Cold case Friday: Simone Sandler, 21

TORONTO [PeterPaul.ca] — Simone Sandler was described as a sweet, caring, young woman who worked in the summer for a local film company recruiting “extras” for movies and commercials from noon until evening.

The last time anyone saw her alive was July 23, 1994. She left her Thornhill home in the afternoon on the way to Yonge Street, where she recruited individuals between College and Dundas Streets who were interested in being “extras” in upcoming commercials and movies.

With her clipboard in hand, she would approach passers-by, noting their information for future contact.

During her work, she made friends with hot dog vendors, the homeless, and young adults who resided in hostels within the downtown core.

Local vendors knew her by name.

On the afternoon of July 23, Sandler was spotted near Yonge and Gerrard Streets with her “EXTRAS FOR FILMS 920-6092,” sign nearby. When she failed to come home that night, her parents contacted police and filed a missing persons report.

At the time of her disappearance, Sandler was 21-years-old with white skin colour, 5’5’’ tall and weighing about 125 lbs.

A week later on July 30, two drivers driving along Lakeshore Boulevard spotted something floating in the water. When they stopped and looked into the Keating Channel, they immediately phoned police.

The Keating Channel is where the Don River meets Lake Ontario.

When police arrived, they discovered Sandler’s body naked from the waist down. She had a plastic bag tied around her head.

An investigation revealed that Sandler’s body “appeared to have been there for a number of days.” An autopsy found that she died from ligature strangulation.

Her body was so badly decomposed that dental records were used to identify her. Years later, it emerged that there was an unsuccessful attempt at rape.

At the time, police received numerous tips from people recalling seeing Sandler and interacting with her that summer, “but to this date, her killer still remains unidentified and at large,” the Toronto Police website said.

Media reports said that Sandler was last seen with a tall, thin, dark-haired, tattooed, young man known in the area as known as “Joe.” — the Toronto Star reported that “Joe” was in a relationship with Sandler, a relationship which broke off a week before her disappearance.

Another anonymous caller said that they had witnessed the murdered woman getting into a dark-coloured sedan with a driver described as having a mulatto complexion and dark hair.

In 2008, Toronto Police reopened their investigation into the Simone Sandler homicide as the request of her family. To this day, no leads, suspects, or motives have ever emerged.

In the days, months, and years following the murder, Toronto Police interviewed more than 100 people, travelling to Vancouver, Saskatoon and Northern Ontario to conduct interviews.

In 1998, police offered a $100,000 reward for information regarding the case.

“We didn’t receive a single call from anyone,” Mark Mendelson, a retired veteran of the Toronto Police Service’s homicide squad, said. “We always had our ideas about who was responsible, but the evidence wasn’t there to support it,” he added.

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