Wednesday, April 20, 1994
Guard gets life term for killing prostitute
A guilty plea has sent a young man to jail for at least 10 years and closed the file on Grayce Baxter, a transsexual prostitute whose dismembered body remains forever entombed in a Pickering landfill site.
Just as his trial was set to begin on Monday, Patrick Daniel Johnson, 24 of Wynford Heights Cres. pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 10 years.
Mr. Justice David Watt of the Ontario Court, general division, also prohibited Johnson, a part-time guard at the Toronto (Don) Jail, from possessing firearms, ammunition or explosives for the rest of his life.
The victim, 26 at the time of her death in the early-morning hours of Dec. 8, 1992, began life as Grant Baxter but underwent a sex-change operation in 1985.
She came from Clearwater, B.C., where her parents still live.
Not much is known of Baxter's early life and her mother, contacted at her home, refused to talk about her daughter or the man convicted of killing her.
"There's really no comment, I really don't like the stories the media printed. There were a lot of lies," said the woman, who hung up the phone without giving her first name.
In the years following her sex-change operation, Baxter became a high-priced call girl. She used her sturdy 6-foot 1-inch frame to her best advantage as a dominatrix, sources have previously told The Star.
She lived in an elegant two-bedroom waterfront apartment condominium filled with antiques. Court heard she lived the high life, wearing furs and driving a black 1989 BMW.
Baxter was last seen in Mississauga in the early hours of Dec. 8, and her abandoned car was found two days later in the parking lot of Gerrard Square at Pape Ave. and Gerrard St. E.
Rumors that Baxter had a regular list of 100 well-to-do clients created a stir as the investigation progressed.
"There was a lot of speculation. I don't really know if any famous people were in it (client list) or not. I don't really care," said Detective Sergeant Tony Warr, who investigated Baxter's death as a former member of the homicide squad.
Police got a break in the case through a cellular telephone record linking Baxter directly to Johnson, Warr said.
The night before her death, Baxter attended a stag party at a Mississauga hotel and then visited friends nearby, deputy crown attorney Frank Armstrong told the court.
As she was driving east on Highway 401, Baxter spoke to Johnson on her cellular phone around 3 a.m. and arranged to go to his Wynford Heights Crescent apartment.
She arrived there around 3:30 a.m. and agreed to a 45-minute sexual encounter for $200, Armstrong said.
Johnson was having difficulty coming to orgasm and became angry when Baxter said his time was up, court heard.
A struggle ensued and Johnson choked Baxter to death.
He then dismembered the body into several parts with a hacksaw, and wrapped them up with some personal effects in a number of garbage bags.
He disposed of them in a dumpster at the rear of building.
Eleven days later, Johnson pawned a diamond ring and Rolex watch for $1,650, it was learned.
Armed with the telephone record of the call, police approached Johnson on Jan. 7, 1993 Armstrong said in an agreed statement of facts.
Johnson agreed to undergo a polygraph examination the next day but when police arrived at his apartment, they found him with a number of self-inflicted, non-life-threatening injuries to his wrists, ankle and neck.
"You might as well take me in right now. You know I did it. It's been a living hell for a month. I didn't mean to do it. It was just an accident. It just went too far," Johnson said in a statement to police.
By tracing garbage disposal records, police determined Baxter's body was taken to Brock Road landfill site in Pickering. But eight weeks of searching failed to turn up any remains.
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