It wasn’t until she was reported missing, in November, that police managed to identify the body as Wells’s, and they are just now looking to interview her ex-boyfriend—although it remains unclear whether her death was the result of foul play.
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders announced at a press conference last week that he has ordered a review of how police handled both of those cases.
At that town hall in August, Inspector Peter Code, who was assigned to the task force, said the investigation was like trying to solve a puzzle. “And we’re damn short of puzzle pieces right now.” In many ways, these sorts of investigations are impossibly hard tasks.
“Even a small piece would help us find another piece. Privacy laws can hamper police efforts to obtain court orders and search warrants and limit what they can say publicly.
All five of these men were, as the cops phrased it, “known to frequent the areas of Church Street and Wellesley Street.” In other words: They were gay. (Navaratnam is Sri Lankan; Faizi and Kayhan are Afghani; Esen is Turkish.) Beyond that, there is no firm evidence linking one disappearance to another. I have spent hours scouring missing persons records from across North America and calling investigators who had dealt with suspicious disappearances. There were deficiencies in the original investigation.
Faizi was in the closet, sneaking off from his wife and kids to visit the Village, while Kinsman was openly gay, and even worked part-time at an LGBTQ campground north of the city. I know this because, after visiting the spot where Faizi’s car was found and consulting a few websites, I realized his car was found just steps away from an outdoor cruising area where men, especially those still in the closet, would search for hookups.
Police set up a task force, in 2013, to investigate the mysterious disappearances and search for connections between the three men, but it was eventually spun down and laid dormant—at least until Esen and Kinsman went missing, when a second task force was created.
There has been nothing to point police conclusively towards foul play, or to link the old cases with the new ones.
Her body was not found for four days, and was discovered not by police but her mother, who had travelled from North Bay to join the search.
Her body was in an alleyway, just steps from where she had last been seen.
This summer, a town hall was held at the 519 Church Street community centre, not far from the last known location of several of these men.
The room was packed full of members of the community.
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