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Former lover charged with murder of Toronto bar owner

Police thank queer community for help, but isn't giving reward

JANKO NAGLIC. The owner of the popular dance bar The Barn was found asphysiated on Oct 27, 2004. Credit: Xtra files

Almost 10 months to the day after popular bar owner Janko Naglic was found dead in his Balliol St home, Toronto’s homicide squad has made an arrest.

Ivan Mendez-Romero, 36 and one-time partner of Naglic, has been charged with first-degree murder. He was arrested in a “high-risk takedown” — that is, with officers’ guns drawn — at 11am on Aug 26, near Eglinton and Warden, says Det Wayne Banks of the Toronto Police Service. The arrest was made without incident. Mendez-Romero was taken into custody and will next appear in court on Aug 31.

Mendez-Romero came to Canada from Cuba about 10 years ago and had been in a relationship with Naglic for between eight and nine years, police say. Though he and Naglic had lived together for a time, police would not say whether they were living together at the time of Naglic’s death and, at an Aug 26 press conference, were tight-lipped in talking about any evidence in the case.

Naglic’s body was found on Oct 27; the cause of death was determined to be asphyxiation. Naglic had operated Church St’s The Barn/Stables entertainment complex since the 1970s and was a well-known and flamboyant figure, an immigrant from the former Yugoslavia who had done well as a Toronto businessman.

Executors have been in charge of The Barn/Stables since Naglic’s death, but the place has been plagued by problems, including a fire, and has been closed since the spring.

With money from Naglic’s estate, Crime Stoppers and the Toronto Police Service, a reward of up to $100,000 was offered for information that would help the cops crack the case. Though the police thanked the public “and in particular, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community for their significant assistance with this investigation,” nobody’s getting the money.

“The reward will not be acted upon,” says Banks. “There was no evidence obtained that would see us [give out] the reward.”

Police also thanked US law officials in the Miami, Florida area for help with interviews and research related to witnesses and property – Naglic had a sailboat and a condo in Miami.

Banks says the case is still under investigation and did not rule out the possibility of further charges.

The maximum sentence for first-degree murder is life in prison.