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

 

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

Hairdresser Homicide

3 Gifford Drive, where DaCosta was murdered

Hairdresser Derek George Dacosta, 33, was strangled on the night of December 5, 1990 after an apparent robbery gone bad. Dacosta had told friends of plans to travel home to Trinidad to visit his parents for Christmas. Stolen from his 3 Gifford St. home were a television, VCR and audio cassette player. He was the city’s 54th homicide of the year.

Black and white photo of murder victim Derek Dacosta

A co-worker became concerned when Dacosta did not show up for work at the Yonge and Bloor hair salon. She had last seen him on December 4 at about 11 p.m. Another friend told police Dacosta had gone to a Church St. bar. Police were called to the scene.

Less than two weeks later, on December 18, police announced they had charged 24-year-old John William McLean of no fixed address, after he walked into 51 Division police station on December 15 and confessed. McLean told police he became enraged by Dacosta’s sexual advance and claimed it was self-defence.

McLean was sentenced to five years after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Derek George Dacosta
Age: 33
Gender: Male
Date of Death: December 5, 1990
Manner of Death: Strangled
Location: 3 Gifford St.
Suspect Name: John William McLean
Conviction & Sentence: Second-degree murder, 5 years

Absolutely Thrilled

Google Streetview of Thatcher Avenue
Google Streetview of Thatcher Avenue

Apparently, fifty-five-year-old Dennis McDonald inspired such terror in his killer, he was stabbed 10 times. In the back. Then he bled to death. The killer, 19-year-old Guy Simon, was “absolutely thrilled” when he was acquitted of the murder.

On December 18, 1989, moving company owner McDonald was attacked by Simon, who was 17 at the time. As a young offender, he could not be named in the press. However, the Crown successfully petitioned to have Simon tried as an adult. McDonald was able to call police for help after the attack, but was dead on arrival at the hospital.

Simon was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, but was committed to trial on second-degree murder.

Simon testified that he had worked for McDonald and visited McDonald at his Thatcher Avenue home to pick up his paycheque. Simon and McDonald had a drink and McDonald grabbed Simon by the crotch.

Simon pushed McDonald away but Simon said McDonald pulled a machete out from under his bed. Simon then pulled out his own knife and repeatedly stabbed McDonald in the back and chest in self-defence, he said during trial. Simon called 911 the next day and told police he wanted to turn himself in.

The jury took less than two hours to find Simon not guilty on February 22, 1992.

 


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Dennis McDonald
Age: 55
Gender: Male
Date of Death: December 18, 1989
Manner of Death: Stabbed
Location: Thatcher Avenue
Suspect Name: Guy Simon
Conviction & Sentence: acquitted

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

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

Death From 40 Injuries

Police tape at the crime scene where Donald Weir was murdered, from CityPulse News
Police tape at the crime scene where Donald Weir was murdered, from CityPulse News

Former Alderman and accountant Donald William Weir died on April 5, 1983. He was found naked in his bathtub with more than 40 injuries. A banana had been shoved in his mouth.

Black and white photo of murder victim Donald Weir

Weir, 50, was found by firefighters who had rushed to his apartment in response to a security staff person’s call: a fire alarm had been triggered by a pillow fire in his 20th floor apartment at 5 Massey Square. Weir’s roommate was out of the province at the time of the slaying, but later confirmed to police that items were stolen.

Weir was last seen alive that Tuesday at a bank and at some point had been in a Danforth Ave. bar alone. He was discovered at about 11 p.m. that night.

Black and white photo of murder victim Donald Weir from 1964
Donald Weir, 1964, from CityPulse News

On August 25, 1983, police announced they had arrested Richard Allen McKay, 23 and David John Kendall, 32, and charged them with first-degree murder. Both men were prostitutes.

During the trial, both men blamed each other for the murder. Injuries included stab wounds, cuts, scratches, bruises, scalding and “splitting of the skin.” Weir had more than four times the legal limit of blood alcohol for impaired driving and was called a “sitting duck” by psychologist and drug expert Howard Cappell.

