Father, stepmother charged in 1994 suitcase slaying

Toronto police have charged a father and stepmother with the first-degree murder of 17-year-old Melonie Biddersingh in 1994. The teen's body was found inside a suitcase which had been set on fire in an industrial area north of the city.
Det.-Sgt. Steve Ryan answers questions about the 1994 murder of Melonie Biddersingh. (CBC)

Police in Toronto have identified a homicide victim whose charred remains were found in an industrial area north of the city 18 years ago.

The girl's father and stepmother have been arrested and charged with killing 17-year-old Melonie Biddersingh.

According to Det.-Sgt. Steve Ryan of the Toronto police homicide squad, the break in the case came with "a single phone call."

The information from "a person of conscience" sent them to Kingston, Jamaica, where they spoke to Melonie's biological mother.

After obtaining a DNA sample, they were able to confirm the teen's identity — something forensic investigators had been unable to do for 18 years.

On March 5, Everton and Elaine Biddersingh were arrested in Welland, Ont., and charged with first-degree murder.

Melonie was born in Jamaica in 1977 and moved to Toronto with her two brothers in 1990, in the hope that the children would have a better life.

According to Ryan, the children moved into an apartment in Toronto's Parkdale neighbourhood with their biological father and his second wife.

"Her life in Toronto wasn't pleasant," Ryan said.

One of her brothers, Dwayne, 15, jumped from a balcony in 1992.  Toronto police concluded it was a suicide but say they will reinvestigate.

On Sept. 1, 1994, York Region Police discovered the teen's charred body inside a burning suitcase. 

Ryan told a news conference at police headquarters in downtown Toronto that Melonie had never been enrolled in school.  She had been "kept in seclusion," he said.

Her mother in Jamaica tried on several occasions to contact her, he said, but never knew what had happened to her daughter.