Twenty-five years ago, almost to the day, Surinder Singh Parmar's body was found crumpled in a small gas station bathroom.
He was stabbed multiple times in what police say was a petty robbery in the early morning of Nov. 19, 1990.
Mr. Parmar, 38 when he died, left India in July, 1990, to explore Canada as a new home for his family. He took a job as an attendant at Penny Gas Bar on Danforth Road to pass time and make some extra money, police said.
His wife and two children, then six and 12 years old, came for the funeral, and now live in the Greater Toronto Area.
And after two-and-a-half decades, Mr. Parmar's family might finally have some answers.
His children were shocked to hear their father's cold case had been reopened in August, and even more surprised when a suspect was charged in the crime, according to Toronto police.
"They were in a state of disbelief that, after all these years, there could possibly be a resolution," Staff Inspector Greg McLane said. "To go 25 years without knowing who did this to their father was very difficult for them to cope with."
For a long time, police could not figure out who might have done it. But by using forensic advances and modern technology to re-examine old evidence, police can sometimes solve cases they could not at the time of the original investigations.
The 1990 killing of Mr. Parmar is the first case in a new police initiative called Project Never Give Up. Police hope to close more investigations through technological advances and public support, Detective Sergeant Stacy Gallant said. "It's important for the community. It's important for the families to have this resolution on cases. I think that's what our job is – to solve these cases and leave nothing unturned until we eventually solve them," he said. "The people that have died deserve nothing less."
In this case, Toronto police were able to charge 61-year-old Rupert Richards with the crime because of DNA and fingerprint evidence, Staff Insp. McLane said.
Mr. Richards was "surprised" when detectives arrested him outside of his Toronto home, where he resided alone, Staff Insp. McLane said. He added that Mr. Richards, unemployed at the time of the arrest, was known to police and had been investigated for domestic violence in the past.
"This is evidence that had been sitting in cases boxes on a shelf for years, just waiting for its turn," Staff Insp. McLane said of the case.
Not all investigations have evidence that can be re-examined, either because it is not viable or was not preserved properly. But often, police can make headway.
Det. Sgt. Gallant said police are using DNA evidence in at least five cold cases. They have DNA profiles, but have not identified suspects.
"We're just waiting on a name to put to a profile, and then that case will be brought before the court," he said. DNA profiles can help police determine ethnicity, hair and eye colour.
Det. Sgt. Gallant also said police are depending on the public to call in any information they have, no matter how long ago it was.
In 2012, Toronto police received a phone call tipping them off about the murder of Melonie Biddersingh 18 years after the remains of the 17-year-old girl were discovered in a burning suitcase.
They were able to identify Ms. Biddersingh because of DNA evidence. Her father and step-mother, Everton and Elaine Biddersingh, are now on trial for the crime.
Police will post information about cold-case investigations on a website launching next month.