Trans Advocate Murdered

Julie Berman, Toronto trans activist murdered in her home
Julie Berman, murder victim

Julie Berman was an internationally known trans rights activist living in Toronto. Fifty-one-year-old Berman was found in her Brunswick Avenue and Harbord Street area home on Sunday, December 22, 2019. Police had been called to the scene, where they found her suffering from “significant” face and head injuries. She was pronounced dead in hospital.

Berman had been attacked by 29-year-old Colin Harnack, also of Toronto. He was arrested at the scene. Toronto police have charged him with second-degree murder. Berman had invited Harnack into her home, when he attacked her. Harnack is not a known member of the Gay community in Toronto. It appears the two met that day.

Community response to the news of Berman’s murder was quick. Pride Toronto tweeted out the news. Susan Gupta, an organizer with The 519, a community centre located in the heart of the Gay Village where Berman volunteered, said “We’re remembering her with respect and dignity.”

Berman had previously served on The 519’s organizing committee for the Transgender Day of Remembrance, an international day memorializing transgender people murdered in transphobic attacks. Over her 30 years working with the 519, Berman was active as an advocate and educational worker.

Her death was recognized not only in Toronto, but throughout North America, with articles from CNN, People and The Advocate.

Harnack’s social media accounts indicate he was left-wing, and supportive of trans and queer rights. He was critical of colonialism in many posts.

Police have not released a motive, and generally are not commenting about the case has not been before the courts.

Murder Village Map


Vital Statistics

Name: Julie Berman
Age: 51
Gender: Female
Date of Death: December 22, 2019
Manner of Death: Blunt Force
Location: Brunswick Avenue and Harbord Street area
Suspect Name: Colin Harnack
Conviction & Sentence: ongoing

Accusations of Murder for Hire

Black and white photo of murder victim Allan Lanteigne
Murder victim Allan Lanteigne and his dog

The body of Allan Lanteigne, 49, was found still dressed in his coat, face down in the front foyer of his home on March 3, 2011 just before 3:30p.m. He had been beaten to death.

Lanteigne was a caterer and an accounting clerk at the University of Toronto and, when he did not show up for work, a friend went to his home at 934 Ossington Avenue and, upon finding the body, called police. There were no signs of forced entry.

Lanteigne was married to but separated from Demitry Papasitiriou, 32. Police confirmed Papasitiriou, was in Switzerland studying for his doctorate in law at the time of Lanteigne’s death.

On November 2, 2012, police arrested Papasitiriou and charged him with first-degree murder. A warrant was issued for “business associate” Mladen “Michael” Ivezic, 52, for first-degree murder. The murder was labelled by police as a “domestic homicide.” Police would later say he and Papasitiriou were lovers and planned the murder together.

Mladen "Michael" Ivezic and Demitry Papasitiriou
Mladen “Michael” Ivezic (l) and Demitry Papasitiriou (r)

Prior to their arrests but after Laneigne’s death, Papasitiriou and Ivezic launched proceedings to collect on Lanteigne’s $2million life insurance policy, the money in his estate, funds from the sale of the house Papasitiriou owned (Lanteigne was not an owner) and to seek other financial gain from Lanteigne’s death. Before collecting, Papasitiriou was arrested.

The house on Ossington sold for $900,000, but Papasitiriou was in jail. Superior Court Justice Susan Greer ordered Papasitiriou’s portion of the proceeds frozen pending a future ruling, while his aunt and uncle, who co-owned the house, got their portions.

Following a three-week preliminary trial for both accused, on September 10, 2014, Ontario Court Justice Shaun Nakatsuru threw out all charges against Papasitiriou, stating “the evidence cannot reasonably support a finding of guilt.”

Black and white photo of murder victim Allan Lanteigne

However, the Crown sought to overturn the rare decision to dismiss charges of murder against Papasitiriou in October, 2014, by suggesting Justice Nakatsuru exceeded his authority by failing to consider the evidence as a whole. However, Ontario’s Attorney General issued a “preferred indictment”, and ordered the charges against Papasitiriou reinstated. He was re-arrested on October 29.

Six years after Lanteigne’s murder, the case had yet to go to trial. During this time, Ivezic was in jail awaiting trial and Papasitiriou, who by 2017 was referred to by media as Papasitiriou-Lanteigne, was out on bail. They went to trial on November 27, 2017.

