Toronto serial killer Bruce McArthur.

Navaratnam originally met McArthur in 1999 and they were “romantically involved” after Navaratnam worked for his killer as a landscaper. They continued dating, non-monogamously, until at least 2008, and their Facebook profiles are still linked.

Black and white photo of Toronto homicide victim Skandaraj “Skanda” Navaratnam
homicide victim Skandaraj “Skanda” Navaratnam

Media reported that Navaratnam was attracted to older men, and he was the only one of the three Project Houston subjects who did not appear to live a double life, although his family never told his 80-year-old Sri Lankan mother that he was gay.

As of March 2018, McArthur, 66, has been charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of  eight men.

 

February 2019 Update: Bruce McArthur pleaded guilty to 8 counts of murder, for:

He was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. Please see our post on What is a “Life Sentence” in Canada for an explanation on the complexity of murder sentences in Canada.


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Skandaraj “Skanda” Navaratnam
Age: 40
Gender: Male
Date of Death: September 10, 2010 (estimate)
Manner of Death: unknown at this time
Location: unknown at this time
Suspect Name: Bruce McArthur
Conviction & Sentence:  Life in prison, with no chance of parole for 25 years

Psychiatrist Murdered

Photo of police entering the building where Henry Durost was murdered
Police entering the building where Henry Durost was murdered

When he did not show up for work, police were called to the home of prominent psychiatrist and former medical director of the Queen Street Mental Health Centre, Dr. Henry Durost, on January 6, 2004. Inside the apartment at 7 Jackes Avenue they found Durost, 78, dead.

Durost died of strangulation, and suffered broken ribs, injuries to the hands and wrists, sharp force injuries to the ear and neck and blunt force injuries to the head.

Black and white photo of murder victim Henry Durost
Murder victim Henry Durost

Durost had worked at the Mental Health Centre in the 1970s and 1980s and still had a clinical practice. He was respected by colleagues and staff alike.

Within a day, police were considering a theory that the gay psychiatrist may have been the victim of a sexually motivated attack. Police combed through his computer, and investigated the possibility he had been to gay strip clubs. “The homicide squad investigators believe Dr. Durost was specifically targeted,” said Det. Sgt. Al Comeau.

On January 14, police had arrested 38-year-old Joseph Giuseppe Carnovale, an unemployed drug addict. Det. Sgt. Comeau said the police were still trying to determine how Carnovale knew Durost, and said the prime motive appeared to be robbery. Between $2,000 and $3,000 worth of items were identified as missing. Forensic evidence found on scene identified Carnovale. Carnovale had been spotted carrying a duffel bag, although by the time of his arrest, he had thrown it in a dumpster, where it was found by police.

Carnovale was charged with first-degree murder, as well as two counts of assault and threatening death, which was unrelated to Durost’s murder.

Carnovale said he beat, stabbed and strangled Durost but was unable to explain exactly why. He said he and Durost had sex at least seven times over a period of about a year before the killing, including on the night of the murder. Carnovale said Durost always paid for sex, once as much as $400.

Carnovale, a heroin and crack addict who “had used for more than 20 years”, pleaded guilty to manslaughter but the plea was rejected and the case went to trial. He said the hand and wrist injuries were part of S&M play, and Carnovale’s defense lawyer showed three gay bondage videos found in Durost’s collection of adult videos.

Carnovale attacked Durost with a vase, his hands, and a knife from the kitchen. He used cleaning products such as bleach to try to cover his tracks, but left DNA in the form of blood in the kitchen drawer and under Durost’s fingernails.

On March 18, 2006, the jury found Carnovale guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Durost. They rejected his claim that he was too high to realize what he was doing. He was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

 


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Henry Durost
Age: 78
Gender: Male
Date of Death: January 6, 2004
Manner of Death: Strangulation, blunt force trauma, stabbed
Location: 7 Jackes Avenue
Suspect Name: Joseph Giuseppe Carnovale
Conviction & Sentence: First-degree murder, life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years

Computer Printout Is Key

Black and white photo of murder victim David Buller
Murder victim David Buller (right)

David Buller was murdered at his desk at the University of Toronto’s Visual Studies department at 1 Spadina Crescent. On January 18, 2001, he was stabbed repeatedly and died in his office, to be found by a caretaker the next day.

Black and white photo of murder victim David Buller
Murder victim David Buller

Det. Sgt. Ken Taylor said that despite Buller, 50, having been stabbed repeatedly in the torso and having fallen out of his office chair onto the floor where he laid for hours, “the crime scene was pristine.” They found no usable DNA, fingerprints, murder weapon or security video footage.

Since Buller’s office was considered “out of the way,” police surmised the killer likely knew him and the office location. On initially arriving at the scene, there was so little blood, Taylor thought it might be a suicide. The killer shut the door on the way out.

Member of David Buller's family at Toronto Police press conference
Member of David Buller’s family at Toronto Police press conference

His latest paintings were homoerotic, but the computer-drawn sketch that lay on his printer, baffled police. It was of two men: one man naked with his arms tied above his head, the other man, smiling, wearing glasses – this figure was thought to be Buller. It had been printed just minutes before his murder.

