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Crime Beat: An enigma — How a violent offender hid in plain sight

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In July of 2000, 18-year-old Tina Wu was murdered and her younger sister Theresa suffered horrific injuries when an attacker broke into their Toronto apartment – Mar 4, 2021

Stuart McKellar Cameron terrorized an affluent Toronto suburb for a year by attacking four women in their homes in three separate crimes.

There were two violent home invasions and assaults in July 1999 and January 2000. Ultimately, Cameron murdered a teenaged Taiwanese student and almost killed her younger sister in July 2000. Cameron’s reign of terror would finally end five weeks later when police apprehended him after an intensive investigation that linked him to all three horrific events.

Cameron has spent the last 22 years behind bars serving a life sentence. He was on the cusp of greater freedoms — securing Unescorted Temporary Absences (UTA), which is the last step before day parole, in 2019. But his recent prison misconduct has darkened his chances at freedom.

You can watch ‘Crime Beat: An Enigma – Hiding In Plain Sight” this Saturday evening, March 6 on Global TV. Check your local listings.

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Cameron was transferred from a minimum-security institution to a medium-security institution in November because he engaged in unacceptable interactions with a female staffer and he also acquired and viewed pornography, a Parole Board of Canada decision in January 2021 reveals.

His UTAs, which were granted in 2019 and were supposed to be used for a 60-day treatment program for substance abuse, were also cancelled due to renovations at the centre, the decision notes. It’s unknown when the centre will re-open.

Tina Wu. Courtesy Jeff Chang

The sexual predator was considered an enigma — a soft-spoken, seemingly law-abiding father of three — when he admitted murdering 18-year-old Taiwanese student Tina Wu and almost killing her 14-year-old sister Theresa on July 27, 2000.

Cameron was sentenced to life imprisonment with no chance of parole for 20 years after pleading guilty to second-degree murder, attempted murder and other charges in March 2002. He had also attacked two other women of Asian descent in separate home invasions in 1999 and 2000.

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At the time, it was a complete mystery why the shy, part-time carpet cleaner unleashed gratuitous, escalating violence against four innocent women — all of whom lived within four kilometres of his home near Fairview Mall in northeastern Toronto.

At his last parole hearing in 2019, Cameron, now 52, admitted harbouring a “deep-seated resentment” toward women of Asian descent when he terrorized his four victims over 20 years ago in North York.

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GNM previews Crime Beat ‘An enigma’ hiding in plain sight – Mar 5, 2021

The killer initially claimed it was a “mere coincidence” his victims were all females of Asian descent — he claimed he was just stoned and robbing them to fuel his drug habit.

“You now think that you were harbouring deep-seated resentment against Asian women as you have been discriminated against in the past … and you may have been retaliating against this treatment,” the November 2019 parole board decision states.

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“This is a new insight that you have not discussed with the board before.”

A June 2020 psychological assessment rated Cameron as “moderate-low risk” for re-offending. It said his risk could remain manageable on a UTA and if successful, “could be managed on day parole,” the latest parole board decision states. It warns that if Cameron resumed abusing substances, or had unmanaged stress or “lack of communication with supports,” his risk may be “less manageable.”

Read more: Veteran Toronto homicide detective Gary Giroux reflects on career, memorable cases before retirement

“I have always been concerned about community safety at large if he’s released,” said retired Toronto Police officer Gary Giroux, who investigated 200 murders during his record 22 years as a homicide detective.

“This admission is timely, and it should cause the parole board some concern,” said Giroux, the lead investigator on the Wu murder.

Gary Giroux. Global News

“Cameron hasn’t been truthful with them all along. He only admits that these victims were pre-selected, so that he can get out so that the board could understand why he did these crimes.”

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But the late admission could backfire on Cameron, Giroux said.

“He’s also asserting that ‘I conned you for 18 of the 21 years I’ve been in,’” Giroux said.

“He has, in essence, screwed himself because this admission shows how cunning and manipulative he is. He should not be taken seriously for parole. These latest inmate infractions show he hasn’t really changed or learned his lesson.”

The parole board should be wary of Cameron because of his recent prison misconduct, Giroux said.

“This should be a major red flag as he was already granted (UTAs) and the next step is day parole,” Giroux said. “And he’s still behaving this way.”

At his sentencing hearing in 2002, Justice David Watt rejected Cameron’s claims, describing him as “an enigma” and his life as a “paradox.”

One of Cameron’s victims was disappointed after hearing about the latest parole board insights. She was brutally attacked by Cameron 21 years ago in her North York home. We are not identifying her due to a publication ban designed to protect victims of sexual assault.

“I guess nothing has really changed for him despite being in custody for more than 20 years,” said the now 60-year-old victim and mother of two, who was the second of his four victims.

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“Is the system really working at rehabilitating him?” asked the victim.

“He has been inside for 21 years, taken all these courses, but he’s back where he started. It’s not encouraging.”

But when we asked her for comment on the interaction with the female prison staffer and his access and viewing of pornography, she said she was relieved that Correctional Services of Canada “was able to identify these before Cameron was given even greater freedoms.”

“You’d think that because he was able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, he’d really watch his Ps and Qs, but that’s not what happened here,” she said in an interview after learning about his latest parole decision.

She was attacked in her house on Jan. 20, 2000, after she dropped her young children at school. She believed that Cameron’s primary intent was sexual, not robbery.

Cameron had already forced her to turn over her cash, Rolex watch and bank card. Then, brandishing the knife close to her, he demanded, “Take off your clothes.”

“He was so angry with me that I wouldn’t submit,” said the woman. “I fought like hell, just like the Wu sisters.”

“I kept activating my car alarm,” she recalled. “Fortunately, my neighbour arrived in time, ringing the doorbell. He’s my hero who bravely stepped forward, stopping the savage assault.”

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Cameron attacked his first victim while she slept in her home at 1 a.m. on July 8, 1999. He forced her to perform a sex act and he left his DNA on a towel.

Stuart McKellar Cameron. Toronto Police Service

A little over a year later on July 27, 2000, Cameron broke into the Wu sisters’ basement apartment through a window and landed on the L-shaped couch where Theresa was sleeping. She woke up, screamed and fought against the knife-wielding intruder.

Tina rushed to save her younger sister and suffered fatal wounds in a scene Giroux called the bloodiest he had seen in his career.

Theresa, who was deeply traumatized as a result of the heinous crime, is now married, with three children and has earned her PhD. She is working for the family’s construction supplies business in Taiwan.

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At a National Parole Board hearing in November 2019, Cameron, who is of Guyanese, Indigenous and Scottish descent, was granted unescorted temporary absence passes to attend an Indigenous healing lodge at Kwikwexelhp Healing Village — a minimum-security institution at Harrison Mills, B.C., where the focus is on spiritual and cultural healing.

In 2014, he requested that his race be changed from Latin American to North American Indian and his religion from Christian to Native Spirituality, the board noted.

“I do this emotional healing for a living — working in the healing profession,” said the victim, who once worked in foreign exchange and then was a stay-at-home mom before Cameron invaded her home.

“He’s this quiet, unassuming guy who can turn into a monster,” the woman said. “Is he going to re-offend?”

You can watch previous episodes of Crime Beat on Global TV and on YouTube, and listen to the Crime Beat podcast hosted by Nancy Hixt.

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