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Toronto police stumped in Skinner and Magill murders

'Investigations very much alive,' says Blair

More than 1,000 people marched from Church and Wellesley to Adelaide and Victoria streets on October 25 in memory of Chris Skinner. Skinner was murdered on October 18. Police say they have no leads. Credit: Matt Mills

Toronto Police chief Bill Blair told a crowd at a community meeting on May 4 that police have no new leads in two unsolved gay murders.

Chris Skinner was beaten to the ground and crushed to death under the wheels of an SUV at the corner of Victoria and Adelaide streets in the early hours of October 18, 2009. Despite several eyewitness accounts and a series of CCTV pictures taken of Skinner and the suspect vehicle in the moments before the attack, the assailants have not been identified.

Speaking at a town hall event at the 519 Church Street Community Centre, Blair sombrely noted that the more than $100,000 of reward money offered by police and the Skinner family has not turned up any new leads so far.

“Sometimes you just need one call, which might break the case wide open,” said Blair.

Blair acknowledged that Skinner “may have been killed because he was a gay man.” It’s an important acknowledgment. Amid suggestions that Skinner may have been targeted because he was gay, lead homicide investigator Stacy Gallant told the media in October that Skinner could have provoked the attack after he came in contact with the SUV as it sped past him in a construction zone.

“There was a lot of construction on Adelaide,” Gallant said. “[Skinner] may have been walking in the roadway and bumped into the car and they may have taken offence to that.”

Gallant subsequently released CCTV of the moment Skinner was supposed to have come in contact with the SUV, but nothing in the video suggests that is what happened.

Blair did not raise the somewhat bizarre traffic-dispute motivation, which many gay people found unbelievable. But he did add quickly that Skinner’s sexuality was only one possible motive.

Blair says police are also stumped by the July 14, 2008, stabbing death of 64-year-old interior designer Ross Magill. Magill was attacked in the doorway of his apartment near St Clair Ave and Yonge St.

Blair said progress has been made in the Magill investigation, that “some suspects have been identified,” but that police do not yet have enough hard evidence to charge the suspects.

There has so far been no reward offered for information leading to Magill’s killer. But, Blair revealed, he has not received a request from homicide investigators to offer one. Blair said if the “homicide investigators thought this would be a useful investigative tool,” he would almost certainly grant the request. 

Blair said that both the Skinner and Magill murder investigations are “very much alive.”