The Crown presented evidence of an affair between Papasitiriou and Ivezic in the form of sexually charged emails, alleging the affair started in 2009.

Allan Lanteigne and friends
Allan Lanteigne and friends

Just a month after the trial started, Ivezic fired his well-known defense lawyer, Marcy Segal, and chose to represent himself. He requested the right to cross-examine a police witness regarding Lanteigne’s lifestyle, alleging his fetish for diaper porn and promiscuous sex life put him at risk of murder by someone else.

During the trial, Ivezic had his jailhouse computer and internet privileges cancelled after it was discovered he was looking at porn sites and had a Facebook account. Although he had been using the computer to prepare his case, he was also contacting journalists about his theories of police wrongdoing and how his DNA had been planted.

Papasitiriou did not testify, even though prosecutors said Lanteigne was lured to his home through emails from Papasotiriou, including this critical one at 8 a.m.: “Hi Allan, Just call me when you get home. There is a 7-hour time difference, so please don’t call me 7 in the evening your time as it will be 2 a.m. here… don’t dilly dally on your way home buying shoes and shirts and crystal balls.”

Prosecutors had convinced the jury that Papasotiriou-Lanteigne, while in Greece, orchestrated the murder by having Ivezic lie in wait until Lanteigne arrived home from his University of Toronto accounting job on March 2, 2011.

On June 7, 2018, Demitry Papasotiriou-Lanteigne, now 38, and his lover, Michael Ivezic, now 57, were found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.


Murder Village Map



Vital Statistics

Name: Allan Lanteigne
Age: 49
Gender: Male
Date of Death: March 2, 2011
Manner of Death: Blunt Force Trauma
Location: 934 Ossington Avenue
Suspect Name: Demitry Papasitiriou (Papasitiriou-Lanteigne) and Mladen “Michael” Ivezic
Conviction & Sentence: first-degree murder, life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years

Hard Knock Life

Black and white photo of murder victim Lawrence Callahan
Murder victim Lawrence Callahan

Lawrence “Larry” Roosevelt Callahan was born in Botwood Newfoundland on July 13. 1941. He died at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto on June 10, 2006, after being savagely beaten in his home. It took more than a month for the police homicide unit to be called in to investigate his death.

Callahan, 64, was found unconscious in his apartment at 45 Strathmore Blvd. on June 2 with “obvious signs of trauma” and was taken to hospital. The autopsy could not immediately determine the cause of death, and until it was declared that he had died of blunt-impact head wounds, his death was not classified as a homicide.

Although many neighbours came forward with information about Callahan’s activities, his death remains a cold case.

Murder Village Map



Vital Statistics

Name: Lawrence “Larry” Roosevelt Callahan
Age: 64
Gender: Male
Date of Death: June 10, 2006
Manner of Death: Blunt force trauma
Location: 45 Strathmore Blvd.
Suspect Name: none

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

Manslaughter and Five

200 Wellesley St East by City of Toronto
200 Wellesley St East, photo by City of Toronto

Fifty-six-year-old Anthony Charles Dowding, a Guyanese-born Canadian, was found dead in his apartment at 200 Wellesley Street East by police after they received an anonymous phone call.

Dowding was a gay man who lived alone. He was murdered May 24, 1999 after a “brutal flurry of blows.”

Black and white photo of murder victim Anthony Dowding
Murder victim Anthony Dowding

A trail of blood leading away from the apartment led police to believe the attacker may have been injured during his attack. Dowding died of blunt force trauma, which was 20 blows to the head.

On June 3, police announced they had arrested thirty-year-old David Ali Sageri and charged him with second-degree murder. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to five years.

Murder Village Map



Vital Statistics

Name: Anthony Charles Dowding
Age: 56
Gender: Male
Date of Death: May 24, 1999
Manner of Death: Blunt Force Trauma
Location: 200 Wellesley St. East
Suspect Name: David Ali Sageri
Conviction & Sentence: Manslaughter, 5 years

Troubled Trustee Death

Black and white photo of murder victim Dennis Colby
Murder victim Dennis Colby

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.”

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. 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.

Sketch of murder suspect "Mike"
Sketch of “Mike”, a crack junkie wanted in the death of Dennis Colby

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. He was 26 years old.

On February 28, 2019, Toronto Police announced they knew who the murderer was. As part of the investigation into the murders by serial killer Bruce McArthur, police reviewed open cold cases that fit a particular profile. Det. Insp. Stacy Gallant, the head of the cold case squad, said Colby’s murder fit McArthur’s pattern.


Black and white photo of murder victim Dennis Colby

DNA helped police determine that the drifter identified as Michael during the initial investigation, was the killer. His DNA was on file after committing at least one violent offense for which he was caught. However, Michael died in 1995, and police are not releasing his name. They do not believe Michael committed any other murders.

Murder Village Map



Vital Statistics

Name: Dennis Joseph Colby
Age: 47
Gender: Male
Date of Death: about September 9, 1995
Manner of Death: Blunt force trauma
Location: 185 Cosburn Avenue
Suspect Name: Mike (died in 2015 before being identified by police)

Killer Confession

Black and white photo of murder victim Larry Arnold
Murder victim Larry Arnold

On the evening of October 14, 1994, 46-year-old Larry Arnold disappeared.

Arnold was last seen at Trax V (aka Traxx), a gay bar at 529 Yonge Street in the company of a young white man, about 25-years-old, stocky at 200 lbs, about 5’8”, with long blond curly hair and blue eyes, and having a French Canadian accent. Arnold called a friend and said he would be coming over that evening.

Arnold, who lived in Chatham, a town 300 km southwest of Toronto, often came to Toronto to visit friends and go to bars and restaurants in Toronto’s gay district, Church and Wellesley Sts.

On November 19, when his badly beaten body was found in a nearby Rosedale ravine. The ravine at Roxborough Dr. and Mt. Pleasant Rd., was sometimes used by gay men at night for sexual encounters. Police had to use dental records to identify the body.

Search by investigators in 1994 for Larry Arnold's personal effects, photo by CBC
Search by investigators in 1994 for Larry Arnold’s personal effects, photo by CBC

Police believed the killer may have been a male prostitute and are rumoured to have consulted with police agencies across North America as they suspected the man may have been responsible for other murders of gay men. It was also reported that police considered whether there was a link between Arnold’s death and sexual assaults on gay men in the Church and Wellesley Sts. Area.

Search for Larry Arnold's personal effects, photo by Mike Slaughter, 1994
Search for Larry Arnold’s personal effects, photo by Mike Slaughter, 1994

It would be four long years before his killer, Paul Alan Hachey, would be caught. Hachey’s DNA was found on a cigarette butt at a 1997 crime scene in North Bay, and police used it to link Hachey to multiple sexual assaults and a North Bay murder. After his arrest, Hachey confessed to murdering Larry Arnold. He pleaded guilty to second degree murder.

Black and white photo of murderer Paul Alan Hachey
Photo of murderer Paul Alan Hachey


Murder Village Map



Vital statistics

Name:  Larry Arnold
Age:  46
Gender: Male
Date of Death: October 14, 1994
Manner of Death: Blunt Force Trauma
Location: Roxborough Dr. and Mt. Pleasant Rd.
Suspect Name: Paul Alan Hachey
Conviction & Sentence: Pleaded guilty to second degree murder, sentenced to life with no chance of parole for 15 years

Spat On His Victim

St. Michael's Hospital
St. Michael’s Hospital, where Kirby died

Dr. Stephen Patrick Kirby, 37, died from head injuries after being knocked to the ground and kicked in the head on February 26, 1994.

Rendell Junior Gillette, 21, was charged with second-degree murder after Kirby died at St. Mike’s Hospital on March 5, days after the assault. Randall Scott Leach, 24, of no fixed address, also faced numerous charges including being an accessory after the fact.

Reports indicated that Kirby was involved in a “minor altercation” with another man inside a Yonge Street and St. Joseph Street bar shortly before the attack at about 5:30 a.m.

Club Manatee, a now-defunct gay bar on St. Joseph Street area - by Vimeo
Club Manatee, a now-defunct gay bar on St. Joseph Street area – by Vimeo

Gillette, who said he is heterosexual, blamed Kirby for making a pass at him and grabbing his bum and then making racist comments when he was rejected. Gillette did not explain why he was in the gay bar. After attacking Kirby, Gillette spat on him.

Gillette, who has a criminal record, was arrested in an Oshawa motel on March 3.

