CRIME

On a killer’s trail

MALCOLM GRAY March 16 1987
CRIME

On a killer’s trail

MALCOLM GRAY March 16 1987

On a killer’s trail

CRIME

On subway-station walls and in store windows and telephone booths across Toronto, posters confront passers-by with a haunting reminder of a brutal and still-unsolved child murder. Now, more than seven months after 11-year-old Alison Parrott disappeared from her central Toronto home, many of the posters have become torn and stained. But beneath the illustration of a petite, wellgroomed girl, a plea for information retains its urgency. It reads: “Did you see Alison? Please think back to Friday, July 25.” Indeed, Metropolitan Toronto Police Insp. David Boothby suggests that clues buried in a mountain of evidence gathered since that time might eventually lead police to Alison’s killer. Said Boothby: “I am optimistic that this case will be solved. We’ve done hard work, but there’s still hard work ahead.”

Boothby and 21 other homicide investigators assigned to the case have painstakingly reconstructed the Grade 7 pupil’s movements last July 25, when the budding track star received a tele-

phone call that lured her to a downtown meeting with a man posing as a sports photographer. Two days after her disappearance two boys found her nude, strangled and sexually abused body in a heavily wooded riverside park in the west end of the city.

Aiding the police in their quest is a

Clues buried in a mountain of evidence gathered since her death might eventuallg lead police to Alison's killer

$250,000 computer program that performs such specialized functions as matching data from more than one million bits of information already collected. And the police have evidence that indicates Alison kept her rendezvous with her killer. The videotape from a security camera in a downtown bank shows Alison walking past the

building, near her intended meeting place, just minutes before she was to be there.

Boothby is familiar with the frustrating task of trying to catch a childkiller. In addition to his involvement in the Parrott case, he has helped search for Nicole Morin, a nine-year-old child who disappeared on July 30, 1985, after leaving her apartment in suburban Etobicoke to meet a playmate and go swimming at a nearby pool. She has not been found, and police say that they have no new leads in the case. Clearly, the random nature of many child murders only compounds the difficulties faced by police. Said Boothby: “An organized crime murder may be difficult to solve, but there’s always a motive, a reason.”

Still, detectives seeking Alison’s killer say that widespread distribution of the bank picture might jog the memories of witnesses who saw Alison meet her abductor on a busy downtown street. Meanwhile, investigators have interviewed more than 10,000 people since the girl’s death, and operators on three telephone hotlines installed to collect tips and information on the case are still taking calls between 7 a.m. and midnight each day.

MALCOLM GRAY

DAVID TODD