homicide-491978-duncan-robinson

Duncan Robinson

Duncan Robinson, 24, was stabbed and slashed to death early on Sunday, November 26th, 1978 in the bedroom of his apartment on Vaughan Rd. His mutilated body was found by police on Tuesday after Robinson’s sister was alerted by his employer that he hadn’t shown up for work for two days.

The shy, well-dressed Robinson was seen leaving his apartment at 9:30 Saturday night on his way to a gay bar downtown. A neighbour said she had heard “a strange hollow sound” coming from Robinson’s apartment sometime between 11 p.m. and 12:30 a.m., but she had decided against calling police. Further investigation disproved the importance of what the neighbour heard, for witnesses saw Robinson leaving a Yonge St. tavern with a man at 2:30 a.m. The man was described as Caucasian, late-20s, 6’5” to 6’7”, with a lanky build, greasy brown hair past his ears, a scruffy goatee, sloping shoulders, dirty hands, a clumsy walk, and a foul body odour. He had asked bar patrons about buying drugs and was seen to roll his own cigarettes.

duncan-robinson-suspect-sketch

Robinson’s murder was the 14th slaying of a homosexual man in 3 ½ years at the time, and there would be more to come in the ensuing years. Half of those 14 cases remained unsolved at the time. The circumstances of a number of the cases were very similar.

Police believe there may be a connection with the murder of Marlon McRae (article below).

Anthony Guy Ritchie was arrested on September 19, 1981.

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But it is known that police have resurrected their file on the unsolved murder of Duncan Robinson. Robinson was also brutally stabbed to death, on November 26, 1978. A composite of the suspected murderer was made in that case, and a reward has been offered for information leading to the killer’s arrest.  When asked if the two cases are connected, Dicks said, “We have our own theories.”

FEBRUARY 1979

BodyPolitic

Since February 18, 1975, fourteen gay men have been murdered in Toronto. Eight of these killings remain unsolved. Could they have been committed by one man? The police aren’t saying.

But the crimes do show a certain similarity…

Murder in Toronto-the-Good

by Robin Hardy

William Duncan Robinson has been described as a quiet, shy man who lived alone. Robinson was last seen at 2:30 am Sunday, November 26, 1978. He was leaving the St. Charles Tavern, a downtown Toronto gay bar, accompanied by a tall, lanky man with dark brown greasy hair, sloping shoulders, large dirty hands and feet, and an offensive body odour. Robinson’s companion walked clumsily and was scruffy in appearance. It’s hard to imagine why anyone would take him home.

Late Saturday night, a neighbour of Robinson heard a “peculiar loud hollow noise.” When another neighbour passed Robinson’s door around 9 PM Sunday night he heard nothing. An hour later he passed the door again, and heard the stereo blasting away.

“On Tuesday November 28,” the police bulletin reports, “the lifeless body of William Duncan Robinson was found in his apartment situated at 205 Vaughan Road, Apt No 32. The cause of death was determined to be as a result of stab wounds to the chest.”

The murder of Duncan Robinson achieved notoriety as the fourteenth “homosexual slaying” in Toronto since 1975. Eight of those murders are unsolved.

It has made great copy for local papers: “Homosexuals fear mass killer,” “Slow hustling on homosexual row,” “Murders put homosexuals on guard,” and “14th murder chills city’s homosexuals.”

The rumour factory ran overtime: the killer is the father of a 14-year-old boy who became involved with homosexuals and has vowed “the revenge killings will continue”; the murderer is a sickie on the loose; the murderer is someone quite involved with the Toronto gay community.

Shortly after Robinson’s murder a message was scrawled on the wall in the washroom of the St. Charles Tavern: “I’ll kill again Saturday night.” During the same week, on the graffiti board at Buddy’s Backroom Bar, someone wrote “Billy is next.” Billy, a waiter, was understandably worried. A University of Toronto professor active in the Damien Committee and the Gay Academic Union received by mail a clipping about the unsolved murders torn from the Toronto Star. Typewritten across it were the words “You’re next.” It was postmarked Malton, a Toronto suburb.  Note: Anything on the identity of the UofT Professor mentioned?