Det. Sgt. Taylor said of the image, or what led to the drawing of the image, “This, I believe, is the motive for the murder. We believe he was killed as a result of this, but we don’t know why.”

Someone, and police are not sure if it was Buller or his murderer, opened Buller’s Mac laptop at 2:02 p.m. and sketched the drawing found on the printer. However, the image on his computer was not the same as the image printed. The printed image had words on it that police call significant, but will not release, hoping they will help nail down a suspect should one arise. This version with words was never saved because Buller collapsed from his chair onto the floor, pulling out the computer plug.

Member of David Buller's family with his artwork and photograph
Member of David Buller’s family with his artwork and photograph

A $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Buller’s killer has been offered.

In 2001, Buller’s murder was featured in a TV special the family said would bring new evidence to the police. However, it remains unsolved to this day.

8-by-6-foot portait of Pollock sitting in Palace of Versailles painted by David Buller - photo by Erin Combs, 1980
8-by-6-foot portait of Pollock sitting in Palace of Versailles painted by David Buller – photo by Erin Combs, 1980

Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: David Buller
Age: 50
Gender: Male
Date of Death: January 18, 2001
Manner of Death: Stabbed
Location: 1 Spadina Crescent
Suspect Name: none

Ex-Priest Murdered

Black and white photo of 40 Homewood Avenue where Anthony Bennett was murdered
40 Homewood Avenue where Anthony Bennett was murdered

In 1989, Anthony Patrick Bennett pleaded guilty to one charge of gross indecency related to sex abuse of a minor male. The judge found Bennett, then an ordained priest with the Archdiocese of St. John’s Newfoundland, did not require custody, and Bennett was given two years probation. The Church identified Bennett as a homosexual, not a pedophile, as the minor male was in his teens. Bennett left the priesthood and made his way to Toronto.

Once settled in Toronto, Bennett worked as a crisis counsellor, also known as a psychiatric nurse, for people with mental health issues. On August 17, 2000, Bennett, 45, was found dead in his home at 40 Homewood Avenue. He had been stabbed in the neck with a steak knife.

A man tried to use Bennet’s credit card at a convenience store. At the time, all credit card transactions required a signature, and this man’s did not match the one on the card. A security guard attempted to arrest the man, but he managed to flee. Bennett’s wallet, computer, money, and jewellery were also missing from his home. Police advised media they were concerned for the safety of runaway Lindsay Faulkner who was accompanying their suspect.

Murderer Steven Allan Earley and runaway Lindsay Faulkner
Murderer Steven Allan Earley and runaway Lindsay Faulkner

On September 8, 2000, police arrested Steven Allan Earley, 23, near Yonge and Wellesley Sts. for robbing another man. He was remanded in custody and charged with the first-degree murder of Bennett after he confirmed with police he had committed the murder.

Before he was arrested, Earley had told an acquaintance, “I killed somebody. I can’t believe I killed somebody, man. I just, I cut his throat and I just left him. I locked the door and left.” The two men had known each other and there was no forced entry into Bennett’s home.

He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 15 years.


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Anthony Patrick Bennett
Age: 45
Gender: Male
Date of Death: August 17, 2000
Manner of Death: Stabbed
Location: 40 Homewood Ave.
Suspect Name: Steven Allan Earley
Conviction & Sentence: Second-degree murder, no chance of parole for 15 years

Foul Murder

77 Maitland Place, where Neil Parker was murdered
77 Maitland Place, where Neil Parker was murdered

On May 1, 2000, police discovered the body of antique dealer Neil Parker, 49, three days after he had been murdered in his apartment. Residents had called to complaint about a foul odour.

Black and white photo of murder victim Neil Parker
Neil Parker, 1984

His live-in partner, Christopher Partak, 24, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. Parker, found in a bathtub at their 77 Maitland Place home, had his throat slit to “make the body stink”.

On April 29, Partak strangled Parker, put his fully clothed body into the bathtub, and filled it with ice. He attempted to make the murder look like a suicide.

Partak, described as a gay prostitute, tried to take money from Parker’s bank accounts after the murder, partied at gay bars and lied to friends about Parker’s whereabouts.

Murderer Christopher Partak
Murderer Christopher Partak

Before the murder, the men had gone to Sneakers, a downtown gay bar. When Parker and Partak went home, they began to fight. Parker called Partak “a whore and a piece of garbage.” Partak threw Parker against the wall and used both hands to strangle him. However, Partak then “did [things] to the body [that] made it difficult for the authorities to determine a cause of death,” Justice Epstein said in her ruling. “What he did… to the body is disgusting, vile and deviant.”

Police found a confession signed by “Chris” at the scene, saying he would kill himself. Ten days after the arrest, Partak confessed to police. “I’m the one you’re looking for. I did it.”

In court, 12 victim impact statements were given, describing Parker as a loving, caring person who was a peacemaker. Parker had developed a problem with alcohol after the passing of his mother.

