Police in Ontario and New York searching for clues in torso case
Niagara Regional Police Inspector Jim McCaffery addresses the media at police headquarters in St. Catharines on September 4, 2012. (BOB TYMCZYSZYN/QMI Agency)
Niagara Regional Police have ruled out the "vast majority" of missing-persons cases they have reviewed across Canada related to their ongoing investigation into a female torso found in the Niagara River last week.
Insp. Jim McCaffery said investigators looked into around 50 cases that matched the description of the victim, but most have not led police any closer to identifying the torso found near the Rainbow Bridge.
"There are a couple we still need to clear, but we're satisfied the vast majority of them do not meet the parameters," McCaffery said during a press conference in St. Catharines, Ont., Tuesday.
"We have met with our American policing partners who continue to review missing-persons reports in their jurisdiction. We have and will continue to follow up on investigative leads that have been forwarded to our tip line."
Niagara police continue to ask the public to forward any tips they may have, and have engaged New York State Police, which is currently reviewing missing-persons cases.
State police Capt. Steven Nigrelli said they started by going through missing-persons cases in western New York, but have since expanded throughout the entire state and could go as far as other Great Lake and north-east states.
"There's a good possibility this person may have entered the water from the United States," said Nigrelli.
He said based on ongoing testing of the torso, his department keeps "excluding people who could be possible victims."
"This is an arduous task and it's ongoing at this time."
During the press conference, McCaffery provided further information about the torso recovered from the Niagara River near the Rainbow Bridge last Wednesday.
Initial post-mortem results indicated the victim was a middle-aged, white female with a pierced navel. She had at least one caesarian section and her tubes were tied.
On Tuesday, McCaffery narrowed the victim's age to between 31 and 55. He said the piercing was "closed off," and that she had two caesarian sections.
Further testing is being done in Toronto.
McCaffery said he is not prepared to get into the cause of death, or the condition of the torso when it was found. He maintained the matter is a homicide and that "we are prepared to say that it was a dismemberment."
He said police received between 15 to 20 tips from the public over the weekend, the vast majority from Niagara.
"People are calling in suspicious items, suspicious behaviour on the part of people they have seen in the community. Mostly that's what we're getting and we will follow each one of them up and continue to do that."
At this stage, what police really need is the public's help, said McCaffery.
"We ask that you contact the female family members that you've not heard from recently. Contact co-workers who have not shown up to work to check on their welfare. Check on neighbours with unexplained absences," he said.
"If you are not satisfied with the results you're getting, please contact (police) for investigative followup. No tip is too small for us to follow up on.
Someone in the community knows who this person is. The identity of the individual is critical to this investigation."
Police ask anyone with information to call 905-688-4111, ext. 4200.
Information can also be left on major crime tip line at ext. 4468.