Who was the woman in the concrete floor? The unanswered questions behind one of Toronto’s oldest cold-case mysteries

The body of the smallish woman appeared when demolition workers tore up the floor of Robertson Motors at Danforth and Coxwell Avenues on May 19, 1995.She had been hidden from sight for decades entombed in concrete.How she got there was a mystery. An autopsy showed she died from a severe beating, after suffering massive head injuries. “She actually has been kind of mummified,” Det.-Sgt. Jim Crowley said at the time. “The air would never have gotten to her.”Soon, Crowley found himself oddly bonded to the anonymous woman found under the auto dealership, which had been converted into the Robertson Parkette.Ideally, he wanted to catch her killer, but he knew this was unlikely, given the passage of time.Concrete for the floor of the auto dealership was poured in 1949, which meant she was likely dead for at least 46 years.Even if the killer was already dead, Crowley hoped to at least identify her so that her family could pay their respects to her and gain some closure.“Obviously she deserves a proper burial,” Crowley told the Star shortly after her remains were found.Her autopsy also determined that she was white, of medium build with strawberry blond or auburn-colored hair and she had likely given birth.Of particular interest to Crowley was the upper dental plate that was found with her bones.A poor woman couldn’t have afforded such expensive dental work, which meant the victim “was at least middle-class,” Crowley said.Computer searches weren’t as easy in 1995 as they are today, and so Crowley poured over old files and newspaper articles and city directories. He also spoke with family members of missing women.Crowley heard plenty of sad stories of domestic strife in the GTA after World War II, as men tried to reintegrate into their families after being at war overseas, surrounded by death and loss. Some women were physically abused. Others just walked away.Crowley had no shortage of names of GTA women who vanished around the time the concrete was poured at Robertson Motors.“This case has opened a lot of old wounds,” Crowley told the Star in 1995. “What is amazing to me is the number of ladies that went missing in the 1940s. I’m just fascinated by it. I had no idea.”A particularly poignant story was that of Wilma Bunker, 25, who vanished on June 7, 1949, after leaving home for her job at a Wellington Street office.At the time she disappeared, Bunker rented an apartment at 269 Chaplin Crescent, on a leafy street in Forest Hill.Despite her comfortable address, Bunker had led a turbulent life.In 1931, when Wilma was just 9, her father Wilbur drowned her 2 1/2-year-old brother Ronnie in the bathtub of their home on Armadale Avenue, near Jane and and Bloor Streets. Then Wilma’s dad slashed his own throat, although he was saved by an elderly neighbour who used a ladder to climb up to the second-floor bathroom.Wilbur, a tenor in the then-Avenue Road United Church, just snapped, neighbors said.Ronnie was his favorite child and Wilbur said he wanted to take him to heaven.“I wanted to die and I wanted my boy to go with me,” he told police at the time.Wilbur had lost money in the stock market crash of 1929 and was never able to catch up.Worse yet, he lost money that he had swindled from his boss, which got him fired.“ … Bunker is said to have admitted taking $200 of the firm’s money and lost it investing,” the Globe reported. “To try and make it up he used more, until he finally found his shortage amounting to $1,000.”Court heard that Wilbur Bunker returned from World War I with severe shell-shock. He had never fully recovered from having his horse shot out from under him and from being gassed on the battlefield.His trial for killing his favorite child only lasted a day before he was sent to a psychiatric hospital.Crowley’s research meant he also learned of Rose DeLong, 30, who vanished from the city on Dec. 15, 1947.DeLong had studied nursing but was a restaurant cashier at the time of her disappearance. DeLong had plans of starting a business in London, Ont., and just vanished after heading to New York to buy equipment.She lived on Seymour Avenue, not far from where the semi-mummified remains were discovered.Another sad case to reach Crowley was that of June Lacomb, who disappeared without a trace sometime in the 1940s, leaving her son a veritable orphan. Then there was Sarah Marie Weatherill, 42, of Napier Street, who seemed to drop off the face of the earth in September 1949.Weatherill left behind her husband William and three children — Bobby, 11, George, 13, and Anna, 16, who suffered from arthritis.Of particular interest to Crowley was the plight of Dorothy (Dottie) Cox, who was about 40 when she vanished in February or March of 1943. Years before Crowley began his search, Dottie’s parents hired a private investigator to track her down, with no success.Her family was excited when Crowley released a police composite photo prepared by forensic expert Betty Clark.Clark used skull measurements to create a computer-generat

Who was the woman in the concrete floor? The unanswered questions behind one of Toronto’s oldest cold-case mysteries

The body of the smallish woman appeared when demolition workers tore up the floor of Robertson Motors at Danforth and Coxwell Avenues on May 19, 1995.

