Three murders resulting from two incidents just days before Christmas — plus manslaughter charges laid last month in a summer overdose death — brought the number of 2022 homicides in Greater Sudbury up to 12.***
The recent homicides include a double murder at the Travelodge Hotel on Dec. 20, followed just three days later by a murder on Notre Dame Avenue on Dec. 23.
Also in the pre-Christmas period, two men were charged for manslaughter in a Greater Sudbury man’s August overdose death. Manslaughter is considered homicide under Canadian law.
Statistics Canada provides information on the number and rates of homicides in larger Canadian cities. Those online records go back to 1981.
The 12 homicides in Greater Sudbury in 2022 is the highest number for any year on record.
Under the entry for Greater Sudbury, it shows there were 11 homicides in 1987. There were seven homicides in the city in 1991.
Recent statistics show an increasing number of homicides in Greater Sudbury in the last few years. There were six homicides in Greater Sudbury in 2021, five in 2020, three in 2019 and one in both 2018 and 2017.
Greater Sudbury actually had the fourth highest homicide rate in 2021 among Canadian cities with a population of at least 100,000 people, with a homicide rate of 3.55 per 100,000 people.
Regina had the highest homicide rate in Canada in 2021, at 5.67 per 100,000 people, followed by Thunder Bay, at 5.63 per 100,000 people and Winnipeg at 5.39 per 100,000 people.
The increase in the number of homicides in Greater Sudbury over the last couple of years corresponds with a bigger trend across Canada.
A report from Statistics Canada released in November said in 2021, police services from across Canada reported 788 homicides, 29 more than in 2020. This most recent rise represented the third consecutive increase since 2019.
The national homicide rate increased by three per cent in 2021 to 2.06 homicides per 100,000 population, the highest rate since 2005.
Statistics Canada said the overall number of homicides in Canada in 2021 was associated mainly with increases since 2020 in Ontario (277 homicides; +37) and British Columbia (125 homicides; +25). The Ontario homicide count for 2021 was a record high, said Statistics Canada.
“While homicides in Canada remain a relatively rare event, the impact of these violent crimes on the well-being of individuals and communities is highly consequential,” said the Statistics Canada report.
The report said at the national level, the rate of firearm-related homicide was up six per cent compared with 2020. Overall, gang-related homicides continued to account for about one-quarter (23 per cent) of all homicides.
National data shows that homicides “are not a uniform type of violent crime,” and that “the characteristics of homicides often differ based on the gender of the victim, that various factors impact the time it takes for police services to solve homicides, and that the nature of these violent crimes often differs in urban and rural areas.”
Sudbury.com reached out to Greater Sudbury Police to comment on the unusually large number of homicides in 2022.
A statement from GSPS said the 2022 homicides are “targeted and isolated incidents where the individuals involved in the incidents are known to each other and there is no increased risk to the general public.”
The statement said that Greater Sudbury continues to see individuals involved in organized crime migrate from Southern Ontario to Northern Ontario in order to establish criminal enterprises that involve trafficking both illicit substances and/or persons.
“Provincial statistics show an increase in the number of youth being recruited by criminal enterprises in order to exploit current federal legislation that promotes diversion and rehabilitation for youth rather than incarceration,” the statement said.
“These criminal enterprises target our most vulnerable persons for financial gain, eroding and impacting the safety, security and wellness of our community.”
The police statement said that in 2022, officers have investigated two homicides where the individuals responsible for the violent attacks have been associated with organized crime.
Greater Sudbury Police also spoke of some of the enforcement initiatives it has put in place, which include arresting and seizing firearms from individuals associated with criminal enterprises, participating in the provincial Guns and Gangs Task Force and seizing drugs (77 per cent of which was fentanyl).
Sudbury police said their Integrated Crime Section continues to focus its efforts on major crime operations that pose a direct and elevated threat to the safety, security and wellness of our community.
The Integrated Crime Section aims to identify and disrupt organized crime in Greater Sudbury through innovative technology, collaborative partnerships and traditional policework resulting in the arrests of those involved, holding them accountable for their criminal activities and the seizure of illegal drugs, prohibited firearms and proceeds of crime, said the GSPS statement.
Below is a summary of the homicides in Greater Sudbury in 2022:
- Bruce Avenue murder — Greater Sudbury Police responded to a call of a possible shooting on Bruce Avenue around 6:15 a.m. on Jan. 21. Officers found a man who had sustained what was believed to be a gunshot wound. The man was taken to hospital with critical injuries. He later died as a result of those injuries. On Feb. 24, 45-year-old Michael Grant was located in Port Stanley and arrested in relation to the Bruce Avenue murder. He is charged with second-degree murder, as well as several firearms offences. A 26-year-old man, Tyrone Ifabumuyi, has also been charged in connection to the murder, including for accessory after the fact.
- Dowling murder — On May 11, Greater Sudbury Police were called to a home on Sturgeon Street in Dowling, and found a man, later IDed by police as 72-year-old Gabriel Paul Richards, deceased at the scene. Police later said that “based on the evidence collected at the crime scene and the blunt-force injuries discovered during the post mortem,” the man’s death was being investigated as a homicide. On May 14, 61-year-old Jean Paul Lavoie was arrested for second-degree murder in this case. “This is believed to be an isolated incident as the two individuals were known to each other,” said police.