Black and white photo of murder victim Neil Parker
murder victim Neil Parker

Parktak, who was facing deportation back to America, pleaded not guilty to the charge of first-degree murder, but guilty to the charge of manslaughter. Madame Justice Gloria Epstein agreed with both prosecution and defence lawyers for a nine-year sentence, minus time served.


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Neil Parker
Age: 49
Gender: Male
Date of Death: April 20, 2000
Manner of Death: Strangulation
Location: 77 Maitland Place
Suspect Name: Christopher Partak
Conviction & Sentence: Manslaughter, 9 years

Eccentric Man Murdered

Courtroom sketch by Alex Tavshunksky for the Toronto Star
Courtroom sketch by Alex Tavshunksky for the Toronto Star

July 7, 1999 was seventy-two-year-old Hugh Sinclair’s last day alive. Sinclair was murdered in his 42nd-storey apartment at 44 Charles Street West in the Manulife Centre. His murderer would be convicted before his body was found.

Black and white photo of murder victim Hugh Sinclair
Murder victim Hugh Sinclair

Sinclair was a retired Sun Life insurance company employee and an avid antiques collector. He met Timothy Culham, 29, five years previously and shared with him a love of art and antiques.

Sinclair was described as eccentric and an “antique hoarder.” He was known for wearing a Panama hat with tank top and shorts regardless of the season, and for keeping a regimented daily routines. It was the break in these routines that caught people’s attention.

Sinclair was a talkative man who was known to sit in a lawn chair beside a nearby parking kiosk and talk incessantly for hours with attendant Rod McEwan. After almost daily visits for five years, McEwan became so concerned with Sinclair’s sudden absence, he convinced the Manulife Centre security guard to come with him to perform a safety check. On July 12, the guard and McEwan entered Sinclair’s apartment but found nothing amiss. McEwan telephoned the apartment daily and filed a missing person report with police.

A few days after it is believed Sinclair died, neighbour Douglas Rutter, who had once worked in a cemetery as a youth, passed by the apartment that he thought smelled badly. “I told [partner Lawrence Schafer] it smells like something died; I recognized that smell,” he said at trial. However, the smell eventually vanished.

Eleven days after Sinclair’s death, Culham was spotted by the same neighbours moving out furniture. On July 18, he told Schafer and Rutter that he was Sinclair’s nephew and that Sinclair had asked him to do a favour to move some items out, and paint the apartment. Culham had gained access to the apartment “by using a forged note.”

Parking attendant McEwan continued to check for Sinclair and was eventually told by the building’s front desk personnel that Sinclair was away on holiday for 10 days. The next time he called, McEwan was told the police were involved.

Fortunately for police, Culham did not paint the apartment. However, he was arrested under suspicion of theft after police discovered he had sold many of Sinclair’s antiques to Toronto dealers. He was arrested as he slept on a park bench, and police found an electronic key to Sinclair’s apartment in his pocket. Culham had tens of thousands of dollars in cheques from local antique dealers in his pockets.

Murderer Timothy Culham
Murderer Timothy Culham

Sinclair’s blood was found smeared on the stove, kitchen floor and inside the front closet. Police matched the blood to DNA taken from Sinclair’s electric razor.

Culham rented a 1987 blue Chevrolet Cavalier five days after the murder and, police believed, transported Sinclair’s body to an area outside Toronto. Culham was known to frequent Casino Rama, in Orillia, and it was one of the areas, along with Nottawa, that police would focus their search on. The Crown argued Culham had a gambling addiction, and had killed Sinclair to steal his antiques and sell them. Police estimated the value of recovered items was about $300,000.

When arrested, Culham denied knowing Sinclair.

Police did not find Sinclair’s body, nor a murder weapon, before Culham’s trial, but based on other evidence, charged Culham with first-degree murder. Police asked that hikers and hunters keep an eye out for the body, saying it was likely within 50 metres of a road, would likely be burned, and a gas can would probably be nearby. Eventually police found the gas can and hacksaw with an associate of Culham’s whom he told he would not need the items anymore.

The defence suggested that Sinclair may have committed suicide, and questioned Dr. Erik Kotzer, Sinclair’s physician, if he had concerns that Sinclair killed himself. Dr. Kotzer said he was treating Sinclair for a variety of ailments including a 30-year addiction to Vallium, but had not heard anything regarding suicidal thoughts. Culham did not speak during the trial.

On June 14, 2001, with just two days of deliberation, the jury found Culham guilty of first-degree murder. Culham was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

Just before Christmas, 2002, some of Sinclair’s remains were found near a highway by a land surveyor. His skull and other body parts were discovered in Utica, off Highway 12 between Toronto and Orillia. Dental records were used to confirm Sinclair’s identity but due to the deterioration of the remains, forensic examiners were not able to determine a cause of death.


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Hugh Sinclair
Age: 72
Gender: Male
Date of Death: July 7, 1999
Manner of Death: unknown
Location: 44 Charles St. West
Suspect Name: Timothy Culham
Conviction & Sentence: First-degree murder, life in prison with eligibility for parole after 25 years