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Fatal Parkdale beating now murder investigation

A fatal beating in Parkdale is now a murder investigation, Toronto Police confirmed Wednesday. 

“The homicide squad is taking over the investigation into the murder of George Wass,” Det. Sgt. Graham Gibson said at a press conference in Parkdale.

Wass was attacked on March 18 by a masked assailant who remains at large. Wass was taken to hospital and later released, and died at home on March 21. The cause of death was blunt force trauma.

“I don’t have any comment with respect to treatment he received at the hospital,” Det. Sgt. Gibson said, adding he couldn’t say why Wass was released.

The person responsible for Wass’s death may have also attacked other people in the area. On Monday, Cst. Tony Vella told CityNews.ca the suspect appeared to be attacking people who suffer from “mental health concerns.”

The string of assaults began on January 4 when a 47-year-old woman was hospitalized.  That was one of two attacks reported in January, with another coming in February, and two more in March.

Police say the suspect approaches his victims and punches them without provocation.  After they fall to the ground he continues to kick and punch them before fleeing, either on foot, or a mountain bike.  He doesn’t speak during the assaults and doesn’t rob his victims.

“We’ve had a lot of support from the community coming forward to help us out, with people that they may have seen that could be responsible for these assaults. We need more people to come forward,” Det. Sgt Gibson said.

“There appear to be three to four, if not five, attacks in the area, assaults in the area which may be linked.

“The suspect appears to be a male who wears dark clothing and a balaclava over his face. It appears the victims don’t see this person coming. We need people to think about the vulnerability of the victim,” he added.