Skip to comments.Police using 2014 technology to solve little girl's 1975 murder
Posted on 05/15/2014 6:28:17 PM PDT by rickmichaels
TORONTO - Somewhere, her murderer has escaped justice for almost four decades now.
When five-year-old Tracey Ann Bruney was snatched from school and drowned in May 1975, there was no such thing as social media. The sad story of her murder was played out in the newspapers and on radio and TV newscasts but within a year, it was not heard about at all.
Just another unsolved murder for the records and an unknown tragedy to the rest of us.
But no more.
Toronto Police Det.-Sgt. Brian Borg took to Twitter last week to announce that he was now using social media as a tool to investigate more than 550 unsolved murders that remain on their books. Using anniversaries of the murders and birthdays of the victims, the veteran homicide detective plans to tweet details of each one.
Traceys murder was the first: Tracey Ann BRUNEY 5yr never made it to her morning kindergarten class at St Clare Separate School on May 15 1975 Can you help? The photo is black and white, grainy and unfocused, of a smiling child who slipped in and out of this city in such a short period of time.
News stories of the day recount that she was 10-months-old when she was sent back to live with her maternal grandmother in Dominica while her mother Merle tried to establish herself financially. Her mom went on to marry machinist Earl Chambers and together they had a daughter, Terry.
In December 1974, Tracey was brought back to Toronto to be reunited with her mom and to meet her stepdad and new half-sister. Just five months later, she was dead.
The family had recently moved from Rexdale into an apartment above a restaurant on St. Clair Ave. W. Her mother told police she had dropped her daughter off outside St. Clare Catholic School just around the corner on Northcliffe Blvd. where Tracy had been attending morning kindergarten for several weeks. She never made it to her classroom.
Tracey was so happy with us and she laughed all the time, her mom told the Sun at the time. When she didnt come home at lunch hour, I went back to the school to look for her but no one had seen her.
While Chambers was frantically looking in her neighbourhood, 13-year-old Mark Norrie was playing in Marie Curtis Park about 16 kilometres away when he saw a girl lying face down in Etobicoke Creek. He ran home to tell his mother, who quickly called police.
Officers responded shortly after 1 p.m. and attempted mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. But it was too late. Tracey was pronounced dead at Queensway General Hospital. The official cause of death was drowning but the post-mortem showed a number of injuries consistent with physical assault, Borg explains. She was not sexually assaulted.
Her mom was taken to the hospital to identify her.
I told them it couldnt be Tracey. But then I went in and they pulled the sheet back from her face and I could see it was her, Chambers recalled the following day.
Why is it that children pay for everything? Why do we always turn on the radio and hear of children being kidnapped or killed?
A month later, a Sun feature story questioned whether there was a child killer responsible for the deaths of Tracey and another little girl as well as the disappearance of three other kids between Toronto and Hamilton that year.
Tracey was just a tiny doll of a child 3-foot-7, weighing all of 43 pounds, her black curly hair in braids, dressed in a grey cloth coat, blue turtleneck and blue pants. It was a terrible case, Borg says after reading the file. I see nothing here that indicates to me that the family were suspects. We didnt get very far with the investigation. A number of rewards were issued over time which didnt provide any investigative leads.
Now four decades later comes a tool that helps detectives reach out for new clues. Time is a friend in cold cases because people change, he says. So Borg is hoping his tweets may jog someones memory or their conscience to help solve the identity of who killed this innocent little girl.
A child still waiting for justice, all these years along.
Tracey Ann Bruney
whoever did it may be dead by now
I was hoping they had some dna to run....
Mom is apparently the last one to have seen her, who drops off a 5 year old? You take them in
I used to walk half a mile to kindergarten myself just a few years before.
That was normal, decent parenting back then, and only a tiny number of children died from it.
But when ONE child in the area disappears or is murdered, and no killer caught, THEN the standard of proper caution goes way, way up.
