In 1983, Dennis Melvin Howe kidnapped, raped, and murdered a little girl named Sharin Morningstar. He then stuffed her in a refrigerator and left town. This drifter is believed to have committed numerous other crimes, but he remains at large. Check out the link to the Toronto Police website...
Bumping this very scary story. He could be anywhere!!!
I remember this story very well.
The problem with trying to find this person, is that he is an underground person. Transient lifestyle.
Unfotunately if he died, he would be buried in a "potter's field type of scene" as an unkown person, if the cause was natural or not.
They even dug up a grave a few years ago in Canada on the off chance that it was him. To no avail.
If he was in the USA, he would be a John Doe.
The USA does not link to a Canadian Database for wanted criminals.
His fingerprints would not have turned up, I could be wrong, but I don't think so.
This case still haunts me to this day.
Yes, this case continues to rip at me as well. I met up with someone from the www.doenetwork.com and we both shared the same passion regarding this case. We are conducting our own investigation into this case. if anyone has any information regarding this terrible tragedy, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You don't have to leave your name, I just want the info. Thank you, todd
Dennis Melvyn Howe has not been seen or apprehended for over 22 years now. Check out the link in my first post to see computer enhanced images of Howe, as he may have looked in the 80's, 90's, and today.
Sharin Morningstar Keenan is actually Howe's only KNOWN victim. She disappeared on 23 January 1983 after a witness had seen her talking with an adult male who seemed to be coaxing her to go with him.
Nine days later, tenants in a rooming house on Brunswick Ave, Toronto told police that "Michael Burns" had not been seen since 24 January. When police investigated his premises, they found Sharin's body in the refrigerator, wrapped in a green plastic garbage bag. She had been raped and strangled.
After a month of investigation, it was learned that Burns was really Dennis Melvyn Howe, son of a convicted sex offender. Howe's criminal career started as a teenager with convictions for break-ins, robberies, rape, and abduction. He had spent half of his adult years in prison. After being parollede, he disappeared in his birth place of Saskatchewan.
Howe was 5 feet, nine inches tall and weighed about 165 pounds. He had a tanned, leathery complexion and brown eyes. His thinning brown hair has probably turned grey by now. He has a wrinkled forehead, a small gap between his front teeth, a partial upper denture, a hairy chest and arms, squarred shoulders, and a cleft chin with a scar on it. He is left-handed, known to wear a mustache, and has crooked little fingers.
Howe drank Molson's beer and chain-smoked Players plain cigarettes. He was a loud mouth who called everyone and everything a "turkey". At other times he transformed himself into a withdrawn loner. He is known as a supreme con-man and quick-change artist. He is good at conconcting stories and covering his tracks.
Howe would be about 64 years old now. When not in prison, he worked as a stock clerk, cook, roofer, janitor, millwright, electrician, carpenter, and metal worker.
BY LARRY COLLINS. © 1983 BY THE READER’S DIGEST ASSOCIATION (CANADA) LTD.
At 3 p.m. on Sunday, January 23, 1983, Lynda Keenan left her nine-year-old daughter, Sharin’ Morningstar, to play in Jean Sibelius Square, a small park near their home in Toronto’s polyglot Bathurst-Dupont section.
"Be home by five," she said. It was the last time she saw her daughter alive.
Ten days later, the child’s body was found stuffed in a refrigerator in a nearby rooming house. Sharin’ had been sexually assaulted and murdered.
Six weeks later, a first-degree murder warrant was issued for Dennis Melvyn Howe, 42, alias Michael Burns, alias Wayne King, alias Ralph Ferguson, alias Jim Myers. Metropolitan Toronto Police, assisted by other police forces, have followed hundred of leads without success.
To cast a wider net for Dennis Melvyn Howe, they asked Reader’s Digest to tell the story of Sharin’ Morningstar Keenan.
She was a pretty child with long, dark hair, brown eyes and a dimple in her right cheek when she smiled. A Grade 4 student at Jesse Ketchum Public School, she loved art and drama, wrote plays and with friends put on puppet shows in the street. She once drew a poster of a girl with long, dark hair in a field of flowers, and wrote on it: "I love everything."
