Toronto police say that a man has been charged in the deaths of two women from the city’s Eritrean community, though they are looking for the public’s assistance in learning more about him.
Police held a news conference on Monday afternoon, announcing that Adonay Zekarias, 42, had been charged with two counts of first-degree murder.
Zekarias stands accused of killing 55-year-old Nighisti Semret in October of last year, as well as the killing of 28-year-old Rigat Essag Ghirmay earlier this year.
The accused also came to Canada from Eritrea, police say.
Semret was attacked when she was walking home from her job at the Delta Chelsea Hotel on the morning of Oct. 23, 2012.
During the news conference, Det.-Sgt. Gary Giroux reviewed the circumstances of the fatal attack on Semret.
Giroux said Semret was attacked on the south side of a building at 510 Ontario St., stabbed “numerous times” with a kitchen blade.
Police say that the accused’s DNA was found under Semret’s fingernails, which Giroux said ended up there as the victim tried to defend herself.
“Ms. Semret fought for her life against her attacker and in doing so, caused the offender to injure himself and in doing so, left DNA behind at the scene for us to find,” Giroux said.
Police had previously advised the public that they believed Semret’s attacker had been wounded. Giroux said police have confirmed that is the case and that the accused sought medical attention for wounds to his arm and hand.
Giroux said police are not clear why Semret was killed. Investigators are now reaching out to the public to learn more about the potential motive in the killing they allege was committed by Zekarias.
About six months after Semret was killed, on May 24, 2013, remains belonging to a woman were found in a bag on a trail near 120 Alliance Rd.
In early June, police revealed that the remains found belonged to 28-year-old Rigat Essag Ghirmay. Zekarias was soon charged with committing an indignity to a dead body. He has now been charged with first-degree murder in Ghirmay’s death.
Det.-Sgt. Pauline Gray said that police have yet to locate all of Ghirmay’s remains. They are looking to speak with anyone who may have seen Zekarias with some type of luggage between May 17 and May 24 of this year.