Toronto police website aims to crack homicide cold cases

Chief Mark Saunders showed off a revamped website aimed at generating new tips in over 500 homicide cold cases.

Chief Mark Saunders demonstrate site’s new features at Wednesday news conference

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders showed off the homicide unit's revamped cold case website on Wednesday, saying he hopes it will jog the memory of some key witnesses. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Canadian Press)

Chief Mark Saunders showed off a revamped website aimed at generating new tips in over 500 homicide cold cases.

Saunders, speaking at Toronto police headquarters, said homicide cases are always a "top priority" for the force.

"Each case is important to us, regardless of its age," Saunders told reporters.

The website allows users to search for information on investigations dating back to 1959. All you need, police said, is the victim's name or the year of their death.

Once you view information about a case, you'll also be given contact information for investigators.

In at least six cases, Saunders said, investigators have DNA they believe belongs to the killer but just need a name. In those cases, the chief said, once police have a name "those people will be going to jail."

Homicide investigators are also planning on releasing a series of videos highlighting various cold cases in the coming weeks, which will be designed to be shared on social media.

"Sometimes it's a matter of re-jogging people's memories," Saunders said. 

The website also has a most wanted section, for cases where a suspect has been identified but never arrested.

Toronto police have had some recent success in solving cold cases. Last November, police charged a 61-year-old man with first-degree murder in connection with the killing of Surinder Singh Parmar, a case that took 25 years to solve.

Police already have a cold case unit that focuses on using new investigative techniques and scientific advances to re-evaluate evidence.

According to police cold case statistics, here are the number of unsolved homicides from recent years (police list unsolved cases from 2014, 2015 and this year as current investigations):

  • 2013 — 10
  • 2012 — 12
  • 2011 — 13
  • 2010 — 27
  • 2009 — 24

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