About 4 p.m. that day, her father, Brendan Caron, walked to Jean Sibelius Square to pick up his daughter. There was no sign of her and Caron became alarmed. He hurried back home to 493 Dupont Street, and when he found Sharin’ wasn’t there, he looked around the neighbourhood. At 6:15 p.m. Lynda called the police. Soon a description of Sharin’ went out on the police radio.
Caron, an unemployed printer who sold food dehydrators from his house, and Lynda Keenan, both 35, were products of the 1960s era with its emphasis on love of man and nature – and on sharing. To them the morning star symbolized love, and they named their eldest daughter Sharin’ Morningstar. Their second daughter, now seven, is name Celeste, and their son, five, Summer Sky.
Police quickly searched the area around Jean Sibelius Square. By 10 p.m., a missing-person broadcast was going out over police radio every half hour. Sound trucks began spreading the message through the neighbourhood.
At noon on Monday, two homicide detectives, S. Sgt. David Boothby, 39 and Sgt. Wayne Oldham, 37, were assigned to the case. Two constables were stationed at the Dupont Street house and a recording device was installed in case a kidnapper tried to phone the parents.
On the mantel, Lynda Keenan burned a small white candle. "I think the light will help Sharin’ and me get through this," she said....
Thanks for posting this Richard. I have fervently wanted to see this piece of garbage caught for almost 25 years now. I was about the same age as the little girl at the time. My feeling is Howe is dead, as I don't see how a loser like him could successfully evade authorities for this long. He was (is) John Walsh's #1 most wanted, and has been profiled on AMW multiple times, but I don't think there has ever been so much as a confirmed sighting of him. To my recollection, a few years ago there were suspicions he was somebody who had died and was buried in an unmarked grave, but that person was exhumed and excluded.
So I figured if any cop in Canada can look up my US driving record at will and impose penalties that could be carried out by a US state then the opposite must be true, so I checked and it is indeed. This is pretty thorough integration. This leads me to believe that since states and provinces release this benign driving record info to one another at the touch of a button then surely someone wanted for murder must be in the system on both sides of the border? Seems to me that catching murder suspects is at least as important in the eyes of the law than monitoring casual traffic violators...
Thank you for posting that link -- I had tried to find it from the CBC website, without success. Eerie and excellent, indeed.
I hope they manage to get this on some US networks, especially in Washington State and Montana, as it suggests that the Dennis Howe trail may lead there.
Some other film clips, not included in the documentary, are here:
[ame="http://vimeo.com/10095996"]Lynda Keenan, in the eye of the storm on Vimeo[/ame]
...and check the right-hand sidebar for an interview with the only eye witness to the abduction, and a couple of other relevant clips.
Apparently, a new book is coming out in May which includes a long chapter about this case. The title is Unsolved: True Canadian Cold Cases. You can pre-order it from amazon.ca
Thanks for all that, palisadesk, including news of the upcoming book, which is definitely of interest to me. Yes, perhaps there should be some localized coverage in the Montana area, since the doc mentions that a stepbrother (?) of Howe's made multiple trips there for unknown reasons. Howe was on AMW several times, as I wrote earlier, but the airings only led to some dead ends.
The documentary didn't mention one part of the story that I remember vividly from the time of the search for Sharin'. The roominghouse on Brunswick, where Howe rented a room on the second floor, had a Vietnamese new immigrant family living on the first floor. Because they spoke no English, they did not know about the search for Sharin' or any of the media reports about Howe or the crime. However, when interviewed with a translator, they were able to give some horrific details: they had heard a lot of noise and thumping around and a child screaming on the night of Sharin's abduction. They had attributed it to a domestic dispute and didn't get involved (they did not know a crime was being committed). It was a chilling detail, to know that Sharin' had put up quite a fight and her ordeal had lasted for some hours.
The documentary mentioned Howe's half-brother Eugene (forget the last name), who was known to have given him money from time to time, and was the only family member who had regularly been in contact with Howe before the crime (and likely afterwards, too). He was the one who had made at least a dozen trips to the US but these trips stopped suddenly as soon as he learned the police were watching him. That strongly suggests that they were linked to getting money, supplies or whatnot to his brother. Of course, he could then have arranged other ways of getting money to Howe -- through a third party, a bank account in another name, even cash in the mail or via a courier. I wonder if anyone audited his financial affairs, to see if he made regular withdrawals of cash, or turned money into US funds, or had a US dollar account in a Montana bank, or anything of the sort -- or a credit card in his name that was used on the south side of the border. Lots of possibilities there -- and also what about his estate when he died. He might have arranged for money to go to Howe through a trust or bequest to a third party.
