BARRIE, Ont. - It was a breezy warm sunny afternoon when Clare Spiers roamed the tree-lined streets around Shanty Bay Rd., knocking on doors, peering through windows, his shark eyes coolly gazing at women who answered the doors.
His job as a door-to-door salesman for a window company was a good cover, but a sale is not what he was looking for that day.
He was looking for prey.
Women who were home alone recall an uneasy feeling as he stood at the door and tried to edge his way in. They shut the doors. They didn’t need any windows. And they didn’t like the look of him
“I can still see his eyes,” said Louise Robinson, who lived in the area. Somehow, just looking at Spiers as he walked up her driveway that day, she new something wasn’t right about him, she said.
“He was nervous and edgy. My dogs kept barking at him, or who knows? Maybe he would have followed me into the house.”
Instead, the seasoned, violent criminal who was on probation, headed for the home of Mimi Khonsari.
He found his prey there.
The petite wife of the prominent chief of surgery at Barrie’s hospital, Dr. Homa Khonsari, was home alone. Her husband was golfing. She was ecstatic that day — it was the first time she was going to have a sleepover with her 18-month grandchild. Suddenly she noticed someone peeking in the windows. Just then, a contractor called about a job. “Someone is trying to get in,” she told the contractor. “Call Homa.”
There was a muffled sound, and the phone went dead. He called 911. Moments later, a bus driver noticed a car speeding on Shanty Bay Rd. with a woman in the passenger seat who seemed to be struggling. Police swiftly headed to her home, but she was already gone.
Later that day, an elderly woman with a walker noticed the baby crying uncontrollably in the back seat of Khonsari’s car, parked in a mall parking lot. Hours later, the mutilated body of the grandmother was found in a muddy wooded area north of Barrie.
She had been beaten and strangled with such force that her thyroid was fractured. When nearly dead, she was stabbed 18 times in the throat area so hard that the knife penetrated the bone.
This horror story happened May 21, 2004. Spiers was arrested months later and has been in custody ever since.
Last week, 10 years after the killing, Spiers, 49, pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of Khonsari in a Toronto courtroom.
“It’s terrifying to think he might get out someday,” says another neighbor, Kelly Holland. She, too, was home that day when Spiers knocked on her door. He peered into her home.
“He leaned in and was looking into my house.”
Now, she doesn’t open the doors for anyone if she is home alone. “I opened it for him that time. Never again.”
It has never been the same here in that quiet older neighborhood. Today, knocking on the doors on a sunny afternoon, outsiders are greeted with suspicion.
“It changed things,” says another resident, Kathy Kelly, who lives just doors away. “People are afraid now. They don’t forget ... it’s scary.”