Police say the woman killed in Thursday’s crossbow-related attack was strangled and the two male victims found nearby fatally stabbed in the neck with a crossbow bolt and an arrowhead in an “unusual” incident that shocked a quiet neighbourhood in east-end Toronto.
Toronto police responded to a call for a stabbing just before 1 p.m. at a home occupied by two men and a woman at 10 Lawndale Road, near Argo Road in the Eglinton Avenue East and Markham Road area of Scarborough.
A crossbow was recovered nearby and 35-year-old Brett Ryan, once dubbed the “Fake Beard Bandit” by police in connection with a string of bank robberies in 2008, was taken to hospital and treated for undisclosed injuries before being charged with three counts of first-degree murder Thursday.
Det.-Sgt. Mike Carbone said Monday police “located the lifeless bodies of three individuals” at the scene, adding that a woman and a man were located in a standalone garage next to the home and another man was located on the driveway near the garage.
“All three individuals were observed to have physical trauma and were pronounced deceased at the scene,” he said, declining to disclose whether or not the projectiles were shot.
“I can say that a crossbow was seized from the scene … Because this currently is before the courts, I’m not going to distinguish between the two methods of how these two individuals were murdered.”
Carbone said autopsies were performed on the bodies Friday and Saturday.
He added that a male witness who was “in close proximity to the scene” was also taken to hospital and treated for undisclosed injuries.
Carbone said the triple homicide is also connected to a suspicious package investigation at a “secondary scene” at a downtown Toronto condominium Thursday.
“This is an apartment that is associated to [Ryan]. When uniformed officers attended this address they secured it and requested the assistance of the Toronto police [bomb squad],” he said, adding that the scene was deemed safe hours later.
“I would like to assure the public that at no time, was there any danger to any member of the public.”
The relationship between the accused and the four victims has not been released, and the names of the victims cannot be reported due to a court-ordered publication ban.
“The investigation was very, very unusual,” Carbone said. “When we became involved, the identity of the three individuals that had been murdered was still not confirmed. There was a publication ban placed at that time obviously until we had completed our jobs. That may change in the near future.”
Ryan’s next court appearance is scheduled for Friday. He was charged in 2008 with a total of 29 counts of robbery, intent to commit a crime while disguised, and a weapons offence.
In January 2009, he pleaded guilty to eight counts each of robbery and intent to commit an indictable offence while disguised. The remaining counts were withdrawn. He was sentenced to 45 months in prison – less seven months for pre-trial custody. The court also imposed a lifetime weapons ban.
Police are appealing for anyone with information or who had contact with Ryan from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. ET Thursday to contact police at 416-808-7400 or Crime Stoppers anonymously.