54 Division cops bust cold case wide open

If you have committed a crime in 1989 or 2016, hope it wasn’t in Toronto Police 54 Division.

The East York division arrested a woman for attempted murder in a case that was cold for 27 years — and on the same day, rounded up a gang of alleged thugs and took two deadly handguns and hard drugs off the street, too.

One investigation used vintage policing techniques. The other utilized smartphones and social media.

Both worked.

Second piece of advice: If you have committed a crime and got away with it for a quarter of a century, it might not be the wisest move to brag about it.

Especially in 54 Division.

“This division never forgot the case,” said Insp. Paul MacIntyre.

He certainly didn’t. He was a rookie cop on Oct. 29, 1989 when a Toronto cabbie was allegedly assaulted from behind with a blunt object before seeing his car roll over an embankment and land in a backyard.

The driver suffered life-threatening wounds and was left paralyzed on his left side.

Three people he had picked up managed to get out of the taxi and flee — never to be heard from again.

But as MacIntyre said so well. They don’t drop any case.

“We got a tip from someone with new information,” said Det.-Sgt. Jim Gotell, who heads up 54’s detective detail.

The first thing he did was pull the file on this “cold case” and he could not believe what he found.

“The detective work in 1989 was stellar,” Gotell said. “The information they left us for the future was seamless. It was incredible police work.”

The probe was headed back then by now-retired detective Mike McDonald, who “left it ready for the day that call came in.”

Sources say someone overheard a woman in a bar talking about what had happened and how she got away with it.

That person dropped a dime.

Gotell put Det. Roger Caracciolo on the case. He was virtually running down the same leads and witnesses assembled by McDonald and his team.

Turns out there is no statute of limitations on attempted murder.

“It led us to an arrest,” said Gotell.

On Feb. 15, Caracciolo and his team knocked on the door of Dale Doherty, 60, and let her know that she was being charged for attempted murder of that taxi driver back in 1989. The allegations against her have not been proven in court.

“Needless to say she was surprised to see us,” Gotell said. “She will appear in the College Park court March 21.”

That one was for Det. McDonald, and the whole 1989 roster of 54 Division, including MacIntyre, who went from a rookie cop to heading that very division.

“There are two other (male) suspects with her,” said Gotell. “If I were them I would contact their lawyer and turn themselves in because clearly we are still on this case and we are coming for them.”

Sleep well, guys. And keep your eyes on the door. There may soon be a 54 Division cop knocking.

Ask Miss Doherty.

Also ask four teenagers allegedly involved in an assault and robbery at Greenwood and Danforth Aves. on Jan. 27. Police managed to arrest one of them that day and stayed on it.

Then, as I was at 54 with photographer Michael Peake covering the cold case, word came out they found three other suspects.

Through investigative work and search warrants, they also seized two loaded handguns as well as cash, heroin and cocaine. Colton Sheehan, 18, has been charged with a truckload of offences including gun and drugs charges. The three youths are also in custody.

Busy day out on 41 Cranfield Rd., near Eglinton and Victoria Park Aves.

Moral of the story: Whether it’s 27 years ago or today, don’t mess around with criminal activity in 54 Division.


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