Her Name Was Sharin' Morningstar Keenan
She was a friend. We went to Jesse Ketchum Public School together. I was a year older. She was only 9 when she was abducted, raped, strangled, and her body stuffed into a fridge in a roominghouse.
BY LARRY COLLINS. © 1983 BY THE READER’S DIGEST ASSOCIATION (CANADA) LTD.
At 3 p.m. on Sunday, January 23, 1983, Lynda Keenan left her nine-year-old daughter, Sharin’ Morningstar, to play in Jean Sibelius Square, a small park near their home in Toronto’s polyglot Bathurst-Dupont section.
"Be home by five," she said. It was the last time she saw her daughter alive.
Ten days later, the child’s body was found stuffed in a refrigerator in a nearby rooming house. Sharin’ had been sexually assaulted and murdered.
Six weeks later, a first-degree murder warrant was issued for Dennis Melvyn Howe, 42, alias Michael Burns, alias Wayne King, alias Ralph Ferguson, alias Jim Myers. Metropolitan Toronto Police, assisted by other police forces, have followed hundred of leads without success.
To cast a wider net for Dennis Melvyn Howe, they asked Reader’s Digest to tell the story of Sharin’ Morningstar Keenan.
She was a pretty child with long, dark hair, brown eyes and a dimple in her right cheek when she smiled. A Grade 4 student at Jesse Ketchum Public School, she loved art and drama, wrote plays and with friends put on puppet shows in the street. She once drew a poster of a girl with long, dark hair in a field of flowers, and wrote on it: "I love everything."
About 4 p.m. that day, her father, Brendan Caron, walked to Jean Sibelius Square to pick up his daughter. There was no sign of her and Caron became alarmed. He hurried back home to 493 Dupont Street, and when he found Sharin’ wasn’t there, he looked around the neighbourhood. At 6:15 p.m. Lynda called the police. Soon a description of Sharin’ went out on the police radio.
Caron, an unemployed printer who sold food dehydrators from his house, and Lynda Keenan, both 35, were products of the 1960s era with its emphasis on love of man and nature – and on sharing. To them the morning star symbolized love, and they named their eldest daughter Sharin’ Morningstar. Their second daughter, now seven, is name Celeste, and their son, five, Summer Sky.
Police quickly searched the area around Jean Sibelius Square. By 10 p.m., a missing-person broadcast was going out over police radio every half hour. Sound trucks began spreading the message through the neighbourhood.
At noon on Monday, two homicide detectives, S. Sgt. David Boothby, 39 and Sgt. Wayne Oldham, 37, were assigned to the case. Two constables were stationed at the Dupont Street house and a recording device was installed in case a kidnapper tried to phone the parents.
On the mantel, Lynda Keenan burned a small white candle. "I think the light will help Sharin’ and me get through this," she said....
I was 10 about to turn 11. I promised Sharin' that I'd find him. That I'd find a way to make him pay for hurting her.... It's the only promise I've ever made that I couldn't keep. I pray every night that Sharin' forgives me & that the FU*KER is dead. I hope it was painful and slow for him.
Howe was 5 feet, nine inches tall and weighed about 165 pounds. He had a tanned, leathery complexion and brown eyes. His thinning brown hair has probably turned grey by now. He has a wrinkled forehead, a small gap between his front teeth, a partial upper denture, a hairy chest and arms, squarred shoulders, and a cleft chin with a scar on it. He is left-handed, known to wear a mustache, and has crooked little fingers.
Howe drank Molson's beer and chain-smoked Pla
Howe would be about 69 years old now. When not in prison, he worked as a stock clerk, cook, roofer, janitor, millwright, electrician, carpenter, and metal worker.