Attack Was Personal

Black and white photo of murder victim Ross Magill
Murder victim Ross Magill

On Monday July 14, 2008, sixty-four-year-old William Ross Magill was pronounced dead at his home on 40 Delisle Avenue. He had been stabbed.

Magill, how usually went by Ross Magill, had been a gifted interior designer prior to his three-year descent into sex and drugs and alcohol. Friends said he had begun to bring home younger men, and after allowing two of them come into his midtown apartment, he was murdered.

Friends said Magill was HIV-positive, and returned from the U.S. to Canada to benefit from the Canadian, rather than American, health care system. A break-up in 2005 with a Vancouver man sent Magill into a downward spiral. He fell out of contact with friends and family, and those who stayed in touch were unable to help him with his addictions.

Black and white photo of murder victim Ross Magill

On the evening of July 14, Magill’s 23-year-old boyfriend, whom he had been dating for three months, was in the shower when two men knocked on his door. Magill let his murderers into his home. Magill’s partner heard a commotion and found Magill stabbed multiple times. He called police, but was unable to give a description of the men he saw fleeing. The police ruled him out as a suspect after interviews.

Police believe he knew at least one of his assailants, making police believe this was a targeted attack. Cocaine was found in his home. One neighbour heard three screams and a door slam.
No arrest has been made, the case remains open.


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: William Ross Magill
Age: 64
Gender: Male
Date of Death: July 14, 2008
Manner of Death: Stabbed
Location: 40 Delisle Avenue
Suspect Name: none

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

Sex Worker Strangled

Black and white photo of murder victim Cassandra Do
Murder victim Cassandra Do

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.

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.

Black and white photo of murder victim Cassandra Do

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 they 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. Do may have been the victim of a serial killer.

Police have not yet solved Do’s murder.


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Cassandra “Tula” Do
Age: 32
Gender: Female
Date of Death: August 25, 2003
Manner of Death: Strangulation
Location: 60 Glouster Street
Suspect Name: Victor

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

Dumped and Burned

150 McLevin Avenue where murder victim Paul Armstrong was found
150 McLevin Avenue where murder victim Paul Armstrong was found

Instead of celebrating a shared birthday with her twin brother, Mary Perra spent her 38th birthday burying him. Paul Armstrong’s charred body was found December 16, 1996, in the garbage behind an industrial complex.

He was last seen by his roommate in their Leverhume Crescent home on Saturday morning, who said Armstrong left their house at about 11 a.m. Police believe he got into someone’s car, leaving his own behind. Armstrong did not have an active social life, and his departure was out of character.

Black and white photo of murder victim Paul Armstrong
Murder victim Paul Armstrong

Armstrong had been expected back that evening for a small party, and failed to show. Four days later, after his body was found but before he was identified, the roommate called Armstrong’s family, who live in Trenton Ontario, to say he was missing.

Police were able to identify Armstrong through dental records. Although treated as suspicious, Armstrong’s death was not initially considered a murder because the autopsy could not conclude the cause of death.

Police now consider Armstrong’s death to be murder, however, it remains unsolved.


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Paul Armstrong
Age: 37
Gender: Male
Date of Death: December 16, 1996
Manner of Death: undetermined
Location: 150 McLeven Avenue
Suspect Name: none

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)

In A Pool of Blood

530 Yonge Street, former site of the Parkside Tavern
530 Yonge Street, former site of the Parkside Tavern

On Sunday, December 4th, 1983, high-school art teacher Thomas Cahill. 44. was stabbed to death in his own home at 199 Berkeley St.

Black and white photo of murder victim Thomas Cahill

At 4:45am, tenant and friend Charles Furlong, 47, heard Cahill call out his name. When Furlong responded, he found Cahill in a pool of blood and the front door open. Police were called, and Cahill was transported to St. Michael’s Hospital, where he died.

Police believed Cahill was stabbed by one or more visitors who were just leaving. He had spent Saturday night at the Parkside Tavern, at 530 Yonge St.

