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All these years later, his name can be found fourth on an alphabetical survivors' scroll from one of Air Canada's deadliest accidents: G. W. Davis, Toronto. There are no clues that this man's life, and murder, would make headlines again nearly 24 years to the day since that accident.

The crash of Air Canada Flight 797 in Cincinnati changed aviation rules, forcing the introduction of track lighting on the cabin floor, smoke detectors in toilets, automatic fire extinguishers, crew fire training and seat cushion flammability standards. It was also the flight that claimed Stan Rogers, the folk singer.

The fire began in a toilet and in the absence of smoke detectors, apparently burned for 15 minutes before it was noticed. By the time the plane landed and emergency exits were opened, smoke and fumes had reduced visibility to about a metre's height from the floor. The plane turned into a fireball about a minute later, killing 23 people on June 3, 1983.

For Glen Davis, a multimillionaire, surviving the accident transformed his life.

He took an increasing interest in wildlife causes and the environment. He gave millions to charity. Then, last Friday, he was shot dead as he walked to his car in an uptown Toronto parking garage.

Homicide detectives do not know why but they do know he was targeted. Who did it? At 66, he had never been in trouble with the law, was never known to have voiced extremist opinions and was widely regarded as a shy, generous man. Further reducing the investigative field, he and his wife, Mary Alice, had no children.

Mr. Davis was known to the police because 18 months earlier he had been injured when a man wielding a baseball bat slugged him outside his office in north Toronto.

Despite being hurt badly enough to require surgery he appeared to shrug it off, telling an acquaintance, who recounted the exchange, "It's just one of those things."

Homicide detectives scrutinizing the killing said they were well aware of that first incident, the baseball attack in December, 2005, and provided a description of the assailant - a white man, about six feet tall and 190 pounds who sped away in a white van.

"Is it linked [to the shooting] " Detective Wayne Fowler asked, adding that he did not yet know but had no doubt the killing was planned rather than random.

The thug with the baseball bat doesn't appear to match images released on the weekend of the man police believe could be the killer.

Captured on videotape from near where Mr. Davis was killed, in an underground parking garage at 245 Eglinton Ave. E., below the offices of the World Wildlife Fund where he had met a friend for lunch, the closed-circuit pictures show a man of about 5 foot 8, with a medium build.

Mr. Davis was born rich, the son of trucking and transportation entrepreneur Nelson Davis - a close friend of media mogul Conrad Black - who died in 1979.

Like his son, Nelson Davis was a behind-the-scenes operator, who shunned the limelight. In a rare interview a few months before his death, he told The Globe and Mail about his ambitious plans for Argus Corp. Ltd., the big holding company of which he briefly became chairman, while Mr. Black became president.

The elder Mr. Davis prospered, with an estimated net value of up to $100-million, much of it bequeathed to Glen, his sole heir. And in the mid-1980s, after the aircraft accident, Glen Davis began giving that money away.

"He largely took his father's fortune and liquidated it in order to be a full-time philanthropist," recalled Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May. "He was an extraordinarily generous person."

Among the principal beneficiaries were the World Wildlife Fund and the Sierra Club of Canada. In London, Ont., the national women's rowing team benefited, too, to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars.

"He was a fantastic person," Ms. May said of the slain philanthropist, whom she knew for 20 years. "There aren't many like him." Many others said the same. So who would have wanted Mr. Davis dead?

In theory the earlier baseball attack - aborted when witnesses intervened - could have been a thwarted robbery and Mr. Davis's low-key, almost nonchalant account of events was in character .

And as Detective Fowler remarked on Sunday, the natural - though unconfirmed - conclusion would be that the two attacks on the generous millionaire did, indeed, stem from the same strange circumstances.