It does make you wonder. Howe could have obtained fake ID, and with his skills as mechanic and carpenter he could have worked cash jobs easily and stayed off the radar. He could easily still be alive. If smart, he would have kept his weight down, changed his hair colour, switched cigarette brands, and made sure he never used the word "turkey." Maybe AMW could profile him again , with drawings showing him as a thinner older man, with different hairstyles and with teeth fixed. He might even be incarcerated under another name -- men who commit sex crimes usually continue to do so.
I often see comments from Sharin's father ( now living in Vancouver), as he frequently sends letters to the editor to the online Globe and Mail. I wonder how her brother and sister turned out. They would be in their late 20's now.
This is going to sound crazy but I knew a guy named Dennis from Toronto. He was friends with the ex and worked at the flea market. He claimed that he was here illegally and wanted because he didnt pay child support, he said he was here illegally because he never returned to Canada.
He was about 5'9 bald (shaved) stocky build in chest. He was really weird and gave me the creeps to be honest. He also chain smoked. What was weird was the fact that he had a car and a license and even got a ticket once. So I always wondered if he had phony id and if his real name was Dennis Langley. He said he used to be an engineer. Do we know what this guy did for a living? I saw a picture and I have to tell you if you shaved off his hair he looks like him. Is this crazy or what?
edit-I just saw from the first post what he did when not in prison sorry.
Last edited by Sleuthster; 03-17-2010 at 08:26 PM.
Some people may consider me crazy, I say I'm just inspired.
Sleuthster, are you sure the Dennis you knew couldn't be him? If there's any remote possibility, it's worth pursuing.
I am going to look for the box of pictures I have tommorow. I might have a pic of him. Not sure though. He definately seemed suspicious when I knew him through the ex. I even fixed him up one time with an older woman from work and the whole date (the ex, I, Dennis, and my friend Sherri) was just sort of akward. He was like sort of like he was being rude to her the whole evening.
I pulled him up tonight on the people finder websites and oddly, he only shows one city and state, he's 66-68 (diff ages depending on the people search site) and I also found he has another first name which is weird because I found public records from a suit involving the MH park he lives in he was using that name but public records have his name as Dennis, no middle init. The other name(s) on there is Lenox (and Lennox)
Probably making too much out of it but he does look like him just balder lol.
Some people may consider me crazy, I say I'm just inspired.
The age is roughly right, though Howe would be 69 or so. I don't know if you have watched the documentary I linked to above, but it includes several age-enhanced composites that have never been shown publicly before.
If there's a reasonable resemblance, you should pass this info on to the authorities. I saw a link for "tips" on the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corp) Cold Case website -- let me look it up and post it here. It would be very easy for them to determine if this individual is *not* Dennis Howe -- if he was verifiably elsewhere in the years Howe was incarcerated, that does it. Also, Howe's fingerprints are on file and that would be easy to confirm or disconfirm.
While there's good reason to think Howe went to Montana originally, and that he may have stayed there while his brother was alive, now that that connection is gone he could be anywhere in the U.S. Over time, killers who aren't caught become less cautious. He could easily have reverted to using his real given name, figuring no one would be looking for him down there, and a shaved head would remove the hairstyle/hair color clues. Chain smoking is harder to change. I've never tried it but I have heard fake ID is reasonably easy to get.
Let me look up that tip line link.
OK, here it is:
There's a "Submit a tip" link at the top. It probably goes first to someone at the CBC. I have found them to be very professional and courteous. You can summarize your info and let them know how to contact you (by email or phone) if needed. While it may be a dead end, it may not be. Don't forget that many of the successful resolutions on AMW and "Unsolved Mysteries" came through people just like you, people who thought, "I'm probably wrong, but..." and contacted authorities.
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Call Kurtis - Psychics and the Missing
Date: January 23, 1983
Sharin Morningstar Keenan
Sharin Morningstar Keenan was playing in a park at Brunswick Avenue & Wells Street on January 23rd, 1983. Her lifeless body was located on February 1st, 1983 in a refrigrator at 482 Brunswick Avenue.
