Toronto police this week launched the #FindNicole social media campaign to mark the 29th anniversary of the mysterious disappearance of eight-year-old Nicole Morin.
Last seen leaving her family’s apartment unit at 627 The West Mall on the morning of Tuesday, July 30, 1985, Morin had put on her favourite peach bathing suit and red canvas shoes before saying goodbye to her mother at around 11 a.m. on her way down to the lobby to meet a friend.
The pair was supposed to then head to the apartment building’s outdoor pool for a morning of swimming, but Nicole never arrived, Det.-Sgt. Madelaine Tretter of 22 Division told members of the media at a press conference Wednesday morning.
“Tragically, Nicole was abducted on her way to the meeting and was never seen again,” she said, noting that Nicole’s last known movements have now been documented in a re-enactment video, released by police on at Wednesday’s #FindNicole social media campaign launch.
Filmed back at 627 The West Mall by police and Crime Stoppers just last week, police hope the one-minute YouTube video – together with a new #FindNicole Facebook page and Twitter hashtag – will be able to accomplish what “the most intensive police search for a missing person in the history of the Toronto Police Service” was unable to back in 1985 – produce a lead that will end the decades-long mystery of Morin’s disappearance.
“Over 15,000 hours were put into the investigation between the date of (Morin’s) abduction and January of the following year. Over 900 community members joined the search for Nicole, yet no trace of her was ever found,” Tretter said. “The search for Nicole involved the creation of a task force in 1985 with a total of 20 members – that task force conducted a co-ordinated search of Etobicoke involving community members using cars, horses, aircraft, dogs and all-terrain vehicles. Despite their best efforts, no trace of Nicole has ever been found.”
Fast forward 29 years, and police hope the new social media tools now available to them will help them get Morin’s story out to more people, Tretter said.
“We’re using the methods we have available to us now that weren’t available in 1985, such as social media campaigns, and we’re hoping that by reaching out we’ll get a broader spectrum of the public and that somebody who has that information will feel comfortable now in coming forward and providing that information,” she said, noting that police continue to receive new leads in the case.
When it comes to solving historical cases such as Morin’s, Toronto Crime Stoppers Coordinator Chris Scherk said there are a number of avenues investigators can explore, but reaching out to potential witnesses and assuring them their anonymity is key.
“There’s a number of ways historical crime is solved. Witnesses may remember something they saw that can assist investigators, but also, criminals talk. They brag and they confess,” he said. “So my belief is that someone out there may know what happened to Nicole Morin in 1985 and for whatever reason feels like they can’t come forward. With Crime Stoppers, you can.”
By calling 416-222-TIPS (8477), tipsters can share any information they have about Morin’s disappearance while remaining “100 per cent anonymous”, Scherk added, urging the public to watch the Crime Stopper’s re-enactment video.
“The video is one minute long. It’s on our website, Facebook, mobile app and YouTube channel...I’m asking everybody to take just one minute. Watch the video, make the call, and help us find Nicole.”
While Tretter said Morin’s mother has since passed away, her father – like police – remains hopeful that his daughter will one day be found.
“We’re in constant communication with him, and he is very grateful for all the efforts from the public, from the media, and from Toronto Police Services throughout the years to try to find his daughter,” Tretter said.
“It’s my hope that she is alive – we’ve certainly seen cases recently in the United States where people have been missing for a number of years and have been found alive – so we are not prepared to give up that hope that one day we will find Nicole alive,” she added.
Police urge members of the public to visit the Find Nicole Facebook page at http://on.fb.me/1rGz6tp and #FindNicole Twitter feed often for photos of Nicole and updates on the investigation.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-2200, or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at www.222tips.com, or text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637).