CANADA Canada - Donna Stearne & Wendy Tedford, both 17, Toronto, 26 April 1973

Discussion in 'Cold Cases' started by CrimeSolver, Feb 12, 2007.

  1. CrimeSolver

    CrimeSolver Member

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    www.torontopolice.on.ca/homicide/coldcases.php


    This happened not too far from where I live, and I visited the crime scene a couple of years ago. The area hasn't changed all that much, but the empty lot where the bodies were found is now the parking lot of a business.
    The person responsible could well be a trucker or a traveling salesman, because both the crime scene and Windsor, the city where gun was found a couple of months later, are close to the world's busiest freeway. The gun was both stolen in Windsor (a city 360 kilometres (224 miles) west of the crime scene) and located there by police, which indicates the killer might have lived there at the time.
    Map(times/locations approximated):
    1. Donna arrives at her friend Wendy's apartment on Falstaff (?) Rd.
    2. About 8 pm, girls arrive at Yorkdale shopping mall. Stay for a couple of hours before leaving.
    3. Girls arrive at Sit 'n' Eat Restaurant at about 10:30, drink cokes. Aside: Why they couldn't find cokes elsewhere is not known. Since they were taking transit, it is rather out of their way to go to this joint for soft drinks.
    4. Girls' bodies found here early the following morning (details below).
    [​IMG]
    Aerial image, enlarged from above:
    1. Location of greasy spoon where girls were last seen. They must have met their killer either in the restaurant or somewhere along Keele St. There would be no reason for them to have travelled east on Wilson Ave., since it was in the opposite direction of both of their homes. He/she may have offered them a ride or kidnapped them at gunpoint, then either taken them to lot and killed them, or stopped there when they resisted. It seems highly unlikely that the killer was on foot.
    2. The bodies were found here at 7:30 am by a high school student (his route is seen in blue, and the school where he was heading is in the upper-centre of image). The bodies were along a fence that abutted a row of backyards. Houses are about 50-100 ft from site of murders. Neighbours report having heard gunshots around midnight, but, although it's a safe lower-middle class neighbourhood, nobody bothered to look outside or call police. I have no idea if there is any DNA in this case, but the police website states the bodies were clothed.
    [​IMG]

    Edit: I tried to add the images, but it didn't work. Anyone know why?
     
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  3. docwho3

    docwho3 New Member

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    This sounds very much like a prearranged meeting of some sort that went bad.

    This sounds like it was before the internet got really big with young people soooo I am wondering if this meeting was arranged before they got to the mall or was someone trolling the mall? At the moment I tend to think this sounds as if it might have been set up before they got to the mall.

    Some questions: How many people were the two girls going to meet, one? Two? or more? And why were they meeting someone? Just 2 girls out meeting a couple of exciting boys or out trying their hand at hooking or maybe one girl accompanying another to meeet her new boyfriend or . . . the list goes on and on. Who knew the girls well enough to maybe have picked up on a comment or two about a new boyfriend or new adventure they were going to embark on or some hot party or date or some new really cool person they had recently met?

    It does sound like the perp was able to travel between the two towns. Was there any rivalry between school sports teams of the two towns?

    I am trying to make the connection betwen the dots that gets some person (possibly fairly young) that two young women of 17 would want to go secretly meet from windsor where he (or they) stole a gun and then to the town where the gilrls were at and where he then meets them and then decides they must die.
     
  4. Richard

    Richard Well-Known Member

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    These murders occurred in Toronto, yet the revolver was stolen (presumably before the murders?) and later recovered in Windsor, Ontario. That is quite a distance. Windsor is across the river from Detroit, Michigan.

    What were the circumstances under which the revolver was found and recovered? Had it been discarded, buried, or dumped? Or was it found in the course of some sort of search of a home or vehicle? If dumped, it might indicate that the murderer got rid of it prior to crossing the border into the US.

    Which police department has jurisdiction over these murders? Is/was the RCMP involved in the investigation?
     
