Homicide investigation underway after 11-year-old girl found dead


Peel Regional Police say a homicide investigation is underway after an 11-year-old girl who was the subject of an Amber Alert was found dead.

Police issued the alert Thursday night after Roopesh Rajkumar failed to return his daughter, Riya, to her mother.

When the father didn’t return Riya, her mother reached out to police.

In a news release issued after Riya was reported missing, police said the father had « made comments indicating he was going to harm himself and his daughter. »

Police said she was found dead at a Brampton, Ont., residence. Her father has been arrested.


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Trial of pair accused in Starbucks homicide begins


The trial of Lawrence Sharpe, 40, and Oldouz Pournouruz, 35, is underway in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. 

The two are each facing a count of manslaughter in the death of Michael Page-Vincelli. They have both pleaded not guilty.

According to witnesses, a woman tossed a cigarette butt out her car window on July 12, 2017, while near the Starbucks in the 6500 block of Hastings Street in Burnaby. Page-Vincelli picked it up and threw it back at her.

According to a witness, the fight started when a woman tossed a cigarette butt out of the window of her car and Page-Vincelli threw it back at her. (Jacy Schindel/CBC)

There was an argument and the woman, allegedly Pournouruz, went into a nearby bank and came out with her partner, Sharpe, and the pair followed Page-Vincelli into the Starbucks.

According to witnesses inside the coffee shop, Page-Vincelli was punched and fell, hitting his head on the counter. He was taken to hospital but died three days later from his injuries.

In outlining the case, Crown counsel said the jury would hear from witnesses of the fatal punch, witnesses of the confrontation in the parking lot and experts.

The trial is expected to last 19 days.


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Hamilton teacher Richard Taylor charged in Rutherford double homicide


The son of Carla Rutherford, killed with her husband, Alan Rutherford, in a horrific fire intentionally set in their bedroom, has been charged in their murders.

Richard Taylor is charged with two counts of first degree murder. He is expected to appear in court later Thursday.

We believe the fire was intentionally set,” Staff Sgt. Steve Bereziuk told the Spectator in September. “And it was done with the intention of killing them.

“Right now, we are focusing on one individual and that person is aware. And they have been co-operative.”

Richard Taylor is the oldest of Carla’s children, and grew up in the Greening Court rancher with his parents and younger brother. Property records show Carla and her first husband, whom her son Richard was named after, bought the home in 1981.

Taylor is a teacher, listed as the library, physical education and health teacher at Hess Street School in Hamilton. Last year he was listed as teaching Grades 2/3.

His profile on the Ontario College of Teachers shows he was in good standing and earned a bachelor of arts from McMaster University in 1998 before getting a bachelor of science in education from Medaille College in New York.

Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board spokesperson Shawn McKillop said Taylor has been “reassigned effective immediately.” Any other questions were referred to Hamilton police.

Property records show he owns a home in Oakville with his wife, whose social media profile shows two children.

Carla and her first husband divorced and she remarried Alan Rutherford, who has two adult daughters from a prior marriage. The couple met while working at a Hamilton Health Science lab and married 11 years ago.

Bereziuk previously said the blended family got along well.

Richard Taylor and his younger brother started a custom Muskoka chair company using baseball bats in the design in 2015. They made the chairs out of Taylor’s Oakville home. The brother is a chiropractor in Toronto.

This past June, weeks before the arson homicides, the Huntsville Forester published an interview with the brothers where they spoke about starting the business after their mom threatened to toss their collection of old baseball bats collecting dust in their childhood home.

The article says Richard goes by “Rich” and is a “respected elementary school teacher in Hamilton.” They were on summer vacation in Haliburton when they hashed out their custom Muskoka chair business plan — Taylor Bros. Chair Co. The company has been successful, including donating four custom stools for a Toronto Blue Jays’ Jays Care Foundation auction. They had their picture taken on the field at Rogers Centre.

But in that interview Richard said the best part of the business was spending time with his brother.

“That was part of the attraction for starting this company,” says Rich. “At the very least, we could get together more often and chat, have a beer. It also gives us an excuse to get the families together and hang out. It’s great.”

Alan and Carla Rutherford were a well-like retired couple known in the neighbourhood for being out walking their two chocolate brown labradors — the dogs escaped the blaze.

Alan was a runner and Carla a talented quiltmaker who donated her quilts for fundraising. They were both longtime members and volunteers with the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club.

After their deaths there was an outpouring from the community sharing memories of the couple.

In September, Bereziuk said police were exploring the possibility that the arson was contracted out.

The Rutherfords had “no apparent enemies” beyond perhaps “that inner circle,” he said at the time.

