2 min

Arrest in Durost murder

Police find 'critical' evidence at the scene

Though the main-stream media linked the murder of a Toronto psychiatrist to his patronizing of a gay strip bar, police tracked down their prime suspect at a strip mall.

Henry Durost, 78, was found dead in his Jackes Ave apartment on Jan 6. There were obvious signs of trauma to the body and an autopsy determined the cause of death to be strangulation. As well, Durost’s home, which contained art and antiques, was burgled, said Det Sgt Alan Comeau of the homicide squad at a Jan 15 press conference.

Comeau said that evidence found at the crime scene led police to their suspect. He said the evidence was “critical” but would not say what it was.

“The motive appears to be robbery-motivated,” said Comeau. “I still believe the doctor was targeted and may have known [his killer] in one capacity or another. We’re still confirming what the relationship is.”

After the homicide squad had come up with a name, they found out that the York Region police reported that the same person was wanted for threatening and assaulting his parents during a Jan 13 incident.

Police checked out all known locations frequented by the suspect and spotted him carrying a duffel bag at a strip plaza at Finch and Alness. The suspect was apprehended in a coffee shop and the duffel bag was found to contain burglary tools. Police searched the area and found another duffel bag in a nearby dumpster, believed to have been placed there by the suspect and containing evidence Comeau would not comment on.

Police are still trying to track down the property stolen from Durost’s apartment, valued at between $2,000 and $3,000, and are still investigating how the victim and the killer might have known each other, including going through Durost’s client files to see if the killer might have been a patient. There was no sign of forced entry into the apartment, Comeau said.

Joseph Giuseppe Carnovale, 38, of no fixed address is charged with first degree murder, two counts of assault, threatening death and possession of burglar’s tools. He made his first court appearance Jan 15.

The mainstream media were quick to play up Durost’s homosexuality. Though Comeau told Xtra that police did not release information about Durost’s social or sexual life, both The Globe And Mail and the Toronto Star, citing interviews with friends and neighbours, reported that Durost frequented a gay strip bar and suggested he might have met his killer there or on the Internet.

When the investigation began, Comeau also said police were looking for links to other murders, including the unsolved 2001 murder of University Of Toronto fine arts prof David Buller, who police believe met his killer on-line.

Howard Shulman, of the 519 Community Centre’s Anti-violence Program, says it’s typical of police and the media to treat the murder of queer people differently.

“They seem to see us as being totally driven by sex,” says Shulman. “We’re hyper-sexual. They use it as a cautionary tale: ‘If you give into this, this could happen to you,’ and I think it takes away from who Dr Durost was and his accomplishments.”

Shulman says it’s important for anyone who is dating to be cautious about the people they meet: get their name, their number and introduce them to friends or bartenders. If friends are not available, Shulman suggests calling your own voicemail and leaving details of who you’re with and where you’re going, so the date has the sense that other people know about the hook-up.