  5. docwho3

    docwho3 New Member

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    The fact that the gun was stolen from a home in the the windsor area and also later "recovered" in the windsor area (". . . in an unrelated investigation. . .") makes me think perhaps the perp was not just passing through on his way into the USA but perhaps lived in the area or had other reason to be in the windsor area on a regular basis and to know that area well enough to begin stealing from the homes.
     
  6. CrimeSolver

    CrimeSolver Member

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    I wish I could answer your questions, but I am neither on this case officially, nor a member of law enforcement.
    There is no publicly-released evidence that they headed north on Keele St. to meet a third person, but I also don't understand why they went there. Not only was the restaurant out of their way, but it was late on a school night, and they would have had to waste a bus ticket to go there just for cokes, when they could have gotten drinks at numerous places along the regular route (These are largely residential areas, but there are strips of shops everywhere). I also don't know why they took Lawrence Avenue to the mall and back. As you can see from the first map, it would have been shorter and faster to go along Wilson, and, to my knowledge, there already existed a bus route along Wilson way back in 1973. Docwho3, yes, it was long before the internet, but I also have a sense that they might have gone to meet someone. What speaks against that theory is where the gun was stolen and located. No high school kid would have regularly travelled back and forth to Windsor. My feeling is, it is an older person (25+) whom the girls did not know; someone who may have offered the girls a ride.

    Richard, the Toronto police dept. has jurisdiction, but as to the other questions, I have no idea. I doubt the killer is an American, but it's a possibility I haven't considered. All I know about the gun's discovery is what is written in the police release above, but, according to that, there was an extensive investigation that was fruitless. I don't know if the RCMP was involved; if they were, they didn't "get their man".
     
  7. docwho3

    docwho3 New Member

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    Thanks for the nice response.

    Yes, what you have mentioned thus far indicates a planned meeting of some sort.

    Not knowing the area but knowing that Canada is a large place I had to ask about the school team angle. In the USA the distance would indeed be a long way for any but a state championship at highschool level although I do not know about college level or above but I was unsure if the distance would be considered too far for teams in Canada. Also the student that found the bodies was supposedly on his way to a game. I did not know for sure that such a contest of teams was not in progress at the time. Having said all that: I think the meeting was planned but I am not hanging on to the possibility of a sports team connection. I do think though, that the meeting was preplanned and that it had a purpose.

    Actually, I remember that back in the 70's kids were experimenting with pot smoking and such. I also remember that people got sort of paranoid about the possibility of people passing info to the cops or possibly being undercover cops and often referred to them as "narcs."

    The kids were shot in the head and not just strangled or beaten and that sounds like an execution of sorts. I don't know about Canada, but in the USA in the 70's oftentimes food hangouts near highschools were used as a meeting place to sell the drugs and this all fits in with what I read in that article. This case has young people meeting someone at a food hangout not all that far from a school (since a student walking across the lot on his way to school found the bodies) and then the kids turn up dead having been shot in the head. This case still sounds like 2 kids who stepped out onto the edge of danger but whether drugs, hooking, or just running with a person living a "wild" life style was involved is unknown. It just does not sound like a case of girls who went out of their way to a food hangout solely on a whim and then on another whim accepting a ride somewhere and then being found dead not far away from where they accepted the ride. If they went on a ride I think the ride had a specific purpose, I just don't know what purpose.
     
  8. CrimeSolver

    CrimeSolver Member

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    School sports is nowhere near the rage up here that it is in the States, so I doubt that is a factor. You mention drugs. I hadn't thought of that, but it is a possibility (I was not yet alive in '73, and have never tried drugs, so I'm a little uninformed in that respect). You bring up some interesting hypotheses, but I should probably stress that this is a relatively nice suburban area, which is not to say bad things don't happen, but I truly doubt it involves prostitution. Drugs, however, are much more prevalent, even in suburban areas. And you're right, their being shot in the head is more indicative of an impersonal execution-type killing than a spur-of-the-moment crime of passion, but it is also possible the perp tried to sexually assault them and shot them when they didn't cooperate.
    It would be nice to be privy to more official information. For the police to have hold-back is pretty pointless after all these years.
     