Both prosecution and defense counsel agreed Gillette had not intended to kill Kirby, and blamed Kirby, stating in an agreed statement of fact that “by his words and conduct, [he] provoked the fight.” Kirby, a bisexual man, was known in the after-hours club as “an obnoxious drunk who often caused problems for other patrons and, on occasion, had to be asked to leave.”

On September 2, 1994, Gillette pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter, and was sentenced to five years in prison.


Murder Village Map



Vital Statistics

Name: Dr. Stephen Patrick Kirby
Age: 37
Gender: Male
Date of Death: March 5, 1994
Manner of Death: Blunt Force Trauma
Location: Yonge and St. Joseph Street area
Suspect Name: Rendell Junior Gillette
Conviction & Sentence: Manslaughter, 5 years

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

Killer Crime Spree

80 Charles St East Toronto
80 Charles St East

Just before midnight on July 30, 1993, a trail of blood led tenants of an 80 Charles St. East apartment building to the viciously beaten body of Norman Bernard Rasky, 62, a retired dentist. Residents followed the blood trail from the lobby of one building to the underground locker room of another, adjoining building. He had been shoved into a basement locker. He was strangled, bludgeoned and stabbed more than 30 times.

Rasky was previously married, and had three daughters.

 Black and white photo of murder victim Normal Rasky
Murder victim Normal Rasky

Police did not originally suspect robbery, but in less than a week, they had identified suspects. On August 3, police issued warrants for “two men, both white [who] are armed and considered dangerous.”

Terrence Allan Fitzsimmons, 29, and Donald Dara Hebert, 30, of 80 Charles St. East, were also wanted in connection with a two armed bank robberies at the same branch of Canada Trust on Bloor St. West, on July 27 and 29. Hebert worked at Sunquest Vacations for the previous three years.

Black and white photo of murderer Donald Hebert
Black and white photo of murderer Donald Hebert

Fitzsimmons had been released from Kingston Penitentiary before the murder, on December 31, 1992, after serving the mandatory minimum. He served six years of a nine-year manslaughter sentence for stabbing an inmate to death.

Fitzsimmons was under the supervision of a parole officer after being released. He was re-arrested in April, 1993 for violating the no-drinking provision of his release order and was released May 27. He left the Kingston area, and a warrant for his arrest was issued July 13.

Black and white photo of murderer Terrence Fitzsimmons
Black and white photo of murderer Terrence Fitzsimmons

Police believe the three men met in a local gay bar, and were quick to assure media and the community they did not believe Rasky’s slaying was linked to that of Jack Bell, who was found before police released the names of Rasky’s murder suspects, beaten to death in his home.

Community members provided tips to police regarding the names of the suspects. Police said both Fitzsimmons and Hebert were also gay.

They believed Rasky met and began staying with Hebert in apartment 103, 80 Charles St. East, where Hebert had been living for about a year. Rasky had recently been locked out of his own apartment for allowing homeless men to live with him. .

On August 4, Hebert was found beaten and stabbed to death in a derelict and boarded-up Red Barn restaurant on Bank Street in downtown Ottawa, which was rumoured to be full of transients and squatters. Fitzsimmons had murdered his accomplice.

Black and white photo of Pat Hebert (OPP) holding photo of brother Donald Hebert by Mike Slaughter
Black and white photo of Pat Hebert (OPP) holding photo of brother Donald Hebert by Mike Slaughter

A day later, Fitzsimmons walked into a police station in Ottawa and turned himself in for both the murder of Rasky and of his best friend Hebert, as well as the bank robberies. Fitzsimmons said, “It’s got to stop. I’m tired of killing people.”

Montreal police also wanted to question Fitzsimmons on the weekend robbery and murder of a cab driver, Fernand Talbot.

It appeared Hebert and Fitzsimmons robbed a bank twice, killed Rasky, and robbed and killed the Montreal cab driver, before Fitzsimmons killed Hebert, all between July 27 and August 4, 1993.

In June, 1994, Fitzsimmons pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the killing Norman Rasky and, a week later, pleaded guilty to killing Hebert. Both were life sentences. He pleaded guilty in July in Montreal to the killing of Talbot.

On March 30, 1995, Terrence Fitzsimmons was found dead, hanging in his cell at the Kingston Penitentiary.


