TORONTO – Two Toronto police officers are facing misconduct charges over allegations they failed to properly investigate the case of a young woman who went missing last year after a night out in the city’s gay village.
Const. Michael Jones and Const. Alan McCullough are charged under the Police Services Act with not performing a duty and not carrying out an order in the case of Tess Richey, whose body was found by her mother four days after a missing persons report was filed.
According to notices of hearing issued to the officers, they were out on patrol on the afternoon of Nov. 26, 2017 — the day after Richey was reported missing by family — when they were asked to investigate an address.
The documents allege that while Jones and McCullough were on scene they learned that it was Richey’s last known location but they did not search the adjoining property, canvass the neighbourhood or notify a supervising officer of the details.
The officers’ actions were “in contravention” of the force’s procedures on missing persons, the documents allege.
Richey’s mother found her body just 40 metres from the property the officers were called to.
Kalen Schlatter, a man Richey is believed to have met the night she went missing, is charged with first-degree murder in her death. At a brief police tribunal appearance Tuesday, Jones and McCullough’s case was put over until Schlatter’s criminal proceedings are complete.
One of Richey’s sisters welcomed the misconduct charges against the officers.
“It was obvious from the outset that something had gone very wrong when my mom had to drive over 300 kilometres to find her daughter in the same area she was reported missing in,” Varina Richey said in a statement.
“When homicide took over they were fantastic and I’m satisfied that steps are being taken to ensure no other family has to go through what mine did when the absolute worst happens.”
Tess Richey’s death had sparked questions about how investigators had handled her disappearance amid wider concerns about several men who went missing from the gay village.
Days after her death, Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash said the Professional Standards Unit — which responds to allegations of officer misconduct — was acting on concerns about her case.
Chief Mark Saunders announced days later that the force would review its handling of missing persons cases on a broader scale.
In a separate case, self-employed landscaper Bruce McArthur, 66, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of eight men, many who had disappeared from the gay village. Police have said the Richey case is not related to the accusations against McArthur.