Nicole Morin’s disappearance nearly 29 years ago still haunts close friend Detective Constable Melissa Elaschuk , who lived in the same building where the-then eight-year-old disappeared.
Morin vanished without a trace from her Etobicoke condominium on July 30, 1985, sparking one of the largest investigations in Toronto Police history.
The young girl took the elevator to meet a friend in the lobby. They were supposed to go swimming, but Morin never made it to the lobby.
“This case has never left me,” Elaschuk said at press conference at police headquarters on May 23, to mark the launch of a new campaign to recognize National Missing Children’s Day on May 25. “I have her picture in my locker since the day I joined the Service 15 years ago. Her disappearance has had a profound impact on me and her other friends and family. It’s something that always is in the back of my mind.
“I often wonder if there is something that I know that could have helped with this case, that I just don’t even realize was significant. A lot of people don’t realize that very little things could actually be of huge importance to this case.”
Elaschuk was not at home the day Morin disappeared.
“My mom was relieved because it could very easily have been me,” she said. “It was a tremendous loss for all of us. We swam together in the same pool and walked to school together and her mother was my younger brother’s babysitter.”
Detective Madeline Tretter, of 22 Division, is assigned to Morin’s case.
“It’s a case we have never forgotten and one that my officers have been passionate about throughout the years,” she said. “We continue to receive a large number of tips that are being investigated. All of it is important to us… One of the main things that we have now is the advancement in technology and social media. Somebody may have information who lives somewhere else in the world. We are able now to look to our partners and to social media to get that message out there… This is an active missing person’s case and we continue to look for those answers.”
Tretter said a number of people have been investigated since Morin’s disappearance.
“With the advancement of technology, we are now able to capture that information electronically,” she said. “So the information can be compared against other information that goes out nationwide. There are several people we have looked at over the years, but there has been nothing conclusive.”
She said a reenactment video will be released closer to the anniversary of Morin’s disappearance and that her father, 75-year-old Art Morin, is still hopeful she can be found alive.
Chief Bill Blair recalled the intensity of the initial investigation and promised that police would never end their work on the case.
“It will not end until we get answers,” he said. “These cases are a challenge to us all, but our responsibility as a society never ends for the protection of these children. We have seen examples in other jurisdictions where even decades after the disappearance of a child, law enforcement authorities and others are able to return them to their families and provide answers that the families so desperately seek. So, we will never relent in our pursuit and we will continue to support the families.”
Mac’s Convenience Stores, which partnered withmissingkids.ca two years ago to display missing children alerts on their in-store digital media screens across Canada, announced that it’s encouraging its customers to make a donation at any store counter to support the work of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection that administers missingkids.ca. They have also developed a public service announcement that will be displayed on digital media screes and store staff will wear buttons to promote the fundraiser.
The campaign will run all summer.
“As a parent, I could never imagine the thought of my child going missing and just disappearing,” said Mac’s Convenience Stores Security and Loss Prevention Manager Sean Sportun. “Every year, more than 40,000 reports of missing children are taken across Canada. Our store recognizes the critical importance partnerships play in the prevention of crime to maintain public safety and the positive impact such collaborative actions could have on protecting the vital interests of our community… Keeping children safe should be a priority for everyone.”
Blair thanked Mac’s Convenience Stores for their support and recalled a meeting he had a few days earlier with Lesley Parrott, whose 11-year-old daughter – Alison – went missing from her Toronto home in July 1986. Her remains were found two days later in a densely wooded area of Kings Mill Park.
“The tragedy of that loss is still felt by that woman, today, as real as the day and the weeks in which it occurred,” said Blair. “It’s a timely reminder, I think, to all of us that these investigations are important.”
Christy Dzikowicz, of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, encouraged Canadians to recognize the plight of parents and take a close look at the pictures and stories of missing children and help bring them home.
The centre was founded after 13-year-old Candace Derksen was abducted on her way home from school in November 1984. Her body was found six weeks later, bound and frozen, in a storage shed not far from her Winnipeg home.
Mark Edward Grant wasn't charged until 2007, after numerous tests on a piece of twine used to bind the teen.
“Imagine the sheer terror of your child going missing for just a moment, not knowing where and how they are” said Dzikowicz. “Imagine that moment lasting hours, days, weeks or even years. What would you want people to do? What would you want them to do for your child? I know I would want the world to stop what they are doing and look, pay attention and take an interest. That’s why we are here today.”
She said the families of missing children do not move on, and grieve their loss each day.
“Whether a child has been missing for days or for decades, our case workers at Missing Children support the families and work with police and partners in the public to try and generate new leads and bring children home or, at the very least, honour missing children. They deserve no less.”
National Missing Children’s Day emerged after the May 1979 disappearance of Etan Patz.
The six-year-old disappeared in Lower Manhattan, New York.