Tuesday, January 19, 1993

Dale Brazao

p. A8.

MESSY HUNT: Police dig 4 1/2 metres (15 feet) into a Pickering dump yesterday in a search for the body of prostitute Grayce Baxter. Dale Brazao/Toronto Star.

Dump searched for slain woman

Using bulldozers and garden hoes, homicide detectives yesterday began the gruesome task of combing through a Pickering garbage dump for the body of a transsexual prostitute they believe is buried there.

It could take investigators a month to uncover the body of Grayce Baxter, 26, missing since she went to meet a client Dec. 8, said Detective Sergeant Tony Warr.

Patrick Daniel Johnson, 23, of Wynford Heights Cres., has been charged with first-degree murder.

Police said Johnson, who worked part-time as a prison guard at the Toronto (Don) Jail, was a client of Baxter's.

"We have reason to believe Grayce Baxter's body was put in the garbage last month, and through our investigations we've come to the conclusion that the garbage itself has been dumped here," Warr told reporters at a news conference held atop the massive Brock West Landfill Site in Pickering.

The area of the dump being searched -- about 107 metres (350 feet) by 46 metres (150 feet) -- is about the size of a football field. Investigators plan to dig down about 41/2 metres (15 feet), he said.

Baxter, who lived in a posh condominium in the World Trade Centre on Queen's Quay, was believed to have had about 100 regular clients. She disappeared the morning of Dec. 8 after answering a 3 a.m. page from one of the two escort agencies she worked for.

Her black 1989 BMW was found abandoned two days later in parking lot of the Gerrard Square Mall.

Warr said the dump search was the result of new information but he refused to say whether it had come from Johnson, who is in custody. He is scheduled to appear in court today for a bail hearing.

Police sources have told The Star that Baxter's body was chopped up before being put in the dumpster, but Warr refused to comment.

"We're pretty sure of our information. We believe the body is here," Warr said. "That's all I'm prepared to say."

Warr said police believe Baxter's body was put in a dumpster behind a North York apartment, and taken by truck to a Bermundsey Rd. transfer depot where it was compacted. It was then carted off to the Metro-owned dump at Brock Rd. and Concession 3.

Engineers surveyed and marked out the section of the dump they believe was being used on the dates the police have given them.

The area contains approximately 8,000 tonnes of household and industrial garbage, the equivalent of 1,200 tractor-trailer loads, said site engineer, Lou Ciardullo.

Ciardullo said a log book is kept at the site enabling officials to look up what area was in use on a certain date. The log was started to assist in measuring how the garbage settles over a period of time, he said.

Eight police officers and two equipment operators will sift through the garbage in a grid, 6 metres (20 feet) wide and 1.2 metres (4 feet) deep at a time.

"We'll be going over the area scoop by scoop," Warr said.

Once they've covered the entire area, the detail will return to the beginning of the grid and peel off another layer.

The officers doing the search are the ones doing the murder investigation and not assigned to the garbage detail because the are in anybody's doghouse, Warr added.

Baxter was born a male, named Grant, but had a sex change operation seven years ago before starting a career as a call girl.

She used another downtown apartment to conduct her business. The 6-foot-2 blonde, who specialized in dominating her clients, charged between $350 and $400 an hour, police said.

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Created: July 19, 1997
Last modified: September 14, 1997

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