SUV Was Murder Weapon

Black and white photo of murder victim Christopher Skinner
Murder victim Christopher Skinner

Christopher John Andrew Skinner was 27 when he was purposefully struck and killed by an SUV on October 28, 2009. He was killed in Toronto’s Entertainment District at Adelaide St. East and Victoria Street and police immediately began searching for CCTV and security video footage from businesses in the area.

He was engaged and planning to go to law school. In the early morning hours, Skinner got into an argument with a group of men when they knocked him to the ground, got into their black SUV, and ran over him with both the front and rear wheels. Homicide detective Stacy Gallant said “I’ve never seen one quite like this in my tenure at the homicide squad… It’s a very cowardly act.” Police released video footage of the SUV suspected of being the weapon of death.

Black and white photo of murder victim Christopher Skinner
murder victim Christopher Skinner

Skinner had been trying to hail a cab and, at some point, asked the SUV driver for a ride. When he refused, Skinner hit the vehicle window. Four years would pass before an arrest was made. None of the people in the vehicle came forward with information until 2013, when a Vancouver woman, an ex-girlfriend, called in a tip.

Police wire-tapped the suspect for 35 days and was heard planning to destroy cellphone records, how to avoid prosecution, and intimidating others in the car.

Agustin Caruso, 23 but 19 at the time of the murder, was arrested on November 6, 2013 and charged with second-degree murder. Caruso was the driver of the SUV carrying four men and two women inside when they ran over Skinner.

Agustin Caruso by Alex Tavshunsky for CBC
Agustin Caruso by Alex Tavshunsky for CBC

Det. Gallant said Skinner was killed because of the minor interaction of his touching the vehicle, not because he was gay. Police announced on November 15, 2013, they had also arrested Anthony Samuel, 24, who was charged with conspiracy to commit an indictable offense of aggravated assault and obstructing police; Nicholas Swaby, 23, who was charged with assault causing bodily harm; and Jamaal Phillips Bond, 23, who was charged with assault causing bodily harm and obstructing police.

Jamaal Bond, left, and Nicholas Swaby by Alex Tavshunsky for CBC
Jamaal Bond, left, and Nicholas Swaby by Alex Tavshunsky for CBC

Caruso was drunk and high on cocaine at the time of the murder, and said he did not intend to run over Skinner. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to eight and a half years.

 


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Christopher John Andrew Skinner
Age: 27
Gender: Male
Date of Death: October 28, 2009
Manner of Death: Vehicular
Location: Adelaide St E & Victoria St
Suspect Name: Agustin Caruso
Conviction & Sentence: Manslaughter, sentenced to eight and a half years

Foul Murder

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

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

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

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

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

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

Murderer Christopher Partak
Murderer Christopher Partak

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

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

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

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

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


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

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

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

Bathtub Murder

Black and white image of crime scene of Gracie Detzler
280 Dundas Street East

Fifty-four-year-old Gracie (James Edward) Detzler, described in news reports as a “would-be transsexual”, was drowned in a bathtub at 280 Dundas Street East, on May 28, 1997, probably between 10pm and 10:30pm. Her killer, Steven Todd Craig, 26, contacted a lawyer who then advised police of the murder. On June 1, four days later, police found Detzler’s body in a bathtub.

Detzler and Craig met while both people were serving long term penitentiary sentences. Detzler was described as a repeat offender when she was sentenced on November 28, 1990, for stabbing a man who refused to have sex with her.

Craig was originally charged with first-degree murder in Detzler’s death, however, Justice Harry Keenan of the Ontario Court’s General Division directed an acquittal on that charge, and the jury accepted Craig’s plea of guilty to manslaughter. Justice Keenan had been advised that Craig had spent his entire adult life in prison or on parole. He had been out of prison just three weeks before murdering Detzler. Keenan declared Craig was “a danger to society,” but reduced the charges. He was sentenced to 10 years.

The Justice did not allow the jury to hear a police statement that Craig admitted Detzler was handcuffed at the time of the attack. However, the jury did hear of Craig’s previous violent attack, nearly fatal, on a male lover.

On December 23, at the end of Craig’s trial, he shouted “You’re next, you @%#$$# pig!” to Detective Sergeant Michael David, the arresting homicide officer. He continued yelling expletives at other officials and struggled with guards as he was escorted from the courtroom.


