'Dead or alive': Police seek suspect in 1983 murder of nine-year-old Sharin Morningstar Keenan

Toronto police say they've not given up their search for Dennis Melvin Howe, the man wanted in the 1983 killing of nine-year-old Sharin Morningstar Keenan.

Man wanted in killing, Dennis Melvin Howe, would now be 76 years old

Nine-year-old Sharin Morningstar Keenan was found dead a week after she was abducted on January 23, 1983 from a park on Brunswick Avenue. (CBC)

Toronto police say they have not given up their search for Dennis Melvin Howe, the man wanted in the 1983 killing of nine-year-old Sharin Morningstar Keenan.

"Dead or alive, we're looking for Dennis Melvin Howe. We have his DNA. Someone knows where he is. We want to hear from you," said Det. Sgt. Stacy Gallant.

Howe would have turned 76 years old in September 2016.

Gallant appealed to any of Howe's relatives, specifically his nieces and nephews and his child, to contact investigators with any information about his whereabouts.

Keenan's body was found stuffed inside a refrigerator in what was then a rooming house on Brunswick Avenue, where Howe had rented a room. She had been sexually assaulted and strangled. 

She had been playing in Jean Sibelius Square on the afternoon of Sunday, Jan. 23, 1983, where she was seen speaking to a man. Her body was found after a frantic, week-long search. 

A warrant for first-degree murder was issued for Howe, who was 43 years old at the time. 

At the time, Howe was described as:

  • Approximately five feet nine inches tall.
  • Brown eyes.
  • A half-inch scar under the left side of his chin.
  • A crooked pinkie or little finger.
  • A scar on his right thumb.
  • Left-handed.
  • A small birthmark on the right side of his chest.
  • Very bad teeth.

He also often used the term "turkeys" when speaking about people and he liked to do needlepoint when he was in jail. Police also say Howe was a heavy smoker and regular user of both drugs and alcohol. Police say Howe may be hearing impaired and use a hearing aid. 

Howe, a Regina, Sask. native with an extensive criminal record for violent offences, was released on mandatory supervision in 1982 from a Saskatchewan penitentiary where he spent almost 15 years for assaulting women and girls. His release was revoked when he fled the area. 

He was divorced in 1967 from his wife and did not have any children from that marriage. However, police say it's believed he had a daughter from a common-law relationship in 1969. Police say Howe also had two brothers and two sisters.

Police want to hear from any of Howe's relatives.

"Someone knows where he is and we want to hear from you," said Gallant.