Black and white photo of murder victim Donald Weir

Justice Nick McRae doubted Kendall would have participated in the killing.

On Wednesday July 25, 1984, both men were found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without chance of parole for at least 10 years for the torture and murder of Weir.

Black and white photo of murderer David Kendall
murderer David Kendall

On April 23, 1987, the Ontario Court of Appeal quashed the finding of second-degree murder against Kendall and allowed him a new trial.

Kendall was freed on bail pending his trial, but in July 1987, fled with his 16-year-old niece after her mother put up the bail money. He was eventually caught and was tried a second time. Kendall pleaded guilty to perjury and failing to comply with a court order, for which he received a sentence of two years. He was also given six months for skipping bail. He was subsequently found guilty of manslaughter.

 


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Donald William Weir
Age: 50
Gender: Male
Date of Death: April 5, 1983
Manner of Death: Stabbed, blunt force trauma
Location: 5 Massey Square
Suspect Name: Richard Allen McKay and David John Kendall
Conviction & Sentence: McKay and Kendall were found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 10 years. Kendall appealed his conviction and later was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to eight years in prison.

Flowers and Feathers

Headlines from various Toronto newspapers on Gerald White's murder
Headlines from various Toronto newspapers on Gerald White’s murder

On Sunday September 17, 1978, Gerald Douglas White headed to a friend’s Rosehill Avenue apartment to feed some budgies and water flowers. He was beaten to death that day by Paris Colin Rogers, 23, of no fixed address.

White, a salesman who lived at 44 Charles St West, had invited Rogers back to the Rosehill Avenue apartment in the early morning hours of Monday September 18, as his friend was away on vacation. During an argument, Rogers attacked White and struck him on the head.

Rogers was arrested shortly afterward and charged with second degree murder. Police found White’s car on the following Tuesday.

Rogers was sentenced on February 19, 1979 to six years for manslaughter. Rogers said White, 39, made a pass at him, and that he was unable to control himself, beating White to death.

 


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Gerald Douglas White
Age: 39
Gender: Male
Date of Death: September 18, 1979
Manner of Death: Blunt Force Trauma
Location: Rosehill Avenue
Suspect Name: Paris Colin Rogers
Conviction & Sentence: Manslaughter, 6 years

Swimming Leads To Murder

Police remove Shirley Hauser's body from schoolyard, photo by Boris Spremo
Police remove Shirley Hauser’s body from schoolyard, photo by Boris Spremo

Shirley (Peter Christopher) Hauser, 23, was stabbed to death on August 19, 1978 on the school grounds of Western Technical Commercial High at 125 Evelyn Crescent. Police reported that Hauser, who lived on Westminster Ave., was a trans woman, dressed as a woman and was undergoing a sex change. She was stabbed in the back, neck and chest. In all, there were 17 stab wounds.

Shirley Hauser also went by the name Christine. Hormone pills were found in her purse “way above therapeutic dosage,” said Dr. Luciano Sereno, who performed the autopsy. Hauser had gone to the school with a man at about 4 a.m., having met earlier in the evening at the Sunnyside swimming pool.

Photo of the man who found Ms. Hauser's body, photo from Toronto Star
Photo of the man who found Ms. Hauser’s body, photo from Toronto Star

Police found four pools of blood in a trail leading away from the body, making them conclude it was not Hauser’s. The wandering trail lead to Glendonwynne Road where it weaved back and forth along the street.

Continued investigation led the police of an apartment three kilometres away, where they found a blood-spattered motorcycle and a white helmet. The building superintendent told police she had been cleaning blood off the front stairs, and stairs leading to the second floor. That tenant told police they had been visited by a friend who was wounded and bleeding badly.

William Richard Andes, 20, of San Romano Way in North York, was charged with her second-degree murder.

