Arrest made in connection with attempted murder cold case that shocked Toronto 26 years ago

police have made an arrest in a cold case that lay dormant for more than two decades after a tipster came forward with new information last fall.

Taxi driver Thomas Hillier was beaten nearly to death with a hammer after picking up a fare in the city’s east end in October 1989. The police investigation was shelved in 1990 when no solid leads materialized.

The file sat in police archives for 26 years. It likely would have remained there, had a source not approached Det. Sgt. Jim Gotell last fall.

With a new lead in hand, Gotell reopened the case. And on Feb. 13, police arrested Dale Doherty of Toronto and charged her with attempted murder.

Doherty, 60, was processed and released. She is to appear in court March 21.

Gotell said police held off informing the public about the arrest for two weeks while they tracked down the victim and his family.

Hillier suffered severe injuries in attack. According to press reports at the time, he was struck 20 times in the head with a hammer. The beating fractured his skull and caused severe left-side paralysis.

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The attack occurred after Hillier, who was 42 at the time, picked up two men and a woman on the Danforth in his Able Atlantic taxi just before midnight on Oct. 27, 1989. When he stopped the cab, they demanded money then attacked him with the hammer.

After the attack, Hillier lost control of the taxi, accelerated and crashed into a bank of parked cars before coming to rest “on the embankment of a swimming pool,” according to police.

One of the first officers on scene that night was Peter Sloly, who eventually rose to become a deputy chief in the .

“It was one of my first big calls as a young officer in 54 Division,” Sloly, who recently retired, said in a written message. “My partner, Constable Mike Lyons, and I were the first officers on scene and we had to rescue the driver from the pool and do first aid until (the) ambulance arrived.”

0229 08:28 Woman Arr. In 1989 Atmpt Murder Invst, Dale Doherty, 60, …ill Outstanding

— Toronto Police (@TorontoPolice) February 29, 2016

Police believe the attack was a random robbery, said Gotell. They’re still looking for the two men involved and are asking the public for any information that might help lead to their arrests.

Gotell went out of his way Monday to praise the original investigators in the case. “They did an excellent job, unfortunately they weren’t able to make an arrest at the time, through no fault of their own I think.”

He highlighted in particular the quality of the records they kept.

“One of the things I did with this actual file was I PDF’d it and I sent it out to all the staff sergeants here and told them to give to their officers,” he said.

“This is how you work a file; this is how you work a case; this is the information that has (to) go into a report, because 25 years later we can pick it up and literally continue where they left off.”

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