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Gracie (James Edward) Detzler
Age: 54
Gender: Female
Date of Death: May 28, 1997
Manner of Death: Drowned
Location: 280 Dundas Street East
Suspect Name: Steven Todd Craig
Conviction & Sentence: Manslaughter, 10 years

Double Homicide

Black and white photo of 807 College Street
photo of 807 College Street

A double homicide took the lives of John Clarke, 40 and Clayton Russell, 60 when they were stabbed in their shared 807 College St. apartment on January 29, 1996. Police believe they had both been out at about 2 a.m. Sunday morning, but were found in their bachelor apartment the next day.

“There’s no question it’s a horrific crime. It seems to lack any kind of motive,” said homicide Det. Rolf Prisor who was investigating the murders.

Black and white photo of murder victim John Clarke
John Clarke
Black and white photo of murder victim Clayton Russell
Clayton Russell

 

 

 

 

 

 

Russell was the building superintendent, and lived with Clarke, who was unemployed at the time, in their first-floor apartment. Russell was separated from his wife but they continued to celebrate wedding anniversaries together. It was widely rumoured that Russell was inclined to keep large sums of money at home.

On September 5, 2001, after drinking heavily with friend Daniel MacKenzie, the killer admitted to his friend he had killed the men, but provided no additional details to him.

Exactly seven years after the murders, on January 29, 2003, Mikeal James Russell, a 40-year-old cousin of victim Clayton Russell, appeared in court charged with two murder. He faced two charges of second-degree murder.

On April 14, 2004, Mikeal Russell applied for bail. Mikeal was married and had a five-year-old son. Although he had previous convictions, including one for sexual assault, “he has been out of trouble for the last eight years.” Justice J. Dambrot released Mikeal on $50,000 bail.

During the trial, Mikeal said his uncle had sexually abused him from ages 10 to 13. On January 7 2005, Mikeal was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 10 years in jail. Judge Frank Caputo said the molestation was a mitigating factor in the sentencing.


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Names and Ages: John Clarke, 40 and Clayton Russell, 60
Genders: Male
Date of Deaths: January 29, 1996
Manner of Deaths: Stabbed
Location: 807 College St.
Suspect Name: Mikeal James Russell
Conviction & Sentence: Manslaughter, 10 years

A Single Stab Wound

Bayview Playhouse Theatre
Bayview Playhouse Theatre

On May 7, 1994, John Beverly “Bev” Wilson, 60, a well-known stage manager who once worked with the National Ballet of Canada, was found dead in the laundry room of his Eglinton Avenue West and Avenue Road apartment building. He was found in a large pool of blood, dead from a single stab wound.

Wilson, who also worked at the Bayview Playhouse Theatre, was expected to join friends that evening for dinner, but failed to answer his door.

Black and white photo of murder victim John Beverly Wilson
Murder victim John Beverly Wilson

“He was part of that older generation of theatre people, the old guard,” Peter Peroff, former owner of the Bayview Playhouse, told media. Wilson was known to leave the back door unlocked to allow late-night visitors to come in without disturbing other residents.

About a year after his death, David Christopher Mellish, 33, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. Wilson and Mellish, who was once a male prostitute, had a sexual relationship for about six years prior to the attack, and it included Mellish receiving pay and accommodation for sex. Wilson retired in early 1994 and told Mellish he had AIDS. Wilson continued to welcome Mellish into his home to do housecleaning for pay.

Mellish suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and was found four times to be unfit to stand trial. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Court drawing of David Mellish by Alex Tavshunsky for the Toronto Star
Court drawing of David Mellish by Alex Tavshunsky for the Toronto Star

On August 23, 1999, was sentenced to one day in jail with three years’ probation. He had already spent almost four and a half years in a psychiatric institution, and altogether including time awaiting trial, had served the equivalent of a nine-year sentence.

Grave marker for John Bev Wilson, Saint Mary's Cemetery, St. Mary's, Ontario
Grave marker for John Bev Wilson, Saint Mary’s Cemetery, St. Mary’s, Ontario

 


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: John Beverly “Bev” Wilson
Age: 60
Gender: Male
Date of Death: May 7, 1994
Manner of Death: Stabbed
Location: Eglinton and Avenue Road
Suspect Name: David Christopher Mellish
Conviction & Sentence: Manslaughter, 1 day plus three years probation. With time served, approximately nine years total

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

Comedian Murdered

1991 Honda motorcycle
A photo of a 1991 Honda motorcycle

On March 24, 1991, Michael Henry Vadeboncoeur, 42, was stabbed to death in his home at 7 Hilltop Road. Vadeboncoeur was a former CBC radio comic called Boncoeur. He was found with multiple stab wounds in a blood-splattered apartment. A 16-year-old youth arrested two weeks later and charged with first-degree murder in his death, and a 15-year-old was co-accused.

