Three separate incidents on and around the TTC have left some riders worried about their vulnerability on the streets and on the system. But as terrible as the attacks – a stabbing, a sex assault and a man shoved onto the tracks – have been, they pale in comparison to what befell an innocent 23-year-old on September 25, 1997.
That was the day Charlene Minkowski was waiting for a train at the busy Dundas subway station. She would never make it home. Also on the platform that day was 41-year-old Herbert Cheong, a disturbed man looking for a victim.
As the train roared into the station, Cheong stepped forward and pushed the startled Minkowski directly into its path. She was run over and died later that night in hospital.
Cops were stunned by the random and motiveless attack. “We’ve determined that this offence was a premeditated offence and it was a woman that was targeted,” revealed Det. Kim Carr. “But not specifically this victim. It was any female victim that happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Cheong was charged with first degree murder, but eventually confessed to a lesser second degree charge.
Like the frustration expressed by police in Tuesday night’s stabbing, cops back then were equally upset by the fact no one could have stopped the killing. “In an unprovoked attack such as this, I really doubt that anyone would have been able to stop such an attack,” Carr concluded grimly.
Cheong, a diagnosed schizophrenic, eventually received a long term sentence, with no parole possibility for 15 years. As for the motive for his actions? He told the court he’d been kicked out of his rooming house that day and was angry – so he decided to take his rage out on a perfect stranger.
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