Cold case solved by online sleuth

The remains of a man found in Rosedale almost 15 years ago have been identified, thanks to a web-savvy Good Samaritan.

The OPP’s Missing Persons Unidentified Bodies Unit and the province’s chief coroner positively identified the remains as that of a man who went missing from New York State in 1993.

In May of that year his body was found near a footbridge at Rosedale Valley Rd. Toronto police and the coroner’s office investigated the death and foul play was ruled out.

When the investigation yielded no concrete leads as to his identity, Toronto Social Services buried the man in early 2001 but the case remained open.

In late February, the missing persons unit received a tip from an Ontario citizen who had viewed the unidentified remains on the OPP’s Resolve Initiative website.

The website, created in 2006 and operated by the OPP and the chief coroner, displays images and information about unidentified bodies in the hopes of shedding light on missing persons cases.

Further investigation revealed in 1993 the deceased man’s family had posted messages on a forum dedicated to the state’s missing males.

“(The tipster) made a connection having to do with physical characteristics of the unidentifiable male,” said OPP sergeant Carole Lafleur in a March interview.

The man was reportedly missing a pinky finger and that physical characteristic was listed on the OPP’s website.

The man’s family, who still live in the U.S., was contacted a few days later, and were able to verify the likeness of their missing family member.

Lafleur said the unit has been in touch with the family several times since the confirmation.

“You can imagine it’s a bit of shock,” she said. “And then I think it brings closure to them to know they have located their family member.”

The man’s identity was confirmed by a fingerprint comparison conducted by the OPP. The tipster did not know the deceased man or his family, Lafleur confirmed.

The OPP website receives a lot of traffic from citizens commonly referred to as websleuths, Lafleur said.

“There are a lot of people out there that will help us out,” she said. “They go and look at our cases, they do the searching.”

The website carries mostly images and descriptions of remains found in Ontario, however sometimes they will post information about people from other police jurisdictions.

About this article:

By: Karolyn Coorsh
Posted: Jun 6 2008 3:30 am
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto