Ten-year-old Holly Jones disappears after walking her friend home in her Toronto neighbourhood, on May 12, 2003.
The very next day, May 13, 2003, body parts are found in two bags off the shores of Toronto Island.
On May 14, 2003, Investigators release posters of the two bags and dumbbells that were recovered from Lake Ontario.
On June 14, 2003, Ontario says it will give Toronto police an extra $700,000 to monitor sex offenders. Security Minister Bob Runciman says Holly's murder was the catalyst for the additional resources.
On June 20, 2003, Police arrest Michael Briere, 35, a software developer at a west-end address near Holly's home. He's charged with first-degree murder. He's held without bail and placed in protective custody. Michael Briere, 35, a software developer originally from Montreal, was arrested at his apartment, just steps from the spot where Holly Jones was last seen on May 12, 2003. Isn't that usually the case -police target the "last known person"?
On June 24, 2003, Toronto Police Chief, Julian Fantino asked the public for information. "I want to ask anyone who has any information about the actions of Michael Briere on and after Monday, May 12th 2003 to contact us immediately at (416) 808-8390," Fantino said.
It sounded like Chief Fantino was on a fishing expedition. All the police had to do to prove Briere's guilt was to link the bags to him. Did they ever do that?
Media reports about when Briere dumped the body are inconsistent. According to one version, Briere kept the girl's body overnight, then disposed of it the next morning in two gym bags in Lake Ontario. According to another report, on the night of the murder, he carried her torso in a gym bag on the subway. The general theory told in court is that he frantically disposed of her remains over three days, but that is difficult to believe. Her dismembered body was found in Lake Ontario hours after she was abducted from her west-end Toronto neighbourhood, and it is difficult to understand how Briere can possibly be responsible, given his reliance on public transportation. Given the tiny window of opportunity, it is difficult to understand the lack of evidence, with respect to a detailed investigation -like identifying the actual TTC personnel that transported Briere.
According to the "official" explanation, Briere carried the torso in a gym bag on the subway, panicking when some blood seeped onto the floor, and then dumped it into the Toronto harbour. The next day, he allegedly rode the subway again with a travel bag containing more body parts, dumping them in another part of Lake Ontario. It's difficult to comprehend riding the subway and sitting next to somebody with human body parts, an explanation which appears to be necessary, not because it necessarily happened, but because Briere did not drive.
All in all, the reporting and the investigation appear to be too sloppy to provide conclusive evidence regarding guilt or innocence.
On June 17, 2004 Briere pleads guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Holly Jones, 13 months after she was killed and almost a year to the day after his arrest.
Wearing an olive suit, his brown hair up in a ponytail, his every move watched by the bevy of officers, Briere was formally arraigned on a charge of first-degree murder, his lawyer, Greg Leslie, at his side as they listened to the charge read by registrar Addison Khan. Was the confession believable without linking the bags to Briere?
“A man who commits this type of crime — you put him away, you put him away for good,” Mr. Briere told Ontario Superior Court. Was he talking about himself or the owner of the luggage?
Where did Briere get the bags?
If Mr. Briere is in fact guilty, why don't the police have jailhouse snitch tapes, to demonstrate how they had brilliantly secured a confession?
Is it possible that coercive tactics were used to force a confession? Is there anything more coercive than spending an entire year in jail, before trial?
These questions would not be necessary if the 300-strong task force investigating the case had conclusively linked key evidence like the bags that transported body parts, to Briere.
A murder is solved through investigation, not confession. We know about the black Lynx gym bag and the Cherokee black carry-on suitcase, it has been called "key evidence" and it is therefore important to publicly confirm ownership to reliably link anybody to this murder. Clearly, we are talking about knowledge that only the killer would know and it is therefore important to validate any confession through this sort of scrutiny.
According to the media, "Briere was charged June 20, 2003 - a couple of days after test results confirmed the DNA match - and he confessed to the crime the same day."
At the same time, Chief Fantino indicated that the investigation was far from over, so how reliables was this alleged DNA link when it was clearly proven that Briere was not responsible for all the other kidnapping attempts in the area where Holly Jones lived?
The inquiry into the Guy Paul Morin case found perjured testimony by prosecution witnesses, incompetence and cover-up in the country's premier center for forensic sciences, suppression of exculpatory evidence by police and prosecutors, a possibly contaminated crime scene, poor evidence handling, and lost evidence, and that makes media reports about a DNA match subject to prudent skepticism.
In the Guy Paul Morin case, the prosecution called science a "silent witness" and we don't need any more of that sort of game.
In the Briere case, a constructive approach like the effort to clearly verify the ownership of the luggage that was used to transport body parts ought to have been taken to conclusively and exclusively link Briere to the crime and to inspire confidence in the claim that the police got the right man.
Something like 25 percent of inmates freed from death row by DNA evidence confessed! Yet DNA shows someone else committed the crime. Who in his right mind would ever confess to a murder he didn't commit? Occasionally they confess over and over again, on tape, on video. And lo and behold, they didn't do what they admitted to.
Unfortunately, it was never possible to get "the real truth" out of Briere. He was held at a Toronto Jail in what's known as the "super protective" custody unit. He was in lock down 23 hours a day and without contact with the outside world, his ability to recant any confession was obviously remote. In 2004, he apparently spend most of his time talking to his neighbouring cell mate, Mohammad Khan, who had been convicted of murdering his five-year-old daughter Farah.
The tragic reality is that most homicides are never solved and we need to work much harder and smarter, to change that equation. For example, on May 13, 2010, on the night that the Canadian Supreme Court rejected a fugitive killer's bid to avoid deportation to California, the man was found dead in the Toronto Don jail.
The name of this murderer is Gerald Su Go. Born in the Phillipines in 1956, he moved to the US with his parents in 1984. In 1986, Su Go pleaded guilty to an attempted rape in California, he was sentenced to five years but he fled to Canada. By 1996, he managed to become a Canadian Citizen. In the meantime, American authorities discovered that Gerald Su Go was responsible for the brutal murder of a 38-year old office manager who was found beaten, stabbed and strangled, on November 15, 1984.
In October 2004, Su go was arrested in New York and in May 2005, he began to serve his California sentence. Released in 2007, he was deported to Canada, but in May, when a DNA profile linked him to the 1984 homicide, American authorities wanted him back, to stand trial.
When he died in Toronto, Gerald Su Go left too many unanswered questions. First and foremost, between 1996 and October 2004, this crafty murderer was a Canadian citizen, who was never under any suspicion for any murder. It is rather naive to believe that this murderer did not kill anybody in Canada.
Under these circumstances, it is far easier to believe that Gerald Su Go murdered Holly Jones than it is to suggest that Michael Briere, a man without a hint of violence in his past, had anything to do with regard to mimicking the skills of Gerald Su Go.
Our shocking failure to avoid repeat offenses is responsible for most crimes. A 1994 survey of 453 pedophiles, revealed they were collectively responsible for the molestation of over 67,000 children; an average of 148 children per pedophile. National Institute of Health survey conducted by Dr. Gene Abel.