The case remains open.

 


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Thomas Cahill
Age: 44
Gender: Male
Date of Death: December 4, 1983
Manner of Death: Stabbed
Location: 199 Berkeley St.
Suspect Name: unknown

Cold Case Resolved

Advertisement for Boots, a Toronto gay bar
Advertisement for Boots, a Toronto gay bar

After going out for drinks to Boots, a gay bar, and then dancing at the Stages disco, Graham Hugh Pearce, 36, and a friend headed up Yonge St. to Wellesley St. where, at about 3:30am on March 20, 1983, they parted company. Pearce headed west along Wellesley toward his 1973 Plymouth.

His body would be discovered in his apartment at 35 High Park Avenue by his roommate shortly before noon that day beaten and stabbed to death. His body was found in the bathroom.

Black and white photo of murder victim Graham Pearce
murder victim Graham Pearce

Police began talking to street hustlers and homeless men in the area, and squad officer Sgt. Brian Raybould said a number of men were under investigation.

The case would go cold for more than 30 years, until family urged police to look again with newer procedures and technology for evidence and fingerprints.

On April 16, 2016, police sent out a media release asking friends or associates of Pearce to contact them. During their investigation, police had identified Ronald Thomas Gale, 22 at the time of the murder, as a Person of Interest, but only after his death in 2001. Gale was also “a member of the gay community,” was known to police and had his fingerprints on file.

On January 16, 2017, police declared Pearce’s murder “resolved.”

“A forensic re-examination of the evidence in 2014, and subsequent investigation into the background and history of [Gale] had led us to this conclusion,” said Det. Sgt. Stacy Gallant. Gallant explained that murder cases are not closed unless there is a verdict, but the Pearce case “is no longer being investigated because we believe the person responsible for the murder is deceased.” Gale was not suspected in any other murders.

 


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Graham Hugh Pearce
Age: 36
Gender: Male
Date of Death: March 20, 1983
Manner of Death: Beaten and stabbed
Location: 35 High Park Avenue
Suspect Name: Ronald Thomas Gale
Conviction & Sentence: died before arrest

Maybe LGBT Murder

Retro stereo system

Nirmal Rawle Ramnanan, 35, was found stabbed to death in his 939 Avenue Road apartment on Saturday August 7, 1982. He was found nude and bound to a chair, stabbed, by building authorities after a neighbour complained of loud music all night long.

Because the loud music continued Saturday morning, building personnel used a passkey to enter the apartment, where Ramnanan was found. He was bound to a chair, covered in blood, and a call was placed to 911. He bled to death after being repeatedly stabbed in the chest and stomach.

Black and white photo of murder victim Nirmal Rawle Ramnanan
murder victim Nirmal Rawle Ramnanan

Ramnanan, who had come to Canada from Trinidad about four years before his death, worked in the fitting department of Syd Silver Formal Wear.

Ramnanan was known to have several visitors, both male and female, and there was no sign of forced entry into his home. Police eventually set up a tip line, but his murder is currently unsolved.

Media coverage at the time of Ramnan’s death was spotty. Although police at the time did not indicate Ramnanan was gay or bisexual, his death was mentioned in September 1982 issue of The Body Politic, a Toronto newsmagazine “for gay liberation” (which is why he is listed on Murder Village).

 


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Nirmal Rawle Ramnanan
Age: 35
Gender: Male
Date of Death: August 7, 1982
Manner of Death: Stabbed
Location: 939 Avenue Road
Suspect Name: none

Car and Cash Stolen

Black and white photo of 5600 Sheppard Avenue East

Forty-seven-year-old Kevin Lionel McBride advertised for a roommate for his 5600 Sheppard Avenue East apartment. Police believe a man responding to that ad on Saturday May 15, 1982, is the one who murdered him.

McBride had moved to Canada from Australia 17 years before his death, and had a thriving career as an interior decorator and an antique dealer.