We think this is Shirley (Peter Christopher) Hauser's grave marker
We think this is Shirley (Peter Christopher) Hauser’s grave marker

In court, Andes claimed he flew into a rage upon discovering Hauser was a transsexual, stabbing her 17 times. He pleaded guilty on April 9, 1979, but claimed he had originally walked away. Andes claimed Hauser had somehow gotten his knife and stabbed him, before he gained the knife back and murdered her.

Upon hearing the sentence, a newspaper reported that his mother shouted “Oh no. Don’t punish him for the homosexual. Oh please he is the victim. Don’t punish him.”

 


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Shirley Hauser, aka Peter Christopher, aka Christine
Age: 23
Gender: Female
Date of Death: August 19, 1978
Manner of Death: Stabbed
Location: 125 Evelyn Crescent
Suspect Name: William Richard Andes
Conviction & Sentence: Manslaughter, 8 years

Victim Was An Assailant

Toronto Lawn Tennis Club, photo from TLTC
Toronto Lawn Tennis Club, photo from TLTC

Police were stymied by the murder of 47-year-old Donald Rochester, a bartender and handyman for the Toronto Lawn Tennis Club, on February 13, 1978. Rochester had worked at the Club at 44 Price Street for more than 15 years and was well-liked by his colleagues. He left behind a wife and two children.

Rochester was found at the exclusive private club by other employees arriving for work. He had been shot in the head. Police originally believed burglary was the motive, because he did not have a wallet. However, police later found the wallet with cash still inside, locked in the trunk of his car.

Rochester was wearing only an undershirt. Police speculated he may have been forced to remove his clothes to prevent him from giving chase to the thief. It was almost two years later that his 19-year-old murderer, 16 at the time of the shooting, would tell his father about being sexually assaulted and shooting the assailant.

Photo of murder victim Donald Rochester
Photo of murder victim Donald Rochester

The youth, Frederick Savage, and his father were turned away by a lawyer who advised they were under no obligation to talk about it. Eventually, Savage, who was described as “slow learner of borderline intelligence,” could not handle the nightmares and fears and confided in a teacher. The teacher put him in touch with another lawyer, who took Savage to the police to confess on January 22, 1980.

Savage was charged with second-degree murder. Police admit that without Savage coming forward, they would never have solved the case.

On November 21, 1980, Savage pleaded guilty to manslaughter and upon listening to the facts of the case, sentenced Savage to two years less a day in reformatory.

When Rochester tried to assault Savage, Rochester produced a gun to force Savage into “sexual acts.” During sex, Rochester placed the gun down and Savage grabbed it and fired a shot.

The first shot missed Rochester, but when Rochester tried to approach Savage, the youth shot him in the head, then walked up to him and shot him again twice, then sat down and cried.

Savage was also placed on three years probation, ordered to take psychiatric treatment, and prohibited from possessing firearms for the rest of his life.

 


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Donald Rochester
Age: 47
Gender: Male
Date of Death: February 13, 1978
Manner of Death: Shot
Location: 44 Price Street
Suspect Name: Frederick Savage
Conviction & Sentence: Manslaughter, 2 years less a day

Stomped To Death

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

Neil Robert Wilkinson, 35, was found beaten, stabbed and asphyxiated in his Charles St. East apartment on December 15, 1977. Wilkinson “was known to hang out at the Parkside and St. Charles” taverns. Wilkinson left the Parkside on December 9 just after 1 a.m. with two friends.

He was found nude on his bed, dead, after he failed to show up to work at the Royal Bank for four days. Wilkinson died from asphyxiating on his own blood. His killer was arrested the next month.

Twenty-four-year-old James Allan Walker of no fixed address was arrested on January 30, 1978, in the Parkside Tavern and charged with first-degree murder. Walker pleaded guilty to manslaughter, but the Crown rejected the offer. Justice Donald Morand ordered the trial by jury to proceed.

