30 years later, is serial killer still on the loose?

Susan TicePolice said, five years ago, that they were “tantalizingly close” to solving the murders of two women killed in Toronto decades ago, but the 30th anniversary of those deaths is at hand and the killings remain unsolved. Susan Tice, 45, (inset), a former Calgary resident who had moved to Toronto just before she was slain, and Erin Gilmour, 22, were killed four months apart, by the same perpetrator, police believe. Toronto Police have a video, photos and details of the crimes on their cold case web page. Police used DNA testing to link the murders. The link, and the failure of investigators to close these cases, raises the troubling possibility that a serial killer was never caught and could still be stalking and killing women.

Police concluded that the predator they’re hunting lived in the area of Tice and Gilmour, who were found murdered in their homes a few kilometres apart. The conclusion is consistent with crime-solving work pioneered by Kim Rossmo, a Canadian who developed scientific methods of tracking serial predators, built on the knowledge that they operate in a known geographic area and typically close to home.

It’s rare for a serial sex predator and murderer to stop killing unless he is caught or dies. If the killer of Tice and Gilmour is dead, it’s possible the crimes might still be solved one day, as scientists continue to cross match DNA collected at crime scenes with the genetic fingerprints of criminals. Canada has two such databanks and there are occasional success stories involving major cases, typically when a criminal is linked to the scene of an old, unsolved crime. If the Tice/Gilmour killer is still alive and has been or is convicted in the future of a serious crime, he might be linked to the unsolved murders. Canada has had, for 15 years, legislation that requires criminals convicted of serious crimes to submit a DNA sample.

Here’s a news story that appeared five years ago, in which investigators offered that they were close to solving the Tice/Gilmour murders:

November 18, 2008

Susan Tice had recently separated from her husband in Calgary and bought her own house near Toronto’s Little Italy. On Aug. 17, 1983, the 45-year-old mother of four was found stabbed to death in her upstairs bedroom.

Five months later, 22-year-old Erin Gilmour, the daughter of one of Canada’s wealthiest businessmen, was murdered in her Yorkville apartment a few days before Christmas.

Homicide detectives have determined through DNA evidence that the same man sexually assaulted and killed the two women, and said yesterday that they are “tantalizingly close” to solving the case.

“They never knew each other in life but they knew each other in death,” Detective Sergeant Reg Pitts said yesterday.

Their unsolved murders are among about 70 cases posted on a new interactive Web page that Toronto police’s homicide squad unveiled yesterday morning.

The site, which they say is unprecedented in North America, is a comprehensive bank of current murder investigations and cold cases featuring videos, photos of victims, maps and links. It invites members of the public to submit information in return for a reward of up to $50,000, though unlike Crime Stoppers, the tip is not anonymous. All correspondence will go directly to homicide investigators.

“The traditional means of communication has sometimes been inadequate,” Chief William Blair said.

“A very significant portion of our population, in particular young people in our city, get most of their information on the Web.”

The unit will eventually load all of its unsolved cases, about 300 going back to the sixties, on the Internet.

Det. Sgt. Pitts said he hopes the Web page will stir someone to come forward with new information regarding Ms. Tice and Ms. Gilmour’s case.

“It’s a very quick arrest when we have DNA,” he said, adding that all police need is a name. Police matched the DNA retrieved from the crime scenes in 2000.

“We have a gap of a few kilometres … Our killer probably lived in that area, somewhere in between those two places.”

Ms. Tice was living alone at the time of her death. She had moved to the city on July 9, 1983. A relative went to check on her on Aug. 17 and found her body at 341 Grace St.

Ms. Gilmour, an aspiring fashion designer, lived above Robins Knits, the Hazelton Avenue boutique where she worked.

Her father was David Gilmour, the longtime partner of Peter Munk, the founder and chairman of Barrick Gold Corp.

On the night she died, she finished work at 8:45 p. m. At 9:20 p. m., a friend arrived to pick her up for a date and found her front door ajar.

“The trail has gone cold but they’re not forgotten,” Chief Blair said.

Think you know something that could help police with the Tice/Gilmour investigation? When it comes to homicide probes, no information is insignificant and investigators are always open to receiving new tips. Contact info for the Toronto Police homicide squad is here. If you want to remain anonymous, you can use Crime Stoppers.

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