At 9:04 a.m. on the morning of Monday May 12, 1997 a 911 call was received about a body being found in the first laneway south of Front St. East, west of Cherry St. at the south west corner at the rear of the building of 393 Front St. East.

393 Front St. East was an abandoned building taken over as a homeless camp, referred to as Street City. It was a busy area where drugs and the sex trade flourished.

Upon arrival police found the body of a woman, obviously deceased lying face down, fully clothed, beside a wall. She was wearing black, tight-fitting pants, a white hooded sweatshirt, a dark blue, hip length jacket, and a white and purple trimmed running shoe. Missing was her right running shoe. Upon examination it was confirmed the body was that of 21-year-old Lisa Anstey and she had been strangled.

Lisa was sex trade worker and known crack-cocaine addict, known to police and had been working in the Wellesley and Bleeker St. area of Toronto. She had last been seen on Mother’s Day, May 11, 1997 in Wellesley and Bleeker St. areas. She had been working the streets since she was 11-years-old, the youngest many sex trade workers had seen. Lisa was a first nations person with the given name of Lisa Rojas who also had two kids. She was known to be a “scrapper and tough as nails”, though small in stature at about 5 foot 4 inches and 105 lbs. She was not known to have had a pimp and was a nice enough girl but drugs and addiction led her to have somewhat of a nasty mouth and bad attitude.

She was known to use the street name “Jemma”  and “Terri” and lived on Hook Ave. with a man named Jonathan Scott Dunn who was convicted of running girl under the age of 14 and given 14 years in prison. Also living there were a girl named Tammy and a man named Danny H. who went by the street name “Ghost” and a girl by the name of Anissa (spelling?) G. For a while she did hang out with a pimp by the name of Wendell or Kendall.

There were hundreds of people in the homeless shelter, according to police, that were coming and going at all hours of the day and night. Police theorized she had been killed in another location and moved to the area which was a dark area without lights. The person moving her had to have known it was a high traffic area possibly hoping someone would find her thinking she may be still alive or just wanting someone to find her. Perhaps someone was sending a message.

Police believe she was likely killed in a vehicle or at least transported in one and her shoe likely came off when she was being removed from a vehicle and dumped at the location though it is very possible the shoe was kept as a trophy.

She was found wearing a t-shirt with the slogan “Take Back the Night” which was part of a campaign by a local sex trade workers organization.

Some questions regarding this is why move her from where she was likely picked up, which was north of the area she was found in a quieter, though still badly lit area, to an area of high traffic? Obviously, the killer knew the area well. Was he perhaps on a “bad date” list for the area she was found and had to look for a girl elsewhere?

Lisa clearly did fight back and that led to DNA of the killer being found. The DNA profile was run through the violent criminal database run in Ontario by the OPP with no result. Police do have a DNA profile and also a profile of the killer: white male, with blue- or light-coloured eyes with blonde or red hair.

Police conducted nearly 400 interviews at the time. Family, friends and her boyfriend and his friends were all looked at and eliminated as suspects.

The murder of Lisa Anstey remains unsolved.


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