After falling down an online rabbit hole, I discovered a list of Toronto Police Services ‘Most Wanted’ list. The majority of the list is made up of individuals who committed crimes from the 2010’s to the most recent in 2022. The oldest case on the list is dated back to 1983. Curious to find out what crime this individual committed that could warrant them being on the TPS Most Wanted list for 40 years, I clicked on Dennis Melvyn Howe’s case. Surprisingly, there was barely any information on this case. Flipping through the other early cases, I found there was barely any information on all of them. Why did TPS limit the information on these cases so much? These are decades old cold cases and at this point, the only hope of getting these people turned in is if someone tips the police service off. Why not give the public as much information as possible to get these people turned in? What’s the point of having a nameless and photoless individual on a Most Wanted list with the intention of the public identifying this individual?
The Toronto Public Library has a fantastic archive of The Toronto Star from 1984 through till 2020. Searching for names, addresses and specific dates led me to find small articles about these individuals. The information about their crimes were publicly published. There was even a name released that was previously withheld for the ‘Young Offender.’ These crimes were rarely written about on the front page of the newspaper and if they were, like in Jagana’s case, they were just a piece of a larger article about a different topic. Wallace wasn’t even featured in an article, her family paid to have her name placed in the personal ad section.
It became obvious to me that the Toronto Police service put little effort in finding these perpetrators at the time of the crime and are putting no effort in finding them now. These cases are on the Most Wanted list for a facade. If the police really wanted information on the whereabouts of these individuals, there would be more details readily available to the general public. Instead, these names will likely forever sit on the TPS list, waiting for someone with minimal information to solve it for them.
Abby Kolody is a photographer, designer and illustrator from Calgary, Alberta.