Elementary school teacher Graham Pearce, 36, was stabbed in the throat in the master bathroom of his 25th-floor apartment at 35 High Park Ave. on Sunday, March 20th, 1983. By the time his roommate found him shortly before 1 p.m., Pearce had bled to death. Police believed the bachelor was murdered by someone he either brought home with him or admitted to the apartment early on Sunday morning. Police later learned Pearce had spent Saturday night at Stages, an upstairs gay bar at the Parkside Tavern on Yonge St. near Wellesley St., where he was last seen by a friend walking to his car at 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning.
COLD CASE: Toronto police appealing for leads in 1983 murder of single, gay man in High Park area
Person of interest Ronald Thomas Gale died in 2001 before being ID’d in case
Toronto police are appealing to the public for leads in a cold case murder dating back to 1983.
Graham Hugh Pearce, 36, died on Sunday March 20, 1983 around 12:40 p.m. after being fatally stabbed in an apartment at 35 High Park Ave.
Pearce’s roommate called police after arriving home to find Pearce dead on the bathroom floor.
Pearce was a single, gay man, who was a teacher in Peel Region, police said.
Police issued a YouTube video appeal Wednesday to the public asking for assistance in finding Pearce’s killer.
Toronto police homicide Det.-Sgt. Stacy Gallant said the investigation revealed Pearce had bar-hopped the night before his death on March 19, 1983.
“That night, he visited Boots Bar at the Selby Hotel on Sherbourne Street and Stages Bar at Yonge Street,” Gallant said.
Pearce drove home that night after 3 a.m. in his vehicle, a 1973 Plymouth, “along with his would-be killer or killers,” Gallant said.
Police identified a person of interest through evidence, Ronald Thomas Gale, then 22, Gallant said. Gale died in 2001, before investigators identified him in the case, he added.
Cold case investigators are appealing to anyone who knew Gale, or knew who Gale’s friends and associates were in 1983, to contact police, Gallant said.
Investigators are also appealing to people in their 50s and 60s in the gay community who may have information.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-7474 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477).
Cops seek help in murder cases
TORONTO — Metro police are asking for help in solving the separate murders of two Toronto gay men found stabbed to death in their apartments within a recent three-week period.
The body of Graham Pearce, a 36- year-old teacher, was discovered by his roommate in his High Park highrise apartment shortly after noon on Sunday, March 20, 1983. The previous night, Pearce had gone for a drink with a friend to the gay bar, Boots, and later to Stages disco on Yonge Street. (Note: the bars differ from the Parkside Tavern listed above) He and his friend danced until 3:15 am, walked up Yonge St and parted company at Wellesley St at 3:30 am. Pearce was last seen walking west on Wellesley St in the direction of a parking lot where his car was parked.
According to Metro Police Homicide Squad officer Sgt Brian Raybould, Pearce was wearing blue jeans, blue T-shirt and a dark bomber jacket at the time. Raybould described Pearce as 5 ft 8 inches, stockily built with dark brown hair going to bald. Although the photo released by police shows Pearce wearing glasses, he always wore contact lenses when downtown.
Less than three weeks later, at 11 pm on April 5, 1983 police and the fire department were called to extinguish a fire in a condominium in the East York apartment complex of Crescent Town. After the fire
was put out, police discovered the nude body of Donald Weir in the bathtub. The 50- year-old Weir had died of multiple stab wounds.
Homicide’s Staff-Sgt Don Sangster said Weir was last seen in a store in Crescent Town at 6 pm on the day of the murder. Earlier in the day he had also been seen in a bank and a couple of hotels on
Danforth Ave. “We don’t know if he was in the bars that night,” Sangster told TBP, although it is known that he occasionally drank at Boots and the Quest. Waiters at both bars do not recall seeing him that night. Weir’s roommate recently returned from a holiday out of the province. Police say he reported certain property was missing from the apartment. (Note: do they mean after he returned from vacation or after the murder?)
According to the investigating officers, there are no definite suspects in either case at the moment. The local media have attempted to link the murders (“Fatal pattern haunts gays,” screamed one Toronto Sun headline) but police were more cautious. “There isn’t anything that connects the two,” Staff-Sgt Tom Milne stated flatly.
Sgt Raybould said police were checking out hustlers and street people in the downtown area. He said a number of men were under investigation, and mentioned a list of individuals known to frequent downtown bars. “We’re not having much luck,” Staff-Sgt Sangster admitted.
Initial media coverage of the murders did not mention the sexual orientation of the victims. It was only after the Weir death that the Sun began to stress the gay connection. “We’ve never reported this as a homosexual killing,” Sgt Raybould said. Although he said there were no official police guidelines on the matter, “my decision is that you’re in big trouble if you brand a killing a gay killing. First of all, how do you know it is? One of these days we’ll have one that isn’t. Besides,” he added, “there’s a Charter of Rights in this country now.”
“We don’t mention anyone’s lifestyle,” said Staff-Sgt Sangster, “but there’s no harm in mentioning the bars the deceased went to.”
Both Sangster and Raybould said that members of the gay community have been cooperative in coming forward with information. “There’s been a great response from people,” Sgt Raybould said.