Police treat drowning of Toronto child as suspicious

Wednesday, Jul 14, 2004

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail


Homicide detectives are treating the death of a four-year-old girl who drowned in a bathtub at her Scarborough home Monday as suspicious.

''The case still remains under investigation, it is suspicious in the nature of how a four-year-old has succumbed to her death by way of drowning,'' Detective Ray Zarb of the Toronto Police's homicide unit said outside 42 Division last night.


Det. Zarb said police are looking for anyone who can comment on the child's last 24 hours before her death.


An autopsy determined the cause of death to be drowning, but police were continuing to investigate.

On Monday, at about 6:30 p.m., police said, the child's mother put her to bed at their home on Rosebank Drive, near Markham Road and Sheppard Avenue East. When the father arrived home an hour later, she wasn't in her room. He found her body in the bathtub.

At the time, police said the only people in the house were the child's mother and grandmother, but homicide detectives would not confirm this information last night.

When asked whether either of the two female boarders said to live at the home were present, Det. Zarb said, "possibly, yes."

The child had no vital signs when she was found and was pronounced dead at Scarborough Centenary Hospital after ambulance personnel tried to revive her at the house.

Police initially said the child may have crawled into a bathtub that the mother had filled with water to soak laundry, but yesterday would not confirm that, saying they had received conflicting reports.

Last night, homicide detectives had taken over the investigation and interviewed the family for several hours at 42 Division. The father was being interviewed after the other family members had left.

Police said the interviews took a long time because they were being conducted through a translator. The family is believed to have moved to Canada about a year ago from mainland China, and were said to speak Mandarin.

Before his interview, the child's father sat in the lobby of the division office next to the grandmother and a male family friend. His head was bowed and he spent most of the time looking at the floor.

He spoke halting English and did not want to comment on his daughter.

At one point, the family friend left and came back with clothing in a plastic bag. The child's father asked police whether they could deliver the clothes to the mother because she was cold during the interview.

Police said they had to wait until the interview was over because it was being videotaped. When the child's mother eventually came out, she was handed the bag and ushered back in, along with the grandmother.

When asked by a reporter whether the child had any developmental disabilities, after media reports surfaced suggesting the child was mute, Det. Zarb said: "I'm not going to be disclosing any medical or mental issues, if there are any, at this time."

No charges have been laid in the child's death and no names have been released by police.