Two Toronto police officers have been charged with misconduct in connection with the death of Tess Richey, a woman reported missing last fall and found dead by her own mother at an abandoned building in the city’s downtown core.
Constables Alan McCullough and Michael Jones appeared before a police tribunal on Tuesday and were charged under the Police Services Act with two counts each of misconduct and neglect of duty.
According to the notice of hearing, both officers responded to a call on Nov. 26, 2017, at 3:45 p.m. in relation to Richey’s disappearance in the area of Church and Wellesley streets.
The document said the officers did not search the adjoining property where the 22-year-old woman was last seen, did not canvass the neighbours, and failed to notify a supervisor of the details of their search efforts.
Richey’s body was later located by her mother on Nov. 29 in a stairwell outside an abandoned building.
VIDEO: Toronto officers charged under Police Services Act in connection with Tess Richey investigation
Police had initially said her death was an accident but confirmed through an autopsy that she died by way of strangulation.
Kalen Schlatter, 21, who investigators said met Richey in the early morning hours of Nov. 25, was arrested on Feb. 4 and charged with first-degree murder.
Police said both the suspect and the victim did not know each other prior to meeting that evening and that her death is believed to be a crime of opportunity.
Richey’s death prompted police to launch a professional standards review to examine processes and procedures into how they handle missing persons cases.
Police spokesperson Mark Pugash said the two officers have not been suspended and both remain on active duty.
Pugash said the misconduct charges will not move forward until the criminal case has concluded.
“What happens is, it’s been adjourned for the criminal case to be dealt with, but then when the criminal case is completed then this case will proceed,” Pugash said.
Police declined to comment on the specifics of the misconduct charges.
“This case is now before the tribunal so we’re not in a position to comment,” Pugash said.
Varina Richey, Tess Richey’s sister, issued a statement in response to the charges.
“It was obvious from the outset that something had gone very wrong when my mom had to drive over 300 kilometres to find her daughter in the same area she was reported missing in,” Varina said.
“When homicide took over they were fantastic and I’m satisfied that steps are being taken to ensure no other family has to go through what mine did when the absolute worst happens.”
VIDEO: Police accuse Kalen Schlatter of fatally strangling Tess Richey