Lizzie Tomlinson wasn’t a child beauty pageant queen like little Jonbenet Ramsey. She was however a 6-year-old murder victim, brutally raped, strangled and bludgeoned to death with a rock. Lizzie’s ordeal began in Toronto in 1980, in the East Toronto downtown region. She lived in a cul-de-sac with her siblings and her parents. It was a nice area: friendly, cozy, nice kids, friendly neighbours. You get the idea: a Mr. Rogers type of set-up. Anyway.
The morning of May 24 would prove to be anything but Mr. Rogers neighbourhood. It was summertime and naturally children weren’t in school. If only they had been little Lizzie might be alive today. If only the killer hadn’t entered her cul-de-sac, the same would be true. There are always so many “if only’s” in this tragic type of scenario. Lizzie was playing with friends in a parkette known by neighbourhood kids as “Stinky’s Park” on the southeast corner of Shuter and Sumach Sts. At approximately 3:30 p.m., a man later described by numerous witnesses as between 25-35 years old, about 5 ft 7, 160-180 lbs, tanned, blue-eyed, with long dark brown hair, a beard, possibly left-handed, and wearing a tan tank top, blue jeans, and brown running shoes, lured her away from the park. An intensive search was immediately launched. It wasn’t until Monday morning that Lizzie’s defiled body was found in a forlorn industrial area, in some bushes near railway tracks at Bayview Ave. (West Don Roadway) and Front St.
The rape was especially gruesome: the killer impaled Lizzie by shoving the stalk of a weed (more likely a stick) up into her vagina and through her stomach and upper body until it came to rest near her right shoulder. She lived for at least an hour, and possibly for a few hours, after the insertion of the stalk, but was likely unconscious. That’s one thing to be grateful for. Since she had been partially buried, police believed the killer had spent quite a bit of time at the scene. The pathologist examining her, recorded injuries that included multiple scratches and cuts, a broken jaw, a fist-inflicted injury on her neck, and other bruises on her face and thighs. Some kids said they had been approached by a man fitting the suspect’s description, and offering ice cream, in the month prior to the abduction. It’s possible that their descriptions were wrong or partly wrong. Children often make significant errors in identifying strangers. Hapless bearded men were randomly corralled left and right in the days and weeks after the murder, and the general public was whipped into a fury over reinstating capital punishment.
One person went so far as to email an article about Lizzie’s murder to a forensic psychic, a person who supposedly uses Horary and Birth charts to determine how a rape-murder took place. You are familiar with Horary stuff. You’ve read horrorscopes, oops, I mean horoscopes. Horoscopic astrology uses a visual representation of the heavens, for a specific moment in time, to interpret the meaning underlying the alignment of the planets at that moment. Yep. Hocus-pocus. This psychic did her “reading” after she received the email and had done her research on the Tomlinson case. She claimed that Lizzie, ruled by Venus, was outside near a wooded area and that Stinky’s Park was equipped for outdoor activities. Who would have known? She claimed the Sun indicated there was a man on the perimeter of the park but he was not “with” any of the other children and that his purpose for being there centered around the children. He was attracted to the kids. Truly, I don’t know why police don’t consult with psychics more often to solve their cases. Such brilliance.
He tried his seduction on other kids first and got lucky with her. He was offering a lie, an illusion, a promise of candy or other forbidden treats, something her parents would not let her have but she wanted dearly. This was already known by children he had approached before Lizzie. Finally, the seer claimed “the man she met and left with was who muscular an in fine physical shape. Health conscious and discriminating, neat, clean and well-trimmed. He was of medium height, dark to reddish-brown hair and thin lips. Also, someone with a broad, high forehead, high cheekbones and large nostrils. Again, this brilliant reading was provided for her in the email and by the police sketch of the perpetrator. We don’t know about the physical appearance et al but a person could make up anything about a killer 30 years after the fact. The psychic business in this case is utter rot. Just thought I’d include it for interest’s sake.
Another member of the public, Kathy, in 2010, contacted York Regional Police to discover whether Lizzie Tomlinson’s case would be re-opened. She was herself molested as a little girl by her father, Dave Norris. In this video Kathy interviews with Det. Sgt. Steve Ryan and Detective Clark in Homicide, in regard to her father, David Norris, whom Kathy believes should have been investigated in the deaths of Lizzie Tomlinson, Diane Singh, and Yvonne Leroux. Her reasoning?
- Lizzie was abducted within a block from Kathy’s home.
- Her father looked like the police composite.
- He committed suicide after being charged for molesting a Kindergarten child.
- He attempted to kill Kathy.
- She believed her mother wanted her dead.
- Her mother went missing.
Frankly, I find this woman’s perspective on the Lizzie Tomlinson case, as well as her accusation that the YRP were negligent in its investigation of her murder, quite extreme. I believe her father molested her. I believe her mother was verbally abusive and didn’t protect her. I don’t believe that her father was a rapist-murderer because he was a pedophile. Despicable, yes. Proven murderer, no. However, if this woman’s experiences and memories (which she admits aren’t entirely reliable), are accurate (and we don’t know this to be true), then perhaps it is worth taking a closer look at Dave Norris.
On June 5th, 1980, Lizzie’s 26-year-old cousin Gregory Guerin was arrested and charged with her murder. The bizarre factor in this case was that Guerin was severely mentally handicapped. He functioned at the level of a 7-year-old. He was frequently played with Lizzie and the neighbourhood children. If the psychic is to be believed, then Guerin cannot possibly be the killer since he was involved with children and not attracted to them. In his autobiography, The Case for the Defense, Edward Greenspan, a prominent criminal defense attorney, defended Guerin. Greenspan emphasized several facts in the case, some of which included:
- the handicapped man’s unlikely ability to plot a murder by luring his cousin away from Stinky’s Park, (something he wouldn’t have to do, since Lizzie trusted him)
- escape without being seen
- avoid police suspicion
- be easily identified by neighbourhood children as the man who led her away from the park.
Greenspan’s defense was successful. Guerin was cleared and discharged in late December at his preliminary hearing.
No one else was ever arrested for the murder of Lizzie Tomlinson.