As Toronto’s gay village disappearances rise, concerned locals urge the community to look out for each other…
High-profile cases of missing women from Toronto’s LGBTQ neighbourhood turning up dead have once again raised safety concerns in the Church and Wellesley area.
Toronto police have ruled the death of Tess Richey, 22, a homicide. Last seen alive on November 25, her body was allegedly discovered by her mother four days later.
— Jonathan Goldsbie (@goldsbie) December 4, 2017
Police are still looking to identify a man she was seen with, calling on the public to contact with any information.
Homicide #56/2017 Church St & Wellesley St E Toronto
Victim Tess Richey, 22. Nov25 victim reported missing & located deceased Nov29~Cause of death neck compression~Det/Sgt Graham Gibson is seeking to ID a white male she was seen with 5’7”-6’, slim build, light-coloured short hair pic.twitter.com/jh2ZZ24pju
— Homicide Squad (@TPSHomicide) December 4, 2017
Another high-profile disappearance was that of Alloura Wells. A 27-year-old trans woman who was well known in the Village, she went missing in July. Sex work advocacy organization Maggie’s spearheaded increased media attention and held a community search in November. Her body was found in August, but wasn’t identified until late last month.
Our hearts are heavy today as Toronto Police confirm the body found in the Rosedale Valley last summer is Alloura Wells.
We are here for sex workers in our community who need support and are committed to fighting for justice for Alloura.
Sex workers rights are human rights. pic.twitter.com/53LHfSgbrz
— Maggie’s Toronto (@MaggiesToronto) November 30, 2017
A Facebook user has posted screenshots indicating that the Church-Wellesley Neighbourhood Association is hoping to host a volunteer safety walk, but the group has yet to publicly post about the walk.
Missing Village residents have been a public concern for some time.
As Torontoist notes, around 11 men who have disappeared from the neighbourhood have been circulated in a Facebook meme, although a police task force assembled earlier this year had failed to find any connections between the disappearances.
Although worries over a potential serial killer surfaced, Toronto police Det. Sgt. Michael Richmond told Inside Toronto in November that collected evidence doesn’t confirm or deny the theory so far.
Concerned Torontonians are expressing their worries over potentially targeting of vulnerable queer and trans locals.
The Church-Wellesley village is supposed to be a safe place where queer people can go out for a night of fun and shouldn't have to worry about being put in danger. The recent number of disappearances taking place in the area is absolutely heartbreaking.
— Jess (@livinrovedaloca) December 3, 2017
Queer people in Toronto's gay village have been and are currently going missing (and being found dead) at an alarming rate. The mainstream news doesn't cover it properly at all. People don't know and don't talk about it.
— maris (@marisbeauvoir) December 3, 2017
Many are cautioning those who frequent the Village to be vigilant and check in with loved ones, volunteering to be there for anyone traveling alone.
Just a reminder to anyone living or working near Church/Wellesley to stay safe. 2 young women in the last week + multiple gay men have gone missing in the last few months. With holiday parties and all that jazz coming up stick together and be extra alert if you're out late!
— Rajesh Sankat (@rajeshsankat) December 4, 2017
@ all my toronto friends, particularly those living aroung young/church & wellesley area, PLEASE be careful, people are going missing at an alarming rate. if any one ever needs anything, and i mean absolutely ANYTHING, please dont hesitate to call me. my phone is always on
— emily🌻 (@em_denuzzo) December 3, 2017
A LOT OF LGTBQ+ FOLX ARE GOING MISSING IN THE VILLAGE (church and wellesley area) DOWNTOWN. Quite a few people are being attacked as well. Please stay safe, please check in with your squad.
— BIZZY BERMA 🇳🇵 (@_Berma) December 4, 2017
Reports of 2 women gone missing by Church/Wellesley and Yonge/Wellesley area in the past few weeks. Stay safe, my Toronto sisters.
👭 Don’t walk home alone
🔑 Carry your keys in your hand
🔇 Don’t have your headphones in
📱 Screenshot your Uber trip and send it to a friend
— Bayley Ungurain (@supimbay) December 3, 2017