A 21-year-old man has been arrested for second-degree murder more than two months after the death of Tess Richey in the Church and Wellesley neighbourhood.
Kalen Schlatter was arrested in Toronto’s west end on Feb. 4 and charged with second-degree murder, Homicide Det. Sgt. Graham Gibson told a press conference the next day.
Richey, 22, was reported missing on Nov. 25. Her body was discovered by her mother four days later in an exterior stairwell of a building at 582 Church St. undergoing construction. An autopsy showed Richey had been strangled, police said.
She was last seen alive by witnesses in the company of a young man between 2 and 5 a.m., Gibson told the press conference.
“She’d been down in the area of Wellesly and Church attending a bar with a friend of hers and while she was down there she interacted with several people one of which was a young man that she met up with at some point who turns out to be our suspect,” he said.
Police believe Richey and Schlatter were alone together in the area of the Church Street building, Gibson said.
“They were together for some time and Mr. Schlatter left the area, and at the time he left, Tess was unfortunately already deceased.”
Police collected video surveillance footage from local businesses. On Dec. 10 they released images showing an unknown young man on the streets.
The male being sought was described as 5-foot-6 to 6 feet, and having a slim build and dark short hair.
Schlatter was arrested close to his residence in west end Toronto. Gibson described the man’s occupation as “doing some contract work, not home renovations, more exterior work.”
No motive is known for the murder. Richey and Schlatter didn’t seem to have previously known each other, Gibson said.
Gibson would not reveal why a charge of second-degree murder had been chosen.
Second-degree murder in Canada generally differs from first-degree murder in not being planned or deliberate. Conviction of any murder in Canada carries a mandatory life sentence, though a second-degree conviction may allow parole after 10 years, compared to a minimum 25 years before parole for a first-degree conviction.
Family’s issues with investigation
Gibson also wouldn’t comment on the Richey family’s purported issues with the police investigation, saying it was not under the scope of the homicide squad.
“Professional Standards are involved,” he said, referring to the unit concerned with the practices and integrity of the police force in relation to the community.
Members of the Church and Wellesley community had been critical of the police for not taking seriously the disappearance of Richey and a number of men from the area over the past year.
The Richey family was reported in media as being upset at police not finding Tess until her mother and a friend, both from North Bay, discovered her body four days after her disappearance close to her last known location.
“The family’s on very good terms with members of my team,” Gibson said. He speaks to Tess’s mother regularly. he said.
Schlatter appeared in court on Feb. 5, 2018 where he was remanded in custody.
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