Photo of murder victim Neil Wilkinson
Photo of murder victim Neil Wilkinson

After alcohol and marijuana, Wilkinson started to talk about sexual fantasies including young children, and that made Walker enraged. A witness testified in court that Wilkinson was interested in bondage. Walker “kicked and stomped” Wilkinson to death and then showered before leaving. Walker’s feet were injured as a result of stomping on Wilkinson’s face. He could not explain why he was also naked, saying “I don’t know… Sorry, I can’t think of an answer.” He later testified that he took his clothes off to stop Wilkinson from taking them off.

Walker was found guilty of second-degree and sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 12 years.

 


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Neil Robert Wilkinson
Age: 35
Gender: Male
Date of Death: December 15, 1977
Manner of Death: Asphyxiation
Location: Charles St. East
Suspect Name: James Allan Walker
Conviction & Sentence: second-degree and sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 12 years

Chef Killed With Whiskey Bottle

Edwin Hotel (New Edwin Hotel) photo from Novae Res Urbis newsletter
Edwin Hotel (New Edwin Hotel) photo from Novae Res Urbis newsletter

In 1957, when 43-year-old Cecil Burns lived at the Edwin Hotel at 650 Queen Street East, it was a little seedy and rundown, with a nightclub on the first floor and a rough clientele.

Burns, a professional chef, had the misfortune of meeting Wayne Ronald Mullen, 20, and inviting him back to his hotel room on February 18, 1957. When Burns came onto Mullen, Mullen hit him multiple times with a whiskey bottle to “repulse his sexual advances” and then fled the scene. Burns was found partially clothed on the blood-soaked bed, dead from a fractured skull and injuries to the brain.

Murder victim Cecil Fred Burns
Murder victim Cecil Fred Burns

Two days later, when Burns’ was missing from work, his coworkers called the hotel front desk and asked them to check on his whereabouts. A chambermaid was sent and upon opening the door, found Burns’ dead body.

Just five hours after Burns was discovered, and after seeing press coverage saying Burns was dead, Mullen walked into the police station, accompanied by his uncle, and turned himself in. “I guess I’m the man you’re looking for… for that Burns thing down at the hotel,” Mullen told police.

Almost three months later, the two day trial before Supreme Court Justice Gale began. Mullen admitted hitting Burns “once or twice” on the head, but he was found not guilty on the charge of capital murder and acquitted.


Vital Statistics

Name: Cecil Fred Burns
Age: 43
Gender: Male
Date of Death: February 18, 1957
Manner of Death: Blunt force trauma
Location: Edwin Hotel, Queen St. East
Suspect Name: Wayne Ronald Mullen
Conviction & Sentence: acquitted

From Toronto To Stroud

Photo of Ian Robertson and William Kingsley, during the trial. Photo by Toronto Daily Star
Photo of Ian Robertson and William Kingsley, during the trial. Photo by Toronto Daily Star

On October 29, 1953, when the body of a man was found in a field riddled with bullet holes and without identification, and before advanced forensics, it was the laundry marks on a shirt that helped police find the name of their victim.

Fred “Scotty” Cameron was a messenger for a Toronto investment brokerage firm and had worked for the company for years. He was 57 years old and, on the night of October 29, 1953, he was shot to death.

Cameron, who was shot five times, was found by Robert Cowan, a passing farmer who notified provincial police. Toronto police were enlisted to help the Ontario Provincial Police when the OPP discovered a TTC ticket in Cameron’s pocket.

Cameron was well-trusted by the brokerage firm to carry mail and other documents on their behalf to other brokerages, trust companies, and banks. However, he did not carry money. In fact, Cameron had not drawn his pay the evening before, and police said he had only $14. However, his pockets were turned out, and his watch was missing.

Initially, Cameron was painted as a ladies man who lived frugally, although the suit he was killed in cost $110. He never kept any identification on him, and did not talk about his past. He was described as “a shrewd, secretive and uncommunicative sort” but well-liked.

