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Cheyenne Marie Fox, 20, was the proud mother of a five-year-old son and a member of the Wikwemikong First Nation on Manitoulin Island, Ont. Her father described her as someone who was kind and approachable.
Cheyenne was a “no-nonsense” kind of girl, John Fox Sr. said, adding his daughter was also very accepting of others.
On the evening of April 25, 2013, Cheyenne’s lifeless body was found below a Toronto highrise, where she had landed after plunging from the 24th floor.
Toronto police determined there was no evidence of criminal activity in Cheyenne’s death, but her father strongly believes his daughter was murdered.
“They didn't really do any more other than what they … had in front of them. They didn't want to research,” Fox said.
In September 2014, Fox filed a statement of claim on behalf of Cheyenne’s estate against the Toronto Police Service, the Attorney General of Canada and two individuals for $14 million, alleging negligence in the response to several 911 calls made on behalf of and by Cheyenne that eventually led to her death.
The claim alleges that Cheyenne was “a victim of human traffickers who befriended her and exploited the fact that she was a vulnerable young Indian woman.” Their alleged intent was to convert her into an “involuntary sex worker,” the claim states in part.
Toronto police have not yet filed a statement of defence.
On the day she died, Cheyenne was also the victim of an alleged sexual assault by a Toronto taxicab driver, which led her to jump from the taxi along Highway 410 around 6 p.m., the claim states.
Two individuals made the first call to the police, reporting that they witnessed her jump out of the taxi. Shortly after, she ended up in an apartment at 80 Harrison Blvd. in North York, at the behest of one of her alleged traffickers, to meet a “customer.”
A second call came from the apartment around 11 p.m., reporting a fight between Cheyenne and the male customer — though it wasn’t clear who made that call.
According to the claim, although Cheyenne was in serious danger because she was a victim of sexual exploitation, Toronto police still did not respond. The court document states that Cheyenne made several attempts to leave the suite before engaging in further “excessive drinking.”
Toronto police only responded to the last call, when the customer reported Cheyenne had jumped over his balcony, the statement of claim says.
At 11:10 p.m., Cheyenne’s body was found by Toronto police.
The statement of claim says in failing to respond to the calls, police breached the applicable standard of care owed to Cheyenne.
It alleges police might have known that Cheyenne was a young woman vulnerable to violence and a victim of human traffickers.
Fox believes police did not thoroughly investigate the death of his daughter or effectively communicate with the family.
“They didn't really tell me the full scope of really what they did. They gave me like bits and pieces,” Fox said.
Fox said police told him the male who was with Cheyenne last was supposed to take a lie detector test, but according to Fox, that was never done. Eventually, police closed the case and told Fox the male was too traumatized to do the test, he said.
Toronto police told CBC News the cause of death was determined to be impact trauma and after an investigation, interviews and a determination by the coroner’s office, there was no evidence of criminal activity. The case remains open and if new information arises, it will be investigated, police said.
“I asked for a location [as to] where Cheyenne fell. I wanted to do a proper ceremony there,” said Fox, referring to a traditional Indigenous ceremony.
“They said, 'If you go there, you're going to be charged with trespassing, and we're not going to tell you where it is.'”
The statement of claim alleges that Toronto police and the attorney general “failed to consider or properly pursue all investigative strategies in relation to missing and murdered Indian women, specifically, Cheyenne.”
CBC News continues to investigate missing and murdered indigenous women and girls in Canada, looking at the unsolved cases and telling the stories of the families and communities.