That’s the question Tracy Tomic asks herself over and over when she thinks of her late friend Edgar Leonardo, who was last seen alive Aug 23, 2003.
The case of the 36-year-old’s killing remains one of Vancouver’s unsolved cases, but for Tomic, it’s part of her reality.
“It kind of never really went away,” she tells Xtra.
The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) assures the community that no unsolved homicide case is ever closed.
Tomic says it was she and Leonardo’s landlady who found his body in his West End apartment four days after he failed to show up for work at Air Canada.
“He didn’t show up for work, which wasn’t normal,” Tomic recalls. “He was a workaholic.”
Tomic says she talked the landlady into opening the suite door. They looked around the apartment.
“She took me in the bedroom and there he was,” Tomic remembers.
“It was really, really horrific. He had been dead for three or four days.”
“There was a struggle,” she says. “Obviously, he fought for his life and lost. It breaks my heart.”
Tomic says she still does not know the cause of death. That’s often the case in a homicide as police hold back evidence that perhaps only the killer might know, a slip of which might connect someone to a crime.
Tomic’s hopes for an answer as to what happened were raised with the arrest in Germany of Luka Magnotta on June 4. He’s the Ontario man accused of first-degree murder, indignity to a corpse, corrupting morals, mailing obscene matter and criminal harassment of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in connection with the killing and dismemberment of Chinese student Lin Jun, whose torso was found in a suitcase and body parts mailed to politicians and to two Vancouver schools earlier this year.
Magnotta’s participation in low-budget porn for streetbait.com indicate he may have been in Vancouver in 2003, but police say there’s no sign of any link between Magnotta and Leonardo’s death.
Still, Tomic says she remains optimistic there might be a break in her friend’s case.
A year after Leonardo’s death, the lead investigator in the case said there hadn’t been a single tip toward a suspect. Even a Crimestoppers reenactment failed to turn up any leads.
VPD Detective Richard Akin had suspected a bad date. “I think it’s fairly obvious: he met somebody, and that person killed him,” Akin said in 2004.
“There’s no other motive, other than a bad date, as far as we can tell. And we’ve looked at a lot of stuff,” he added.
He said it’s believed Leonardo met his killer in a coffee shop, one of his preferred ways to meet men.
Tomic says whatever happened, it was after Leonardo had left a family dinner in East Vancouver.
She says Leonardo’s father has since died without closure on his son’s murder.
Part of the problem in cracking the case may have been that Leonardo was not very well known in the gay community, Akin had noted.
Leonardo’s killing is not the only gay man’s death that remains unsolved.
Early on Oct 8, 2005, Tony Robertson, 51, left the Dufferin Pub to head home. He was viciously beaten on Main St, two blocks off Hastings. He was last seen alive leaving the hotel pub at around 2am. He was heard to say he was going home by transit.
Police determined that two men watched while another, a heavy-set man with a crew cut in his early 20s, assaulted Robertson.
They believed Robertson may have had a verbal exchange with the men before one of them attacked him.
Robertson was only blocks from the Strathcona home he shared with David Reed, his partner of 22 years, when he was beaten and left to die.
Police didn’t believe the incident was a gaybashing.
However, VPD spokesperson Constable Lindsey Houghton assures Xtra that neither case is closed.
“No old case never really goes truly cold,” he says.
He says advances in technology often allow police to reexamine evidence to reevaluate it.
What’s more, he says, when new officers move into the homicide section, they are given old cases to look over in case a new set of eyes on old information might yield a different avenue of investigation.
And, he says, there always remains the hope that someone may know something they have not brought forward that could be “the piece of the puzzle that allows us to solve the case.”
While a person may think the information unimportant, Houghton says it could well be a vital piece of that puzzle.