She had been hidden from sight for decades entombed in concrete.

How she got there was a mystery. An autopsy showed she died from a severe beating, after suffering massive head injuries.

“She actually has been kind of mummified,” Det.-Sgt. Jim Crowley said at the time. “The air would never have gotten to her.”

Soon, Crowley found himself oddly bonded to the anonymous woman found under the auto dealership, which had been converted into the Robertson Parkette.

Ideally, he wanted to catch her killer, but he knew this was unlikely, given the passage of time.

Concrete for the floor of the auto dealership was poured in 1949, which meant she was likely dead for at least 46 years.

Even if the killer was already dead, Crowley hoped to at least identify her so that her family could pay their respects to her and gain some closure.

“Obviously she deserves a proper burial,” Crowley told the Star shortly after her remains were found.

Her autopsy also determined that she was white, of medium build with strawberry blond or auburn-colored hair and she had likely given birth.

Of particular interest to Crowley was the upper dental plate that was found with her bones.

A poor woman couldn’t have afforded such expensive dental work, which meant the victim “was at least middle-class,” Crowley said.

Computer searches weren’t as easy in 1995 as they are today, and so Crowley poured over old files and newspaper articles and city directories. He also spoke with family members of missing women.

Crowley heard plenty of sad stories of domestic strife in the GTA after World War II, as men tried to reintegrate into their families after being at war overseas, surrounded by death and loss. Some women were physically abused. Others just walked away.

Crowley had no shortage of names of GTA women who vanished around the time the concrete was poured at Robertson Motors.

“This case has opened a lot of old wounds,” Crowley told the Star in 1995. “What is amazing to me is the number of ladies that went missing in the 1940s. I’m just fascinated by it. I had no idea.”

A particularly poignant story was that of Wilma Bunker, 25, who vanished on June 7, 1949, after leaving home for her job at a Wellington Street office.

At the time she disappeared, Bunker rented an apartment at 269 Chaplin Crescent, on a leafy street in Forest Hill.

Despite her comfortable address, Bunker had led a turbulent life.

In 1931, when Wilma was just 9, her father Wilbur drowned her 2 1/2-year-old brother Ronnie in the bathtub of their home on Armadale Avenue, near Jane and and Bloor Streets.

Then Wilma’s dad slashed his own throat, although he was saved by an elderly neighbour who used a ladder to climb up to the second-floor bathroom.

Wilbur, a tenor in the then-Avenue Road United Church, just snapped, neighbors said.

Ronnie was his favorite child and Wilbur said he wanted to take him to heaven.

“I wanted to die and I wanted my boy to go with me,” he told police at the time.

Wilbur had lost money in the stock market crash of 1929 and was never able to catch up.

Worse yet, he lost money that he had swindled from his boss, which got him fired.

“ … Bunker is said to have admitted taking $200 of the firm’s money and lost it investing,” the Globe reported. “To try and make it up he used more, until he finally found his shortage amounting to $1,000.”

Court heard that Wilbur Bunker returned from World War I with severe shell-shock. He had never fully recovered from having his horse shot out from under him and from being gassed on the battlefield.

His trial for killing his favorite child only lasted a day before he was sent to a psychiatric hospital.

Crowley’s research meant he also learned of Rose DeLong, 30, who vanished from the city on Dec. 15, 1947.

DeLong had studied nursing but was a restaurant cashier at the time of her disappearance. DeLong had plans of starting a business in London, Ont., and just vanished after heading to New York to buy equipment.

She lived on Seymour Avenue, not far from where the semi-mummified remains were discovered.

Another sad case to reach Crowley was that of June Lacomb, who disappeared without a trace sometime in the 1940s, leaving her son a veritable orphan. Then there was Sarah Marie Weatherill, 42, of Napier Street, who seemed to drop off the face of the earth in September 1949.

Weatherill left behind her husband William and three children — Bobby, 11, George, 13, and Anna, 16, who suffered from arthritis.

Of particular interest to Crowley was the plight of Dorothy (Dottie) Cox, who was about 40 when she vanished in February or March of 1943. Years before Crowley began his search, Dottie’s parents hired a private investigator to track her down, with no success.

Her family was excited when Crowley released a police composite photo prepared by forensic expert Betty Clark.

Clark used skull measurements to create a computer-generated image of the woman found under the concrete, which Crowley considered to be “almost identical” to a headshot he obtained of Dottie.

Dottie left home to visit her mother in Cooksville and just disappeared.

Dottie sounded a lot like the women found under the concrete. She was 5 feet tall, 110 lbs., pale, with reddish hair. When last seen, she was wearing a blue dress and dark, fur-trimmed coat and black Tam hat.

