Twenty years ago, the nine-day search for a missing six-year-old Toronto girl, Andrea Atkinson (inset), came to a horrible end. Her decomposing body was found in the boiler room of her east-end apartment building. She had been savagely raped and likely asphyxiated. Her killer, who is behind bars at a medium-security federal prison in Ontario, has been looking for female pen pals, with a come-on that touts his trustworthiness. John Carlos Terceira says he’s “very honest, sometimes a little too honest,” in a posting on a chat forum for inmates, families and supporters. He’s looking for a single white female who’d be interested in a “typical male rocker type” who likes horror movies the best.
Terceira was the beast in a real life horror show two decades ago, when a Toronto neighbourhood was paralysed with fear after Andrea vanished. Dressed in her T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Super Star,” blue tights and a pink jacket, she said goodbye to her mother Ruth Windebank on October 14, 1990 and set off to play around her Toronto apartment complex. Terceira, who worked as a cleaner in the apartment building, took Andrea to a sixth-floor boiler room to which he had keys. He savagely raped her and then asphyxiated her, likely by holding his hands over her mouth. He stuffed her battered body behind a hot water tank.
In the frantic search for the missing child that ensued, no one searched the boiler room, not for nine long days. Many tenants of the apartment building did not know about the room. After Andrea was found on October 23, staff in the building, were interviewed. Terceira volunteered blood and hair samples. he explained that he went home from work sick the day Andrea disappeared because he had more than a dozen beer, liquor and a hit of crack cocaine. The 18 year old was a drug addict, though he had no history as a sex offender. In his first statement to investigators, Terceira said he did not see Andrea on Oct. 14. He did not tell them that he went back to work the morning after she disappeared, then called in sick the rest of that week. After he was arrested, Terceira changed his story. He said he discovered Andrea’s body on October 16 but he did not tell anyone for fear he’d be blamed. He said he’d gone to the boiler room to smoke drugs. He claimed that he left the child’s decaying corpse where he found it. Terceira acknowledged he was a drug addict and a heavy drinker.
Terceira testified in his own defence at his murder trial. “I had nothing to do with her death,” he said, on the stand. A pathologist testified at the trial that Andrea would have suffered severe pain from the sex attack. Dr. Noel McAuliffe said he believed the child was asphyxiated. He also found a fracture on the left side of her skull that had occurred after death.
Terceira has maintained his innocence, despite a mountain of damning evidence. At his trial, the jury was told that Terceira’s hair, fibres from his clothes and his semen were found on Andrea’s clothing. Terceira’s DNA matched DNA found on Andrea’s leotards and in DNA taken from a splotch of blood and semen found at the murder scene. The blood belonged to Andrea. Terceira was one of the few people who had keys to the locked boiler room. The jury rejected the defence theory that Andrea died from asphyxia that resulted from a seizure, spurred by a bump to the head she had suffered six weeks earlier in a playground accident.
Terceira was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced him to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.
In 2005, a judge rejected Terceira’s bid to get access to Andrea’s leotards so that DNA could be extracted and tested using new procedures. Ontario Superior Court Justice Eugene Ewaschuk said the request “constitutes a collateral attack on the applicant’s conviction for first-degree murder.” Terceira’s conviction was one of the first in Canada in which DNA played a key role.
Here’s Terceira’s entire post from the Prison Talk forum:
John Carlos Terceira
P.O. Box 760
Date of Birth: April 22, 1972
Hair & Eye Colour: Brown & Brown
Weight: 150 LBS
Race: White (Portugese)
Conviction: First Degree Murder
Release Date: 2015 (Parole)
Hometown: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Marital Status: Single
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Seeking: ROMANCE WITH WOMEN
Note: Willing to write USA/Overseas
I’m a 36 year old male looking for someone to write. A single, white female would be nice, but I’m mainly looking for a female companion. I understand that it’s not easy to have a relationship with someone in prison especially with someone with my length of sentence.
I’ve been locked up my whole adult life. I’ve got 17 years in now and a lifetime to go. I’m not going to lie, the chances of me getting a parole are slim to none because I have steady fast maintained my innocence since day one and that will never change. If you take the time to get to know me, you will see that I am very honest, sometimes a little too honest and that’s part of the reason why I was accused to begin with. Long story, but hopefully I can bore someone with it later.
My interests, at first look you’ll probably think “typical male” rocker type. And yes, you’re right, I love progress rock, but I’d have to say musically my real passion is for old rock from the 60’s and 70’s. I’m also very into stock car racing, my #1 driver is Earnhardt Jr. #88. I guess you could say I’m a gearhead, if it’s got an engine and goes fast, I like it. I also love the outdoors, camping, fishing, nature. I have a few hobbies too, a little bit of woodwork and replicated cars. Movies, I’ll pretty much watch anything but I like horror the best. Stephen King is my favourite writer.
I look forward to meeting new people and exchanging letters, so please do not hesitate to reach out and write. Hopefully, I’ll hear from you soon, have a GREAT day and take care!
The post above appeared in May 2008 but apparently Terceira isn’t getting any results. A poster put this message on the same forum seven months later, in December 2008:
Please to any Canadian women out there visiting site……be a dear and write to wrongfully convicted prisoner who has been incarcerated now for over 18 years!!
His ad with a pic is posted on Prison Talk under name John Carlos Terceira
Thank you sincerely
Terceira is behind bars at medium-security Warkworth Institution, near Campbellford, Ontario. Terceira is apparently living comfortably and without trouble among the general population. A substantial proportion of the roughly 600 inmates at Warkworth are sex offenders. The population – the largest in Canada – includes other notables such as Clifford Sleigh, who raped and murdered a six-year-old Edmonton girl, Corinne Gustavson, in 1992, in a crime similar to Terceira’s.
Andrea’s mother, Ruth Windebank, committed suicide in 1996.