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Just over two weeks after her uncle, a University of Toronto fine arts lecturer, was found dead in his office from stab wounds, Karyn Sandlos is preparing to wait a long time for answers.

"Of course," she said, "I have an impression from Law and Order. They're supposed to wrap it up in less than 60 minutes, including commercials -- and that includes the trial. But it doesn't work that way."

No one expected the life of her uncle, David Buller, a tall, warm and engaging teacher and artist, to end so brutally some time between 1 p.m. on Jan. 18 and about 7 a.m. the next day when a caretaker found his body in a pool of blood.

It seems clear that his death was not a random act, that the person who killed Mr. Buller, 50, in his office adjacent to the art studio of a Victorian-era university building, knew him or of him.

It appears that Mr. Buller was the target, because his office is not easily found, lead homicide investigator Detective Ken Taylor said.

Det. Taylor, during a break from interviewing students and faculty this week, was referring to a maze-like wing of the former Connaught Medical Research Laboratories at 1 Spadina Cres., just north of College Street.

Nearby is the The Silver Dollar Room, a blues club, the Scott Mission, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the Waverly Hotel, which warns guests that "rooms should not be used for nefarious, wrongful or unlawful purposes." Built in 1874 at a time when one could see Lake Ontario from its front steps, 1 Spadina Cres. has had a rich history.

During the First World War, its rooms accommodated the Spadina Military Hospital. It was from there that Amelia Earhart, visiting her sister in Toronto, escorted wounded airmen to an airfield in the city's northern outskirts and became infatuated with flying.

It later housed the Connaught labs and Knox College, a Presbyterian theology school. Now it is home to an eclectic mix of offices.

"Like all Victorian buildings, it's a mysterious building and I guess it's a good building to feed the imagination," said Marc Gotlieb, the chairman of the university's fine arts department.

Mr. Buller's violent death, which has shocked not only the small fine arts department but also the wider university community, is sure to contribute to the mystery.

Some of that mystery, and controversy, relates to his interest in homoerotic art.

In the current edition of Xtra!, managing editor Eleanor Brown complained that after Mr. Buller's death, the mainstream media was dancing around his sexual orientation.

And in the current issue of Now magazine, Gerald Hannon writes an article titled "Gay Face of Murder Victim", saying that "even in this enlightened city in this enlightened country in the year 2001, homosexual life is still dangerous."

All of this gives pause to Toronto photographer Paul Casselman, a friend of Mr. Buller's from high school days.

"Any affinity the gay culture feels with Dave is an idea rather than a fact," he said. "Dave's imagery is about being a man. Being a gay man is certainly part of his experience but Dave was first and foremost a man who reached out to people like me, who are straight, in profoundly real relationships . . . ."

Around the corner from where the body was found are the offices of a student newspaper, The Independent Weekly.

Editor Liam Mitchell said that levels of apprehension about the murder vary, but he is not personally worried about his safety.

"It was apparent to me that this was not a random act. It was far too deliberate. Given that, I wasn't too worried that there might be somebody lurking in the corner."

Others, such as Elizabeth Legge, a colleague of Mr. Buller, said she is reassured by police presence at 1 Spadina Cres. and at the Sydney Smith building, where the fine arts department also has space.

Resolution of the case may take some time. Det. Taylor said the investigation is among the most difficult in his eight years in homicide.

He and three other investigators have done dozens of interviews.

As he goes about his work, Det. Taylor marvels that Mr. Buller is routinely described as a devoted and dedicated teacher.

"I've had students crying during interviews and faculty members' eyes welling up when they're talking to me about how much respect they had for Mr. Buller and his work."

Those are reassuring words for Ms. Sandlos. "There's just been an outpouring of love and respect for my uncle and I think that the detectives have been affected by that."