A onetime minister of justice in Quebec is lending his voice to demands from the families of murder victims in cases that have long been unsolved. Lawyer Marc Bellemare sent a letter to the province’s public security minister, asking for an inquiry over claims by the families that police have badly mishandled investigations, blocked their access to information...
Police in Quebec have long been among the worst* in Canada at solving murders. Now, one man – bolstered by decades of meticulous research – is challenging this futility with a demand for an inquiry and the formation of a cross-departmental, province-wide cold case squad. John Allore charges that Quebec police are “completely incompetent.” He knows this, he says, because of his dogged research into more than 20 unsolved killings from the 1970s and 80s, including the murder of his 19-year-old sister Theresa. Allore says police deliberately refused to investigate those cases, so he did. Allore uncovered glaring failures in the investigation of Theresa’s November 1978 murder in a small community 150 kilometres east of Montreal. Police wrongly first labelled her death an accident or suicide, fumbled the search for missing clothing and possessions and later discarded important physical evidence that could help identify her killer. More than 37 years after Theresa was killed, the unsolved murder has just been added to the website of the Quebec provincial police force’s cold case unit, thanks to John Allore’s persistence. But he’s not done. Allore (hear him in the Cancrime podcast, after the jump) is pressing for co-operation among departments with unsolved cases that could be connected. His remarkable research and sharp criticism have attracted the attention of senior police officials in Quebec and given hope to families of other victims.
When they found six-year-old Michael Kent (inset), he was motionless, lying face down in the muddy snow on the west side of the parking lot of the arena in Elmvale, a small community 120 kilometres north of Toronto. The fair-haired boy, one of five Kent siblings, was still wearing his navy blue and white tuque and his navy blue ski jacket but it was now covered with mud and blood. Michael had been stabbed seven times, four times in the abdomen and three times in the back. There was no indication he had been sexually assaulted. Police later surmised that the small boy’s face had been held down in the mud while he was killed on that winter day, February 11, 1966. A half century later, Michael’s murder remains unsolved.
Police 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.
Four decades of agonizing uncertainty. Forty years of wondering why. It’s hard to fathom the torment endured in that span by the family of Jacqueline English (inset). The 15-year-old London, Ontario, girl was abducted, raped and murdered 40 years ago. Her murderer, perhaps a serial killer who preyed on young girls in the region during that time, has not been caught.
Precisely 10 years ago today, 15-year-old Sharmini Anandavel (inset) left her Toronto, Ontario, apartment, telling her parents she had a new job to go to. Four months later, Sharmini’s skeletal remains were found scattered in a ravine about two kilometres from her home. Her murder has never been solved. But police have always had a good suspect, convicted stalker Stanley Tippett, who is back behind bars. A detective who spent a year trying to solve Sharmini’s murder says Tippett was never “eliminated” as the possible killer.
On a warm summer evening half a century ago, June 9, 1959, 12-year-old Lynne Harper (inset) of Clinton, Ontario, quarrelled at home with her parents, Leslie and Shirley, before setting off after dinner toward a nearby school playground. There she met a slightly older schoolmate, who had his bicycle. She asked for a ride to a nearby highway. Steven Truscott agreed. Lynn clambered onto the handlebars of the 14-year-old boy’s bike and they pedalled off. It was a brief ride that would set in motion a 48-year-long chain of events that shattered two families; that horrified a community; that subverted justice and forced a country to question its morality and the virtuousness of its criminal justice system.