OPP cold case homicide investigators have revealed new information in the haunting murders of two young men whose skeletal remains were found in 1967 and 1968 in rural locations north of Toronto.
In 2006 OPP investigators held a special information meeting for Prime Timers, a gay social seniors group, at The 519 Community Centre in Toronto. Investigators released forensic reconstructions of the faces of two unidentified young men whose skeletal remains had been in the morgue on College St for almost 40 years.
One victim, whose body was found near Schomberg, was later identified as 17-year-old Richard Hovey of Fredericton New Brunswick. Hovey moved alone to Toronto in 1967. He was an accomplished guitarist known to hang out at Yorkville’s trendy Mynah Bird nightclub. Police say he was last seen alive in 1967 in Yorkville getting into a blue Corvair driven by “a muscular black man.”
On Mar 9 police revealed the identity of the second body as 18-year-old Eric Jones of Noelville, Ontario. Jones had moved to Toronto to live with an aunt on Howard St and was last seen in April 1967 when he moved out of his aunt’s home.
The OPP say a Feb 14, 2009 CTV news report on W5 led to the identification of Jones through a family member in Sudbury.
And there is another body. The bones of a third young man were found in 1980 on a rural road near Markham. This time police found at the scene a pink high-heeled shoe, a powder pack and ladies’ jeans which police suspect may mean the victim was a cross-dresser. This third person was never identified and was buried in an unmarked grave.
The OPP emphasized in its Mar 9 press release that these three cases are almost certainly connected to two solved cases from 1967, a murder and separate brutal attack. Both involved young men who were picked up in the gay area near Bay and College Sts by the murderer.
Seventeen year-old Robert Mortimer’s nude remains were found in Markham, and a 25 year-old man was found in a field near Barrie, naked, with his throat slashed, barely clinging to life. The survivor had been brutally raped. Xtra has chosen not to reveal his name in this report.
At the 2006 OPP briefing at the 519 Prime Timer Bob Tivey said he had met the man convicted of those two crimes. He asked police why that man was not considered a suspect in the murders of the two men who were later unidentified as Hovey and Jones. All the victims were young men of similar builds, brutally murdered, found naked in remote places a short drive from Toronto, most with their hands similarly bound.
The man Tivey knew is James Henry Greenidge. Greenidge was first convicted of a violent crime in 1955 after he raped a girl near his Euclid St home in Toronto. In 1962 he was convicted of assault causing bodily harm after he beat a man in a Toronto movie theatre. Greenidge as a “black muscular gay man” spent time in 1967 at his apartment on Avenue Rd while he had an affair with his roommate, the late Jack “Baby” Bunting. Tivey said Bunting met Greenidge at the St Charles Tavern. Tivey said he was “horrified” when in 1968 Greenidge was arrested and later convicted of the Mortimer murder and the attack on the man who barely survived.
Greenidge was paroled in 1977 after serving 10 years. He was not likely in prison when the Markham victim was killed. The last time Tivey says he saw Greenidge was at a steam bath in Vancouver in 1981. Tivey was working at the tubs and denied him entry. Tivey says he is still shocked at how close he came to this killer.
“I could have been a victim of Jimmy Greenidge,” he says. “I came very close to it. He offered me a ride to Expo 67 [in Montreal] and I accepted but later I got cold feet for some reason. Weeks later he was charged with murder and attempted murder. My God, I thought, it could have been me. I was really freaked out. It was very chilling…. I met Jimmy Greenidge two times and certainly do not want to meet him a third time.”
Greenidge, now 72, is in prison for the 1981 murder of 24 year-old Elizabeth Fells in BC.
He was denied parole at his last hearing in 2007 but has another chance at parole in 2010. OPP say they have no forensic evidence linking Greenidge to the deaths of Hovey, Jones or the unidentified body.
Quigley says police “need to know of his activities from witnesses.” The OPP is looking for any information about the activities of Eric Jones in the 1960s and any connections he he may have had to Greenidge. Police are also looking for any information about the body found in Markham in 1980. In addition police are seeking any information about the car Greenidge had in the ’60s or any relationships he had in the gay scene in Toronto.