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.


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....

LINK: http://www.torontopolice.on.ca/homicide/case/21 

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 Players plain cigarettes. He was a loud mouth who called everyone and everything a "turkey". At other times he transformed himself into a withdrawn loner. He is known as a supreme con-man and quick-change artist. He is good at conconcting stories and covering his tracks.

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.


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21 Responses Mar 1, 2009

I was going to a friends house. I was about 9. I was by myself. My friend lived in a building. I was walking up the stairs and someone approached me on the stair way while i was going up to my friends house. Ill never forget it. He said" Come here little girl" as He was coming up behind me on the stairwell. Man, did i ever take off running. But I was scared and didnt know where to go. I was afraid he was on the elevator so i didnt want to go that way. I was afraid to go back down the stairs. Eventually, I got to the top crossed the hall to the other side and when down the stairwell that way, He looked like a bum. He was heavy set wearing an over coat. GREY.. Ill never forget it. When i heard on the radio in my dads car about the girl in the fridge I always wondered if that was the same man. It freaks me out to this day, I did tell me parents that day but i dont think they believed me. Im 40 now and that day still haunts me! I was living in East york.

Teri, it is seadragons here again. I just watched the video with Lynda Keenan. The police stated that Sharin had a dollar in her pocket, which was the reason why she left with Howe. Lynda Keenan said that there was no way Sharin would have done that, as she knew better. Lynda also stated that Howe was very good at acting. Lynda was right on all accounts. From my experience - as I mentioned in the previous message to you, I know for a fact that Howe befriended Sharin for months. When I approached Sharin, she was headstrong and didn't want me to speak to her parents, as she didn't like people speaking on her behalf. It embarrassed her, as Lynda also stated. Please if you are in contact with Lynda, tell her that she was right about Sharin, and that Sharin wouldn't be cohearsed so easily.

Teri, I share your pain more than you can imagine. From May to October of that year, I was a graduate student, living on Brunswick Ave; and I would walk home through that park after work. I noticed that Howe would visit the park every single day at 5:30pm, like clockwork. He always wore a dirty white trenchcoat (even in July) and kept his distance from most people in the park. Whenever I passed him on the street, he would show a multitude of expressions; cold glares, then laugh to himself. I was so suspicious of this guy, that I would look from a distance at what he was doing. Sure enough, he would frequently talk to this little brunette haired girl, that I realized after the tragedy, was Sharon. I even approached Sharon one time, mentioned that I wanted to help her and asked what that man asked her. Sharon got all defensive with me and said it was none of my business. I then asked her to show me where she lived so that I could speak to her parents. She got even more defensive and screamed that she is not supposed to speak to strangers. Then she ran away between the houses. I said out loud, "Good! Make sure you don't speak to that man either!" Howe was long gone, by this point. The slimy actor had befriended Sharon for some time and knew how to brainwash her. For the next two weeks, I did not see Howe nor Sharon at the park. Even though I mentioned this situation to the authorities, there was very little for them to go on. I had no names of either party, no exact address of where Howe lived, nothing. I felt I lost any opportunity of helping Sharon. I had moved at the end of the those two weeks and never knew if Howe was still in the area. When the January news of Sharon was exposed, my heart sank like never before. I felt completely at fault for blowing my one time of connection with Sharon. If I ran after her, it would look worse. I was hoping Sharon would have came back with friends or anybody, so that I could tell the authorities to approach her. This nightmare haunts me to this day. If it helps, Howe wore a thin moustache, with all of his lip showing. He sure knew how to change his facial expressions quickly, as well.

Hi Celeste,
I went to Jesse too. I was a year younger than her in Mrs. Stone's grade 3 class. We were friends and I knew you and sky too. Just wanted to say I will never forget her and think of her all the time. My heart always went out to your family and still does. This monster needs to be brought to justice. I pray for her justice always and will never forget her beauty. She was an artist.

To Ylangylang, the commenter just before/below me,

It wasn't Dennis Melvyn Howe who flashed you during this period: during the time he lived at 482 Brunswick, he was very thin (his teeth were in a very bad and painful condition, and this caused him to eat less). Also, he didn't own a car, as he was spotted the day after Keenan went missing getting off a bus in Sault Ste. Marie. As it became widely known after the murder of Holly Jones, that entire area of Toronto has an unusual number of sexual deviants and child molesters.


I played in the same park as Sharin. I never knowingly met her, but I am positive her abducter flashed me (I was walking near Walmer ave toward Spadina) while driving by in a car. He was fat. Drove slowly in what I think was a silver car. We lived on Howland Ave at the time and the house she was found in was literally one block over. Our backyards may have even joined.

Sadly I remember the cruisers driving around and the knocks on neighbourhood doors. I remember seeing her mom in Steve's Milk our local convenience store looking so sad afterwards.

I was 12.
xo a.

