Toronto police say a woman who was found lying in the street with a gunshot wound to the head in the early hours of Tuesday was working in the sex-trade industry.
Leanne Freeman, 23, was originally from Winnipeg but had lived and travelled throughout Ontario, according to police. She arrived in Toronto in the summer.
“I cannot say with any certainty, whatsoever, that Leanne’s employment has anything to do with her murder,” said lead investigator Detective Sergeant Brian Borg, at a news conference Thursday afternoon. However, he warned other sex-trade workers to be particularly cautious.
He said many people have already come forward with tips but urged others who knew Ms. Freeman, who also went by the name Amanda, talk to police.
“Leanne’s death has obviously touched a nerve with many people,” he said.
Det. Sgt. Borg said police are still trying to piece together whether Ms. Freeman was primarily working on the streets and if she was working for someone. He said she was known to stay at shelters beyond the GTA, particularly in Sudbury, and had been charged with drug-related offences in areas including York Region.
Police said Ms. Freeman was still alive when they were called about 1 a.m. to Unwin Avenue, near Leslie Street, after a driver said there had been a collision in the area.
Officers quickly determined she had been shot. She was fully clothed in the middle of the road, in the dark industrial area. She was rushed to St. Michael's hospital, where she died.
People heard gun shots nearby, police said. They did not disclose how many shots were heard.
Those mourning Ms. Freeman’s death, which was Toronto’s 42nd homicide of 2011, called her a good friend who didn’t deserve to die. She was trying to get her life back on track, someone posted on her Facebook memorial.
“You stood up for me when no one would, at one point you were the only [family]I had,” one friend wrote.
Another said, “She was just trying to start her life over too. Ya, so she spoke her mind, she shouldnt (sic) of got shot for that.”