Thursday, May 7, 1998
Peter Krivel and John Duncanson
Sex suspect probed for possible link in killingsMethod of attack similar to four women strangled
Police are looking into the possibility that a 41-year-old man arrested in connection with a sexual assault on a prostitute could be connected to as many as four unsolved hooker slayings in Toronto.
"The nature of the assault (yesterday) leads us to believe that he could be a suspect in other occurrences," Sergeant Marilyn McCann told reporters at a news conference yesterday.
At least 12 prostitutes have been murdered in Toronto since 1994; four of them were strangled. But police would not say whether the man they arrested is a suspect in any of the slayings.
However, the homicide squad has been called in so that the suspect can be investigated, said Detective-Constable Charles Stearn.
Following the arrest, Toronto police are appealing to prostitutes to come forward with unreported violent sexual assaults. Stearn would not describe the nature of the assault yesterday, but a source said the sex trade worker had been choked.
Last March, the body of Donna Oglive, a prostitute, was found in a parking lot in the Jarvis-Carlton Sts. area. She had been choked.
Police will be handing out notices to prostitutes and potential customers downtown asking them to contact an officer if they feel they have information that may assist police in the investigation.
"There seems to be a perception that prostitutes won't report a sex crime because of the nature of their work," Stearn said. "We want to turn that around."
The man was charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement after a 24-year-old prostitute was picked up near Sherbourne and Gerrad Sts. around 3:30 a.m. yesterday, and driven to a secluded parking lot on Eastern Ave., police said.
There she was assaulted in the vehicle, but a security guard saw what was happening and called police.
Anastasia Kuzyk, who heads the Sex Workers Alliance of Toronto, said she hopes people will come forward. "I'd like sex trade workers to come forward and give them any information." "Even though the relationship between sex trade workers and police is perilous at best, I think it's very relevant that people assist the police," Kuzyk said.
She also said prostitutes must continue to be very vigilant, given that several slayings of prostitutes remains unsolved. "Let's not be jumping to conclusions. Just because they have somebody in custody doesn't mean everything is okay," she said.
Charged was Daniel Harvey Atkinson, 41, of Parry Sound, who owns a landscape company.
Police describe his vehicle as a 1997 green Chevrolet pickup truck with an automatic transmission, and a tan and brown interior. The licence number is 882 OCS.
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