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A not-so-cold case

If you want to creep yourself out, visit the “unidentified bodies/remains” section of the Ontario Provincial Police website (Opp.ca). That’s where you’ll find photos of eerie facial recreations of two men who, police believe, met their killer in Toronto’s gay cruising area 39 years ago.

One body, a male between 15 and 22, was found by a hunter in Balsam Lake Provincial Park in December 1967. The other, a male between 18 and 25, was found by a man ploughing a field in Tecumseth Township near Schomberg in May 1968. Both bodies were found naked, with their hands bound. Bloodied white tennis shoes were found in the vicinity of one of the victims.

At the time of the finds, no cause of death was identified for either nor were the bodies identified.

With $50,000 rewards for information and a dramatic attempt to get national publicity for the cases, you have to wonder why police are so interested in the unsolved cases now. And why are they playing up the gay angle (aside from new OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino’s obsession with all things gay)?

News reports citing a connection to the “gay village” and to “Church and Wellesley streets area” are anachronisms; there was no gay village at the intersection in 1967, though there was a cruising/hustling area at College and Bay streets, where a killer might have found young men who would not be missed at home.

At a news conference investigators said they believe these two bodies are connected to a man (whom they did not identify), already convicted in two other attacks against men picked up in downtown Toronto in 1967, and who is in prison in British Columbia for a 1981 murder. It seems that they’re making some sort of effort to keep him there. The OPP says it never closes cases.

“The OPP Criminal Investigation Branch has reactivated both investigations to take advantage of modern investigative techniques,” including facial reconstruction techniques and DNA testing. The case was reviewed in late 2005 and reactivated; autopsies were conducted in July 2006.

The crimes occurred so long ago, the forensic reconstructions so strange-looking, it’s hard to believe anybody would have information about this two victims. But Reuters reported last week that police have been “flooded with tips.”

There’s something about dealing with historic crimes that seems more intriguing than dealing with today’s crimes.