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The Globe and Mail

Police close to identifying victim in Toronto-area body parts case

A Police search dog unit searches the banks of the Credit River in Hewick Meadows Park in Mississauga, Ont., after police discovered a female severed head on Thursday August 16, 2012. Investigators said they found a severed human foot the in the area the previous day.

Aaron Vincent Elkaim/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Investigators have reached out to families who may have ties to the victim of an apparent killing after police confirmed Monday that remains found scattered in parks at opposite ends of the greater Toronto area likely came from the same body.

"We have narrowed down...who we think the victim might be," Peel Regional Police Sgt. Pete Brandwood said Monday.

He noted, however, that police are waiting on results from forensic tests before they can confirm exactly who the remains belong to.

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"I don't want to put the fear of God into people who have family members that are missing people. We are pretty close to finding out who the victim is ... We've pretty much isolated and narrowed down who it can possibly be."

While the case isn't technically classified as a homicide because the cause of death hasn't been determined yet, it has widened to involve Toronto police and likely involved foul play.

"We have a female victim who unfortunately we've been able to find portions of her body in two jurisdictions ... Somebody's been victimized in this," Sgt. Brandwood said.

He made his comments after confirming that remains found during the weekend in Scarborough are believed to be linked to an investigation into body parts found last week along a riverbank in Mississauga.

"There are obvious similarities from an investigative standpoint between the body parts found in Toronto and the body parts we have been finding," Sgt. Brandwood told reporters.

Police would not say how many families they have contacted. Not all of the families are from the Peel region.

Police have been searching Hewick Meadows Park since last week, after hikers found a foot near the bank of the Credit River in Mississauga on Wednesday evening. A head and two hands were later recovered from the river.

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Over the weekend, more human remains were discovered in Scarborough's West Highland Creek.

The remains are believed to be from a woman, as the toenails on the foot were painted with bright yellow nail polish.

Police in Peel expect Monday will be their last day of searching Hewick Meadows Park and the Credit River. About 25 officers on foot continue to search the east and west banks of the Credit River. Peel Regional's marine unit and divers are no longer active in the search, however.

"We've combed what we believe is reasonably possible."

Investigators have ruled out that the case is connected to the disappearance of Mila Johnson, a 16-year-old Brampton resident missing since Aug. 3.

With files from Tu Thanh Ha

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