A refugee from Africa has been identified as the woman brutally stabbed to death Tuesday morning during a rain storm in Toronto's Cabbagetown.
Fifty-five-year-old Nighisti Semret had just left the Delta Chelsea after finishing up her night shift as a supervising cleaner at 6:30 a.m. She was on her way home during a morning rain shower and dressed for the weather. Taking a short cut through the alleyway between Blecker and Ontario Streets Nighisti didn't know that danger laid ahead.
At the end of the alley way a white man in a button up coat, white scarf and hat that appears to have a sheen approached Nighisti from behind. In footage from surveillance cameras it appears that the man was clutching a knife with his right hand.
It is not known if the suspect talked to Nighisti as he grabbed her. As the knife, possibly a common kitchen knife, plunged into her repeatedly she screamed out. A nearby witness rushed to her aid and confronted the suspect. The suspect flashed the knife to the witness before running away back down the alley way.
Nighisti's screams drew others in the area to the crime scene but there was nothing that could be done to save her life. One of the stab wounds was lethal.The damage had already been done. A short time later Nighisti was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
During a media conference Wednesday morning Toronto Police Detective Sergeant Gary Giroux, Homicide Squad, said that the Nighisti lived a modest life. His office worked through the night to find a next of kin but were unable to. She had come to Canada as a refugee a number of years ago.
Giroux said it doesn't appear that Nighisti knew the man that took her life but stressed that someone in the community does know who this criminal is. It is thought that the person may have experienced this type of crime before. Police in the area are saying that similar crimes have taken place in the past from random assaults to purse snatching. The suspect is possibly a street person who knows Cabbagetown like the back of his hand.
"The area needs to step up for Nighisti," Giroux said. "We are looking for the community's help. We can't do this by ourselves."
Division 51 police will be increasing their presence in the area including having a community vehicle that residents can approach and give information to officers directly.
"Public safety will be increased until the suspect is found Giroux promised adding a message to the suspect, "Surrender yourself to the police."
The suspect is a white male, 5'10 to 6', 150-200 pounds. He was well dressed.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416−808−7400, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416−222−TIPS (8477), online at www.222tips.com, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637), or Leave A Tip on Facebook. Download the free Crime Stoppers Mobile App on iTunes, Google Play or Blackberry App World.