My name is Renato, I met Lynda Keenan in 1970, we worked at Montreal Bank in Toronto .She was a dreamer , loved nature and helped me to improve my english. From 1971 I live in Italy and just by chance I knew Morning Star tragedy. Lynda even if you dont remember me I feel so near to you. Be strong. Ciao Renato.

I was going to College in Toronto when this happened. It was so painful. I am not good with names, however, “Sharin Morningstar” has always been in my memory, like it was yesterday. My thoughts and prayers go to the family. Morningstar will never be forgotten.

I would like the toronto police to to once again go to as many media oulets across north america and tell this story again. I was only in grade 4 i believe when this horrible nightmare took place. It still haunts and hurts me to this day. How can we put a man on the moon but we can not find this pig. How can someone just fall off the face of the earth. Please lets spend as much money as it takes to circulate this story day after day until we find him. Could he be in downtown eastside of skidrow vancouver.

Never to be forgotten.

Teri, is it? You mustn't feel as though you've let anyone down because you were unable to keep this promise. What could you do? Really? Nearly 30 years and extensive media coverage and police work has failed to turn up Mr. Howe. I realize that when one feels really bad about something as you obviously do in this case-and who can blame you, especially when Sharin was a friend of yours-that it can make us feel upset at ourselves, as if we've failed, or done something wrong. But imagine if you knew somebody else who was saying the same things you're saying, as if they'd failed because they were unable to keep the promise to "get them and make them pay" as you put it, wouldn't you be inclined to say to that person "it's O.K., you haven't failed anybody. You shouldn't feel bad as if you've done something wrong..." We're often harder and more unfair on ourselves than we are on others. You mention praying every night that Sharin will forgive you. I'd would bet you any money that if Sharin is watching you, hearing you, that she doesn't blame you for anything. Why would she? Touched, and perhaps saddened that you're so full of regret and are so down on yourself when you've done nothing wrong is more likely the reaction she'd if she saw that, I'm certain! I really hope that this message helps you feel better and that you really are hearing what I'm saying, that it makes a difference. All the best to you. Be well. -Bryan.

Sharin's case -- along with 11 others -- is featured in my new book, "Unsolved: True Canadian Cold Cases." It is the longest chapter in the book, almost 11,000 words.<br />
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I/we knew Sharin the year before she died. She went to a different school back then and was in my class. The one good thing that came out of her death is street proofing. People started talking more about the dangers that were out there for children. People started watching their children more. People became aware of child abuse. I am multiple because of my childhood experiences and when I was being hurt people were so unaware but now and because of Sharin people are more aware of abuse and safety. Know that I think of her often...and she will never be forgotten. The other thing that hasn't been said in these posts is that they searched for Sharin for a long time and at that time they had never had that large a search in Canada.<br />
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I was close friends with Sharin, and with you Naomi, and for all these years my prayers have been with Sharin and her family, and with you though we fell out of touch. Sharin was an inspiration with her loveliness. You, Naomi, are an inspiration with your great work even in your difficult childhood, you did so much to help others less fortunate than yourself. I am grateful to have had Sharin and you in my life, and I send my love.
Julia P.

The police knew so much about Howe, and he was such a career "loser" that it has always amazed me that he was never found and charged. I remember as a kid in the 60's hearing rumours of police "Goon Squads"...off duty cops who would take vigilante action for the good of the community. I've always wondered if maybe it was true, and if that's why a seemingly easy target like Howe was never arrested. I like to think its true, and that justice was carried out. Hopefully with the same lack of mercy he showed that poor child.

This is Sharin's younger sister. I'd just like to say thanks for keeping Sharin's story in the limelight. It's been difficult for me to believe that Sharin's been gone for that long and that my family is still feeling the pain of loosing her. It's good to know that there are some people in the world who still care and will never give up searching for the man who killed her.Hopefully no more people will have to go through what my family has been through.I know that the chances of Mr Howe turning himself in are, well, pretty damned near zero but he's out there somewhere.I don't like talking about what happened because it's an unpleasant thing to have to talk about. I'm afraid that people will ask too many questions about it.I guess I'm just good at hiding my feelings about it.

My older sister was really good friends with Sharin . I am so sorry and I hope they catch him

Hi WynHaven,<br />
<br />
I am researching a book on Sharin and other Canadian cases, and am interested in speaking to you to hear your recollections about Sharin. If interested, please contact me through the fill-in form on my website, www.truecrimecanada.com<br />
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Best,<br />
<br />

I'm sure she is thankful knowing that you have her in your thoughts....never met her in person but from what I've read and sense she seemed like a beautiful person...its a shame that someone like her was denied a chance of experiencing life beyond her nine years and into adulthood :(

I do remember this tragic story from my elementary school days...very sad...RIP and hopefully you are smiling on us

oh this is so sad im very sorry!

WynHaven, my prayers are with you and dear Sharin'.

I remember this awful tragedy.<br />
When my girls were young I never let them out of my site.