Hamilton police are expected to provide an update on the case at 2 p.m.


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Toronto’s third homicide victim of the year remembered as ‘nice kid’ with potential


Ross Murray says he will remember his former student Aseel Yehya as a promising, talented musician who was well-liked by his peers.

On Sunday the 18-year-old Yehya was identified by Toronto police as the city’s third homicide victim of 2019.

Known by the nickname “Twix,” Yehya was a “nice kid” who was developing a reputation as a gifted singer and writer of rap lyrics, Murray said.

“He definitely had potential there.”

Murray, now a vice principal at Lakeshore Collegiate Institute, said he met Yehya when the teenager became one of his students in the TDSB School Within A College (SWAC) program at Humber College last year.

“Everyone loved him in the class,” said Murray, who taught Yehya from February to June 2018 at Humber College’s north campus. “He was always laughing, always smiling. I mean, he could have been a little more focused with his school work, but … he was always so respectful, polite. He liked to have a good time, got along with everyone.”

Murray said he was in “disbelief and shock” when he learned of his former student’s death through a message from another student on Friday night.

“I was wondering, what happened and why someone would do this? Was it targeted?” said Murray, who said he also thought of the pain his former student must have suffered.

According to police, Yehya was walking on Elmhurst Dr. near Redwater Dr. in Etobicoke around 9:20 p.m. on Wednesday when he was approached by a dark-coloured vehicle. Gunshots were heard. Yehya attempted to run away but was shot. The vehicle drove off.

Police said bystanders provided medical assistance to the teen as he lay on the ground before he was taken to hospital suffering from “severe trauma.” He died a short time later.

In an interview with Global News last week, Saleh Ali, a man identifying himself as Yehya’s father, said his son had gone out that night to give a friend a T-shirt, and was waiting for a bus when shots rang out.

“He’s a good boy. He’s a young boy. He’s a educated boy. He’s a working boy at the airport. I was very shocked. Never ever seen anything like this happen in all my life. It’s not easy,” Ali told Global News.

A heartbroken Murray took to Twitter on the weekend, posting several photos of Yehya, and calling for an end to gun violence in Toronto. Murray said Yehya was the third student under the age of 18 he has known who lost their life to gun violence in the last nine years.

“I just want people to know that he was a good kid. A nice kid with a whole future ahead of him.”

With files from Jack Hauen

Kenyon Wallace is a Toronto-based investigative reporter. Follow him on Twitter: @KenyonWallace or reach him via email: kwallace@thestar.ca


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Fatal stabbing in Scarborough marks Toronto’s first homicide of 2019


Police have confirmed Toronto’s first homicide of the year after a man was fatally stabbed in a Scarborough residence early Sunday morning.

Police said they received a call at 12:24 a.m. about an individual with a stab wound in a residential building near Gordonridge Pl. and Danforth Rd.

The caller, an acquaintance of the victim, described the man as seriously injured, police said. When police arrived on scene with paramedics, they found the man with obvious signs of trauma and a life-threatening stab wound to his upper body.

Police said resuscitation efforts were made but the man, described to be in his 30s, was pronounced dead on scene. His death is Toronto’s first homicide of 2019.

The area surrounding the building has been closed off for an investigation but there are no road closures, police said. They have not yet released any information on possible suspects.

Premila D’Sa is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @premila_dsa


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Buyers wary of homicide homes, but a property’s past may stay hidden – National


TORONTO — It was a “stunning” property in the heart of downtown Toronto, but for broker Caroline Baile it was a tough sell.

Real estate industry poised for a tech disruption in 2019

That’s because the home had been the site of a recent murder, a domestic dispute turned fatal. Baile would tell potential buyers about the tragic death that took place, but the property’s story was already well known thanks to intense media coverage of the crime.

WATCH: Weighing the costs and benefits of reverse mortgages

“It was challenging to sell it,” she said, not wanting to go into too much detail to protect client privacy. “So we ended up leasing it to cover carrying costs.”

The renters were aware of the property’s history and once the media attention subsided, the property was sold.

But for some people, the knowledge that a murder took place in a home is enough to make them walk away from a purchase — even if it is at a steep discount in a hot market.

76% of Canada’s national wealth is wrapped up in real estate, and the market is slowing: data

That is, for those who are aware that something happened.

While there are rules requiring disclosure of issues concerning a property such as a defect like a hole in a roof or mould, for non-physical problems such as violent crime, the law largely says “caveat emptor” or buyer beware, said Alan Silverstein, an Ontario-based real estate lawyer.