Two children dead and three missing, never found.
my mom somehow got me to school the first day of kindergarten by having me walk with some bigger kids
she pinned a card on my collar with my name and address on it
naturally, I could not find my way back home and started backtracking crying in fear
some nice lady came out of her house, read the card and brought me home to my house
you think my mom apologized
no, she acted like I was silly not being able to find my way home
I could have been kidnapped, disappeared, God knows what
This was back in 1975 when you thought dropping your kids off at school meant leaving them at a safe place. It was a different mentality. These are the kind of events that changed that. I would never just drop my child of in this day and age.
When I was five I would walk to my friends house at the other side of the neighborhood, well out of sight of mom. I had to walk along a busy street for part of it, until Mr. Guion and Mr. Murphy built a little wooden ladder I could climb over the fence between their yards. I can’t believe moms let kids do that, but it was 1966, and as the 3rd kid I was expendable anyway.
Sad to say, but given today’s headlines, this story only put one picture in my mind. The mom covered up for the step-dad.
550 unsolved murders? That makes me wonder how many murders they have actually solved?
I walked to my elementary school and home, a journey of about a mile or so, every day from when I was 5 years old, as did my little sister and my older brothers. Sometimes we walked together, sometimes we walked on our own, sometimes we met up with friends.
Although I walked the proper way to school the journey back home was shorter if you went down a steep path through a disused quarry, so we always did, getting very mucky along the way.
My mother also made me pick up bread for the family dinner from the baker’s along the way too. And when I got home if she wasn’t in, yes imagine that a kid coming home to a house with no adults in it, I was expected to peel and put on the stove a pot of potatoes.
Did I live in some little Nirvana, well it was the 1970’s and I was living in the town of Derry, Northern Ireland where there were bombs and shootings on an almost daily basis.
I asked my mother, may God rest her, about this seeming insouciance to our personal safety, she just tutted and said, “sure that’s how it was back then we weren’t scared of every pedophile hiding behind a bush back then, and sure did it do ye a bit of harm?”
Can’t really argue about that, even if today I do drive my kids to school and watch them until they enter the doors of the building. Oh and any parent wishing to enter school grounds must wear specially issued photo-id and their cars must have numbered stickers registered with the school, something we would have thought was absurd when I was a kid.
Different times I supose.
Art Linkletter had a great story about young parents... When their firstborn child had a bloody nose they grabbed him and rushed him to the hospital... he was fine. When his sister - the second born had a bloody nose they used a warm washcloth and gently applied pressure. The bleeding stopped. When the third born was five and had a bloody nose, they told him to get outside and stop bleeding on the carpet... Third borns are loved, just in a more casual way...
In the mid 60s at 5 years old I walked 10 blocks to and from school.
It was a different time and people along the routes to the schools used to watch out for the children and keep the neighborhoods safer.
i didn’t go to school alone in kindergarten. by 2nd grade i walked a few blocks to and from school, in a safer suburban neighborhood.
You must have been scarred by the experience. You ended up as a secret agent.
Not in 1975. In the early 60’s, when I was in kindergarten, EVERYONE walked. You saw no cars. Mothers had other little ones at home and people had one car families - the men took the cars to work often, and mom stayed at home without the car. Usually one Mom on the block had a car in case of an emergency. But everyone walked to school. That’s why there was no worry about child obesity at the time.
Also, you didn’t worry so much about anything happening to your child because there were so many kids on the way to school. There was always someone in sight.
I am about 10 years older than you, and in the early 50s there were almost no families with 2 cars. But, there were many employers who had several local fathers who worked at the same facility. So, the men got together in groups of 4 and carpooled. The task of driving the fifth day of the week rotated, and I remember my mom complaining when she had to be without the car two days in the same week.
Mom's been mad at me ever since.
Actually, here in Toronto it’s still safe for kids to get around on their own in most neighbourhoods. By the time I was six (1969), if I needed to get somewhere on public transit then my parents would take me the first time, I’d take them the second time, then the third time I was on my own.
it’s totally true, I still find it incredibly depressing
yes, I got that picture in my mind too.