Murder Village Map



Vital Statistics

Name: Norman Bernard Rasky
Age: 62
Gender: Male
Date of Death: July 30, 1993
Manner of Death: Stabbing, strangulation, blunt force trauma
Location: 80 Charles St. East
Suspect Name: Terrence Allan Fitzsimmons, Donald Dara Hebert
Conviction & Sentence: Fitzsimmons was convicted of second-degree murder and received life in prison. Hebert was murdered by Fitzsimmons prior to arrest

Like Slamming Home Runs

Black and white photo of 3465 Lakeshore Blvd

On July 23, 1992, John Patrick Somerton, 42, was found beaten to death in his own apartment above a store at 3465 Lakeshore Boulevard. He died from 11 blows to the head with a metal bat made while he was sleeping.

Just days later, a 14-year-old boy was arrested. There was evidence of a “sexual transaction” between the youth – identified later in court as Michael K – and the victim. He told police the murder was brought on by the victim after he made sexual advances.

However, Michael K. also bragged to more than a half-dozen friends that he had killed the man from whom he had received beer and cigarettes.

Black and white photo of murder victim John Somerton

Although charged with first-degree murder, the youth pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in November 1992. The court was told the youth used the bat in such a way it was like “slamming home runs.”

In January 1994, the youth, by then 16, was sentenced under the Young Offenders Act to five years less a day: three years would be in secure custody and two would be in the community under supervision. A court psychiatrist reported the youth may be a dangerous psychopath and “his prognosis is at best guarded,” said Judge Marvin Morten.

The youth was sentenced to five years without consideration of the 18 months he had already served in custody – the delay largely was a result of the Crown’s bid to have his tried as an adult.

Somerton’s sister decried the sentence. “He killed somebody. They should have taken his life too.” Canada formally abolished the death penalty in 1976.


Murder Village Map



Vital Statistics

Name: John Patrick Somerton
Age: 42
Gender: Male
Date of Death: July 23, 1992
Manner of Death: Blunt Force Trauma
Location: 3465 Lakeshore Boulevard
Suspect Name: Michael K.
Conviction & Sentence: Second-degree murder, 5 years less a day

Sex, LSD and Murder

A wild sex and drug “nude party” ended in the early hours of October 26, 1989, in the death of Michael John Flannigan, 27, after he had his throat slashed. Flannigan and two other men spent several hours together in the apartment at 800 Richmond St. West belonging to one of the men, Gary Abrahms. He was found on the living room floor.

The men had been drinking beer, taking LSD and having sex during the night. Abrahms said James David Hughes woke him the next morning, demanding to be let out of the apartment that had a special lock.

After letting Hughes out, Abrahms found Flannigan in the living room and called 911. He had been hit with a blunt object before being stabbed. He had stab wounds to his chest, abdomen, neck and face, as well as having his throat slashed. Police found both a folding knife and a steak knife. In all, Flannigan was stabbed 74 times. Fifty-six of the wounds were in the area of the throat.

Flannigan was a “soft spoken and gentle” unemployed cartoonist who lived in a Richmond St. West apartment. Police believe he was unconscious at the time of the stabbings: they believe may have been knocked out by a two-by-four.

Hughes had an extensive criminal history and was on parole for robbery at the time of the murder. At the time of his arrest just two days after the murder, Hughes said he was acting in self-defence. Hughes, 28, pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.

The trial began January 23, 1991 and lasted about two months. Abrahms said he often cruised the George St. area looking for a party, and that is where he found Hughes and Flannigan. He had met Flannigan a week earlier.

The jury deliberated only five hours before finding Hughes guilty of second-degree murder. Justice David Watt sentenced him to life in prison without chance of parole for 25 years.

Murder Village Map



Vital Statistics

Name: Michael John Flannigan
Age: 27
Gender: Male
Date of Death: October 26, 1989
Manner of Death: Stabbed, blunt force trauma
Location: 800 Richmond St. West
Suspect Name: James David Hughes
Conviction & Sentence: Second-degree murder, life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years

Body Dumped

Ontario Hydro right of way in Mississauga

Charles Albert Lizotte’s body was seen being tossed out a speeding U-Haul truck on October 4, 1988. The dumping of the 30-year-old man, who lived on Shuter Street, was seen by a 9-year-old boy playing in an Ontario Hydro right-of-way in Pickering. Lizotte had been shoved into a sleeping bag thrown to the side of the road. He had been beaten and strangled.