Crowley heard that she had lived with her husband Henry Victor Cox at 29 Queensdale Avenue in the Danforth Village-East York area, just a couple of blocks from the car dealership where the body was found.

Her husband was an English-born blacksmith’s helper who worked for the Canadian National Railways.

He was about 10 years older than Dottie, who gave birth to two sons with Henry and also looked after his three sons from a previous marriage.

Crowley heard that the couple often argued.

They also often drank at the nearby Linsmore Hotel on the Danforth and Crowley determined that was likely where she was last seen alive.

Henry died of natural causes in 1946. After Dottie’s disappearance, her 19-year-old stepson joined the Army and another stepson went into the care of relatives.

Her own children, sons aged seven and five, were placed in foster homes.

At first, Crowley sounded hopeful as he said he thought he had finally learned the identity of the woman from under the concrete floor.

“There are just too many things,” he said at the time. “She had reddish hair, partial dental plate and lived in the area. The pathologist also thought she had given birth to children.”

Then material from the mummified body found under Robertson Motors was compared with blood samples from Dottie’s children for a DNA match.

“DNA comparison have revealed that the body is NOT Dorothy COX,” Toronto police spokesperson Connie Osborne said in an email. “This case is still being investigated but at this time the identity of the victim is still unknown.”

Crowley died in 2010 at the age of 62 in a farming accident, after he retired from the force.

The case remains unsolved.

Peter Edwards is a Toronto-based reporter primarily covering crime for the Star. Reach him by email at pedwards@thestar.ca

Source : Toronto Star More   

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Today’s coronavirus news: China fires back at U.S. allegations of lack of transparency over COVID-19 outbreak; New Zealand city going into 3-day lockdown after virus found

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Sunday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.8 a.m.: There’s no doubt battling the COVID-19 pandemic has been a massive all-of-government and all-of-Canada effort.It has consumed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government in its second mandate. Yet, for all the highly scripted news conferences and announcements, the hard work and improvisation to find solutions has gone on out of the public eye.We are just beginning to get a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes scramble.In response to an Opposition-led production order for all records related to the public health response (and not the financial or economic supports) that passed Oct. 26 in the Commons, a massive document dump is underway.Read the full story from the Star’s Tonda MacCharles7:55 a.m.: New Zealand’s largest city of Auckland will go into a three-day lockdown beginning just before midnight Sunday following the discovery of three unexplained coronavirus cases in the community.Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the move after an urgent meeting with other top lawmakers in the Cabinet. She said they decided to take a cautious approach until they find out more about the outbreak, including whether the infections are of the more contagious variants.The lockdown is the first in New Zealand in six months and represents a significant setback in the nation’s largely successful efforts to control the virus.New Zealand had successfully stamped out community spread, and many people elsewhere in the world looked on in envy as New Zealanders went back to work and began attending concerts and sporting events without the need to wear masks or take other precautions.7:54 a.m.: Japan on Sunday formally approved its first COVID-19 vaccine and said it would start nationwide inoculations within days, but months behind the U.S. and many other countries.Japan’s health ministry said it had approved the vaccine co-developed and supplied by Pfizer Inc.The announcement comes after a government panel on Friday confirmed that final results of clinical testing done in Japan showed that the vaccine had an efficacy similar to what overseas tests showed.Many countries began vaccinating their citizens late last year, and Pfizer’s vaccine has been used elsewhere since December.7:53 a.m.: China fired back at the U.S. on Sunday over allegations from the White House that Beijing withheld some information about the coronavirus outbreak from World Health Organization investigators.In a statement on Saturday, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Washington had “deep concerns about the way in which the early findings of the COVID-19 investigation were communicated and questions about the process used to reach them.”“It is imperative that this report be independent, with expert findings free from intervention or alteration by the Chinese government,” he said, referring to the WHO mission investigating the origins of the pandemic in the central city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first detected late in 2019.“To better understand this pandemic and prepare for the next one, China must make available its data from the earliest days of the outbreak.” Sullivan’s statement said.China responded Sunday with a statement from its Washington Embassy that said the U.S. had already “gravely damaged international co-operation on COVID-19” and was now “pointing fingers at other countries who have been faithfully supporting the WHO and at the WHO itself.”7:53 a.m.: Germany on Sunday implemented tight border controls on its frontiers with the Czech Republic and Austria’s Tyrol province in an effort to stem the spread of more contagious coronavirus variants.The new restrictions that took effect at midnight limit entry from those areas to German citizens and residents, truck drivers, transport and health service workers and a few others, who have to register online and show a negative coronavirus test.The German government warned that some border delays were possible, but police said there were no major tailbacks on Sunday morning.Infection rates in Germany have been declining steadily in recent weeks but officials are concerned about the possible impact of variants first discovered in Britain and South Africa. Both variants have been reported in Germany but so far appear to account for just a small proportion of cases.7:52 a.m.: The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says public health officials have found seven probable cases of a contagious variant of COVID-19 in Pauingassi First Nation.It says the samples have been sent to the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg to confirm whether they are the variant that was first discovered in the U.K.Members of the Armed Forces were deployed to Pauingassi a week ago after cases there spiked.4 a.m.: The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Sunday Feb. 14, 2021.In Canada, the provinces are reporting 31,403 ne

