Toronto police appeal for help to identify dismembered body found in lake

Toronto police are seeking help from the public to identify a person whose dismembered body parts were found near a downtown beach last year.

Police said two human thighs were found in the water near Cherry Beach on Oct. 9, 2023. Three weeks later, the police marine unit discovered a human torso partially wrapped in a black garbage bag in the outer Toronto Harbour area of Lake Ontario.

Police said Tuesday that an autopsy and DNA testing done in November revealed the body parts belong to the same person, who appears to have been intentionally dismembered.

"Because we only have a torso and we only have thighs that do not have any distinguishing marks or scars or tattoos, it's made it quite difficult for us to identify this individual," Det. Sgt. Tiffany Castell told a news conference.

Investigators believe the person was a male between the ages of 21 and 28, with a light brown, tan complexion, an average-to-lean build and with black body hair. He's believed to have been 5'6" tall, plus or minus 3.5 inches.

Police said the person died within 24 to 48 hours of the thighs being discovered.

Castell said investigators still don't know exactly how he died, but the case "is being treated with the highest level of suspicion."

Police have released images of a thin necklace found on the torso in hopes that someone will recognize it. They also said the torso was dressed in a size small T-shirt.

Acting Supt. Kathlin Seremetkovski said police have been "working tirelessly" to identify the person, including searching the national database of missing persons, to no avail.

"This person is a family member, a friend, a co-worker, an acquaintance. Someone knows who this individual is. Someone knows what took place," she said.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact Toronto police by phone or a dedicated tip email at help51@tps.ca. Information can also be provided anonymously through Crime Stoppers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2024.

The Canadian Press