Toronto-area police probe more sudden deaths for ties to Kenneth Law

·4 min read
Kenneth Law appears in court in Brampton, Ont., Wednesday, May 3, 2023 in an artist's sketch. (Alexandra Newbould/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Kenneth Law appears in court in Brampton, Ont., Wednesday, May 3, 2023 in an artist's sketch. (Alexandra Newbould/The Canadian Press - image credit)

At least three Toronto-area police agencies are reviewing recent sudden deaths for possible links to Kenneth Law as a growing number of authorities across the country confirm they too have been involved in the sprawling probe.

Law is accused of selling sodium nitrite, a potentially lethal substance, online to at-risk individuals in Canada and abroad. Ontario's Peel Regional Police charged the Mississauga man last week with two counts of counselling or aiding suicide linked to deaths in the area.

The police services of Toronto and nearby Durham and York regions all confirmed to CBC News this week they are now re-examining previous cases for any possible ties to Law.

"We are working with the Office of the Chief Coroner to review sudden death investigations where sodium nitrate/nitrite was deemed to be the cause of death or a contributing factor," Durham Regional Police Service Sgt. Joanne Bortoluss said in an email.

Supplied by Peel Regional Police Service
Supplied by Peel Regional Police Service

Bortoluss said already "one case has been identified from 2022" and that Durham's homicide unit "will be collaborating with Peel Regional Police to determine if it is linked to the Kenneth Law investigation."

The Toronto Police Service also said it was reviewing sudden death cases for links to the investigation into Law, being led by Peel police.

York Regional Police also confirmed it's "reviewing cases of sudden deaths that can be linked to the use of sodium nitrite," Sgt. Clint Whitney told CBC News.

None of the agencies specified how many deaths were under review.

'There could be more victims'

Authorities in Regina told CBC last week they'd reopened an investigation into a sudden death, but did not provide further details.

Halton Regional Police, west of Peel, said Monday that they've carried out two wellness checks on alleged clients of Law's, at the request of Peel police.

Peel police spokesperson Const. Sarah Patten told CBC last week that investigators are working with counterparts "across Ontario, nationally and internationally, as we believe there could be more victims."

Law, 57, has denied all allegations against him. The charges against him have not been proven in court.

WATCH | Investigation widens into toxic substance sold online:

He made a brief appearance at a Brampton courthouse by video link on Wednesday. Law spoke only to confirm his name and thank the justice of the peace and duty counsel. His case was adjourned until next week.

Law remains in custody pending a bail hearing. Evidence presented at this stage in the proceedings is covered by a publication ban.

Police agencies in Montreal, Saskatoon and Halifax all said they've assisted Peel police in their investigation, while their counterparts in Edmonton and London, Ontario said they're "aware" of the Law case.

The number of police agencies involved highlights the massive nature of the criminal probe. Peel police have said their investigation involves looking into some 1,200 packages sent from companies associated with Law to more than 40 countries, though how many of those packages contained the lethal substance isn't clear.

Ontario Provincial Police also said "packages may have been sent to more than a dozen communities across the province."

Peel police first publicly confirmed their investigation in late April after the Times of London reported Law had been linked to several deaths in Britain and the U.S. Authorities in the U.K. and Italy have since confirmed to CBC they've been in contact with Canadian law enforcement regarding the probe.

Submitted by Tonia Jones
Submitted by Tonia Jones

'Try to get the person help'

Tonia Jones from the Detroit area lost her 17-year-old son Anthony last year after she said he ingested sodium nitrite.

"What me and my family has been through this past year and a half is — it's just too much," she said in an interview this week.

Jones's lawyer provided CBC with a video showing an invoice for 50 grams of "preservative sodium salt," with the company name "Imtime Cuisine." Peel Police have identified it as a firm linked to Law.

A British coroner's report last year into the suicide of 23-year-old Neha Raju also named Imtime Cuisine.

British police previously told CBC in a statement they contacted the seller of the substance after Raju's death and reviewed his website. But they said they found "no evidence items on that site were being advertised or knowingly sold for the purposes of suicide."

Jones urged family members of vulnerable people to pay attention and act before it's too late.

"Just look out," she said. "Watch warning signs and try to get the person help."

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