Quebec does have a law that requires sellers to disclose when a person has died an unnatural death on their property. But in other provinces, the guidelines are blurry.

WATCH: Should you get a fixed mortgage rate or a variable one?

“A murder is more psychological than factual… When you get into the area of murder and suicides, natural causes, we don’t have clear rules,” Silverstein said.

There are also differing guidelines for agents or sellers, he added.

In Ontario, for example, the seller has no legal requirement to disclose a stigma such as murder and the onus is on the buyer and their realtor to find out.

READ MORE: The ranking of Canada’s best and worst cities for homebuyers has changed radically

However, real estate agents in the province have an ethical obligation to disclose the existence of stigmas, according to the Ontario Real Estate Association.

Agents are also required to tell potential buyers about these issues at the earliest possible convenience, said Barry Lebow, a Toronto realtor and expert on stigmatized properties.

“You cannot disclose it at the table once there is an offer…. you don’t wait until the last minute, but that happens,” he said.

WATCH: A vital lesson for Canadian mortgage owners looking to borrow money

If the agent or seller is asked a question, they cannot give a false answer, Silverstein said.

The former owner of a Vancouver mansion learned this lesson after the B.C. Supreme court ordered her to return a $300,000 deposit after a sale fell through because she didn’t tell the buyer about a suspected gang-related murder of her son-in-law at the front gate in 2007.

Feng Yun Shao reneged on her $6.1-million offer on the 9,000-square-foot mansion in 2009 just days after forwarding the deposit. The would-be buyer asked why they were selling and was told the owner had moved back to China and her daughter had moved to a location closer to her child’s school, according to court documents.

Neither the owner, her daughter or the realtor told Shao about the unsolved slaying, and the judge said she was the victim of a “fraudulent misrepresentation.”

READ MORE: Will it crash? Here’s what to expect from the Canadian housing market in 2019

Still, as homes change hands over the years, a property’s dark secrets don’t always get passed on.

“If the seller doesn’t know about something, it’s hard to hold them liable,” Silverstein said.

Also, it’s unclear how far back in a property’s history must be disclosed. Some jurisdictions, such as California, stipulate the seller is obligated to disclose a death on a property if it occurred within the three years prior to the sale.

“We need some hard and fast rules,” Silverstein said.

WATCH: 2019 real estate trends

Buyers who are uncomfortable with living in a home where a violent crime took place should do extensive research on any property that catches their eye. In addition to the obvious online address searches, potential buyers should also ask their would-be neighbours for information about the home, said Silverstein.

Another thing to look for is a line in the listing that asks potential buyers to call the listing agent before preparing an offer, said Toronto realtor David Fleming.

READ MORE: More homeowners are turning to private lenders. Here are the risks

“It could mean something big or it could mean something small… When you see something like that, it usually means that there is a catch and they don’t want to put it in a listing,” he said.

Buyers can also add a clause that the sellers acknowledge that to the best of their knowledge there hasn’t been a murder or suicide in the home.

Sandra Pike, a realtor based in Halifax, said most agents in the region add in this caveat stipulating that the property has not been stigmatized by things such as murder, suicide or illegal drug cultivation.

“You wouldn’t want to be dishonest and not bring that up… If it comes back and bites you, it’s not worth it,” she said.

Some homes may never shake off the stigma, no matter how much time passes. The St. Catharines, Ont. home where convicted killer Paul Bernardo and his former wife Karla Homolka raped and murdered two teen girls was torn down in 1995.

WATCH: Analysis on new report suggesting B.C.’s housing market is in the midst of a recession

Even in high-profile cases, there are some people who aren’t deterred, said Barry Cohen, a Toronto-based luxury property realtor.

The unsolved murders of Apotex Inc. founder Barry Sherman and his wife Honey at their mansion in northern Toronto has not hurt the sale prospects for nearby homes that he is representing, as most see it as an isolated incident and not a reflection of the neighbourhood, Cohen said.

As well, while the Shermans’ home is not currently on the market, Cohen said there is buyer interest.

“The client would buy it as is.”


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Braiden Jacob’s death now homicide investigation, say Thunder Bay police


The death of 17-year-old Braiden Jacob is being investigated as a homicide, the Thunder Bay Police Service announced in a written release Thursday afternoon.

Officers were dispatched to the southern portion of Chapples Park shortly after 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 9 after a passerby saw what they believed might be a body, police said.

A post-mortem examination was conducted in Toronto on Thursday, Dec. 13, and the results confirmed the body discovered was that of Jacob.

He had been reported missing by police on Dec. 6.

Jacob was from Webequie First Nation, and was in Thunder Bay to receive counselling services which were unavailable in his home community. 