- Elm Street murder — Greater Sudbury Police say officers were dispatched to the scene of a residential building on Elm Street at around 8:20 p.m. May 31 for a personal welfare check, when they made the discovery of a deceased man they believe was shot. The 50-year-old man, who resided in one of the units, had not been seen in a few days. Police later said the suspicious death was being investigated as a homicide involving a firearm. While police are investigating, no arrests have yet been made in the man’s death. Anyone with information is asked to contact a detective from the Major Crime Section of the department’s Criminal Investigation Division by phoning 705-675-9171, or contacting Crime Stoppers at 705-222-8477.
- Spruce Street murder: Officers attended an address on Spruce Street in Sudbury at 6:43 a.m. Aug. 11, where they located a deceased woman in the home. GSPS detectives have arrested a man, 34-year-old Hatinder Sharma of Greater Sudbury, for first-degree murder as a result of an investigation. Police say the woman was killed in a “domestic homicide.” The victim’s name is not being released out of respect for her family’s wishes, said a Greater Sudbury Police spokesperson in an email. However, the spokesperson did say she was 27 years old. The preliminary cause of death was determined by the Coroner’s Office, said the GSPS spokesperson. However, Greater Sudbury Police said a publication ban has been issued in relation to this matter, which prohibits the police service from providing the preliminary cause of death, as it is part of the ongoing investigation.
- Manslaughter: A Sudbury man’s death from a drug overdose in August has led to manslaughter charges for two men, one of whom is from Greater Sudbury. Police report that on Dec. 15 detectives from the Greater Sudbury Police Service (GSPS) Major Crime Section teamed up with Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) officers to arrest a 34-year-old Waterloo resident, who is now charged with manslaughter and trafficking a Schedule 1 substance. Then, on Dec. 17, GSPS detectives and officers with Patrol Operations arrested a 30-year-old Sudbury man on Keith Avenue in Chelmsford. Both men were charged with manslaughter for the death of a 48-year-old man from Greater Sudbury, who died of an overdose on Aug. 17.
- Coniston murder-suicide: On Oct. 30, a father, mother and son died in a murder-suicide on Caruso Street in Coniston. The three individuals have been identified as 46-year-old Brian Desormeaux, 43-year-old Janet Desormeaux and 17-year-old Ashton Desormeaux. Through the investigation and working in collaboration with the Coroner’s Office, Greater Sudbury Police say it has been determined that the youth took the lives of his parents and then took his own life. All three individuals sustained fatal gunshot wounds. “Out of respect for the family, no further details will be released,” said a press release from Sudbury police. “This is an extremely tragic situation that has deeply impacted families, friends and the community.”
- Travelodge Hotel double murder: Greater Sudbury Police are investigating a double murder that happened at the Travelodge Hotel early on Dec. 20. Shortly after 2 a.m., officers were dispatched to the hotel in relation to a weapons complaint, as there were reports of gunshots. Upon arrival, officers located two men who had sustained what was believed to be gunshot wounds. A 27-year-old Greater Sudbury man was transported to the hospital. He was pronounced deceased by medical professionals. The second man, a 38-year-old Greater Sudbury man, was pronounced dead at the scene. On Dec. 28, police said an arrest warrant for first degree murder and attempted murder had been issued for 33-year-old Joel Roy of Greater Sudbury in connection with the double homicide. This is the same man who was charged with weapons offences on Dec. 21 for the same incident. The two first-degree murder charges are one count for each of the two men killed. The charge of attempted murder is related to the presence of an 18-year-old man, who was in the room during the shooting, but was not injured. The Travelodge Hotel shootings are believed to be targeted and isolated.
- Notre Dame Avenue murder: A 25-year-old man is facing a murder charge after an assault on Notre Dame Avenue early Dec. 23 left a man dead. “Just after 1:50 a.m. this morning, Dec. 23, 2022, officers were dispatched to a residence on Notre Dame Avenue in relation to an assault that had just taken place,” Greater Sudbury Police reported. “Information provided was that two men had been in a physical altercation resulting in one of the men sustaining life-threatening injuries. The 20-year-old man was transported to the hospital by Greater Sudbury Paramedic Services, however, he was unfortunately pronounced deceased by medical professionals.” GSPS said the murder victim’s identity will not be released out of respect for his family. The murder suspect has been identified by police as Mohamadnihal Multani, who is from India. Police have not yet released the degree of murder charge Multani is facing (a spokesperson said they do not have confirmation on this detail from the Crown’s office). GSPS said this is an isolated incident, as it’s believed the two involved individuals are known to each other.
- Vehicular manslaughters - At the January Greater Sudbury Police Services Board meeting, police reported that there were also two vehicular manslaughter deaths in 2022. No further information about these cases was provided by police.
***Editor's note: Since this story's publication on Jan. 2, it has come to our attention that there were also two "vehicular manslaughter" deaths in Greater Sudbury in 2022 that were not reported to Sudbury.com by Greater Sudbury Police in our initial research for this story. As manslaughter is considered homicide under Canadian law, the number of homicides in Greater Sudbury in 2022 is actually 12, not the number we initially reported. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.
Heidi Ulrichsen is Sudbury.com’s associate content editor. She also covers education and the arts scene.