Wanted Dead or Alive

By Kevin Masterman, Toronto Police Service Published: 5 a.m. April 5, 2017

Homicide Cold Case investigators are searching for closure on a decades-old case that shook the city. Nine-year-old Sharin Morningstar Keenan was found dead a week after she was allegedly abducted on January 23, 1983.

A close up of a man
Dennis Melvin Howe in 1977

Investigators are still looking for Dennis Melvin Howe, who would now be 76 years old.

“Dead or alive, we're looking for Dennis Melvin Howe. We have his DNA. Someone knows where he is and we want to hear from you,” said Detective Sergeant Stacy Gallant, of bringing the case to a conclusion, even if it is to find out Howe has died.

He appealed to Howe’s relatives, specifically his nieces and nephews and/or his child, to contact investigators with information.

Wanted: Dennis Melvin Howe

Sharin had been playing in  Jean Sibelius Square on Brunswick Avenue shortly before 4 p.m. and seen speaking to a man. When she did not arrive home, her parents searched the park but were unable to locate her and police were called in to launch the search that had the city on edge.

On February 1, officers conducting a door-to-door search located the child's body in the refrigerator of a rooming house on Brunswick Avenue where Howe had rented a room. She had been sexually assaulted and strangled. A warrant for First-Degree Murder was issued for the arrest of Dennis Melvin Howe, then 43.

A close up of a girl
Sharin Morningstar Keenan, was murdered in 1983
Various drawings of a man with different hairstyles, ages
Composite images of Dennis Melvin Howe showing potential alternate appearances and aging

Howe was described at the time as approximately 5'9", brown eyes, a half-inch scar under the left side of his chin, a crooked pinkie or little finger. He had a scar on the right thumb and he was left-handed. He had a small birthmark on the right side of his chest area. He had very bad teeth. He often used the term “turkeys” when speaking about people and he liked to do needlepoint in jail.

He used alcohol and drugs and smoked heavily.

He may have difficulty hearing and may now require a hearing aid. Howe had been released on mandatory supervision in 1982 from a Saskatchewan penitentiary where he spent almost 15 years for assaulting women and girls. He has a long criminal record for violent offences. 

Howe was born in Regina, Saskatchewan. He was divorced in1967 and did not have any children during that relationship but apparently he has one child, believed to be a daughter, from a common-law relationship in 1969. Both his mother and father are deceased.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Homicide at 416-808-7400, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at  222tips.com, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637). Download the free Crime Stoppers Mobile App on iTunes, Google Play or Blackberry App World.

TPS crest watermark