The Yorkville Murders
The area of Yorkville in the 1960s was described as a bit of a bohemian haven. I missed all the love and peace bit because I was born in the middle of it. By the time I was growing up the hippie counter culture was something seen in pictures of mum and dad as youngsters.
Toronto did not spring to my mind as a centre of cultural revolution at this time. It was only when I saw the sad case of Richard Hovey that I realised just how much was going on back then. There was a deep darkness, however, that cast a shadow over the enlightenment of the times. 1967 is recorded as the Summer of Love. It wasn’t the case for everyone.
Mr Hovey was a 17 year old musician who moved to the city from Fredericton, New Brunswick in 1967. He was a diminutive lad standing at only 5ft 5in with the slight build of someone younger. He was last seen in June 1967 getting into a car. The driver is described as being a strong looking black guy. The following year skeletal remains were found on the west side of the below image.
This location is 40km (25miles) from where Mr Hovey lived. It was 15th May 1968 when he was found. There were no clothes found near the site and Mr Hovey had had his hands tied behind him. The startling discovery must have raised police tension because the previous December a very similar situation had unfolded.
Another man had been found in the same circumstances. Police believe Eric Jones had been in the place where he was found since spring or summer of 1967. There was only a pair of tennis shoes recovered there. According to the OPP an 11ft (3m) length of twine was present. One end of it was looped around his wrists.
The two crime scenes were about 130km (80miles) apart. Unfortunately neither man was identified for 40 years. Clay likenesses were created and publicised. When people came forward with possible names they were compared to DNA profiles. Their names took a long time to come back to these men.
Mr Jones was only 18 years old when he was last seen by his family in April 1967. Once again he had a connection with Toronto. So was a serial killer stalking teenage men in Toronto back then?
The answer could lie in the arrest of one James Henry Greenidge. This convicted murderer was 28 years old back in 1967. In July that year he killed 17 year old Robert Mortimore. The victim had last been seen at a rooming house in Toronto. His body had been discovered a half hours drive to the north near Markham. Unlike Mr Hovey and Mr Jones the crime scene was found within 10 days of his death. Fingerprints led to the identification because Mr Mortimore had been arrested and processed in February 1966.
The police traced his movements and that led to James Greenidge. Greenidge said that he had picked up the victim and an argument had ensued over money for sex. According to this dirtbag the victim had pulled a small knife. Greenidge had disarmed him and killed him with it.
Greenidge (who later changed his name to James Henry) claimed he had not intended to kill the victim. He said very firmly his crime was not premeditated. What flies in the face of this statement is that he was in jail when he was arrested. He was there for the attempted murder of a 21 year old man who had also been stabbed.
He was sentenced to ten years for the attempted murder and another seven for the manslaughter of Mr Mortimore. As he stood in the dock and heard his fate it was June 1968. Not far away the cops had two skeletons that would wait four decades for an identification.
Greenidge had left Mr Mortimore naked in a field. Mr Hovey was found naked in a field and Mr Jones was found naked in a rural area. The victim who survived was stabbed multiple times and left in…A field near Barrie, Ontario. You can almost draw a straight line from where Mr Hovey was found through Barrie and then on to where Mr Jones was discovered. All the victims had links to Toronto city, and one of them had been seen getting into a car with a man looking very much like Greenidge. I will let you do the maths.
Greenidge came out of prison and killed again. This time it was a female sex worker. That got him slammed away for the rest of his life. All the sources say he is now in his 80s if he is still alive.
In 2007, when he was 68 years old, he was the subject of a very good article in the Toronto Star. Journalist Rosie DeManno looked at Greenidge’s history and chances of parole. In there she details more about the sexual crimes this dirtbag committed outside of the ones we have been discussing. His victims were both male and female, mostly young and some were children. I have placed it at the top of the sources below.
The Ontario Provincial Police are still asking for information about the murders of Mr Hovey and Mr Jones should you know anything. Apparently they did question Greenidge at the time and since, they didn’t get far.
This is a good example of cops knowing who is guilty yet not having the proof to get the case home in court. Of course Greenidge might not be guilty. There is a chance that two killers were operating in the same area, selecting the same victims at the same time though we are seriously into the realms of the improbable.
Last I would like to praise the OPP. I write about a lot of terrible unsolved crimes. I look at a lot of police websites. There are others that keep even the oldest cases alive with details and appeals. Not many do it as well as these Canadian cops.
Cheers, thanks for reading this and lets keep a light on for Richard ‘Dickie’ Hovey and Eric Jones.
Please note, due to issues with a new Google algorithm we have taken out some direct links.