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Police have identified the Toronto man allegedly stabbed to death by a group of teenage girls as 59-year-old Ken Lee. Police say Lee died in hospital after he was allegedly swarmed and stabbed by a group of eight teenage girls in mid-December.Toronto Police Service/The Canadian Press

Police have identified the 59-year-old homeless man who was killed in downtown Toronto during an alleged swarming attack for which eight teenaged girls stand accused of murder.

On Tuesday, authorities released Ken Lee’s name to the public three weeks after they had announced his Dec. 18 death. A photograph of him as a younger man was also revealed.

Investigators at Toronto Police Service said they had been keeping Mr. Lee’s name under wraps until next of kin were notified. Now, these relatives are reeling. “They are still very hurt with the event,” homicide Detective-Sergeant Terry Browne said in an e-mail.

Also Tuesday, Mr. Lee was remembered at Toronto’s Homeless Memorial during a noontime gathering. He was named at the makeshift monument as being among at least 15 people who have died on Toronto’s streets this winter.

People who spoke at the memorial, which is located outside the Church of the Holy Trinity near the Eaton Centre, said the other cases involved deaths from overdoses, fires, suicide, or freezing in the cold.

But they characterized Mr. Lee’s death as a powerful reminder of the violence suffered by people living on the margins.

“I’m not going to talk about Ken for the sake of his family,” said Diana Chan McNally, a crisis worker.

“There is such an increase in violence against people who are on the streets,” she said after the memorial. “This is the most extreme example of that.”

One week before Christmas, Mr. Lee was outside a shelter near Union Station when he got into a confrontation around midnight.

Eight girls between the ages of 13 and 16 were charged in his death. Detectives have said the girls came from all over the Toronto area, and that they may have met through social media before heading downtown that night.

“It’s our belief, right now, that the now-deceased was in possession of a liquor bottle,” Det.-Sgt. Browne said when he announced the charges last month. “And we think that’s what they were trying to take – but we can’t say with certainty.”

The eight teens, facing second-degree murder charges, are in the early stages of their appearances before the courts. Their identities are being withheld under Canada’s Youth Criminal Justice Act.

In late December, one accused girl was released on bail. Hearings for the other seven are to occur later this winter. A publication ban has also been placed on any discussion of any evidence presented in court.

Other strictures imposed by the courts are blocking the release of information about the case to journalists. On Friday, lawyers representing The Globe and Mail and other news outlets will appear in court to press for a greater degree of access.

Last month, a resident of a downtown shelter told The Globe she knew Mr. Lee as “Kenny.” Katy Chiappetta said she watched him start to lose his life as he was taken away by paramedics in the aftermath of the attack. She described him as a father, and said he may have family overseas.

The attack occurred outside the Strathcona Hotel on York Street. It is one of several downtown hotels the City of Toronto has been leasing to operate as a homeless shelter in recent years.

Mr. Lee had once lived in that shelter, according to police, who have also said he was not a resident at the time of his death.

Court records filed in Old City Hall show that a man named Kenneth Lee gave an undertaking in court this fall concerning the Strathcona. In September, he told a justice of the peace he would stay 100 metres away from the hotel at all times after an unproven allegation that he had an altercation with someone else who lived there.

The Kenneth Lee in question had no fixed address. He was 59 and his 60th birthday would have occurred last week.