Black and white photo of murder victim Kevin McBride

McBride had worked for 10 years creating window displays for Lizanne, a fabric store chain in Toronto.

McBride, who was considered a very punctual man, failed to show for a dinner date on Monday May 17, with friends. The friends went to McBride’s apartment superintendent and convinced him to open the door to his apartment.

McBride was found, fully clothed, stabbed to death on his living room floor.

Police were called and found him stabbed multiple times in both the front and back of the upper torso. His car and credit cards had been stolen.

In June, 1982, two men used one of McBride’s credit cards multiple times in Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit, Michigan after the murder, but they were not caught.

Witnesses described the man using the credit card as being in his mid 20s to early 30s, white, 6’2″ with dark brown wavy hair. A composite drawing of the taller suspect and a $10,000 reward did not help police solve the crime.

Police composite sketch of suspect in Kevin McBride's murder
Police composite sketch of suspect in Kevin McBride’s murder

Media at the time criticized police for offer $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of McBride’s killer, but a $25,000 reward for the killer of Toronto Argonauts cheerleader Jennifer Isford, found two months later. “Some cases are more deserving of a higher reward,” Metro Police Chief Jack Ackroyd told the Toronto Globe and Mail.

McBride’s car, a black 1979 Oldsmobile 98 with wire wheel covers, red interior and a sun roof, was found months later, on September 22, in Rochester, Minnesota. His killer or killers have not been found.


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Kevin Lionel McBride
Age: 47
Gender: Male
Date of Death: May 17, 1982
Manner of Death: Stabbed
Location: 5600 Sheppard Avenue East
Suspect Name: unknown

A Strange, Hollow Sound

Police removing William Robinson's body, photo by CBC News
Police removing William Robinson’s body, photo by CBC News

William Duncan Robinson, 24, was found by his sister when she became concerned that he did not show up to work for two days. He was found November 28, 1978, “horribly mutilated” in his 205 Vaughan Road apartment. Robinson was a “shy, well-dressed” man who, police believe, may have met his killer at the St. Charles Tavern at 484-488 Yonge St. A neighbour reported hearing a “strange, hollow sound” coming from his apartment on Saturday.

Black and white photo of murder victim William Duncan Robinson
Murder victim William Duncan Robinson

His death triggered media coverage regarding multiple similar deaths of gay men. He was the 14th gay man to be murdered in three and a half years. Police released a composite sketch and description of the suspect, and said he greasy brown hair and dirty hands, “walked in a clumsy manner and had extreme body odor.” He was trying to buy drugs at the tavern, and rolled his own cigarettes.

Police at scene of William Robinson's murder, photo by CBC News
Police at scene of William Robinson’s murder, photo by CBC News

A $10,000 reward for information leading the arrest and conviction was put out by police. No one been charged in the murder and it remains a cold case for Toronto police.

Police composite sketch of murder suspect in William Robinson murder
Police composite sketch of murder suspect in William Robinson murder

 


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: William Duncan Robinson
Age: 24
Gender: Male
Date of Death: November 28, 1978
Manner of Death: stabbing
Location: 205 Vaughan Road
Suspect Name: none

Unsolved Murder of Club Owner

16 St Joseph Court photo by CBC News
16 St Joseph Court photo by CBC News

The popular bar manager, Alexander Sandy LeBlanc, 29, was murdered in his home at 16 St. Joseph Court (now Street) on September 20, 1978. His body was found by three friends. He died from more than 100 stab wounds. LeBlanc was the second gay man to be murdered that week – Gerald Douglas White was murdered on September 18, and a man was charged in that crime.

Black and white photo of Sandy LeBlanc
Sandy LeBlanc

LeBlanc was manager and co-owner of various gay clubs and discotheques in the Carlton and Church St. area, including Club David’s and Studio II. David’s, at 16 Phipps Street, mysteriously burned to the ground after a New Year’s Eve punk rock concert in 1977/78.