In less than a week, police arrested Yves Joseph LeClerc, 29. Through his lawyer, LeClerc admitted responsibility, but pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.

LeClerc and Lizotte had been involved in a dispute on September 30, 1988, in the home of Claude Gobell, on Trefann Street. LeClerc, a French Canadian, said he killed Lizotte because of his obnoxious behaviour and derogatory comments toward the French Canadian, telling Inspector Leo Campbell, “Look, I killed the guy… He was being an asshole so I killed him.”

LeClerc, a drug dealer, invited Lizotte to his home, which was next door to the party, to smoke marijuana and drink beer. LeClerc said he was pushed to the floor by Lizotte and kicked in the stomach. LeClerc said Lizotte then turned his back on him, giving him time to get to his feet.

He attacked Lizotte after the man threatened to sexually assault him. Lizotte was knocked to the floor and LeClerc grabbed a barbell and placed the shaft across Lizotte’s neck. He then knelt on each end of the shaft. LeClerc then grabbed a nearby piece of wire and twisted it around Lizotte’s neck. LeClerc would later tell a friend that Lizotte grimaced and tried to break free, but was unsuccessful.

Just two days prior to the murder of Lizotte, LeClerc stole $275 and set fire to a Queen Street East house, causing almost $50,000 in damages. LeClerc was arrested and charged with Lizotte’s murder before going to trial on the arson charge.

On October 1, 1988, LeClerc’s friend Tony Ruscito dropped by the home before going to work, and LeClerc showed Ruscito the dead body hidden under the bed.

Lizotte’s arms were tied and he was wrapped in a sleeping bag. His body was dragged down some narrow stairs but slipped a few times on the way down before being hidden behind a hot water tank. Four days later, when the decomposing body “stunk up the house,” a friend named Pickles, whose bed was by a vent in a room over the body, rented a van to dispose of the corpse. He said by this time, most people in the neighbourhood knew about the dead man.

LeClerc said the other men at the house had nothing to do with the killing, but did help dispose of the body. Pickles, LeClerc and two other men moved the body into LeClerc’s rom and then out a window to a rented U-Haul . LeClerc and Pickles then drove to Pickering to dump the body, and returned home to drink.

LeClerc was found guilty of second-degree murder and was given a life sentence. “I do not believe this. I am not guilty of second-degree murder. I did not mean it,” LeClerc said after the jury returned their verdict. They had deliberated less than three hours. LeClerc would be eligible for parole after 10 years.


Murder Village Map



Vital Statistics

Name: Charles Albert Lizotte
Age: 30
Gender: Male
Date of Death: September 30, 1988
Manner of Death: Strangled, beaten
Location: Trefann Street
Suspect Name: Yves Joseph LeClerc
Conviction & Sentence: Second-degree murder, life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years

Spontaneous Confession

Example of cash seized by Toronto Police
Example of cash seized by Toronto Police

On March 2, 1987, police received a call for help at Northcote Avenue. They arrived to find Lisa Janet Black (aka Leo James Black), dying. Twenty-three-year-old Black died in hospital just two hours later of head injuries.

Black also worked as a prostitute in Parkdale. She had contacted police just hours before being killed, saying a “john” had robbed her and stolen her money and identification.

Black and white photo of murder victim Lisa Black

It took police four months to arrest Synthia Anne Kavanagh (aka Richard Chaperon), 25, of St. Patrick Street. She was charged with first-degree murder on July 31, 1987. Police also arrested Brian Thomas Inch, 35, of Eastern Avenue on August 28, 1987.

Kavanagh and Black were roommates, both working in the Parkdale area. During interviews with homicide detectives, Kavanagh said she murdered Black with a hammer and a knife. She built up her courage to commit the murder by drinking beer and taking tranquilizers with Inch before eventually hitting her in the head repeatedly with a hammer and plunging a knife into her eye. Kavanagh blamed an unnamed person who put a .38 gun in her mouth and told her to retrieve $700,000 in cocaine and jewellery stolen by Black. She was told “either you get that back or you kill (Black)”, and Kavanagh decided it was easier to kill her friend.

Toronto police said that until her spontaneous video-taped confession, Kavanagh was considered a witness and not a suspect. Inch was in the apartment and was treated as a witness after pleading guilty to manslaughter.

