TORONTO – A review into how Toronto police handle missing persons cases will take longer due to the “large task” involved, the judge leading the probe said.
Ontario Court of Appeal Justice Gloria Epstein told the Toronto Police Services Board that she now expects to finish around April 2020.
The review, which was initially supposed to be completed in 2019, won’t look at the investigation into Bruce McArthur, who has been charged with eight counts of first-degree murder, but it will examine how police handed missing persons cases connected to the probe.
Despite the later date, Epstein stressed her commitment to the task.
“I chose to retire from the Court of Appeal to enable me to devote my time and my energy to this critical work,” Epstein said.
Epstein, who officially takes on the role as the review lead when she retires on Sept. 1, said she planned to hold consultations with the community early on to help shape her approach.
“I also intend to engage an adviser as well as advisory group to further ensure that diverse voices within the community are heard and contribute to my final report,” Epstein said. “We have already started the process of collecting relevant documents for examination and we intend to hit the ground running when I officially commence my duties at the beginning of September.”
The review will also look into the police handling of the death of 22-year-old Tess Richey whose body was found by her mother in an outdoor stairwell.
Police were sent to her last-known location the day after she was reported missing in November 2017, but it was her mother who went to Toronto and found her body. In June, two officers were charged with misconduct under the Police Services Act in the case.