Monday, 30 May 2011

Cold Case #3 - Lizzie Tomlinson - Candy From Strangers

WHO: Lizzie Tomlinson, 6, described as a polite, shy student of Park Public School.

WHAT: Lizzie was taken from a park near her home to a remote industrial area. There she was beaten, scratched and strangled; suffering a broken jaw, injuries to her neck, and bruising about her face and thighs. The horrific nature of her murder has haunted the Canadian public ever since. As a final indignity, the killer rammed a lengthy "stalk" (more likely a stick) into her vagina, bursting through her innards until coming to a halt at her right shoulder. Though unconscious, she was probably alive for at least an hour before death claimed her. In the meantime, the UNSUB hastily buried her beneath some weeds and two long boards, before absconding.

WHERE: The abduction occurred at "Stinky's Park" on the southeast corner of Shuter and Sumach, in Toronto's eastern downtown region. Lizzie's body was later found in the bushes of an abandoned industrial area near the railway tracks at Bayview Avenue (West Don Roadway) and Front Street. This murder site was only a kilometre to the south of the park.

WHEN: The abduction is believed to have taken place at approximately 3:30 PM on Saturday May 24th, 1980, with the murder occurring shortly after. It was not until Monday morning that Lizzie's body was finally found.

HOW: The old "candy from strangers" routine. There are multiple eye witness accounts that Lizzie was led away from the park by a man "described by numerous witnesses as between 25-35 years old, about 5 ft 7, 160-180 lbs, tanned, blue eyed, with long dark brown hair, a beard, possibly left-handed, and wearing a tan tank top, blue jeans, and brown running shoes." (Quote from It is believed the two proceeded on foot to the isolated area where the murder took place.

WHY: This UNSUB acted out of anger and rejection, experiencing a profound loss of control during the murder. Though he may not harbour deep remorse, he did not feel gratified during the slaying, and would attempt to sweep it psychologically under the table. He certainly would not relish his murder or follow it in the news. Unlike more compulsive sex slayers, Lizzie's impalement was not the realization of a deep seated fantasy he wished to relive. His original intent was to have sex with Lizzie, not kill her, but this went wildly wrong. When he found her uncooperative, he was unable to maintain an erection, and was driven into a rage where he beat and strangled her (notice he brought no weapons to the crime scene). The branch he thrust into the vagina was an act of angry sexual substitution: "Oh my penis isn't good enough? How's THIS!" With his rage sated, he then hastily attempted to conceal the body by covering it with boards. By this point, his psychological burial of guilt had already begun.

The Murderer of Lizzie Tomlinson

Sex/Gender: The UNSUB is male and identifies as such.

Age: Witnesses note a man between the ages of 25-35, though I am inclined to lean towards the younger side of that scale due to the lack of organization at the murder site. The offender's beard may have also given the illusion that he was older than his years, especially considering the majority of reports came from other children. Age is always difficult to determine because you are going on the suspect's "mental age" which is often out of sync with their physical age. In this case, I believe we might be dealing with an UNSUB with significant psychological impediments. For this reason, I will stick to the 25-35 age range, though if not for eye witness reports I would place it, based on the behaviour evidenced at the crime scene, as between 20-30.

Race/ethnicity: The UNSUB is Caucasian in race.

Occupation/skills/intelligence/socialization: The UNSUB has incredibly low self esteem and is stuck in the latency phase of his development - unable to function in the adult world. Because he has more in common with children psychologically, he is good at conversing with them and gaining their trust. Due to this infantile mentality, he is unemployed and does not drive. There is additional evidence to support these claims: 1) Children reported having been offered ice cream by a man fitting the suspect's description in the month leading up to the abduction, indicating the UNSUB had plenty of free time on his hands and was unconstained by the demands of work or a serious relationship. That said, the killing did occur on a weekend, which should be taken into note. Hopefully police recorded the days when the children claimed to have been courted by him to determine whether they also occurred on the weekend, and the coinciding times; 2) The UNSUB walked with Lizzie from Stinky's Park to the industrial area, ensuring he was seen by multiple witnesses. An offender who had access to a vehicle would instead have taken her into this more private space where she was less likely to be seen, and where he could transport her over greater distances more quickly. In terms of abilities and intellectual capacity, the UNSUB will display no aptitude for any skill or trade, and will be of low-average to average intelligence, leeching off others to sustain himself. He may however display a startling capacity for cunning, far eclipsing his academic and working intelligence.

Appearance: A composite of the UNSUB is displayed here showing a fairly unkempt man with long brown hair and a beard. This is in keeping with the disorganized profile I have assembled. As the UNSUB would not consider it possible for an adult to treat him with any measure of respect, he would neglect his grooming and personal hygiene out of lack of necessity. His beard is a psychological comfort blanket which he uses to remind himself that he is a full grown man, not the child he feels like emotionally. His haphazard thrown together clothing (tan tank top, blue jeans, and brown running shoes) underlies his total incompetence and disinterest in fashion, along with his inability to afford anything better.

Residence: The UNSUB lives locally, within walking distance of the parkette. This is made apparent by his previous attempts to approach children in the area, and familiarity with the abduction and murder scene/dump site. It is highly probable that he spent a portion of his own childhood or adolesence there, and may very well still live with a parent in the vicinity. Another option is that he since moved and takes public transit to revisit  the area. Unable to maintain a decent living or normal heterosexual relationship, he will live with family members, room-mates or in a group home.

Relationships/family: I don't expect this man to be able to sustain a close adult intimate relationship. However, I think he would be able capable of faking his way through a marriage with a woman of low self-esteem. It would be one of those arrangements were they aren't really in love, don't spend a lot of time together save for maybe watching TV in silence, and wouldn't have a lot of close friends. Maybe some neighbours might know them on a shallow level. Their sex life would be nothing remarkable, and if they had children, they might be subject to sexual abuse. This is the best case scenario for him. If I were placing bets, I would wager he is a lonely dependent of either his family or government social services be it through a psychiatric based disability, mental health centre or halfway house. He is of low birth order, and was probably on the receiving end of an endless flow of verbal abuse growing up.  The culprit: a domineering mother.

Criminal/psychiatric history: The UNSUB will have a history of exhibitionism, ie. exposing himself to children, and may also have a record of psychiatric illness. He does not use alcohol or illicit drugs to any notable degree, though he may be on strong pharmaceutical medication.  Naturally, there may also be priors for statutory rape and/or child molestation.

1 comment:

  1. I remember this case, but the details I remember are different than what this says. Keep in mind I was young so my memories are skecthy. We had just moved into the apts in regent park on Sumach street. A man came around with flyers asking everyone if we had seen the little girl. Since we had just moved into Toronto we hadn't seen or nor did we know her. It was a short while after we heard from somewhere that she had been found murdered.

    I remember to this very day this little girl and her name, though I was unaware of the actual details. It has haunted me my entire life. It was at that moment that I realized that the world was a scary place. It also wasn't long before I was molested on my way to the variety store, by a man that had been watching us kids play in the sandbox in the complex, he was watching and opening his coat, he was naked underneath, I remember being intrigued as I hadn't ever seen a naked man before so I kept looking. He followed me to the store and took me behind the store, did his thing and left. I DID tell my mom, but she was certain I was lying b/c "men just don't walk up to little girls and molest them"...I was never allowed to talk about it again and it was shortly after that my and my siblings were taken into care. We became crown wards in 85 0r 86....

    Lizzie Tomlinson remains etched in my memory and since she has been there for all my years, I am sure she will remain there forever. Her going missing and her death are probably the clearest memory I have from my time living in regent park.