Two Toronto police officers are facing charges of misconduct after an internal investigation found they didn’t thoroughly search for a missing woman, Tess Richey, whose body was later found by her mother in an abandoned building.
Richey, 22, was found dead four days after going missing in the Yonge and Wellesley streets area last November.
Officers Michael Jones and Alan McCullough were involved in the initial investigation and search.
They are both facing charges of misconduct and neglect of duty under the Police Services Act and appeared at a police tribunal hearing on Tuesday.
The charges allege that when the officers arrived on the scene, they did not search the adjoining property or immediate area thoroughly, did not conduct a canvas of the neighbours and they failed to notify a supervisor of the particulars.
Richey’s mother, who had driven from North Bay to search for her daughter, discovered the 22-year-old’s body in the stairwell of a building under construction.
“It was clear that my mom should not have had to travel from North Bay to find her daughter in the same area that she was reported missing in,” Varina Richey said in a statement to CityNews.
“We also shouldn’t have had to deal with the subsequent allegations surrounding Tessie’s death. The homicide team were great when they took over and at least (Toronto police) are trying to ensure no other family has to go through what mine did when a loved one is the victim of murder.”
The charges allege the officers were only 40 metres away from where Richey’s body was found when they responded to the report that she was missing.
Police initially said that foul play was not suspected in Richey’s death. But an autopsy later confirmed that she died from compression to the neck.
Kalen Schlatter, 22, is currently facing one charge of first-degree murder.
“I hope that this brings a tiny measure of comfort in particular to the families … of the people close to those individuals, that the system has not forgotten about these circumstances” said mayor John Tory in relation to Richey’s case as well as victims of alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur. “There now can be a process which I potentially could be a part of as a member of the police board”
“I’m glad, for the sake of those families, for the sake of those communities involved, that they can see that there’s a process being followed, and it will be followed by a review that we will be initiating that will likely come before the Police Board in the next very short period of time, to look into other aspects of some of the cases that have received so much attention,” he added.
Toronto police announced in December they will be looking into how officers handled the initial stages of the investigation by calling in the Professional Standards Unit.
The prosecution for the Professional Standards Unit has requested these matters return at a later date as the circumstances surrounding the alleged misconduct involves another matter before the courts.
The assigned Crown said these allegations will have a “negative” effect on the prosecution of Schlatter.
Jones and McCullough’s case was put over until the criminal proceedings are complete.
Toronto police declined to comment on the charges or the professional standards investigation.
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