May 22, 1996

Ian Robertson

Police fear transvestite
murders not the last

'Other people could be in danger': COP

TORONTO - The murders of two transvestite hookers 150 metres apart on a popular Cabbagetown "track" yesterday should be a chilling warning to others in the gay sex trade, police say.

"There is a strong possibility of the murders being linked and other people could be in danger," Det.-Sgt. Jim McDermott of the Metro Police homicide unit told reporters.

"If I was them, I'd be very, very concerned about being in this area," he said.

Both victims "appear to have been working as prostitutes in the area and both appear to have died about the same time," McDermott said. "We're treating their deaths as related."

Welfare delay

A drag queen who decided to turn tricks on Monday night after his welfare cheque was delayed was the first victim found after the early-morning shootings. Some residents mistook the shot for Victoria Day fireworks. Shawn Keegan, 18, formerly of Belleville, was found by security guards in a parking garage stairwell outside 40 Homewood Ave. at 12:05 a.m. yesterday. McDermott said residents called police and reported "the sound of gunshots" outside the highrise apartment building.

A man leaving for work and a bed-and-breakfast owner spotted the second victim lying in an alley behind 65 Homewood Ave. around 9 a.m. His name has not been released.

Residents said both appeared to have been shot in the head, but police won't release details until after today's autopsies. The slayings bring Metro's murder toll for the year to 22.

Dolores Thompson-Wood, co-owner of the Homewood Inn, said "I saw the body when I peeked through the gate" behind her converted three-storey brick home.

She said the victim, who wore white shorts, a white T-shirt and white sneakers, "had red fingernail polish on his fingers." An open transparent plastic umbrella lay next to the body.

Louise Ardella said a tenant in her nearby house found the body around 9 a.m. and told her "he was shot in the head."

Ardella said transvestite hookers "have been getting pretty bad the last couple of weeks, but this murder right in my back yard is pretty scary. I like my house but will probably move." "The best way to put it was Shawn was a very, loving, caring person," said roommate Patrick McGuin, 19, who described himself as the murdered youth's "first lover."

He said they were reunited a week ago at Pembroke House, south of Allan Gardens, after leaving a "squat" on Carlton St., where 50 street youth were recently evicted by city officials.

McGuin said Keegan was to page him the night he died, so they could discuss their drag-queen performance tomorrow night at Jack's Bar and Grill, "but I never heard from him."

Keegan was well-known for his imitation of pop singer Mariah Carey, "and because he's gone I'm going to do his piece, her song Hero, which is how I feel about him."

Despite taking precautions when he turned tricks, Keegan was diagnosed as HIV-positive last year, friends said.

'Thin, worried'

"He was very leery about working on the stroll, but was having a hard time paying his rent," McGuin said. "He was very thin and worried about not having enough to eat, so he went out again to raise money when his cheque didn't come."

Arlana Taylor, 21, undergoing a sex-change operation to become a woman, believes she was the last person to see Keegan before he was killed, likely "by a customer."

"We were working together" at Homewood and Carlton, where Keegan stood "waiting to pull a date," while wearing black tights, black platform shoes, a brown wig and a three-quarter-length coat.

Anyone with information can call the homicide unit at 808-7400.

More 1996 Toronto News...

[main menu] [news menu]

Created: November 13, 1996
Last modified: November 18, 1996

CSIS Commercial Sex Information Service
Box 3075, Vancouver, BC V6B 3X6
Tel: +1 (604) 488-0710