Witness Crystal Anderson, Inch’s lover, told homicide investigators Black was killed for informing on Anderson and Kavanagh implicating them in a robbery. Charges were dropped when Black failed to show up for court. Anderson’s taped interview was played in court, saying Inch was an active participant in the murder and stabbed Black in the heart. Anderson was in prison for burglary and possession of stolen property when she testified, and said that she was now in danger because she was a “rat.”

Inch refused to testify at Kavanagh’s trial, and had already been sentenced to seven years. Kavanagh recanted her confession during the trial, saying another person killed Black while she waited in the kitchen. She maintained her innocence even after the trial.

Murderer Synthia Kavanagh by Ian MacAlpine for Toronto Star
Murderer Synthia Kavanagh by Ian MacAlpine for Toronto Star

Kavanagh was found guilty of second-degree murder in May, 1989, and sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 15 years. Although the trial judge recommended a women’s prison, Corrections Canada placed her in a men’s penitentiary.

Kavanagh filed a human rights complaint arguing the Canadian government had a responsibility to provide adequate medical care including sex reassignment surgery. She won the case.

Kavanagh appealed her placement in a men’s penitentiary and was successfully placed in a women’s correctional facility after gender-reassignment surgery in 2000. She was eventually reassigned to a maximum security prison facility for women after “trashing” a room.


Murder Village Map



Vital Statistics

Name: Lisa Janet Black (aka Leo James Black)
Age: 23
Gender: Female
Date of Death: March 2, 1987
Manner of Death: Stabbing and blunt force trauma
Location: Northcote Avenue
Suspect Name: Synthia Anne Kavanagh (aka Richard Chaperon) and Brian Thomas Inch
Conviction & Sentence: Inch: Manslaughter and 7 years; Kavanagh: second-degree murder with life and no chance of parole for 15 years

Not Guilty Verdict

Accused Eric Swanson photo by Boris Spremo
Accused Eric Swanson photo by Boris Spremo

On August 6, 1986, Edwin Howard Kasdan was found dead by his parents, who had become concerned after not hearing from him on Wednesday morning: he met his parents for dinner every Wednesday night. He had died August 4.

Black and white photo of murder victim Edwin Kasdan

Kasdan, 55, was a real estate lawyer. He was found fully clothed on the living room floor of his  541 Blackthorne Avenue condominium. An autopsy showed he had been beaten with a blunt instrument and died from loss of blood and shock caused by multiple head injuries. There were no signs of a struggle.

On October 2, 1986, police announced the arrest of a 17-year-old who was charged with second-degree murder. The Young Offenders Act prevented the naming of the suspect in media. The youth was granted $500 bail in March 1987, before the trial, although the Crown did try to have the bail revoked. He would later be identified as Eric Swanson because he was tried in adult court.

Accused Eric Swanson photo by Frank Lennon
Accused Eric Swanson photo by Frank Lennon

Kasdan had been struck 24 times with a heavy glass ashtray. “The killing was an intentional, brutal and one-sided attack,” said assistant Crown attorney Kathryn Hawke.

Police said fingerprints matching Swanson were found in the kitchen. Blood was spattered through the bedroom and bathroom where Swanson had gone to clean up. A pair of jeans too small for Kasdan were found on the bed. Defence argued Swanson was disoriented after the murder, but the Crown argued that the clean-up indicated he was not.

Swanson admitted killing Kasdan. Swanson’s lawyer said Kasdan was “in search of prey” when he met Swanson. He said he was acting in self-defense. The Crown said Kasdan would not have presented a threat after the first few blows. After the first few blows, Swanson said he escaped the apartment but Kasdan chased him and pulled him back into the apartment.

Black and white photo of murder victim Edwin Kasdan

After the murder, Swanson was treated in hospital for injuries to his hands. He never regained full use of his hands.

On March 30, 1988, Swanson was found not-guilty by a jury after six hours of deliberation.

Black and white photo of murder victim Edwin Kasdan
Edwin Kasdan, University of Toronto


Murder Village Map



Vital Statistics

Name: Edwin Howard Kasdan
Age: 55
Gender: Male
Date of Death: August 4, 1986
Manner of Death: Blunt force trauma
Location: 541 Blackthorne Ave
Suspect Name: Eric Swanson
Conviction & Sentence: Not guilty