Toronto

P.E.I. convict accused of killing 3 Toronto prostitutes

A man from Prince Edward Island — already in prison for one murder and charged with another — is facing new charges of first-degree murder in the deaths of three Toronto prostitutes between 1994 and 1997.
The alleged Toronto victims of Peter Dale MacDonald, from left to right: Julianne Middleton, Virginia Coote and Darlene McNeil.

A man from Prince Edward Island — already in prison for one murder and charged with another — is facing new charges of first-degree murder in the deaths of three Toronto prostitutes between 1994 and 1997.

Peter Dale MacDonald, 52, has been charged with killing Julie Ann Middleton, 23, Virginia Coote, 33, and Darlene MacNeill, 35, whose bodies were found in Lake Ontario in the city's west end.

He appeared in court at Old City Hall in Toronto on Thursday morning.

"Between July 1994 and October 1997, the bodies of three young women were discovered … in the vicinity of Sunnyside pool," Toronto police Det.-Sgt. Steve Ryan said at a news conference at police headquarters Thursday. 

The pool is located on the shore of the lake.

Police said the three sex-trade workers had all been strangled.

Middleton's body was discovered on July 7, 1994. Coote died on Oct. 28, 1994, and MacNeill on Oct. 29, 1997.

Peter Dale MacDonald is currently awaiting trial in connection with the killing of Michelle Charette of Windsor, Ont. ((Toronto Police Service))

Ryan described MacDonald as a serial killer.

MacDonald, who is originally from Summerside, P.E.I., has lived in Toronto and Windsor, Ont. He has been high on the list of suspects in the Toronto homicides for many years.

"What I can tell you is Peter MacDonald's name surfaced in 1994," Ryan said.

But the cold case squad investigator wouldn't say why police were unable to lay charges against him until 16 years later.

Police in Windsor have also linked MacDonald to the August 2000 killing of 40-year-old Michelle Charette.

He was arrested a year later and charged with her death, but that charge was later withdrawn. Earlier this year, he was charged again with Charette's murder and is awaiting trial.

A DNA sample obtained by Windsor police in the Charette case was then linked to another unsolved case — the April 2000 murder of 63-year-old James Campbell. Campbell was found strangled in his apartment in Toronto's Parkdale neighbourhood.

MacDonald was convicted of second-degree murder in the Campbell case and is currently serving a life sentence. 

Toronto police would not say what new evidence they obtained in order to lay the current charges.

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