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Friends honour Toronto DJ after violent death: ‘He would always make you feel welcome’

Toronto DJ found dead after apartment fire being remembered as pillar of community
WATCH: Peter Elie, a Toronto DJ, is being remembered after his body was discovered following what investigators have described as a suspicious fire. Albert Delitala has more on the impact he had on the Church and Wellesley community.

A Toronto DJ is being remembered as a pillar of the Church and Wellesley community after he died under circumstances deemed suspicious by police.

Flowers and other tokens of respect covered the steps of Woody’s, a neighbourhood bar, on Friday morning in tribute to longtime area DJ, Peter Elie.

“He had nothing but nice things to say about everybody,” said Nick Spagnola, who laid flowers in front of the bar where he worked with Elie.

“He was sassy but he was really good at it.”

READ MORE: 52-year-old man found dead after Toronto apartment fire, homicide investigation launched

Spagnola performs drag at the bar. He said Elie — who went by DJ Blue Peter professionally — would usually mix his songs. Elie’s humour put him at ease as he first started out, he added.

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“He would always make you feel welcome. He would always make you feel like you belonged,” he said.

Elie, 52, was found early Thursday in the laundry room of an apartment building on Balliol Street near Yonge Street and Davisville Avenue.

Police said he had obvious signs of trauma. Investigators released a photo a person of interest described by investigators as last seen wearing a dark jacket with red and black checkered pajamas.

Police release this photo of a person of interest.
Police release this photo of a person of interest. Handout / Toronto Police

As friends dropped off flowers at the vigil along Wellesley Avenue, those who talked to Global News said COVID-19 restrictions made mourning more difficult.

“You can’t mourn the way you normally would,” said Joseph Philpott, who also performs drag at Woody’s.

“You can’t grieve. You can’t hold the people you love and comfort them. You can’t raise a glass in someone’s memory.”

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He says his former colleague made people feel at home and forget their problems.

“He would scream ‘girl’ so loud you could hear it across the street. It was phenomenal,” he said.

“Peter as a DJ was as much a part of the show as any of the entertainers.”

READ MORE: Torontonians fighting to keep popular bar in The Village from being replaced by condos

His energy and spirit was also top of mind for Lisa Hulley, who left flowers at Woody’s and the Pegasus pool bar nearby, where Elie also worked.

“I think everybody who knew him knew exactly who he was,” she said. “He held no airs. ”

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As Nick Spagnola imagines returning to the stage at Woody’s, he has trouble picturing it without Elie behind the turntables.

“He’s going to have a spot in my heart until the end of time,” he said.