The family of Chris Skinner used the third anniversary of his death to plead with the public for help finding his killer. They have increased the existing police reward to $150,000, thanks to donations from friends of the family.
Skinner was murdered Oct 18, 2009, near the corner of Adelaide and Victoria streets. Eyewitnesses say they saw between two and four men beat Skinner to the ground and then drive over him with both the front and rear wheels of a black, four-door SUV with high-intensity lights. Video images of the suspected vehicle were recovered by police from nearby security cameras, but they have been unable to identify any suspects in the murder.
In the wake of Skinner’s death, many of his friends in the gay community speculated that the crime may have been hate-motivated. An estimated 1,000 people gathered at Church and Wellesley for a vigil and march one week after the killing.
But police have dismissed that line of investigation and are now focusing on the theory that the altercation may have started after Skinner accidentally or purposely touched the SUV while hailing a taxi.
Skinner’s sister Taryn told a press conference at police headquarters that the killers’ motive isn’t important. “I don’t struggle with the why, because the answer doesn’t matter,” she says. “Why they did it isn’t important, but the fact that they did is. That’s why we’re appealing to the public for an answer.”
She pleaded for anyone who knows anything about the murder to come forward to police.
“I would love to look them in the eyes and ask them to relate what we’re feeling to their loved ones,” she says. “Imagine that they were stolen and taken from you. What would you feel, and what would you want to happen?”
Police believe there may have been people in the car who weren’t involved with the assault and suggest they likely wouldn’t face charges if they came forward with information.
Detective Sergeant Stacy Gallant says the police are continuing to investigate possible DNA evidence linked to the murder.
“If he was punched, there could have been some skin cells that rubbed off on his jeans or his jacket,” Gallant says. “Potentially, they could have some saliva come out of their mouth and land on the person.”
Gallant says the investigation has not gone cold.
“It takes time to examine a full jacket, a full pair of pants for DNA,” he says. “If it’s there, it can be a very minute piece of DNA and hopefully we can find it. With the technology today it doesn’t take much.”
Police urge anyone with information to call the homicide squad at 416-898-7410 or call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS.
The family also unveiled several social media platforms where they hope to reach out to anyone with knowledge of the murder. There is a Twitter account (@findchriskiller), a Facebook page (Searching for Chris Skinner’s Killer) and a YouTube channel.
“Hopefully, with all our social media we can hit way more people than we’ve hit in the past,” Taryn Skinner says. “We’ve been through hell in the past three years, and no one should walk away from having us feel like that.”