Toronto police released new details Friday about the death of a Ryerson graduate who was beaten, run over and left to die in 2009.
Four years to the day after Christopher Skinner was killed, Det. Sgt. Stacy Gallant told reporters at a televised press conference that police are making “significant progress” in their investigation.
Skinner, an openly gay student, studied graphic communications management at Ryerson between 2001 and 2006. He was known for hosting Glamour Bingo — a drag queen-themed residence event — each year. Many have suspected his death to be hate-crime related.
Though they won’t release specific details, Gallant says police can now identify the make, model, colour scheme and year of the SUV whose occupants assaulted Skinner before deliberately running him over near Victoria and Adelaide Streets on Oct. 18, 2009. The incident happened as Skinner was walking home from the Entertainment District after celebrating his sister’s 19th birthday.
Gallant says he believes these new details will help solve the case.
“The investigative team is identifying through various databases potential owners of vehicles in 2009, which, in turn will lead us to the driver of this vehicle, those that were involved in the beating and any other passengers — male or female — that were in the vehicle that night,” said Gallant. “I am sure that this vehicle is still out there somewhere and we will find it.”
He says police released this information to the public because past appeals through the press have yielded new tips to help advance the case.
Skinner’s parents and sister Taryn were at the press conference. Taryn Skinner told reporters, “I am tired of thinking that the person who is responsible has carried on for four years.”
The Skinner family has raised $100,000 as a reward for anyone who comes forward with information that can help solve the case. Police have put forward another $50,000.
Though police have already spoken to witnesses, they are hoping the money is enough to entice any of the people they believe were in the vehicle to come forward with their story.
“I’m hoping this is going out directly to the people who were in the car,” Gallant said. “It’s been four years. I still want to touch their hearts and come to them and say ‘listen, you were in that car that night. Come forward now. It’s been four years. We’re still around and we’re still investigating it.’”
He warned that anyone who was in the vehicle or has knowledge of what took place but has not come forward will be fully investigated and could be charged with accessory after the fact.
Until a culprit is found and charges are laid, the Skinner family said they will keep waiting for justice to be served.
“They are probably hoping that it will all be forgotten and that they can just slink away, but I think it’s important for them to know that it’s not forgotten,” Ellen Skinner, Christopher’s mother said, holding back tears.
“It will never be forgotten in our household.”