Jacob’s death is believed to be the eighth homicide of 2018 in Thunder Bay. 


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The 90 victims of Toronto’s record year in homicide


On Sunday, Nov. 18, at around 1:30 p.m., a male was shot to death in an apartment building in the West Hill neighbourhood.

Police responded to reports of gunshots near the intersection of Lawrence Ave. and Kingston Rd. in Scarborough. They located shell casings inside a building and also found a man suffering from gunshot wounds. The man succumbed to his injuries at the scene.

The victim, who hasn’t yet been identified by police, is the 90th homicide in Toronto this year. With his death, Toronto has passed its record for killings in a year — 89, set in 1991 — with 44 days remaining in 2018.

These are the victims of homicides in Toronto this year. The Star will continue to update this file until the end of 2018:

With files from Bryann Aguilar, Annie Arnone, Marjan Asadullah, Fakiha Baig, Ilya Bañares, Samantha Beattie, Emerald Bensadoun, Bianca Bharti, Alina Bykova, Premila D’Sa, Amy Dempsey, Rosie DiManno, Brennan Doherty, Peter Edwards, Claire Floody, Jacques Gallant, Victoria Gibson, Wendy Gillis, Tamar Harris, Alyshah Hasham, Jack Hauen, Michele Henry, Vjosa Isai, Rhianna Jackson-Kelso, Alexandra Jones, Brendan Kennedy, Nicholas Keung, Stefanie Marotta, Emma McIntosh, Jesse McLean, Jenna Moon, Gilbert Ngabo, Marco Chown Oved, Jennifer Pagliaro, Mitch Potter, Clare Rayment, Alanna Rizza, Inori Roy, Fatima Syed, Kenyon Wallace, May Warren and The Canadian Press.


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Victim of triple homicide near London was in relationship with man found killed on same road last year


One of three people from Six Nations found murdered in a pickup truck abandoned in a field off a country road in Middlesex County was the common law partner of another Six Nations man found murdered on the same road last year.

On Nov. 4, shortly before 10 a.m., OPP were called to the field off Bodkin Rd. and Jones Dr., south of London, Ont., near Oneida Nation of the Thames First Nation, after someone spotted an abandoned grey 2006 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck. Inside police found the bodies of 37-year-old Melissa Trudy Miller, 33-year-old Alan Grant Porter and 32-year-old Michael Shane Jamieson — all of Six Nations of the Grand River, more than 100 kilometres away, near Brantford.

OPP and Six Nations Police are calling on community members to help solve the murders of three people found dead in a pickup in Middlesex County.
OPP and Six Nations Police are calling on community members to help solve the murders of three people found dead in a pickup in Middlesex County.  (OPP)

In August 2017, the body of Douglas Hill was found several kilometres down Bodkin Rd. in Oneida Nation of the Thames territory. The 48-year-old Brantford man, also from Six Nations, had been reported missing in June.

According to their obituaries Hill was in a relationship with Miller before his death. One person who knew them described them as being “very much in love.”

So how did she end up dead in a car with three other men on the same stretch of road so far from home?

OPP has said investigators are aware of similarities in the cases, but the triple homicide is being investigated separately.

Middlesex OPP say a news conference with the case manager Det. Insp. Pete Liptrott of the OPP criminal investigation branch is being planned for later this week.

Over the weekend, OPP and Six Nations police released a poster with the images of all three recent victims and a grey 2006, Chevrolet Silverado, with a plea to help catch their killer.

In Hill’s death, Six Nations Police and OPP had been searching for a dark-coloured SUV with tinted windows and possible front-end damage that was seen on the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, also south of London, and possibly Oneida Nation of the Thames.

The families of Miller, Porter and Jamieson thanked the community for the outpouring of support and sympathy in a statement released through Six Nations Indigenous Victims Services.

“We know that our families are not alone in our sadness as the loss of Melissa, Al and Mike has left our community in shock and grief,” they said, asking for patience and privacy at this time.

They called on the public to help police investigating the murders.

According to her obituary Miller was a mother of six and a grandmother. A funeral was held at Styres Funeral Home in Ohsweken Monday, followed by cremation.

Grant was a father of two. His funeral was held Sunday at Six Nations Pentecostal Church, where he was also buried in the cemetery.

Jamieson was a father of five. His funeral was held at Soursprings Longhouse on Sunday.

Anyone with information can call Six Nations Police at 519-445-2811, a police tip line at 1-844-677-5050, or to remain anonymous call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Nicole O’Reilly is a reporter with the Hamilton Spectator. Email: noreilly@thespec.com


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