The series of unsolved murders begins in 1975. On February 18, the body of Harold Walkley, a 51 -year-old history teacher and community activist, is discovered by his roommate in Walkley’s bloodied bedroom. He is nude, and has been stabbed several times in the back and chest. No knife is found and credit cards have been stolen.

1 year later, on February 11, 1976, James Taylor, a 41 -year-old painter and decorator, is found in his home, beaten to death with a baseball bat. Another six months, and on September 20, 1976, the caretaker finds 49-year-old James Kennedy dead in his apartment, nude, with a towel knotted around his neck. He has been beaten about his face. Again, credit cards are missing. Kennedy’s neighbours describe him as “a recluse.” Kennedy was last seen at the St. Charles Tavern the night before he was killed.

Six months pass. On January 25, 1977, the nude body of Brian Latocki, a 24-year-old bank analyst, is found in his blood spattered bedroom, he is tied to the bed, his head badly beaten. He has been strangled and stabbed. Again, no knife is found. An autopsy determines that his death occurred January 22. The night before he had been seen hitch-hiking home from the St. Charles Tavern. Latocki is described as “shy and new on the gay scene.”

These murders have not been solved.

Nor do police know who murdered Fred Fontaine, Donald Rochester, and Sandy Leblanc. Fontaine was severely beaten in the washroom of the St. Charles Tavern on December 20,1975, and died in hospital six months later. Rochester was shot dead February 13, 1978, while on duty as a night porter at the Toronto Lawn Tennis Club. Police suspect a “homosexual connection” in this death.  Sandy Leblanc, a well-known club owner on the Toronto gay scene, was found dead in his apartment September 21, 1978. He had been stabbed more than 100 times from head to foot. As police walked around the body, the carpet squished from the sound of absorbed blood, and bloody footprints led to an open window. It takes a lot of time to stab 100 times through flesh and bone.

With eight of the fourteen murders.

Cosistently through all fourteen deaths is “overkill.” “Overkill” means that the victim is repeatedly stabbed, bludgeoned or beaten even after death.

Inspector Hobson of Homocide Division, Metropolitan Toronto Police, appears helpful, but has an abrupt manner. He refuses to connect the unsolved gay murders. “In several of the murders there is a common denominator: the victim was last seen at the St Charles Tavern, and met his murderer there. Beyond that we cannot say if there is a connection. We don’t even know if there was robbery in all the unsolved, belief in the existence of a single psychokiller is widespread. But police are encouraging the theory that the murders are unconnected random killings. This means there could be eight killers “out there” somewhere.

Until the murderers of the eight men are found, little will be known of the circumstances which led to their deaths.  Of the six murders which have resulted in arrests or convictions, six different people have been proved or alleged to be killers.

The “solved” murders have involved robbery, fights over payment for sex, and violent assault resulting, unintentionally, in death. They prove one thing: death by murder is unpredictable, and the reasons for it are usually quite banal.

There are enough similarities between the “solved” murders and the unsolved ones to indicate that just as there were six killers in the “solved” cases, there could well be eight killers for the unsolved murders.

The element which runs most consistently throughout the cases. Often the victim lived alone.  Sometimes a relative could say something was missing.”

But Inspector Hobson admitted there was much information he was not revealing. It was more a case of “we’re not telling you,” than “We don’t know.” If someone is brought in for the crime and a confession is extracted, the police need evidence to corroborate that confession in court. Corroborating evidence must be material not known to the general public. Hobson refused to say how many murderers the police were looking for in the eight unsolved cases.   He also refused to say whether or not police knew if the men had been killed before or after sex. In the case of Duncan Robinson, he did divulge one piece of information in his possession when he let drop the comment: “I guess the killer can’t change his bloodtype.”

Police found blood samples to indicate the killer had been injured. Robinson fought back.

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