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October 15, 1999
Massive Efforts On To Solve Sharmini Death Mystery
A P Kamath in Toronto
Forensic anthropologists and detectives spent over 10 hours on Wednesday looking for clues to the final hours of 15-year-old Sharmini Anandavel whose skeleton was discovered by a group of hikers. The hikers had first stumbled on the skull.
Sharmini, who has been missing for nearly four months, after leaving her home to take up a part-time job, is the older daughter of Sri Lankan immigrants. An intense search for her had been mounted since the day of her disappearance, and the local Tamil groups had joined the police in distributing thousands of handbills and posters asking for help to locate her.
Her body was found in a ravine near the family apartment on the outskirts of Toronto.
"We came here to Canada to escape the violence and troubles from our home,'' said Elooranayagam Anandavel, Sharmini's father, referring to the civil war in Sri Lanka. The family found refuge in Canada five years ago.
"Now we lose our daughter here. I hope this won't happen to anyone else's daughter. I don't want anyone to go through what we have suffered."
On Wednesday, Detective Sergeant Jim Crowley asked the public to help the police with any information on possible sightings of the teenager, especially around the ravine.
Crowley said the investigators are hoping for clues in the soil which will help them determine when she and how died -- and who might have killed her.
More than two dozen forensic anthropology students from the University of Toronto and other institutions have volunteered to assist the detectives.
Police are also checking the water in the Don River. The part of the ravine where the skull was found could be only be reached by going through the water. A dugout area found by the hikers could have been used to bury her body, authorities believe.
On Saturday, hikers found a skull in a remote part of the ravine -- across the Don River, where access could only be gained by going through the water.
The police had questioned a neighbor of the family soon after Sharmini's disappearance but the man, who is 22 and married with a child, reportedly told them that he had no knowledge of her whereabouts the day she was found missing. The two used to go to the same swimming pool near their homes, neighbors say. He had moved to a new home few days before Sharmini went missing.
The hikers also found near the river was a dugout area, suspected to be the spot where Sharmini's body had been buried.
Coroner John Taylor said coyote dens are located throughout the ravine area and said he suspected Sharmini's body may have been attacked by them.
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