Murder case shifts gear

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JANKO NAGLIC / Police appeal to the public for missing links

James Dubro / Toronto Xtra / Thursday, February 17, 2005

The investigation into the murder of Barn owner Janko Naglic is about to enter a highly visibile stage, including a television reenactment of the crime, a police substation in the Church Wellesely village and the exploration of international angles.

"The homicide investigation is intensifying as we put out flyers and go to investigate in Florida," says chief investigator Det Wayne Banks.

Naglic, the owner of The Barn on Church St, was found dead of asphyxiation in his Balliol St home on Oct 27, 2004. His body was bound and gagged.

A Crime Stoppers episode dramatizing the murder will be broadcast on Toronto television stations starting late February, offering a cash reward for information leading to arrests. In addition, a new police community sub-station will be set up on Fri, Feb 25 on Church St between Maitland and Alexander in an attempt to find more witnesses. Toronto police lesbian and gay liaison officer Const Jackie O'Keefe will be assisting detectives in their outreach efforts.

The case has also become an international affair, with a major thrust of the investigation shifting from Toronto to Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Cuba. A team of eight Toronto homicide officers under the lead of Banks, who has replaced Det Sgt Allan Comeau as the lead investigator, are working full-time on the case. Comeau is continuing to work on the case as a part-time consultant after being reassigned to 55 Division.

Flyers giving information about Naglic's murder and urging those with information to come forward will be produced in both English and Spanish and distributed in the gay neighbourhoods of Toronto, Miami and Fort Lauderdale. In Toronto the Church Wellesley Village Business Improvement Area will be assisting in distributing the information to local businesses.

Naglic and his partner Ivan Mendes became well known in the south Florida area after Naglic relocated his yacht there two years ago. Naglic had a condo in Fort Lauderdale and another in Miami. In the last year of his life he often spent five days out of the week at his Florida residences. Toronto cops will be working with the local authorities there, as well as with Jim Case, a friend of Naglic's and a prominent Fort Lauderdale lawyer.

One of the matters currently under police investigation in Florida is the alleged stripping of Naglic's yacht of valuables since his death.

Banks adds that investigators have also contacted the Cuban Consulate in Toronto and are considering a trip to Cuba to investigate additional leads there.

While Banks says that his staff have received "remarkable cooperation" from the public, he believes there may be key witnesses who have yet to come forward, either because they don't believe the police are committed to solving the murder of a gay man, or because they believe that elements of the police force themselves are involved.

Last spring, Naglic claimed to have been approached by someone who offered to make his problems with the police in connection to The Barn go away for a lump sum price of $40,000 plus $2,000 per month.

Banks insists that these fears are unfounded. He maintains that he would go after anyone involved in the murder and that he is just as motivated to solve this murder as he would be on any homicide investigation.

"My job is to arrest and lock up criminals," Banks says, even if they are cops. "After all, in the end all I have is my integrity."

Police have already interviewed more than 70 witnesses in connection to the investigation and are now focussing their Toronto investigation on one suspect who many of these witnesses say had the motive and the stated intent to do serious harm to Naglic.

On the day of his murder, Naglic expressed fears that his life was in danger to close friends. While police will not confirm they have a prime suspect, sources close to the investigation indicate that there is one person of special interest to the police and that the shift of the investigation to southern Florida and Cubareflects this focus.

Banks says the police will not make the mistake of a premature arrest. "We only have one chance in Canada to prosecute people for murder. We have to get all the evidence out there. We have to get all of our ducks in a row." Anyone with any information about the last days of Janko Naglic's life are urged to contact Det Wayne Banks or Det Peter Callaghan at (416) 808-7395. Alternatively you can contact the force's lesbian and gay liaison officer Const Jackie O'Keefe at (416) 808-7083.

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