Two men have been charged in the murder investigation of a 23-year-old woman who was found with a gunshot wound to the head in Toronto's Port Lands area last month.
On Friday morning 31-year-old Robert Beauregard, who was also known as Joseph, of Whitby was charged with first degree murder. His acquaintance Jonathan Ash, 23, from Toronto was charged as an accessory after the fact and arrested on Thursday evening.
Police found Leanne Freeman with gunshot wounds in the early morning hours of Nov. 29. She was still alive when police were called at about 1 a.m. to Unwin Avenue, near Leslie Street, after a driver said there had been a collision in the area. Officers quickly determined she had been shot and she was rushed to St. Michael's hospital, where she died.
Police said she had worked in the sex-trade industry but later determined she wasn't working at the time of her death.
A funeral was held in Toronto earlier this week. Family and friends of Ms. Freeman said the charges give them little closure and have rather left them with more questions.
Brad Johns said he was close friends with Ms. Freeman since meeting her at a house party four years ago. He said she was always the centre of attention.
Mr. Johns was shocked to hear Mr. Ash was allegedly involved, in part because the two men had talked on the phone just days before. "I would never have expected him to have been involved in any way," he said.
Some of Ms. Freeman's belongings were found a short time after in a dumpster only about a 20-minute drive from where she was found. Detective Sergeant Brian Borg said the belongings may have included some of Ms. Freeman's clothing, although she was fully clothed when police found her.
He said Mr. Beauregard and Ms. Freeman had known each other for a short time. "I might add the investigation is still not over," he added, declining to offer more specifics.
Police said Ms. Freeman, who was also known as Amanda, had a transient lifestyle and was known to stay at shelters beyond the GTA, particularly in Sudbury. She had been charged with drug-related offences in areas including York Region, police said earlier in the investigation.
Only about seven weeks before her death, Ms. Freeman contacted her aunt Mariann Freeman in Manitoba.
"She wanted out of her lifestyle," her aunt said, adding Leanne was living on the street at the time. "She had nowhere to go."
Ms. Freeman was born in Winnipeg and later moved to Thunder Bay with her mother and siblings. At about age 13 she was taken out of her mother's care and away from her siblings, two sisters and two brothers. About a year ago, her brother found her and only then did her extended family, including her aunt, find out that she existed.
"It hurts. Because had we of known, I would have tried to help these children myself," her aunt said.
This Christmastime would have marked a year since Mariann and Leanne first talked, she said, but the two had yet to meet. Ms. Freeman said she very quickly got to know her niece and she's worried her memory will be tainted by her lifestyle at the time of her death.
"She lit up the room, she always had to be the centre of attention. That's a Freeman through and through," she said. "She just was lost, she needed someone to guide her."
With a report from Tamara Baluja