By IAN ROBERTSON, TORONTO SUN
Last Updated: October 28, 2010 12:02pm
Peter Dale MacDonald, 52, -- serving a life sentence for murder and was being held by police in Windsor for the murder of a prostitute in that Motor City -- was brought to Toronto, where he appeared Thursday in an Old City Hall courtoom.
He was arraigned on three first-degree murder charges in the deaths of west-end hookers Julieanne Middleton, Virginia Coote and Darlene MacNeill.
As the number of victims and similarities in their strangulation murders pointed to a lone hunter, homicide detectives established a task force.
All three victims worked the streets. All were hooked on crack cocaine. All were found in shallow water within 1-to-1.5 kilometres of each other.
On July 7, 1994, Middleton, 23, became the first victim.
Found near Sunnyside Pool on Lake Shore Blvd. W., she was wearing only a bra.
On Oct. 28 that year, the partially-clothed body of Coote, 33, was spotted about 100 metres from where Middleton's body was found.
Street sex worers began teaming up in Parkdale, a busy place for the trade and drug dealers in the 1990s. Many accused police of not doing enough to catch the killer, but Det.-Sgt. Steve Ryan said others worked closely with investigators, providing tips.
The hookers-in-the-lake killings stopped -- for almost three years.
Then MacNeill, 35, was found dead on Oct. 29, 1997 behind the Canadian Legion building on Lake Shore, just west of Exhibition Place.
A chill went through her colleagues, who began taking buddy-up and phone-in precautions again, fearing another killing spree.
An autopsy showed MacNeill was dumped in the water after being choked unconscious.
Despite repeated revisits to the cases, the murderer eluded Project Breakwater police team.
Each had been "manually strangled," Ryan, head of the Toronto Police homide cold case squad, told reporters at a press conference Thursday.
A police source told the Sun all were raped before being murdered.
But Ryan said he could not comment on that aspect of the investigation or what led them to MacDonald.
After another prostitute was attacked 12 years ago - and survived - detectives released a composite sketch of a possible suspect: A white, 35-year-old man with long blond hair.
The three victims didn't now each other, nor their killer, Ryan confided.
He said MacDonald's name had "surfaced in 1994," but despite intense investigations by the original police team, plus the cases being revisited by the next generation of cold case detectives, sufficient new evidence didn't surface until about six months ago.
Ryan said he couldn't elaborate.
He said police are not aware of any similar homicides in Toronto.
Staff-Insp. Mark Saunders, head of the homicide squad, said "we put tremendous resources into the case."
The cold case squad "have arrested a serial killer," he alleged.
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