Sunday, December 27, 1992

Michele Mandel

p. 5.

Where is Grayce?

The baffling case of missing call girl

She sent her parents their plane tickets a long time ago. Her present to them, Christmas together.

But when they arrived here from Clearwater, B.C. last week their daughter was nowhere to be found. Grayce Elisabeth Baxter has vanished.

And with her disappearance, he carefully woven life of lies has unravelled, leaving her parents devastated and confused.

Their daughter is not the successful, corporate computer executive she had always told them she was.

No, the police have told them, she was a high-priced call girl. Now lost somewhere in that dark world.

She was once a he, born Grant Baxter 27 years ago. In 1985, her Vancouver doctor referred her to a clinic in the United States for a sex change operation. And a desperately unhappy Grant became a delighted Grayce.

"Her parents knew her sexual confict growing up and understood it and helped arrange for sex-change operation," says Metro Police Det. Reg Pitts.

"They were 100% behind it. Most parents walk away, but they didn't. Her mother gave me picture of her yesterday, it was a formal pose with her hair up, and she said, 'This is my daughter.' And she said it with a lot of pride."

Pitts visited her parents Christmas day, to deliver a Christmas card and reassure them that the eight investigators on the case were doing everything possible to find their daughter. "It brought a tear to Mr. Baxter's eye," the detective says. "They're very upset but they're holding up and still hoping for the best."

Call girl from the start

Grayce Baxter came here from Vancouver about four years ago, telling her parents she was looking for a change of pace. And a computer job.

But from the start, police say, she was working as an expensive call girl.

Flip through the Yellow Pages, and there are an astounding 20 pages filled with escort service ads, with their innocent pictures of top hats and pearls and champagne. Credit cards accepted, Discretion assured.

NOW Magazine also has ads desperately seeking recruits to fill demand. "Earn $1500-$3500 a week," promises one agency. "Full dental, additional medical and life insurance coverage available," boasts another. "Ask us about our new luxurious villa in Spain."

It's safer than working the streets. And more lucrative. "It depends on the girl," says one agency owner, who gives only her name as Catherine. "If she's very attractive, she can earn about $350 an hour. The split with her agency might be 60-40 or, depending on her deal, she might take home 90%."

Baxter, strikingly tall and blonde and blue-eyed, was obviously tops in her field. She is six-feet, 160 pounds, with a penchant for black leather and fur coats and designer clothes from Holt Renfrew.

"She's a bit exotic," says concierge Pat MacPherson. "She looked pretty authentic, she had all the right curves. Only her husky voice was a give-away."

She is friendly and outgoing, he says, as well as a bit outrageous. MacPherson smiles at the memory of one particular get-up she wore Halloween. Whips, chains and a black leath body suit. "With the cheeks cut out," he recalls, "with her bare butt showing."

Baxter was always in and out of her condominium, often arriving home late. Police say she worked for two agencies: Her own, Big One Fantasies, and well as Amanda's, and was always just a pager away from her long list of 100 clients. Asked if any of them were prominent, police refused to comment.

The living was obviously good. She drove a black, 1989 BMW with a cellular phone, rented a $1,200 a month condominium on the 32nd floor of the posh World Trade Centre, as well as maintaining another apartment somewhere else in the city.

Careful to set alarm

Besides expensive toys and clothes, she also loved to lavish money on her parents, flying them to meet her in Toronto, taking her mother on a cruise. All the while telling them that she was a successful executive.

"She's living the big lie," says Pitts. "She's trying to live the high life by going down to the depths. It's a dirty, dirty world to make your money from."

But until recently, she had been lucky -- and careful. She'd been living at the World Trade Centre, with it's peach marble lobby and indoor swimming pool and individual suite alarm systems, always having her car valeted to the underground parking because she was too nervous to do it herself.

Unlike most tenants, she always activated her alarm when she wasn't in her bright, two-bedroom condo, with its spectacular southwest view of the lake and expensive antiques she had lovingly collected.

Her elegant apartment was to be the site of a Christmas party she was planning for Dec. 18. She had been rushing around getting her condo in order, taking her antique dining chairs in for refinishing.

But she never picked them up. And the party was never held.

. . .

"I noticed she was missing before anyone else did," her concierge recalls. "I hadn't seen her in a while and thought it was strange. Then her friends came by and were worried that they hadn't seen her."

They found Baxter's cat was inside her condo, obviously left unfed for days. "She wasn't the type to leave her cat by itself," MacPherson says.

The police discovered Baxter was last seen leaving a friend's home in Mississauga at 3. a.m. on Dec. 8 when she got a call from a customer on her pager.

She was wearing a low cut, black mini-dress and full-length, silver fox fur coat.

She hasn't been seen since. Two days later, her BMW was found abandoned in the parking lot of the Gerrard Square shopping mall.

Police fear the worst.

"This one has all the earmarkings of a real mystery," says Pitts. It's basically a 'Where is she' that could quickly turn into a whodunnit."

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Created: July 15, 1997
Last modified: March 24, 1998

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