Today’s coronavirus news: China fires back at U.S. allegations of lack of transparency over COVID-19 outbreak; New Zealand city going into 3-day lockdown after virus found

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Sunday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

8 a.m.: There’s no doubt battling the COVID-19 pandemic has been a massive all-of-government and all-of-Canada effort.

It has consumed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government in its second mandate. Yet, for all the highly scripted news conferences and announcements, the hard work and improvisation to find solutions has gone on out of the public eye.

We are just beginning to get a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes scramble.

In response to an Opposition-led production order for all records related to the public health response (and not the financial or economic supports) that passed Oct. 26 in the Commons, a massive document dump is underway.

Read the full story from the Star’s Tonda MacCharles

7:55 a.m.: New Zealand’s largest city of Auckland will go into a three-day lockdown beginning just before midnight Sunday following the discovery of three unexplained coronavirus cases in the community.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the move after an urgent meeting with other top lawmakers in the Cabinet. She said they decided to take a cautious approach until they find out more about the outbreak, including whether the infections are of the more contagious variants.

The lockdown is the first in New Zealand in six months and represents a significant setback in the nation’s largely successful efforts to control the virus.

New Zealand had successfully stamped out community spread, and many people elsewhere in the world looked on in envy as New Zealanders went back to work and began attending concerts and sporting events without the need to wear masks or take other precautions.

7:54 a.m.: Japan on Sunday formally approved its first COVID-19 vaccine and said it would start nationwide inoculations within days, but months behind the U.S. and many other countries.

Japan’s health ministry said it had approved the vaccine co-developed and supplied by Pfizer Inc.

The announcement comes after a government panel on Friday confirmed that final results of clinical testing done in Japan showed that the vaccine had an efficacy similar to what overseas tests showed.

Many countries began vaccinating their citizens late last year, and Pfizer’s vaccine has been used elsewhere since December.

7:53 a.m.: China fired back at the U.S. on Sunday over allegations from the White House that Beijing withheld some information about the coronavirus outbreak from World Health Organization investigators.

In a statement on Saturday, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Washington had “deep concerns about the way in which the early findings of the COVID-19 investigation were communicated and questions about the process used to reach them.”

“It is imperative that this report be independent, with expert findings free from intervention or alteration by the Chinese government,” he said, referring to the WHO mission investigating the origins of the pandemic in the central city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first detected late in 2019.

“To better understand this pandemic and prepare for the next one, China must make available its data from the earliest days of the outbreak.” Sullivan’s statement said.

China responded Sunday with a statement from its Washington Embassy that said the U.S. had already “gravely damaged international co-operation on COVID-19” and was now “pointing fingers at other countries who have been faithfully supporting the WHO and at the WHO itself.”

7:53 a.m.: Germany on Sunday implemented tight border controls on its frontiers with the Czech Republic and Austria’s Tyrol province in an effort to stem the spread of more contagious coronavirus variants.

The new restrictions that took effect at midnight limit entry from those areas to German citizens and residents, truck drivers, transport and health service workers and a few others, who have to register online and show a negative coronavirus test.

The German government warned that some border delays were possible, but police said there were no major tailbacks on Sunday morning.

Infection rates in Germany have been declining steadily in recent weeks but officials are concerned about the possible impact of variants first discovered in Britain and South Africa. Both variants have been reported in Germany but so far appear to account for just a small proportion of cases.

7:52 a.m.: The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says public health officials have found seven probable cases of a contagious variant of COVID-19 in Pauingassi First Nation.

It says the samples have been sent to the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg to confirm whether they are the variant that was first discovered in the U.K.

Members of the Armed Forces were deployed to Pauingassi a week ago after cases there spiked.

4 a.m.: The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Sunday Feb. 14, 2021.

In Canada, the provinces are reporting 31,403 new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,252,942 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 3,305.979 per 100,000.

There were no new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 1,313,225 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 95.41 per cent of their available vaccine supply.

Source : Toronto Star More   

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