It wasn’t long after Dylan Ellis and Oliver Martin were tragically murdered that friends and family started thinking of ways to honour their memories.
Loved ones responded with online memorials and candle-lit vigils to remember the young men who were fatally shot while sitting in a parked SUV in downtown Toronto in June 2008.
Two years later, the double-murder still baffles police. But the effort to honour the pair continues with the dedication of a new park bench and tree in Rosedale’s Ramsden Park, where they used to play together as kids.
“It means a lasting and permanent remembrance and tribute to both Oliver and Dylan,” said Alan Dudeck, Oliver’s stepfather, speaking from the cottage in Prince Edward Island where the family was marking what would have been Oliver’s 28th birthday.
“I think (the idea) sort of percolated not long after the boys were killed. Many, many friends… wanted to do something to honour and remember them.”
One of those friends was Morgan Rueter. He started a Facebook page to raise the cash after a group of friends decided to purchase the bench and tree commemorating the two men.
“I created a page and within approximately two weeks over 700 people had joined and about 50 to 60 people had donated the required funds,” Rueter said in an email.
Friends felt it was especially important to have a place in Toronto to visit and reflect, said Rueter. Oliver’s gravestone is in a small cemetery in Mermaid, P.E.I., while Ellis’s ashes were scattered in the ocean.
Dylan was also commemorated in 2008 when colleagues at the Elevator photography group where he worked decided to name their new gallery ‘Dylan Ellis Gallery.’
On June 13, the second anniversary of the murders, Oliver’s family also announced they would be supporting the Ontario branch of the International Dyslexia Association with money from the trust fund set up in Oliver’s memory after his death.
Oliver himself was diagnosed with dyslexia early on in his childhood and worked hard to overcome it both academically and professionally, Dudeck said.
Although the homicide investigation has been ongoing for two years, Toronto police have said they’re not stuck yet.
“This is not a cold case,” said Constable Tony Vella of Toronto Police. “People are still working on it.”
Vella said police have received a number of tips over the last year, but stressed there was still no clear motive in the shooting of the two men, neither of whom had a criminal record. He said a $50,000 reward stands for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer and urged anyone with information to come forward.
For the time being, friends and family can at least take some comfort in having a place to remember the two young men.
“I was over checking out the tree a few nights ago and I noticed some candles, incense sticks and flowers placed at its base,” said Rueter. “It was a sad reminder of both Oliver and Dylan but also a reassuring sign that the spot is already being used as intended.
“Today marks Oliver’s birthday and … I will visit the tree and bench and remember two very special people.”
Anyone wishing to make donations to the International Dyslexia Association can do so by visiting www.idaontario.com
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