Cameron’s friend, John Quigley, told media “Cameron seemed more inwardly disturbed than ever – as though he had a premonition of a violent end. He would say to me, ‘If I’m ever in a tight spot, I’ll put up a fight.'” Quigley said he had a cheeky sense of humour and would help out people “from the Old Country,” Scotland.

Cameron lived on Isabella St., in what is now the Gay Village. He was married, but had been separated from his wife for 10 years and often referred to himself as a widower.

On November 4, police offered a $1,000 reward in Cameron’s death. On November 5, 1953, police took two Toronto men into custody, Francis Ian Robertson, 21 and William Stephen Kingsley, 19, but both were released after questioning.

The provincial pathologist Dr. Chester McLean said the bullet wounds were widely spaced apart, with one entering the neck and mouth, two in the left front chest, one in the back and one in the head. The last shot, in his forehead, killed him.

Police took Cameron’s clothing and personal effects found on him, including his light purple socks, a TTC streetcar ticket and two movie house ticket stubs.

Murder victim Fred "Scotty" Cameron
Murder victim Fred “Scotty” Cameron

On November 11 police returned to the Stroud scene and used a Canadian Army mine detector to recover parts of the .32 Savage automatic pistol used to shoot Cameron.

Kingsley was rearrested at “an old tenement” and charged on November 25. Robertson, who had a 17-year-old wife and a son, was rearrested the same day after returning from a his job. Police also confiscated Robertson’s father’s car. It had blood on the outside and in the trunk. Robertson had borrowed the car to “go North for Thanksgiving.”

On February 4, 1954, the two men jointly stood trial in a Barrie court room.

The Crown attorney said during the trial “How could two young men get a man of Cameron’s age to go for a ride in the country? It is sad but true that some men are afflicted with homosexuality.” Kingsley said in his statement to police that he and Cameron had previously had a sexual relationship for three years, making him 15 when it started. That relationship was later described by a defence attorney in court as “filthy, degrading acts of a weak mind. The filthy acts of a sex pervert were responsible for this tragedy.”

Kingsley said he shot Cameron once outside Karry’s poolhall at Queen and Yonge in Toronto, and he and Robertson placed Cameron into the trunk of the car. Cameron was still alive, pounding on the trunk and shouting. “Cameron was yelling in the trunk of the car, yelling and yelling and yelling. It was awful to hear him yell. It scared me,” Kingsley said.

Upon arriving at their destination, the two young men opened the trunk, and Cameron came out swinging. He was shot again. “We’ve got to make it look like a gang killing to get away with it,” Robertson said, directing Kingsley to go through Cameron’s pockets. It was Kingsley who, after taking the gun back, would shoot Cameron in the forehead.

“I’ll bet that’s the first time anyone shot a man for $14,” Robertson is alleged to have said to Kingsley shortly after the murder.

Robertson, who changed his story a number of times, said in court that Cameron was a pervert who “made advances” while they were driving north. The trio stopped because of car trouble, and he and Cameron got into a fight. “The next thing I knew there were several shots… Cameron’s falling down quite startled me,” Robertson said in court. He said he never shot the gun, only Kingsley did.

Photo of murderer William Kingsley
Photo of murderer William Kingsley

Crown prosecutor W.M. Thompson said Cameron “was a human being, entitled to live and it is not the law a man can be killed because he is a homosexual. He might have been cured or imprisoned, but death is not the answer.”

On March 17, 1954, it took the jury just eight hours to find the pair not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter, thus escaping the death penalty. Each was given a 20 year sentence.


Murder Village Map

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Fred “Scotty” Cameron
Age: 57
Gender: Male
Date of Death: October 29, 1953
Manner of Death: Shot
Location: Stroud, ON
Suspect Name: Francis Ian Robertson, William Stephen Kingsley
Conviction & Sentence: Manslaughter, 20 years before a chance of parole