Both youths could not be named due to the restrictions of the Young Offenders Act. However, the 16-year-old was later tried as an adult and his name was released to the media during trial: Adam Blake Harris. The 15-year-old was not named.

Black and white photo of Michael VadeBoncouer
Murder victim Michael Vadeboncoeur

Harris was arrested at a C.M. Hinks treatment centre in Clarksburg. He was a resident at C.M. Hinks, a centre for “disturbed children,” later to become part of the SickKids Centre for Community Mental Health. Like Harris, the 15-year-old was also absent without leave from the treatment centre.

Harris and Vadeboncoeur once had a sexual relationship, and the two teenagers created the plan to rob Vadeboncoeur.

Police said robbery appeared to be the motive for the slaying: Vadeboncoeur’s Honda motorcycle, which was stolen, was later found at Jarvis and Parliament Streets. Other property was taken.

Vadeboncoeur bled to death after being stabbed in the neck. Harris had turned 16 just three weeks prior to the murder.

The victim’s “most precious possession – his life – was taken from him by the accused on more or less a whim,” said Justice Nicholson McRae during the February 22, 1994 sentencing trial. The Crown prosecutor said it was a “senseless killing of a talented and caring person who is deeply missed by his family and friends.”

Paul Willis (left) and Michael VadeBoncoeur on a Queen Victoria Statue - photo by Dick Darrell, 1968
Paul Willis (left) and Michael VadeBoncoeur on a Queen Victoria Statue – photo by Dick Darrell, 1968

The defense offered no evidence, although it was brought up at trial that Harris had been receiving treatment since his adoption at the age of 3. The judge found it was Harris who did the actual stabbing.

Harris was found guilty of first-degree and sentenced to life in prison. He was ordered to serve 7 ½ years (5 years is the minimum permitted for youth tried in adult court) before being eligible for parole. Because Harris spent nearly three years in pre-trial custody, he would be able to apply for parole as early as 1999. His first two years were to be served in a provincial reformatory and then he would be sent to a federal penitentiary.

The 15-year-old was earlier found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to incarceration and probation totaling three years.

Well-known B.C. cartoonist Lynn Johnston, who had become friends with Vadeboncoeur as a teenager, named the Patterson son Michael, after Vadeboncoeur. Johnston was upset that, at the time of the murder, much of the media focused on Vadeboncoeur’s sexuality rather than his accomplishments and personality. In memory of Vadeboncoeur, Johnston had one of her cartoon strip characters, Lawrence, come out as gay. “Well, Michael, this is for you.”

 


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Michael Henry Vadeboncoeur
Age: 42
Gender: Male
Date of Death: March 24, 1991
Manner of Death: Stabbed
Location: 7 Hilltop Road
Suspect Name: Adam Blake Harris, and an unnamed 15-year-old male
Conviction & Sentence: Harris was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 7 ½ years. The unnamed youth found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to incarceration and probation totaling three years.

Shot In The Head

Black and white photo of murderer Ronald Arthur Cooney

Fifty-one-year-old Norman John Cardwell was last seen on February 11, 1991, in the late afternoon, near the rear of his car. Witnesses said he was alone. He had just finished a 4pm appointment with his bank manager. Cardwell, who lived at at 9 Thorncliffe Avenue, had moved there about 20 years previously, and was recently divorced. He had two children.

On February 13, 1991, police were called to Cardwell’s home, where they found him shot in the head. Family and friends had reported to police that he failed to show up for work.

Black and white photo of murder victim Norman Cardwell

Within two weeks, police released clear images of a man’s face, photographed near the Cardwell home, apparently from a bank machine camera. By March 25, police had arrested a Cleethorpes Boulevard man, 28-year-old Ronald Arthur Cooney and remanded him in custody. He was charged with first-degree murder.

Cardwell had seen Cooney’s personal ad in the back of NOW magazine seeking male companionship. Cooney went to Cardwell’s home during the evening of February 11, and for unknown reasons pulled his gun and shot Cardwell in the head multiple times before robbing him and fleeing.

