TORONTO -- The woman who was followed and fatally stabbed on her way home from work Tuesday morning appears to have been randomly singled out by a crazed knife-wielding man.
But whether or not the victim knew her assailant, the end result is the same -- 55-year-old Nighisti Semret is dead and her killer remains on the loose.
"This person has done this type of conduct before," Det.-Sgt. Gary Giroux said Wednesday of the man behind the deadly knifing. "As a result of that, somebody will have a suspicion who this person is, and we need to hear from them."
Semret lived in the area and was a refugee from Eritrea. She was walking home after working a night shift as a cleaner at the downtown Delta Chelsea hotel when she was viciously attacked and stabbed multiple times a little before 7 a.m. in an alleyway, police said.
A surveillance camera captured Semret heading east along the alley.
Moments later, her killer passed beneath the same camera. As he walked, he reached into his jacket with his right hand.
"He appears to be clutching at something, and I'm going to suggest that that's a knife," Giroux said of the man in the surveillance video, which police released publicly.
As the man walks off camera, he appears to pick up his pace.
Giroux said he caught up with Semret and attacked her.
"A witness in the area responds to the screams of the victim and confronts the suspect at this location," he said. "The suspect brandishes a large knife toward the witness.
"The deceased at this point would have already received her fatal injuries," Giroux added.
After a brief exchange with the area resident who intervened, the assailant ran off the way he came, west along the alley. Giroux said he was spotted again by the same security camera at 6:59 a.m.
Semret suffered numerous stab wounds and was rushed to hospital, where she was pronounced dead, becoming the city's 43rd murder victim of the year.
"I don't know what the motive was, whether it was robbery, whether or not the victim resisted, I just can't say for certain," Giroux said.
He is still delving into the victim's personal life but said he has yet to find anything to suggest it was anything but a random attack.
"It would appear at this point that she lived a very quiet and private life," Giroux said of Semret.
Police urge anyone who knows the suspect to come forward."I think the area needs to step up for her and needs to let us know who this is so that we can apprehend this person quickly," Giroux said.The suspect is described as a white man, 5-foot-10 to 6-foot-2, 150-200 lbs. He was seen wearing a dark full-looking coat that buttons up the front, with a light-coloured scarf around his neck, dark hat with a peak, dark pants and dark shoes.