Toronto police are investigating the mysterious deaths and disappearances of at least nine people in one LGBT neighborhood.
Tess Richey, Alloura Wells, Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen are among the 9 who were reported missing from Toronto’s Village neighborhood since March, according to the nationalpost.com.
Of the nine, 2 men are still missing and a biological woman and 2 men, including a MtF transgender, were reported dead.
Police at a press conference Friday morning assured worried residents that a serial killer was not at work in the neighborhood.
Tess Richey, 22, was reported missing after a night out with a friend on Nov. 25. Her mother discovered her body in a Village stairwell four days later. She was found steps away from where she was last seen speaking to a white male suspect.
Police initially said there was no foul play involved, but a coroner ruled the cause of death to be strangulation.
At an hour-long press conference Friday morning, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders insisted that an anti-gay serial killer was not at work in the Village.
"We follow evidence,” Saunders said. “The evidence is telling us that is not the case right now."
He disagreed with a group of reporters who said that police didn't take the cases seriously.
"There was no point in time that I said we don’t take missing persons cases seriously,” Saunders said. “I think that when someone is calling in to report a missing person an element of sensitivity is necessary."
Similar concerns were raised after Toronto police pulled the body of Alloura Wells, a MtF transgender, from a Rosedale Valley ravine in July.
Wells, who was a homeless sex worker, was only reported missing in November. The family complained that police told them Wells' disappearance was of low priority to them because he was homeless.
Police apathy may also be the case with Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen, two men with strong ties to the gay neighborhood, who went missing in June and March respectively.
Friends and family of the missing men have taken matters into their own hands by organizing search parties and circulating missing persons fliers.
Police Chief Saunders said that makes him question the Toronto police force's service to the LGBT community. He promised to assign four additional peace officers to the neighborhood.