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Suspect in Tess Richey death now facing first-degree murder charge

Last Updated Mar 22, 2018 at 10:27 am EDT

Kalen Schlatter is now facing a first-degree murder charge in connection with the death of Tess Richey (Marianne Boucher/CITYNEWS)

Police have upgraded the charge against a Toronto man in the death of Tess Richey.

Last month, police arrested 21-year-old Kalen Schlatter and charged him with second-degree murder in the death of the 22-year-old woman, who went missing back on Nov. 25, 2017.

Police have now elevated the charge to first-degree murder but have not explained the reason behind the new charge.

Crown attorney Jennifer Stanton told the court her office would have more evidence to provide to the defence before Schlatter returns to court April 23.

The Criminal Code defines first-degree murder as being “planned and “Intentional killings that are not planned and deliberate are classified as second degree.

Schlatter appeared in court via video to face the new charge on Thursday, spoke only to say “good morning” and provide his name at the start of proceedings. Richey’s family and friends sat in court with co-lead homicide detective Ted Lioumanis.

Lioumanis credits the Church and Wellesley community for information that lead to the upgrade in the charge.

Det.-Sgt. Graham Gibson said it’s believed Schlatter and Richey met the night she went missing and they spent some time together before she died.

On the evening before Richey was murdered, she and a friend went to Crews & Tangos — a bar on Church Street, south of Wellesley.

Police said around 1:45 a.m., Richey and her friend walked to the intersection of Church and Wellesley to a hot dog cart.

It’s believed that while they were there, an unknown male joined them and began talking.

Police said Richey, her friend and the man went north on Church to Dundonald Street, where they spent some time speaking with a couple. A while later, around 4 a.m., the group then went their separate ways, according to police.

Richey and the man walked into a building at Church and Dundonald. Police said this is the last time she shows up on security cameras or is seen by witnesses.

Police said the man left the stairwell of the building on his own and walked north on Church.

Richey’s mother, who had driven from North Bay to search for her daughter, discovered the body four days after her disappearance, in the stairwell of a building under construction.

Although foul play wasn’t originally believed to involved, it was later determined that the cause of death was neck compression.