Later, Cooney was drinking in a bar in Belleville when had admitted to a friend that he had killed someone. “I shot him four times.”

Cooney withdrew $300 from bank machines using Cardwell’s credit card, initially saying in court it was Darryl Marsh, a high school friend, who had killed Cardwell and given him the card. Cooney used the cash to buy everyday items including roses for his girlfriend, an exotic dancer.

Marsh died of an acetaminophen overdose two months after the murder, at the bottom of the Scarborough Bluffs.

Scarborough Bluffs photo by Alan Dunlop
Scarborough Bluffs photo by Alan Dunlop, 1985

In court, it was suggested that Cooney was bisexual and took out ads in NOW magazine specifically targeting closeted gay men. Throughout the entire trial, Cooney insisted the now-dead Marsh had committed the murder with a gun stolen from Cooney and that the NOW ad was made by him on Marsh’s behalf.

The jury took three days to find Cooney guilty of manslaughter, not first-degree murder, in the killing of Cardwell. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison. In passing sentence, Madame Justice Patricia German said the manslaughter verdict was only an indication that the Crown had not proven beyond reasonable doubt that Cooney had ever been to Cardwell’s home.


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Norman John Cardwell
Age: 51
Gender: Male
Date of Death: February 11, 1991
Manner of Death: Shot
Location: 9 Thorncliffe Ave
Suspect Name: Ronald Arthur Cooney
Conviction & Sentence: Manslaughter, 12 years

Dispute Leads To Death

Black and white photo of payphone

A fight over which side of the floor cushions they would sleep on, cost Charles Robert Welbanks, 38, his life. Welbanks’ on-and-off lover of eight years, John Ralph Taylor, 46, stabbed him four times in the heart over the dispute on February 6, 1988.

Welbanks, whom police thought was a woman because of the clothing he was wearing, had been drinking with Taylor when they got into a disagreement over which side of the cushions on the floor of their Queen Street West and Dowling Avenue apartment they would sleep on. Taylor grabbed a knife and stabbed Welbanks, then cradled him in his arms calling out to him. Upon getting no response from Welbanks, Taylor licked the blood off his hands and went to tell friends in the building that Welbanks was dead.

Taylor then went to his mother’s home, who lived nearby, and told her he had killed Welbanks. He then ran to a payphone and called police. “I had a silly argument with my lover. I have nothing to hide. I killed my lover, I don’t know why,” he said.

Taylor had a long history of bank robberies and property offences. He was charged with second-degree murder, but pleaded guilty to manslaughter on February 13, 1989. He was sentenced to six years in prison.


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Charles Robert Welbanks
Age: 35
Gender: Male
Date of Death: February 6, 1988
Manner of Death: Stabbed
Location: Queen St. West
Suspect Name: John Ralph Taylor
Conviction & Sentence: Manslaughter, six years in prison

My Nerves Just Went

Black and white photo of 398 Dundas St East where Allan North was murdered

Allan Charles North, 54, was found murdered seven to ten day after his death on approximately May 3, 1987.

North was a hairdresser, and his body was found in the back of his hairdressing salon, the House of North at 398 Dundas St. East. A postmortem examination showed he died of asphyxia. North lived with John Alison Hay, 36, and theirs was a stormy relationship. Hay had previously served eight months for assaulting North.

On May 25, Hay turned himself into police. Hay had told people at a downtown church mission he had “killed his best friend”. Hay had strangled North because “he was bugging me, harassing me and my nerves just went.”

Originally charged with second-degree murder, Hay pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 8 ½ years.

 


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Allan Charles North
Age: 54
Gender: Male
Date of Death: about May 3, 1987
Manner of Death: Asphyxiation
Location: 398 Dundas St. East
Suspect Name: John Alison Hay
Conviction & Sentence: Manslaughter, 8 ½ years

Mark Of The Beast

Black and white photo of murder victim Peter Ager

Grade 8 teacher Peter Lawrence Ager was 1985’s fifty-fifth homicide of the year. He was killed December 14, 1985, and found a few days later after a neighbour who noticed newspapers piling up in the apartment building hallway, and notified police.

Ager, 31, was last seen attending a party at the Westbury Hotel and may have arrived home to his Carlton St. apartment at 2 a.m. on the Saturday. Ager was stabbed in the left lung after struggling with someone in the apartment. Money was missing.

