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

Strangled For Shouting

Alcohol bottles

Martha Babb was 38 years old when her roommate, David Thomas Muir, 39, grabbed her by the throat and strangled her.

Babb and Muir often fought because Babb was a prostitute who would bring clients home.

Babb, also known as John Alfred McDonald, was murdered on December 10, 1983, in their apartment on Wilton Street after a night of heavy drinking and fighting. Babb was shouting at Muir and Muir strangled her with his hands to keep her quiet. When Babb went limp, Muir said he thought she was faking it, and put her into a bathtub filled with water. When Babb was not revived, he covered her in a blanket and threw cat litter on top, then went out to continue drinking.

Muir, described as a long-time alcoholic, confessed that he had killed someone and left her in the bathtub. The friend called police, who found Babb in the apartment just as Muir was returning home. He was charged with second-degree murder.

Muir pleaded guilty to manslaughter in May, 1984 and was sentenced to five years in jail.


Murder Village Map



Vital Statistics

Name: Martha Babb AKA John Alfred McDonald
Age: 38
Gender: Female
Date of Death: December 10, 1983
Manner of Death: Strangulation
Location: Wilton Street
Suspect Name: David Thomas Muir
Conviction & Sentence: Manslaughter, five years

Outrageous Acquittal

Gabriel Brunet's apartment building at 100 Maitland Street
Gabriel Brunet’s apartment building at 100 Maitland Street

On June 25, 1967, thirty-year-old Gabriel Brunet, a bartender, was murdered in his 100 Maitland Street home after being stabbed 50 times. Although his screams resonated throughout the building, no one went to his aid or called police.

Brunet’s nude body was found by his roommate, Rene Cote, 34, about 45 minutes after the attack, which police determined was around midnight. His was the 5th slaying in Toronto in three weeks. Brunet’s cat, which witnessed the assault, was captured and taken to a local animal shelter.

Gabriel Brunet's distressed cat by John McNeill, Globe and Mail
Gabriel Brunet’s distressed cat by John McNeill, Globe and Mail

A Toronto Star editorial, written June 27, 1967, said, “There is something appalling about such callous indifference to the torture and death of a fellow human being. It is also something relatively new… If this kind of indifference is the price of big city living it is too high a price – and indeed in the long run a fatal one. ”

Police reported the arrest of Dennis Henry Robertson, 23, on July 10. He was found in Calgary and was arrested by police there on another charge after walking into the police station to admit breaking into three homes. Calgary police thought he resembled the sketch issued by Toronto police, and they contacted their counterparts.

Toronto police interviewed Robertson. In his original police confession, Robertson said he asked Brunet for a bed, and then killed him “because he wouldn’t leave me alone.”

His trial for capital murder began on October 20, 1967, but the charge was reduced to non-capital murder by October 25. Robertson said that although he originally admitted killing Brunet to police, it was only because he was tired.

In court, Robertson admitted knowing Brunet and said he had been at the apartment on at least two previous occasions, but denied the murder, saying he was with a man and two women at the time of Brunet’s death.

On December 6, 1967, after nine hours of deliberation, the jury could not reach a verdict. The case was dismissed, and Robertson was tried again in February, 1968.

On February 10, 1968, Robertson was acquitted at his second trial because “he wasn’t cautioned properly by police before making a statement.” Mr. Justice Abraham Lieff of the Ontario Supreme Court directed the jury to acquit Robertson because Justice Lieff threw out the police confession, which formed the basis of the prosecution.

Justice Lieff did not blame the police for the way they took the statement, but said that, when Toronto homicide detectives arrived in Calgary to question him, they should have warned him to disregard his statements to Calgary police, and begin again.

As a result, Robertson was freed. Toronto Police consider the case closed.


Murder Village Map




Name: Gabriel Brunet
Age: 30
Gender: Male
Date of Death: June 25, 1967
Manner of Death: Stabbed
Location: 100 Maitland St.
Suspect Name: Dennis Henry Robertson
Conviction & Sentence: Acquitted upon instruction of the Justice