Toronto police divers are searching Lake Ontario near the Oshawa shoreline on Monday, hoping to find evidence that would help investigators identify a female torso found last week.
Const. George Tudos, a media officer for Durham Regional Police Service, said homicide investigators asked the Toronto Police Underwater Search and Recovery Team for help. The search is focused on the area where the torso was found, he said.
"Divers from Toronto Police Service will be assisting our investigators today on the waterfront, hopefully to find any further evidence to assist in identifying the unknown female victim, " he said. "We don't have a dive team here at Durham regional police."
A fisherman found the torso in the waters of Oshawa Harbour on Sept. 11. The death is considered a homicide. Police have said there is evidence of trauma to the victim.
Const. Caroline de Kloet, spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service, said Durham police asked for help.
"It's their investigation and we're assisting them," she said Monday.
Durham police conducted a grid search of the Oshawa waterfront area near Simcoe Street South and Harbour Road last week, but Tudos said no evidence was found.
An autopsy of the torso was unable to determine cause of death, Tudos said. Ontario's Centre of Forensic Sciences is conducting tests to try to identify the victim and obtain a DNA profile.
"We did a post-mortem, which was inconclusive as far as the cause of death. So some more testing will have be done to the torso," Tudos said.
For example, testing might be able to reveal the victim's height and weight, he said.
"At this point, it's very difficult with the very little evidence that we have."
Durham police are reviewing cases of missing persons, have contacted police services in regions that border Lake Ontario and are urging family members of missing women to file reports with police if they have not already done so.
"Lake Ontario is a very large body of water. The victim could really have been from anywhere. There are international ships that are also utilizing our lakes," Tudos said.
On Friday, police asked members of the public not to share photos of the torso on social media. Distributing photos is not only inappropriate but also it may interfere with the homicide investigation, police said.
The death is being treated as Durham Region's eighth homicide of the year.
Dive team helps with water-related investigations
According to the Toronto police's website, the Underwater Search and Recovery Team consists of one dive sergeant and seven constables. The team is part of the Toronto police's marine unit.
"The team is able to conduct dive operations in any body of water to a maximum depth of 100 feet," it reads.
The team helps with water-related investigations, such as "recovery of bodies, firearms, weapons, vehicles, vessels, aircraft or any criminal evidence that may have been discarded in a body of water."
Anyone with new information about the torso or photographic evidence is urged to call Det. Short (ext. 5407) or Det. Dorego (ext. 5319) of the DRPS Homicide Unit at 1-888-579-1520. Anonymous tips can also be called in to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.