Westbury Hotel, now the Courtyard Marriott, where Peter Ager was last seen
Westbury Hotel, now the Courtyard Marriott, where Peter Ager was last seen

17-year-old Brian Joseph Chakasim, who originally could not be named under the Young Offender’s Act but who was eventually tried as an adult, turned himself in a month after the murder and was charged with first-degree murder. Media noted this was the fourth gay teacher to be murdered in two years.

Chakasim and Ager had met a few weeks previously and had begun to socialize together.

Black and white photo of Murderer Brian Joseph Chakasim
Murderer Brian Joseph Chakasim

The court acknowledged that it was not known if Chakasim and Ager had sexual relations, but it was known that Ager was asleep while Chakasim was awake watching television and playing with a knife. Chakasim went into the bedroom, stabbed the bed several times and then stabbed Ager in the back and arm. He stayed in the room for some time after the murder.

Chakasim was 18 when he pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. A psychiatric report said he “remains a real hazard to the community in general and particularly to anyone immediately around him who might frustrate his needs.”


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Peter Lawrence Ager
Age: 31
Gender: Male
Date of Death: December 14, 1985
Manner of Death: Stabbed
Location: Carlton St.
Suspect Name: Brian Joseph Chakasim
Conviction & Sentence: Manslaughter, 15 years

 

High Park Homophobia

Courtroom drawing of Bauer, Bedard, Christou, Burak and Juszczuk by Joern Fresset for CFTO Television
Courtroom drawing of Bauer, Bedard, Christou, Burak and Juszczuk by Joern Fresset for CFTO Television

Public school librarian Kenneth Zeller, 40, was mobbed in High Park by five teenage boys. He would be found later, slumped in his car. He had been chased by five young men, caught and beaten, dying of head injuries. They left him unconscious. It was the last day of school for the killers before summer break.

Black and white photo of murder victim Kenneth Zeller

Zeller had been out that evening at a party drinking with friends. The Crown attorneys played down Zeller’s homosexuality throughout the trial although “the issue is that these boys perceived him to be homosexual and felt that justified attacking him,” Crown attorney Richard LeDressay said.

Black and white photo of murder victim Kenneth Zeller

Police were called at about 12:15 am on June 22, 1985, but Zeller was dead when he arrived in hospital an hour later. His car windows were smashed and the air was let out of his tires.

They all agreed to be tried as adults, and waive their rights to a preliminary hearing, in exchange for a sentence reduced from second-degree murder to manslaughter. Richard Leo Bauer, 15, Michael David Bedard, 18, Steven Christou, 16, Michael Christopher Burak, 16 and Henryk John Juszczuk, 16, were put on trial for murder. Three others were there but did not participate (nor attempt to stop) the attack.

Drawings of attack for Toronto Life article Gay Bashing in High Park April 1986
Drawings of attack for Toronto Life article Gay Bashing in High Park April 1986

People overhead them planning to visit High Park to “beat up a fag,” and “get money from a queer.” They saw Zeller on a pathway known as a gay lover’s lane, thought he was gay, and attacked him. He was chased by five of the eight young men more than 130 metres to his car. They kicked him, beat him, trashed his car and left him. He sustained the attack by five men for about three minutes.

Drawings of attack for Toronto Life article Gay Bashing in High Park April 1986
Drawings of attack for Toronto Life article Gay Bashing in High Park April 1986

The killers wept as Justice Gregory Evans sentenced each to nine years in prison after each pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter.

Artist Robin Fulford wrote Steel Kiss, a play based on Zeller’s murder, which played at the Poor Alex Theatre in late 1987.

From the play Steel Kiss, photo by Tim McKenna, for the Globe and Mail
From the play Steel Kiss, photo by Tim McKenna, for the Globe and Mail

Burak, Christou, Juszczuk and Bauer were all given release to continue high school, and permitted 72-hour unescorted temporary passes.

Kenneth Zeller's grave marker, Stouffville Cemetery, Stouffville
Kenneth Zeller’s grave marker, Stouffville Cemetery, Stouffville

 


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Kenneth Zeller
Age: 40
Gender: Male
Date of Death: June 22, 1985
Manner of Death: Blunt force trauma
Location: High Park
Suspect Name: Richard Leo Bauer, Michael David Bedard, Steven Christou, Michael Christopher Burak, Henryk John Juszczuk
Conviction & Sentence: Manslaughter, nine years for each

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.