Inside David's nightclub
Inside David’s nightclub

Police said bloody footprints led from the carpet in the bedroom to a window overlooking the alley. Reports said the carpet was so thick with blood it squished when officers walked on it.

Police have never solved LeBlanc’s murder.

Advertisement for punk band Viletones playing at David's, Sandy LeBlanc's club
Advertisement for punk band Viletones playing at David’s, Sandy LeBlanc’s club

 

 


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Alexander Sandy LeBlanc
Age: 29
Gender: Male
Date of Death: September 20, 1978
Manner of Death: Stabbed
Location: 16 St. Joseph Street
Suspect Name: unknown

Mugging Becomes Murder

Allan Gardens photo by James Victor Salmon
Allan Gardens photo by James Victor Salmon

Sixty-two-year-old Bernard Guay was murdered in Allan Gardens park at 19 Horticultural Avenue. He was discovered alive on May 5, 1977 at 12:15 a.m., suffering from blunt force trauma. He was immediately transported to hospital, and died on May 11.

Newspapers described Guay as “an old, nearly blind man who was beaten to death by muggers.” Guay, a Quebec native, had lived in Toronto for 25 years and had worked in restaurants until being forced out because he was losing his eyesight. He was living with Herni Carboit, a 32-year-old unemployed restaurant worker.

Photo of murder victim Bernard Guay
Photo of murder victim Bernard Guay

Guay was in a section of the park described by police as “the favourite haunt [of homosexuals]” when he was attacked by three youths.

Inspector George Sellar of the police homicide squad said “Here you have a quiet old man minding his own business and three yahoos come along and kick him in the head.” As people approached the scene to lend assistance to Guay, the attackers fled.

His murder is unsolved.


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Bernard Guay
Age: 62
Gender: Male
Date of Death: May 11, 1977
Manner of Death: Blunt force trauma
Location: 19 Horticulture Ave.
Suspect Name: 3 unknown men

Last Seen at St. Charles Tavern

St Charles Tavern photo from City of Toronto archives
St Charles Tavern photo from City of Toronto archives

On the morning of Monday September 20, 1976, police responded to a 911 call and found the body of James Stewart Kennedy. He had been beaten to death.

Photo of murder victim James Kennedy as a young man
Photo of murder victim James Kennedy as a young man

Kennedy, 59, lived at 262 Jarvis St., and worked at the Department of National Revenue. He was found beaten and strangled. A towel had been knotted around his neck and he was severely beaten in the face. He was last seen alive the previous Saturday at a gay bar, the St. Charles Tavern on Yonge St.

Police do not have a motive, and his case remains open.

 


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: James Stewart Kennedy
Age: 59
Gender: Male
Date of Death: September 20, 1976
Manner of Death: Blunt Force Trauma, strangulation
Location: 262 Jarvis St
Suspect Name: unknown

Unsolved Baseball Bat Murder

Newspaper headlines about the murder of James Taylor
Newspaper headlines about the murder of James Taylor

James Douglas Taylor, a 41-year-old house painter, was killed in his home on February 11, 1976. He was killed by a baseball bat.

Taylor was found at 147 Elmhurst Avenue [based on the map provided by Toronto Police] after police responded to a 911 call. A pick-up truck was seen at his house just before the murder. The murder has never been solved, and few details are available.

Photo of murder victim James Taylor
Photo of murder victim James Taylor
Police sketch of suspect in James Taylor's murder
Police sketch of suspect in James Taylor’s murder

However, Taylor’s death was one of 13 murders of gay men in a 3 ½ year period, with more than half being unsolved. These included Neil Wilkinson, Harold Walkley,  Bernard GuayBrian Latocki and James Stewart Kennedy.

Rev. Brent Hawkes said gay men are reluctant to work with the police because of the negative stigma of homosexuality [at the time], and the increase in violence was making gay men “very cautious.”


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: James Douglas Taylor
Age: 41
Gender: Male
Date of Death: February 11, 1976
Manner of Death: Blunt force trauma
Location: 147 Elmhurst Avenue
Suspect Name: none