Toronto police obtain DNA profile of killer in 1991 cold case

Toronto police have obtained a DNA profile of a male suspect in connection with a 1991 unsolved murder of a female sex trade worker. Now, they're hoping the public will give them a name.

Lori Pinkus, 21, a sex trade worker, was found in a school parking lot, pronounced dead there

Lori Pinkus was working in the Bloor Street and Lansdowne Avenue area, when she was last seen in early Sunday, Sept. 8, 1991, leaving a bar after having a drink with friends. Hours later, at 9:55 a.m., she was found partially nude and in medical distress, north of Dufferin Mall. She was pronounced dead at the scene. (Toronto Police Service)

Toronto police have obtained a DNA profile of a male suspect in connection with a 1991 unsolved murder of a female sex trade worker. Now, they're hoping the public will give them a name.

Det.-Sgt. Stacy Gallant, of the homicide squad, said DNA testing was not available at the time of the investigation, but was done recently in the cold case of Lori Marilyn Pinkus, 21, who was killed in the city's west end. 

Pinkus was working in the Bloor Street and Lansdowne Avenue area when she was last seen early on Sunday, Sept. 8, 1991, leaving a bar after having a drink with friends, investigators said. She had recently moved from Ottawa to Toronto.

Hours later, at 9:55 a.m., she was found partially nude, suffering from medical distress, in the parking lot of Brockton High School, north of Dufferin Mall, on 90 Croatia St. 
Lori Pinkus was found partially nude, in medical distress, in this parking lot near Dufferin and Bloor Streets. (YouTube)

A caretaker discovered her. Paramedics tried to save her life, but she was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Pinkus had been assaulted and strangled, police said.

"Many persons of interest were developed and eliminated during the course of the original investigation," Gallant said in a YouTube video appeal to the public on Monday.

'Just need a name'

"Now, that we have the killer's DNA, we just need a name to go with it." 

Gallant said police are convinced that someone knows the man who killed Pinkus.

"There is no doubt that there are people that are close with the offender or who were close to him back at the time of this offence. And you know he is responsible for this murder," he said. 
Det.-Sgt. Stacy Gallant, of Toronto Police Service's homicide squad, says: 'Now, that we have the killer's DNA, we just need a name to go with it.' (YouTube)

Police conducted a forensic exam of the body and scene. No one, however, has been arrested in connection with her murder.

"This is a killer who left a young woman's body on display in a school yard. It is time he is held to account for his despicable actions," Gallant said.

Suspect likely over 50 now

The suspect is likely more than 50-years-old now, given that the murder occurred 27 years ago, Gallant told CBC Toronto in an email on Monday.

Police obtained the DNA profile after evidence collected from the original investigation in 1991 was tested for DNA, he said.

"We now have a profile we believe belongs to the offender," he said. 

Canada's National DNA Data Bank contains the blood, saliva and hair of roughly 266,000 people who have been convicted of a crime. The DNA is harvested after conviction, not upon arrest. 

Gallant said the DNA that Toronto police now have isn't in the national data bank.

Toronto police have some 600 homicide cold cases, which date back to 1956. 

Anyone with information is urged to call police at (416) 808-7400 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477).