Human skull found: York Regional Police search for other remains in wooded area of Thornhill
JENNIFER PAGLIARO/TORONTO STAR York Regional Police search Uplands Golf and Ski Club in Thornhill on Monday, a day after a human skull was discovered.
The discovery of a human skull in a densely wooded area just off Hwy. 407 in Thornhill has launched a large-scale police search for the outstanding remains in a still mysterious death.
On Monday, York Regional Police were scouring more than five-acres of Vaughan city-owned Uplands Golf and Ski Club just south of Hwy 407 after the skull was discovered Sunday afternoon.
“We’ve employed our search-and-rescue team . . . and they are searching the area for any other remains,” Homicide Det.-Sgt. John Braybrook told reporters on the northwest edge of the property Monday afternoon.
Braybrook said a citizen walking in the wooded area, covered in dense brush, around 1 p.m. Sunday stumbled upon the remains and contacted police.
On Monday the investigation into what has been deemed a suspicious death ramped up, with a command unit, several ATVs and nearly a dozen officers stationed near part of the east branch of the Don River, opposite the main clubhouse, across from a sandpit and neatly manicured lawns.
A police cruiser had a section of the 407’s eastbound on-ramp at Bathurst St. cordoned off, near where police say the skull was discovered.
Braybrook said it could take several days to search the property and identify the remains with help from the coroner’s office.
Police have yet to determine a cause of death.
“The person could have met foul play or it could have been just a transient individual,” Braybrook said. “We have no indication whether there’s any criminality at this point.”
The skull may also have been separated from the body by an animal, he added.
Braybrook said police hope dental records will help make quick work of identifying the skull’s owner.
Though still early in the investigation, Braybrook said there are several missing persons cases in York dating back several decades — the oldest, that of Isabelle Brooks, a 68-year-old woman who disappeared from her Markham home in 1972.
Uplands, which was purchased by the City of Vaughan in 1989, contains a park as well as footpaths and hiking trails accessible to the public.
The club is bordered to the east and west by residential properties.
Callaway Crt., which abutts the northwest edge of the wooded property where a canine unit searched Monday, is home to four massive mansions at the north end — some once gifted as lottery winnings.
In August 2011, York Regional Police were alerted to another human skull in Whitchurch-Stouffville, found by a local farmer. It was later identified as that of 67-year-old Peter Gavin, the victim of an ongoing homicide investigation. The rest of his remains have not been found.
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