Police: no evidence of serial killer in Toronto’s gay village
By: Murissa Barrington
Toronto Police have dispelled rumours that a serial killer is on the loose in the Church and Wellesley area.
In a news conference today, investigators spoke about the disappearances and murders connected to the city’s gay village and assured residents that they are safe.
“There is no evidence that a serial killer is responsible for the disappearances of the missing males,” said Detective Michael Richmond of 51 division.
Selim Esen and Andrew Kinsman both went missing from the Church and Wellesley area earlier this year.
The investigators also said that there was no evidence so far to support the theory that any of the disappearances or murders were connected in any way.
The murders of Tess Richey and Alloura Wells sparked an outcry from the village where residents have said they feel unsafe and that the police aren’t doing enough in their investigations.
Nicki Ward, a member of the gay community and member of the Church and Wellesley Neighbourhood Association said the outcome of today’s news conference doesn’t inspire confidence in the community because it’s not an isolated incident.
“We actually seem to be going backwards here where there is an entrenchment of vulnerable and oppressed communities where we are forced to just take care of our own. That’s a very sinister message to put out to the citizens of this community,” said Ward.
On Thursday, Chief Mark Saunders announced that the police force would be conducting a probe into the failed methods officers used to search for Richey and Wells.
“Whenever we do see things that need to be improved upon, we take these opportunities to do just that,” said Saunders.
When asked if there was anything specific that didn’t sit right with Saunders about the investigation, he said they could monitor call intake better.
“I think that when somebody is calling in to report a missing person, an element of sensitivity is something that I think is necessary,” he said. “As busy as we may be, just taking that extra step and realizing what the circumstance is, I think could go a long way.”
Police also said that they would station four officers in the village, with at least two working at any given time. The superintendent of 41 division said they won’t be installing any TPS security cameras because they feel there are enough privately-run cameras in the area already.
Homicide Det. Graham Gibson said private security caught what are believed to be some of Richey’s last moments alive.
At around 1:45 a.m; Richey, her friend and an unknown male were at a hot dog stand after leaving the popular drag bar Crews & Tango.
Investigators say the group then made their way to Dundonald street where they met with another man and woman and spent some time in front of the woman’s home.
Police say Richey and the man are then seen in video footage heading north on Church St. towards the stairwell at 585 Church St. where her body was found.
The last time Richey was seen was at around 4:00 a.m. The unknown man, however, was reported to have been seen leaving the area by himself.
The man is described as being a 5’7″- 6’0″ white male with a slim build and dark hair. The man, who is now considered a main suspect in Richey’s death, is also described as wearing a dark coloured jacket and pants that are lighter than his jacket.
Police had no new details to offer on the case of the two missing men.
In Wells’ case, investigators say they are looking to speak with Wells’ boyfriend Augustinus Balesdent but say Balesdent is not considered a suspect in Wells’ death.
Toronto Police are urging that anyone with information on the victims to call (416) 222-TIPS.
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