In 1995, a series of violent crimes shocked and horrified the City of Toronto. Teenage sisters Marsha and Tamara Ottey were stabbed to death in August; a series of violent sexual assaults followed, and in October, Dimitrija “Jimmy” Trajceski became the first TTC worker killed on the job.
Now, 25 years later, Global TV’s Caryn Lieberman shares the story of how these two families' lives became intertwined in the Canadian premier of the episode, ‘If Anything Happens to Me,’ for the series ‘Crime Beat.’
Marsha and Tamara Ottey were murdered in the basement of their mother’s home on August 16, 1995. It was their mother, Avis Ottey, who discovered her daughters dead after returning home from work.
“That was probably the highest-profile case in the city of Toronto. So even though I wasn’t part of that investigative team initially, it was a case that we were all following closely,” said Dave Perry, CEO of Investigative Solutions Network.
Days passed, and no arrest was made. It would be months before a break in the case.
On October 23, 1995, another high-profile murder took place.
“It was one of the most complex investigations I ever worked in,” said Perry, who was then a Detective with the Toronto Police Service Homicide Squad. He and partner Chris Wilson were assigned and ultimately solved the case.
“I learned that the victim was Jimmy Trajceski and that he was a TTC [Toronto Transit Commission] collector,” Perry said, adding: “I’m forever bonded with his beautiful family who I still keep in contact with today.”
Dimitrija “Jimmy” Trajceski, 54, was a married father of two and a 22-year transit veteran. Jimmy’s killing marked the first murder of an on-duty TTC employee.
The investigation to find his killer progressed quickly. There was a composite sketch, and soon after, a DNA profile was developed. A sweatshirt belonging to the suspect was also found in piles of garbage following a massive search at an apartment complex near the subway station.
“DNA linked our case with two sexual assaults that occurred at the same subway station as the murder, so we knew that the person wearing that clothing had killed Mr. Trajceski and that he had raped those two women,” said Perry. “What shocked everybody was when DNA linked our cases with the murders of two beautiful teenaged girls, Marsha and Tamara Ottey.”
Throughout the course of the investigation, detectives learned that the suspect may have fled to the United States and was hiding out in Miami, Florida.
“We’d left Toronto on the heels of a press conference saying this is the largest manhunt in the history of the Toronto Police Service, that we’re hunting for Canada’s most wanted suspect,” Perry says in the episode.
In February of 1996, the suspect was found in Miami, arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree murder for the killings of Marsha and Tamara Ottey and Jimmy Trajceski, plus a number of sexual assault and weapons charges.
A news conference announced that a second suspect (who had an interesting connection to the initial suspect) was wanted for murder. He was hiding out in Jamaica but surrendered soon after he was discovered and was charged with the murders of Marsha and Tamara Ottey.
Both were subsequently convicted and remain incarcerated to this day.
Families and Former Detective Pay Tribute to Victims 25 Years Later
“Through all of the tragedy, I got to know both families and have always admired their strength and resilience under the most heartbreaking circumstances,” Perry said, adding: “Mrs. Ottey and Mrs. Trajceski are two of the strongest, kindest and most wonderful people I have ever met.”
“I participated in this segment with their support and involvement to remember their loved ones and to show the victim’s perspective of living with such a loss through senseless acts of violence.”
Viewers are cautioned that the episode does contain some graphic content.