  9. docwho3

    docwho3 New Member

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    I was a teen in the 70's and went to highschool in the 70's in the USA and my memories of that time is what I based my comments on concerning drugs.

    I was just sort of thinking out loud and naming off the different possibilities that came to mind. Sometimes even in nice neighborhoods girls think it cool to try something that they do not intend doing as a lifestyle. However I think that in this case the meeting does not sound to me like hooking.

    They were found fully clothed, if I correctly remember the article, so I am inclined to think sex was not the motive but thats just my speculation.
     
  10. CrimeSolver

    CrimeSolver Member

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    Without more details of the case, all we can do is speculate. Your input is appreciated, and probably accurate.
     
  11. docwho3

    docwho3 New Member

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    Very true that all we can do is speculate but I really appreciate your comments and thoughts and the fact that you posted this case on websleuths for all to see and perhaps someone will see it and know something that will help move things along. Good work.

    I really do wonder why this case has gone unsolved. It seems that in this type of case someone in the girls school would know what happened and although they may have kept quiet for years, I would think that reinterviewing everyone nowadays might produce results. Relationships might have changed that once seemed worth keeping silent for. (I am a bit sleepy and not sure I worded that as well as I should have but I hope the meaning makes its way through the muddle of words.)
     
  12. CrimeSolver

    CrimeSolver Member

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    I agree, it might be worthwhile for the police to take another look at it and interview friends and acquaintances, etc. Then again, they probably have done that ad nauseam, and see no point in allocating resources to a case that sees no movement.

    Thanks for your input. Sometimes merely mentioning a case and throwing out some ideas kickstarts memories and renewed interest. But I read one of the major local papers everyday, and this case has not been mentioned in recent years to my knowledge.
     
  13. dxman

    dxman New Member

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    CrimeSolver and docwho3:

    I became aware of this case a few years ago while surfing the web after a late night of work. While checking out websites on the case, I came across a blog of somebody who said she is working on a book of Canadian cold cases, including the case of Wendy Tedford and Donna Stearne. She had 4 rather detailed posts of the case on the blog (in 2005), with the information apparently gleaned from family members and police. I found other posts she made on a cold case Yahoo group, corresponding
    with someone from the DOE Network so as to get contact information... so she seems legit. She also left a post on an Alumni website pointing to Downsview School (Donna's school), so as to get information from fellow classmates who remembered the girls.

    The blog in question is now down and I wonder if she was instructed remove it as the posts were only up for a month or so. I read the posts and, upon reflection, there seemed to be sensitive information (i.e. hold-back) that the police did not want released. I would agree that the posts should have been removed if instructed by investigators to do so.
    I could be wrong.

    Thus my purpose writing is to tell you to send a message to her at another blog she has at truecrimewriter.blogspot.com. Perhaps you might enquire if she wants to participate in this exchange? Or ask the status of the book? Again, I could be wrong in assuming that she took down her blog after being told to do so by police, and she may provide you guys with information.

    If possible/allowable, please post your results here after your enquiry.
    I will monitor this board.
     
  14. CrimeSolver

    CrimeSolver Member

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    Hi dxman,
    I left a comment at the blog. We'll have to wait and see if she has the time or inclination to tell us what she knows. Thanks for the heads-up.

    Incidentally, if one or both of the girls went to Downsview, that might explain their presence in the neighbourhood (ie. they were indeed meeting someone from school, or simply going to a fast food joint they knew well and where they were comfortable).
     
  15. dxman

    dxman New Member

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    Looks like no response, but judging by by the date of the last post on the blog, it probably has not been looked at lately. I read your post and you mentioned your searched for newspaper articles. Note that newspaper articles are posted on a website by one of the victim's siblings. Just do a google search and it should be easy to find.
     
  16. CrimeSolver

    CrimeSolver Member

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    I Googled the names again, but no newspaper articles came up. Do you have a link? The only things I have ever been able to find on the web are the TO Police page and a couple of other mentions on "cold crime" sites.
     
