Today I am going to be writing about an elderly man who was murdered in his Toronto apartment early in the winter of 2008. This is a somewhat neglected case, one that I feel could benefit from more attention. According to those that knew him, the victim was a kind and generous man, and being both elderly and missing his legs, would have been exceptionally vulnerable to an attacker. There are also some odd details about this case which point to different interpretations, but we will come to that shortly.
At the time of his murder, Richard Clements was living on the 13th floor of an apartment complex in Etobicoke, a municipality in western Toronto, which had been his home for the past eighteen months. He was 72 years old, and had lost both his legs due to complications from gallbladder surgery a few years previously. He had prosthetic legs and used a motorized scooter for transportation. None of the sources I have read mention him as having any family at the time of his death, but he did have several close friends who continue to miss him and want answers in the case.
Clements had first worked as a hairdresser, but he opened his own photocopy shop in the 1970s. He also volunteered at Casey House, a hospital for HIV and AIDs patients, which was the only such facility in Canada at the time. Clements lived as openly gay man in an era before this was widely accepted. He enjoyed watching figure skating and ballet, and was known as a helpful man who could sometimes be too trusting of others. He often gave money to friends and neighbors when they needed it, and, crucially, he often left his apartment door unlocked during the day. One of his friends, Merrica Bonnet, said that “his heart was bigger than his brain.”
During the last years of his life, Clements was acquainted with two people who have some relevance in his case. One was a close friend and neighbor named Michael Edge, who lived in the apartment directly below his. Like Clements, Michael was a double amputee, and the two men often assisted each other. A few days before the murder, Edge came to speak to the building’s property manager, who was preparing to leave on a short trip. Edge told him that “something was happening that he didn’t like, and he was worried someone was going to get hurt.” He did not specify what this source of anxiety was, but he did say he was afraid to get the police involved. It’s a bit questionable why Edge even chose to share this information with the property manager. After all, what could the property manager really be expected to do based on such a vague statement?
The other person was a man named Raymond Hicks. In accordance, Clements had helped Hicks out many times in the past, but his presence in his life was not exactly benign. Hicks was a frequent drug user who had stolen from Clements on past occasions. He also had a habit of directing other friends to Clements’ apartment when they needed help or money. Then, at 12:18 pm on December 3rd, 2008, it was Raymond Hicks who called police after discovering Clements’ body.° According to his account, he tried to use the phone in Richard’s apartment, but it wasn’t working, so he went down to Michael Edge’s apartment and used his phone instead.
Richard Clements had suffered multiple stab wounds to the chest and neck, and he was lying on his apartment floor next to his overturned wheelchair. Lying near him was his phone, the one that Raymond Hicks had tried to use and which was apparently non-operational. His prosthetic legs and the motorized scooter he used to get around were in the hallway. There was a trail of bloody footprints from a pair of Nike high top shoes leading out of the apartment, down the stairs, and to Michael Edge’s door, where they stopped. There were no bloody footprints inside Edge’s apartment, although it is unclear if there were visible footprints leading back away from the door. This has been variously interpreted as pointing suspicion at Edge, as someone attempting to frame Edge, or as someone who wanted to get into Edge’s apartment after murdering Clements but who was unable to do so. There were also bloodstains on other floors of the apartment complex, which we will discuss in more depth later.
The door to the apartment was described as “unsecured”, but lacked any sign of forced entry. This makes sense, since we know that Hicks would have had to enter the apartment to find the body. I have not seen any source that describes Hicks’ account of his entry to the apartment, but it can be inferred that he found the door unlocked and entered as was customary among Clements’ friends and acquaintances. Investigators have stated that a small amount of cash had been taken from the apartment, and that some loose coins were found on the building’s staircase that appeared to have been dropped by the attacker(s). I have some questions about this–how, for instance, would anyone have known exactly how much cash Clements was keeping in his apartment at the time, and determine how much was missing? In addition, loose change dropped on an apartment stairway doesn’t seem such a strange occurrence that it had to be related to the murder. Nevertheless, I will proceed on the basis that some degree of robbery was a likely factor in the case.
Clements was last seen alive on the evening of December 2nd, walking Michael Edge’s dog. I have not seen an exact time listed in any of the sources I have read, nor have I been able to find an estimated time of death for him. It’s also unclear who said they saw Clements walking the dog the evening of the 2nd. I must admit tat this makes for a maddeningly nebulous standpoint from which to analyze the case. Michael Edge, Clements’ friend and downstairs neighbor, would die about a year later, although there is nothing to suggest this was due to anything other than natural causes. As far as I could ascertain, he never elaborated on the “something going on that he didn’t like”, even after the murder. However, it has been reported that he did become paranoid and fearful at that time, and always kept a weapon with him.
In early 2021, DNA recovered from items inside the apartment was used to develop a genetic profile of the likely killer. The DNA came from blood that was found inside Clements’ apartment that was believed to have belonged to the attacker. A profile was developed that did not match any in the current national offender registry. Neither did it match Raymond Hicks, who passed away in 2011. The article describing these developments stated that law enforcement was collecting DNA samples from people connected with the case in hopes of getting a match or at least eliminating some possibilities.
