Toronto police have launched an investigation into how officers handled the disappearance and death of a young woman in the city’s Church and Wellesley neighbourhood last weekend that has now been ruled a homicide.
Mark Pugash, spokesperson for Toronto Police Service, told CBC Toronto on Monday that the force’s professional standards unit is overseeing the probe after a complaint was filed about how officers at 51 Division treated the missing persons report filed on Tess Richey.
When asked about the allegations, Pugash declined to provide details, saying he “wouldn’t get into the specifics at this time.”
The professional standards unit is obligated to investigate complaints of misconduct under Ontario’s Police Services Act. This branch is responsible for overseeing police practices, conduct, appearance, ethics and integrity.
The probe comes a day after CBC Toronto learned from Richey’s family that her mother and a friend, who had travelled to Toronto from North Bay, Ont., to look for the 22-year-old, found her body last Wednesday.
They made the discovery at a property just doors away from where Richey went missing, days before her 23rd birthday. An autopsy carried out Friday revealed neck compression led to her death.
Richey had been out with an old high school friend, Ryley Simard, who last saw her around 4 a.m. Saturday when Simard decided to head home after their night out. The two had gone to Crews & Tango, a LGBT nightclub on Church Street, and were very intoxicated when they left sometime after 1:30 a.m., said Simard.
The pair then met up with a man and a woman, and hung out on the porch of the woman’s home on Dundonald Street for some time.
Simard did not remember how they met the woman or man, but says her last memory of Richey was seeing her outside the home at 4 a.m. Saturday.
Investigators now say they believe Richey was in the company of an “unknown” male when her friend left the area. Police are looking to identify the male, who they say would have been with Richey between 2 a.m and 5 a.m. in the area of Wellesley and Dundonald streets.
The man is described as white with a slim build, light-coloured short hair and between five-feet-seven inches and six feet — “taller than the deceased.”