Toronto police say a sample from a body found in Rosedale Ravine Lands Park in early August is undergoing DNA testing to determine if the body belongs to missing woman Alloura Wells.
Meaghan Gray, spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service, confirmed on Tuesday that the body is of a transgender woman. The body was recovered from an area in the midtown Toronto ravine, which is near Bloor Street East and Rosedale Valley Road.
Ontario's Forensic Sciences in Toronto is testing a DNA sample of a family member of Wells against a sample from the body. Police sought the sample from a family member after Wells was reported missing in early November, she said.
"Those results have not been finalized," Gray said in an email on Tuesday.
Police have said Wells, 27, was last seen in downtown Toronto about in late July and it could take weeks before the results of the DNA testing are released to the public.
No police news release was issued when the body was found in August because police said they do not notify the public every time a body is found.
Gray said there was no identification on the body when it was located.
"Based on the state of the body, there were no details that the police could release to the public," she said.
"Because of this, officers have been working since August to identify the body or establish enough detail that could be released to the public for the purpose of soliciting input."
Wells, also known as Alloura Hennessy and Alloura Wheeler, was reported missing by her father on Nov. 5. According to her Facebook profile, she is from Vancouver. She stopped posting on Facebook as Alloura Hennessy in late July.
On Nov. 8, police issued a news release saying Wells was missing and they released two photographs of her.
Gray said when police received the missing person report, they realized there might be a connection to the body found in the ravine. She said the two investigations then intersected and that led to the DNA testing.
Police have not said exactly where the body was found and declined to say if the person suffered any trauma.
Monica Forrester, program director at Maggie's: Toronto Sex Workers Action Project, said it's good news that the testing is underway because it could help the family and police direct their search for Wells or bring some closure to those involved.
"We feel it will bring some clarity to the family, who hasn't seen her for some time, and it will bring some clarity to the community," Forrester said.
If the body doesn't belong to Wells, then Forrester said the question will be: "Who is she?"
On Nov. 11, volunteers searched for Wells in part of Rosedale Ravine Lands Park and a stretch of Bloor Street East, between the St. James Town neighbourhood and the Church and Wellesley corridor, an area Wells was known to frequent.
On Nov. 19, the day before Transgender Day of Remembrance, a vigil and march was held for Wells at Barbara Hall Park in the Church Street and Wellesley Street East neighbourhood.
"We're not 100 per cent sure this is Alloura," Forrester told people at the vigil about the body.
Friends of Wells have criticized the police for not taking her disappearance seriously, saying her case was not made a priority until it received media coverage.
The police were also criticized for not releasing information to the public about the body until recently. Forrester said she found out about the body earlier this month.
According to Maggie's: Toronto Sex Workers Action Project, police have been reluctant to investigate the case fully because she was homeless and earning money as a sex worker around the time she vanished.
Relying on community for answers
The project says it has been relying on members of its community in its search for answers.
"We will not stop until we have answers and justice for Alloura," a Nov. 19 Facebook post by Maggie's reads.
According to a police news release, Wells was described as having a slim build, with brown shoulder length hair that might have been dyed blonde or pink.
Anyone with information has been asked to contact police or leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers.