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Investigation Profiled During Campaign Results In First Degree Murder Charges

Investigation Profiled During Campaign Results In First Degree Murder Charges
April 18th, 2018 - Police & the Community

(BARRIE, ON) – A creative joint investigation by members of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and Barrie Police Service has resulted in two criminal charges being laid more than 26 years after two people disappeared.

At a news conference today, OPP Detective-Superintendent Ken LEPPERT and Barrie Police Service Chief Kimberley GREENWOOD credited enhanced public discussions with helping to provide resolution to the 1991 disappearance and deaths of Grant AYERST and Norman WHALLEY.

Police have charged Michael Guido Gerald CLAES, 49-years-old, of Elmvale, Ontario with two counts of First Degree Murder. The accused appeared at the Ontario Court of Justice in Barrie on April 16, 2018 and has been remanded in custody.

The AYERST/WHALLEY disappearances were among the unsolved investigations profiled on a rolling billboard and in a series of video vignettes designed to generate information on unsolved murders and missing person cases in central Ontario. Beginning in May 2017, police used their respective social media platforms to unveil Simcoe County Case Files to reinvigorate investigations and provide resolutions to the families and friends who have survived tragic losses with local ties.

QUOTES

It’s heartening to know this innovative Simcoe County Case Files approach to longer term investigations has produced tangible results. Sadly, police cannot reverse the tragic outcomes for the victims’ families and friends.  But we will continue to use whatever tools we can to support community safety and advance investigations.” – Detective-Superintendent Ken LEPPERT, OPP Criminal Investigation Services

“Our collaborative approach has produced a result that offers an opportunity for these grieving families to try to move forward having lived with their respective tragic losses for so long. And we have the viewing public to thank in part for their response to this new approach. – Chief Kimberley GREENWOOD, Barrie Police Service

Although not present at the news conference and respecting their continued desire for privacy, the Ayerst family provided a statement in response to the charges being laid:

We are extremely grateful for the renewed interest and attention brought to the disappearance of our son Grant through Simcoe County Case Files.

We wish to thank Detective Sergeant Andrew Taylor for his interest, dedication and persistence with this case. We also extend our sincere gratitude to the many people involved in helping to bring some resolution to our family concerning Grant's disappearance.

Early on in this tragedy we chose not to let the events surrounding Grant's disappearance destroy our lives and family. Instead we chose to keep the good memories alive, hope to move us forward and always anticipated the day we would have some resolution to this tragedy which disrupted out lives over 26 years ago. PATIENCE, KARMA and HOPE have paid off.

While this case is before the courts we have decided to refrain from making any public comments. We thank the media in advance for respecting our wishes.

We now put our trust and hope in the judicial system to hold accountable the individual or individuals responsible for Grant's disappearance". - The Ayerst Family

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Grant AYERST, 21-years-old, of Barrie, Ontario and Norman WHALLEY, 36-years-old, of British Columbia were last seen leaving a Toronto hotel on September 11, 1991. Their remains have yet to be recovered. Since May 2017, four investigations involving a total of five victims who met with foul play in or near the City of Barrie have been profiled in episodic videos posted to a dedicated Simcoe County Case Files page on Facebook which continue to be viewed and have been shared thousands of times. They include:

  • Cindy HALLIDAY, 17-years-old, of Waverley, Ontario who was last seen hitchhiking near Midhurst on April 20, 1992. She had been visiting a friend in the City of Barrie. Her remains were discovered in a wooded area of Springwater Township on June 17, 1992.
     
  • April DOBSON, 40-years-old, was outdoors, sitting on a porch at a friend’s residence in Barrie when she was tragically shot to death on October 14, 2005.
     
  • Barrie area resident Jaimee Lee MILLER, 30-years-old, was last seen by family and friends in mid-October 2015 and reported missing on November 2, 2015. Her body was discovered March 16, 2016 in a wooded area off Gill Road in Springwater Township north of the City of Barrie. The OPP and the Office of the Chief Coroner have determined her death to be a homicide.

The dedicated Simcoe County Case Files Facebook page remains active and the videos remain available on the OPP Corporate Communications YouTube channel . Viewers can provide information by calling the dedicated Simcoe County Case Files Hotline toll-free at 1-844-677-5030, by email at SimcoeCountyCaseFiles@opp.ca or – to remain anonymous – call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

Media resources, including poster graphics of the unresolved cases, remain available at this link: www.opp.ca/media/SimcoeCountyCaseFiles

 

MEDIA CONTACTS:

  • Constable Sarah BAMFORD
    Corporate Communications, Media Officer
    Barrie Police Service
    Phone: (705) 725-7025 Ext. 2680     
    E-mail:  sbamford@barriepolice.ca 
     
  • Sergeant Peter LEON
    Community Safety Coordinator
    OPP Central Region
    Phone: (705) 330-3713      
    E-mail: peter.leon@opp.ca