Two Toronto officers charged with neglect of duty in Tess Richey case
Two Toronto police officers are facing disciplinary charges related to allegations that they didn’t conduct a proper search for a missing woman whose body was discovered days later by her mother.
Tess Richey, 22, was reported missing by family members on Nov. 25, 2017, after she was last seen near Church and Wellesley Streets in downtown Toronto.
The following day, two Toronto police constables on patrol in 51 Division, the area where Richey went missing, received a radio call to check out an address related to the young woman’s disappearance.
According to documents filed by Toronto police in relation to the Police Services Act charges, the officers visited the location and learned that Richey had been last seen there.
Despite this information, it’s alleged the two officers did not conduct a thorough search of the adjacent property, canvas neighbours, and failed to notify a supervisor of the particulars of that call in contravention of the Toronto police’s missing persons procedure.
Three days after the officers were called to that area, Richey’s mother, who travelled to the city from North Bay, Ont., discovered her daughter’s body in a stairwell behind a building under renovation. The body was found approximately 40 metres northeast from the address where the officers were called to, according to paperwork filed by Toronto police.
When an autopsy showed that Richey died as a result of “neck compression,” police classified the case as a homicide.
A 21-year-old man was eventually arrested and charged with first-degree murder in her death.
However, questions persisted about how the police handled the initial search for Richey.
Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack told CP24 that his organization is surprised the two officers have been brought before the tribunal for these charges.
“They were not involved in the initial missing persons occurrence, they were involved in a check address call,” he said on Tuesday. “These are both very fine, experienced officers and we believe that they did nothing wrong.”
McCormack defended the two officers, whom he knows personally, and said they were doing the job they were assigned, which was separate from the broader missing person investigation.
“These officers did their job. They checked the address they were sent to check. They checked around that address and they put in the appropriate paperwork,” he said.
McCormack also said the police union plans to fight the charges against the two officers.
Toronto police Const. Michael Jones and Const. Alan McCullough have been charged with insubordination and neglect of duty under the Police Services Act.
With files from CTV Toronto's Tamara Cherry and CP24