  17. dxman

    dxman New Member

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  18. CrimeSolver

    CrimeSolver Member

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    Thanks. I have seen that site before, but I forgot about the online availability of the newspaper columns.

    Edit: Those articles are interesting. The girls were known to smoke weed, and the police are/were fairly certain the killings were drug-related.
     
  19. docwho3

    docwho3 New Member

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    It does appear the drug angle is likely.

    Although I am still looking at things in the articles I noticed that one of the girls had recently begun an outdoor painting of a bridge at dusk that had gone unfinished and also that she wanted to be a vet.

    That makes me think of two long shot ideas: 1. If she was painting a picture based on an actual bridge that she visited recently she might have originally met her killer there while painting or hitching or partying. 2. Did she know anyone locally that actually was a vet and was still young enough to have been dealing drugs to kids. As I remember it, vets or children of veterinarians have been known to deal drugs during those years.

    Mentally tossing around more possibilities:
    So far I am unconvinced that they really knew their killer/s. I mean they might have known but I am not certain that they did. It almost sounds as if someone had set up a buy for them with someone the girls did not really know and that the buy quickly went bad. A watch was stolen from one of the victims. A local who was known to the girls would know the watch would be recognized by those who saw it. It sounds as if they ran into a guy/s who was stoned himself that night and was paranoid enough to shoot the girls but then scooped up the watch to sell for more drug money for himself or maybe just to give to a girlfriend later. Although it is also possible that a female was along with the killer and that she wanted the watch for herself. Just before the girls went missing from the diner it seems one article mentioned something about a young man coming in and buying 2 cokes and that sounds like someone buying something for his date and himself . . . or at least buying something for a 2nd person. If this was the killer and if his entering was the signal for the girls to exit the diner and meet at the car then the rest of the case makes more sense.

    Did the girls owe the guy money? I doubt it because, as far as we know, they weren't made into an object lesson by brutality but were merely shot. To me that sounds as if someone got paranoid at a drug buy and shot them and scooped up the watch and left the scene.
     
  20. Virtuoso

    Virtuoso New Member

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    I attended Downsview while Donna was a student there. She was a year behind me and although we didn't hang out with the same crowds, we would nod to each other when passing in the hall.

    Some of the posts have painted the area as a mom & pop, apple pie kind of sub-divisions. Basically this was true, but another truth is that just behind Yorkdale was an area referred to as "The Jungle". This was tenement housing with all that goes with it. Plenty of drugs and violence.

    During the early 70's many of us experimented with smoking pot and most of us got it from someone at the school. Others ventured into The Jungle where it was easy to score a bag of weed.

    Is it possible the girls ran into someone from there while at the mall. Or maybe they wandered out of the mall to hook up with someone.

    As far as Sit 'n Eat goes, it was a student hangout. It wouldn't surprise me to hear that the girls decided to go there for a coke. We often would drop in just to see who was there. Sometimes we knew people sitting around and would stay and other times it was frequented by other cliques so we would have a coke and fries and leave. Maybe they thought they would meet someone there and didn't.

    One of the things the area is infamous for is that the Munro's lived there. Some of you may recall that one of the Munro boys, I think James, but could be wrong, was convicted of killing a cop. I believe the cop's name was Michael Sweet. I'm not suggesting the Munro's had anything to do with it, but if you are looking for criminal elements in the neighbourhood, and you want to know if there is anyone who could kill two girls in cold blood, well the guy did kill a cop, so who knows. By the way, I'm not sure if the cop was killed before or after the girls. If he was killed before then Munro would have been in jail, but if he wasn't, then who knows.

    Just food for thought.
     
  21. docwho3

    docwho3 New Member

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    Thanks for the valuable insight.

    I found the following info running a quickie web search:
    http://www.tpg1.com/protest/federal/cp/star1.html

    http://torontosun.com/Anniversary/25th/2006/07/24/1700485.html
     

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