Interestingly, this DNA did not match that taken from blood found in other places in the apartment building, or at least did not match all of it. Two genetic profiles emerged, although the source was unclear as to whether the crime scene profile (henceforth referred to as profile 1) matched any of the samples discovered elsewhere, or if all of the latter samples came from a different individual (profile 2).
Now, this all raises one very obvious question. Where in all these blood samples was the victim’s own blood? I’m working on the assumption that Clements’ DNA did not match either profile, but, if he was killed by two attackers, how is that they both injured themselves enough to leave traces of their blood all around the crime scene and throughout the apartment building but not blood from the man they had just stabbed to death? Furthermore, it’s never stated if the bloody shoeprints leading to the next floor down were all made with Clements’ blood or if they had anything to do with profiles 1 and 2. It’s possible I’m overthinking this–maybe Clements’ blood was present along with that belonging to two other people and it just hasn’t been expressly stated–but it does seem odd. It’s certainly possible that the attacker(s) were injured during the struggle, but it seems a little counterintuitive that there would be more of their blood present then the victim’s. It’s also possible that profile 2 was not related to the crime at all. It’s not specified where this blood was in relation to the scene, or if it was mixed with any other blood samples. So, with the information given, I can’t rule out that it simply came from a random apartment resident with a cut or nosebleed of one of the many small things that can leave traces of blood.
There is one last piece of information that law enforcement has shared, and that is that they do not believe that the killer was a stranger to Clements or someone that was unfamiliar with the apartment building. Since the crime scene was on the 13th floor of the building, and the killer appears to have then gone to Michael Edge’s apartment immediately below, it does seem unlikely that these locations were targeted at random. The killer used the stairs rather than the elevator that was almost certainly present (given that Clements was moving using a wheelchair or motorized scooter much of the time), but this may have been done under the impression that it would be easier to avoid being seen that way. So I think it’s reasonable to conclude that that killer or killers were actively seeking Clements or at least seeking his apartment. I keep coming back to the reports that Raymond Hicks would often tell people he knew to seek out Clements for help, whether or not Clements knew them or would have been able to offer them assistance. This would have been a potentially volatile situation–someone could have approached Clements asking for money that he was unable to produce, and the situation could have turned violent. The fact that the killer next went to Edge’s apartment might indicate that they knew Edge as well, or at least knew of him, and went there in an attempt to get the money they were unable to obtain from Clements. Hicks evidently knew Edge, and he may have mentioned him to his acquaintances as well.
This seems like the logical time to mention that there are quite a few unanswered questions surrounding Michael Edge. The first is what exactly was he doing on the night of the murder? There is no record of him saying that anyone came to his door or tried to enter his apartment that night, or that he heard any noises coming from the apartment directly above his. Edge died a year after Clements’ murder, but it’s unclear if any blood or DNA samples were ever obtained from him to compare against profiles 1 and 2. As it is, there’s nothing to indicate Edge as being involved in the murder, but I do wonder if he knew more than he ever said. If he knew or suspected the killer’s identity and was afraid of them, that might explain his strange comments to the property manager and his later behavior.
When I boil down the evidence–well, what there is of it– I am left with the suspicion that Richard Clements was murdered by one or more people connected to Raymond Hicks, although evidently not involving Hicks himself. This person (or persons) may or may not have known Clements personally, although the possible connection to Michael Edge makes me suspect that they did. The cause of the conflict was likely some kind of help that Hicks had promised on Clements’ behalf, and its entirely possible that the murder itself was unplanned. In fact, the person may have approached Clements with only a limited understanding of what resources he could actually provide, and turned violent when he was unable or unwilling to do so. Although my theories should not by any means be taken as definitive, I think it is likely the killer was among circle of acquaintances shared by Clements, Edge, and Hicks. As for why the killer apparently approached Edge’s apartment after the murder, no one can be certain. Perhaps they hoped to gain from Edge what they hoped to gain from Clements, but gave up on the plan when they realized they were tracking blood. Maybe they really did make a sloppy attempt to frame Edge for the crime, or maybe the trail was coincidental. It’s possible that this was simply the point at which the attacker noticed the blood on their shoes and either removed or cleaned them. (Another question: was law enforcement able to determine the size as well as the type of shoes that made the bloody footprints? This too has never been stated).
Either way, I do hope the recent DNA analysis does yield some clues in this strange cold case. DNA testing is often quite a slow process, so just because we haven’t heard recent updates does not mean that there have not been any or that there never will be. I’ll conclude with the words of one of Richard’s good friends, Jim Morrison: “Richard was the most loving person this world has ever produced, and I miss him terribly. I don’t want to go to my grave without knowing that this has been settled.”
° There is one source that records the time as being 12:18 am, just after midnight rather than early afternoon. If this were accurate, it would narrow the window for the time of death considerably. However, all other sources state it as being 12:18 pm, so that is what I will be using for the rest of this article.