TORONTO — CAUTION: This story contains graphic content that may disturb some readers.
Two young women who vanished nearly a decade apart were killed and dismembered by a Toronto-area man who then disposed of their remains by tossing them in a lake and flushing them down the toilet, an Ontario judge found Tuesday.
Adam Strong, 47, was convicted of first-degree murder in the killing of Rori Hache and of manslaughter in that of Kandis Fitzpatrick, after a judge rejected the suggestion he had cut up their bodies but not caused their deaths.
The two women died in Strong’s apartment in Oshawa, Ont., and their remains were stored in a large freezer in his bedroom as he sought to get rid of them over a period of time, Ontario Superior Court Justice Joseph Di Luca said.
“To be blunt, the chances that Mr. Strong would have twice found himself in need of a chest freezer to store the dismembered body parts of young women who met their deaths innocently is so infinitesimally small that it suggests the opposite conclusion,” he said.
Both Hache and Fitzpatrick struggled with drug addiction and their disappearances sparked significant search efforts by their distraught relatives, Di Luca said, noting both women were deeply loved by their families.
Though there are similarities between them and the circumstances surrounding their deaths, the evidence regarding Fitzpatrick’s death is insufficient to support a murder conviction, which requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused intended to kill or to cause harm that was likely to kill, the judge said.
“While Miss Hache and Miss Fitzpatrick were similarly situated in terms of their life circumstances, and may well have fallen in with Mr. Strong for the same reasons, the almost 10-year gap in time and the absence of forensic or other evidence relating to what happened to Miss Fitzpatrick at the time of her death renders a singular inference on this issue impossible,” he said.
Hache, who was 18 and pregnant, disappeared in August 2017. Her torso was found in Lake Ontario the following month, and Strong was charged in her death in late December of that year.
Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, was 19 when she was last seen in 2008. Her body was never found, but in July 2018, police alleged they had found her DNA in Strong’s basement, including on a specialty hunting knife used for skinning and gutting animals.
The trial, in front of a judge alone, heard police were called to Strong’s home in December 2017 after plumbers found a “flesh-like” substance in the pipes. Strong admitted to officers at the scene that the substance was “a body,” court heard.
Investigators later found Hache’s blood and DNA in multiple areas, including the wall and ceiling of his bedroom, and on items such as a bondage device and a pet leash, court heard.
In a ruling delivered in court and by teleconference, Di Luca found Strong killed Hache sometime between Sept. 1 and Sept. 3 by repeatedly hitting her in the head with a hammer or a similar object as she lay bound in his bedroom.
The killing constitutes first-degree murder because it occurred in the course of a sexual assault, he said. It’s possible the encounter was initially consensual, potentially involving paid sex work, but that consent would have been negated once Strong hit Hache, he said.
Strong then “meticulously” dismembered Hache’s body and dumped her torso in the lake on Sept. 4, the judge found.
The rest of her body was stored in Strong’s freezer until Christmas Eve, when he cut it up further and disposed of the pieces by flushing them down the toilet, the judge found.
Some body parts were placed back in the freezer afterwards, though Strong planned to get rid of them at a later date, Di Luca said.
“I am satisfied that if Mr. Strong had not been arrested, he would have followed through with his plan, and would eventually have disposed of all of Miss Hache’s body parts,” he said.
Court heard Strong later told investigators who questioned him that he was surprised when Hache’s torso was discovered in the lake because he had taken precautions to keep it from surfacing.
He also blamed his arrest on “faulty plumbing,” and told police flushing remains down the drain was an efficient disposal method, court heard.
Di Luca ruled that Strong’s surprise stemmed from the fact that he had successfully used those techniques in getting rid of Fitzpatrick’s remains.
Court also heard Strong told investigators he regretted getting caught but otherwise had no remorse, and that he tried to negotiate a deal that would secure him a more comfortable imprisonment.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on March 16, 2021.
Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press