Skip to main content

Elijah Marsh, 3, is shown in a building lobby. The Toronto boy walked out of an apartment building into bitterly cold temperatures wearing only a shirt and a pull-up diaper was found without vital signs Thursday morning, police said.TORONTO POLICE/The Canadian Press

The death of young Elijah Marsh remained on people's minds Friday as Toronto's mayor asked the community housing agency to review its security policies and hundreds of citizens donated money for the child's family.

Elijah, 3, died Thursday morning after leaving his grandmother's apartment in the city's north end alone before dawn, dressed only in a T-shirt, diaper and boots. He was outside for nearly six hours before his body was discovered a few hundred metres from the community housing building on Neptune Drive where his grandmother lives. The massive search for the missing boy captured the city's attention and led to an outpouring of grief when his death was announced.

The volunteer searcher who found Elijah also spoke publicly Friday. David Elines, a steelworker who left a picket line to join the search, told CP24 that he never expected to find the boy and that he has struggled with it emotionally ever since. He described looking behind a staircase at the side of a house on Baycrest Drive, where Elijah was lying in the snow.

"He looked just peaceful in the snow," Mr. Elines said. "That's all I can say I guess."

Mayor John Tory has now asked the Toronto Community Housing Corporation to review its policies to see if more can be done to childproof its buildings.

"I've already raised it with Toronto Community Housing Corporation and I think all landlords of all buildings and all people who live in single-family homes should be … just taking that one extra look at these kinds of things to make sure we've done everything we can to make sure to keep kids safe," Mr. Tory said.

Still, the mayor acknowledged there are challenges for the social-housing provider.

"No matter how many locks you install, no matter how many safety precautions you take, there are going to be tragic accidents that happen … it's a constant challenge to keep those doors in a state of good repair. To be candid, in some buildings, there are people who make it their business to make sure the doors are not kept in a state of proper repair, and that makes it more challenging."

Toronto Community Housing responded by saying that it "has not identified any residential building practices or policies that could have prevented this horrible tragedy."

Sara Goldvine, spokeswoman for TCHC, said the agency is reviewing its policies and is working with the community to improve security and support Elijah's family.

A crowdfunded initiative to cover the funeral costs for Elijah had attracted about 3,600 people and raised more than $150,000 by Saturday evening.

More than a thousand messages of sympathy have also poured in.

The creator of the campaign, Justin Kozuch, initially aimed to find $20,000.

Mr. Kozuch said the tragedy touched him because he is a father of two whose younger child is the same age as Elijah.

"When I heard about it, it was terrible," he said. "It could have been my child, it could have been a friend's child. And unfortunately, it was someone's child."

The campaign ends Sunday at 5 p.m.

The money will be given to the family with no strings attached, he said.

The website that is playing host to the campaign,, normally charges a 3-per-cent processing fee for credit cards. However, Mr. Kozuch said tilt has waived those fees for contributors to his campaign.

Elijah was spending the night at his grandmother's house, located on the second floor of a low-rise apartment building near the intersection of Bathurst Street and Highway 401.

Security images show he left the building by himself at 4:20 a.m. His absence wasn't noticed until family members woke up at 7:30 a.m. that day. He was found without vital signs, lying in a space between two houses about 300 metres away.

Toronto police do not believe there was foul play. The police investigation is ongoing and could take several more days before concluding if there is any criminal responsibility.

An investigating coroner has also been assigned to look at Elijah's death. It would be up to the coroner's office to decide whether an inquest is warranted.

With a report from Ann Hui.