TORONTO - Somewhere, her murderer has escaped justice for almost four decades now.
When five-year-old Tracey Ann Bruney was snatched from school and drowned in May 1975, there was no such thing as social media. The sad story of her murder was played out in the newspapers and on radio and TV newscasts but within a year, it was not heard about at all.
Just another unsolved murder for the records and an unknown tragedy to the rest of us.
But no more.
Toronto Police Det.-Sgt. Brian Borg took to Twitter last week to announce that he was now using social media as a tool to investigate more than 550 unsolved murders that remain on their books. Using anniversaries of the murders and birthdays of the victims, the veteran homicide detective plans to tweet details of each one.
Tracey’s murder was the first: “Tracey Ann BRUNEY 5yr never made it to her morning kindergarten class at St Clare Separate School on May 15 1975 Can you help?” The photo is black and white, grainy and unfocused, of a smiling child who slipped in and out of this city in such a short period of time.
Tracey Ann BRUNEY 5yr never made it to her morning kindergarten class at St Clare Separate School on May 15 1975 Can you help? @1800222TIPS— Det/Sgt Brian Borg (@torontocoldcase) May 15, 2014
News stories of the day recount that she was 10-months-old when she was sent back to live with her maternal grandmother in Dominica while her mother Merle tried to establish herself financially. Her mom went on to marry machinist Earl Chambers and together they had a daughter, Terry.
In December 1974, Tracey was brought back to Toronto to be reunited with her mom and to meet her stepdad and new half-sister. Just five months later, she was dead.
The family had recently moved from Rexdale into an apartment above a restaurant on St. Clair Ave. W. Her mother told police she had dropped her daughter off outside St. Clare Catholic School just around the corner on Northcliffe Blvd. where Tracy had been attending morning kindergarten for several weeks. She never made it to her classroom.
“Tracey was so happy with us and she laughed all the time,” her mom told the Sun at the time. “When she didn’t come home at lunch hour, I went back to the school to look for her but no one had seen her.”
While Chambers was frantically looking in her neighbourhood, 13-year-old Mark Norrie was playing in Marie Curtis Park about 16 kilometres away when he saw a girl lying face down in Etobicoke Creek. He ran home to tell his mother, who quickly called police.