A 14-year-old Brampton boy appeared in court yesterday accused of helping a sexual predator and multiple-murder suspect get rid of evidence and hide two bodies.
Douglas Moore, 36, a serial pedophile who committed suicide in a jail cell on April 2, is the chief suspect in the November disappearance of 22-year-old Robert Grewal of Mississauga and Joseph Manchisi, 20, of nearby Milton.
The boy, who cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, is charged with helping Mr. Moore destroy evidence and move the bodies of Mr. Grewal and Mr. Manchisi to Quebec.
Arrested without incident at his home Monday, he was charged with two counts of being an accessory after the fact to murder. He appeared briefly in court in Brampton yesterday, was granted bail and was released into the care of his mother. His next hearing was set for May 5.
Appearing distraught, the mother fended off questions from a media throng gathered at the Hurontario Street courthouse.
The remains of Mr. Grewal, who was reportedly decapitated and had his hands cut off, were found by a lumberjack in a patch of woods 30 kilometres south of Montreal and were identified through DNA testing last week. Police believe Mr. Manchisi was also murdered and that his body will be found in the same vicinity.
Mr. Manchisi's father, Joseph, said he was concerned for the young suspect's safety. "I think they made a mistake. He could get hurt. One wonders if he's got the truth," he said, referring to the location of his son's body.
Mr. Moore is also believed to have killed 15-year-old Rene Charlebois of Mississauga, who vanished in December. His body was discovered March 19 in a landfill near Orangeville.
Police would not comment on the accused boy's relationship with Mr. Moore, a marijuana dealer who had many younger friends and acquaintances.
A repeat sex offender who had spent years behind bars, Mr. Moore was arrested March 15 and charged with repeatedly sexually assaulting three boys who lived in a Caledon-area foster home. But he was quickly linked to the three missing young men, and early in the investigation Peel Regional Police said he may have had accomplices in the disappearance of Mr. Grewal and Mr. Manchisi.
"That would appear to be the case here," Constable Kathy Gagnon said yesterday.
Constable Gagnon would not comment on whether further arrests are anticipated, but said the investigation is continuing.
Soon after his arrest, Mr. Moore was interrogated about Rene's disappearance. He hanged himself at Maplehurst Correctional Complex in Milton.
According to National Parole Board records obtained by CFTO, Mr. Moore's criminal career started in 1986. The records show that over a five-year period, he was convicted of sexually assaulting seven boys between the ages of 12 and 16.
The board noted that Mr. Moore had "established a pattern of persistent sexual deviance involving young boys with an apparent indifference to the impact of [his]actions on them, and [had]demonstrated little remorse."
His bail conditions in 1997 included staying away from places frequented by children under the age of 18 and abstaining from drugs and alcohol.
Notwithstanding Mr. Moore's track record as a thrice-convicted pedophile, friends of Mr. Manchisi and Mr. Grewal have said they believe revenge for a robbery was behind the pair's disappearance.
Mr. Moore was widely known as a small-scale drug peddler and young people often visited his rented Mississauga townhouse. Mr. Manchisi and Mr. Grewal went there in the months before they vanished, their friends say, and the most widely heard story is that late last year they broke in and robbed Mr. Moore of cash and drugs.
Mr. Manchisi's father, Giuseppe, launched a hunt for his son soon after he went missing and said in an interview last week that during his inquiries he repeatedly heard the same theory.
"Those two little bastards broke into my home," an acquaintance recounted Mr. Moore as saying, in a report published yesterday. "I'm gonna beat them so bad."