Details of Investigation
On Sunday, January 23rd, 1983, at approximately 3:00 p.m., Sharin Morningstar Keenan, 9 years-of-age, parted company with her mother to play in Jan Sibelius Park, at Brunswick Avenue and Wells Street, Toronto.
Shortly before 4:00 p.m., Sharin was seen taking to a man in the park.
Sharin had been told to come home at 4 p.m.; when she did not show up, her mother became concerned. After Sharin’s father was unable to locate his daughter in the park, and inquiries in the neighborhood were unsuccessful, the police were called.
A comprehensive police search and investigation took place. A systematic investigation of houses in the area of the park, resulted in the discovery of Sharin’s lifeless body in a refrigerator in a rooming house at 482 Brunswick Avenue.
Further investigation revealed that Dennis Melvyn Howe, 42 years-of-age at the time of this crime, an occupant of that rooming house, had not been seen since Monday, January 24th, 1983.
Homicide investigators obtained a warrant for the arrest of Dennis Melvyn Howe, on a charge of 1st-degree murder.
Dennis Melvyn HOWE
Date of birth: 1940/09/26
Mr. Howe was living at 482 Brunswick Avenue in a rooming house. He has not been seen since January 24th, 1983
Dennis Melvin HOWE is wanted for the murder and sexual molestation of Sharin Morningstar Keenan.
His also known by the aliases of: Michael Burns; Wayne King; Ralph Ferguson; Jim Myers.
Here is a link to a Canadian website which discusses Howe:
... While most Canadian investigators think Howe would never have left the country of his birth, it is possible that he fled to the United States. (What better way to throw the hounds off your tracks than to go somewhere totally unexpected?) While Howe was estranged from most of his family, he had a brother who occasionally loaned him money. In the years following the murder of Sharin’, cops learned that his brother made a dozen trips to Montana and Washington. After being questioned about the reasons for those visits, they suddenly stopped. His brother died several years ago, taking any secret he may have had to his grave.
Is Dennis Melvyn Howe still alive? Is he hiding in plain sight, maybe in some small town, cared for by a wife and children? Is he languishing in a nursing facility, his identity unknown? ...
Kidnapping, Murder and Mayhem: Canada's Most Wanted Fugitive
I have watched the David Ridgen CBC doc, Hoshowsky, and today reviewed the Globe and Mail stories at the library.
In Hoshowsky and/or(?) W5 it says Sharin's body had to be thawed before an autopsy one description was "icy". If true then her body to be brought to Howe's room from somewhere else because the old fridge pictured wouldn't freeze a human being.
I don't blame the police for focusing on Howe as they said only his fingerprints and DNA was found at the crime scene. But why would only his fingerprints be in that room it is a rooming-house. One investigating officer noted how neat the room was in fact they thought he had been in the army because of the neatness and because of his bearing and way of snapping around as if on a march. The doc not too politely tries to case aspersion on another resident of the rooming O.H. In the Globe article it is said he draws suspicion by not approaching police and seeming reluctant to talk.
Toronto Globe: very first sightings of Sharin which later disappear from the narrative perhaps for some good reason: 1. a taxi driver said he picked up Howe and Sharin and drove them to an address the police wouldn't disclose they used his description when they initially went door to door. 2. two boys said they saw Sharin talking to a "young man". A couple of days later the central witness of Sharin in the park who is on the W5 shows comes forward though he does not immediately recognize Sharin. Early on police say they have 6 eyewitnesses of some kind for the person they then thought was "Burns" but many or all differed.
There are a couple of articles where Sharin's Dad expresses his anger at one of the officers for refusing to bring out dogs claiming the dogs were tired and couldn't operate in snowy conditions. (I know my dog operates, follows scent fine in snowy conditions so her Dad has a point I think). He thinks if they had brought out dogs Sharin would have been found so close to Jan Sibelius Park and it sounds like she was alive for hours at least. Can't really judge myself but that is what is said.
The autopsy was done by Hillsdon-Smith so that raises immediate red flags.
Last edited by Chorley8; 09-19-2012 at 09:01 PM.