Police found welts and bruises all over Toronto teen's Melonie Biddersingh's body some 2½ years before she was found dead in a smouldering suitcase in 1994, but did not contact the Children's Aid Society at the time, a revelation that can now be reported as the jury deliberates murder charges against the girl's father, Everton Biddersingh.
Toronto police officers catalogued the injuries in an investigation into the death of Melonie's 13-year-old brother Dwayne on June 15, 1992 after he fell 22 storeys from the Parkdale apartment where Everton Biddersingh lived with his new wife and three children.
"I didn't understand why… the child abuse wasn't taken seriously at the time," - Officer Joy Zentner in a 2013 interview with the Crown.
After seeing visible injuries on Melonie, who was 14 at the time, two female officers investigating Dwayne's suspicious death interviewed her separately in her bedroom.
More than 75 scratches, 70 welts and dozens of bruises and cuts were found on Melonie's body, injuries she told police were inflicted by her brother Dwayne.
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With jury deliberations into Everton Biddersingh's murder trial underway as of Thursday, these details that the jury didn't hear can now be disclosed to the public.
The Crown alleges Everton Biddersingh, 60, drowned or starved 17-year-old Melonie Biddersingh in 1994 after prolonged abuse.
Alternatively, the prosecution argues she died while her father unlawfully confined her in their small Toronto apartment.
The defence says experts concluded the teen drowned but maintains no evidence shows it was her father who drowned her.
The defence argues Biddersingh's wife, Elaine Biddersingh, 54, drowned her stepdaughter because she hated her and believed she was possessed by the devil.
Beatings only grew more severe after brother's death
Her other brother Cleon, who was 17 when Dwayne died, would eventually testify that Melonie's beatings only grew more severe after Dwayne's death.
At a preliminary inquiry, Cleon testified his father told him to lie to police in 1992 about Melonie's injuries.
Everton Biddersingh and his wife supported the claim that Dwayne was responsible, telling police the teen beat his sister because he was angry that she was getting more attention that he was.
When asked by a doctor about Melonie's injuries, her stepmother reiterated that Dwayne was responsible.
Children's Aid not called
Notes taken by police at the time indicate one of the female officers said Melonie's injuries appeared to be in different stages of healing and that the family should have been charged with child abuse.
"I didn't understand why… the child abuse wasn't taken seriously at the time," officer Joy Zentner told the Crown during a 2013 interview. But at the time, Zentner and her colleague, Irene Hussar, were both constables, and deferred to the lead investigator who outranked them.
Because all of the family members' stories matched, lead investigator Kim Carr said he accepted the family's version of events.
That meant Melonie wasn't subjected to an in-depth interview outside of the family home. She also didn't undergo a medical examination that could have determined if the injuries could have been caused by Dwayne.
The Children's Aid Society was also not called to look into the case.
Police officers would eventually conclude Dwayne's death was a suicide, but the facts remain unclear.
The night before his death, Dwayne ran away and spent the night with a family friend from Jamaica. His parents and brother reportedly looked for him all night.
When his parents found Dwayne and brought him home, they told him to stand in the corner while they decided on his punishment. That's when Cleon says Melonie yelled Dwayne's name.
When they came out, Dwayne had climbed onto the balcony railing, the family told police. Then, they say, he jumped.
An earlier version of this story stated that police brought Dwayne Biddersingh home after he ran away to a family friend's home the night before his death and that his parents told him to wait on the balcony while they decided on his punishment. In fact, his parents brought him home and told him to stand in the corner.Jan 07, 2016 3:47 PM ET