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Listing Of Unsolved Murders & Missing People In Canada => Ontario Unsolved Murders & Missing People => London => Topic started by: Angela Ellis on August 28, 2007, 09:12:15 AM

Title: Soraya O'Connell - London, ON - Murdered - 1970
Post by: Angela Ellis on August 28, 2007, 09:12:15 AM
 1970 ? Soraya O'Connell, 15, of London, vanished after telling friends she
was hitchhiking from a camp at the Fanshawe Youth Centre in northeast London on
Aug. 14. Her body was found four years later in an old dump south of Stratford.
Little clothing was recovered but it is unknown if she was sexually assaulted.
Title: Re: Soraya O'Connell - London, ON - Murdered - 1970
Post by: Woodland on November 14, 2010, 09:13:17 AM
jeb or goNgo - can either of you find a more exact location for where Soraya was located south of Stratford?
Title: Re: Soraya O'Connell - London, ON - Murdered - 1970
Post by: jeb on November 14, 2010, 08:55:46 PM
Hi Woodland:  Can't help you here.  I have the same info as you have. 

However, an interesting fact I found in my research was that at the time of her death in August of 1970, Soraya O'Connell was living at 19 Bridle Path.  And at the time of Margaret Sheeler's death in December of 1963 she was living at 21 Bridle Path.
Title: Re: Soraya O'Connell - London, ON - Murdered - 1970
Post by: Woodland on November 15, 2010, 07:00:17 AM
Wow, that makes for a pretty small world doesn't it?

So Soraya would have been 8 years-old when Margaret Sheeler disappeared and was found a few months later practically around the corner.  I wonder if they were neighbors in 1963?

I have read that Margaret's husband was always a suspect in her murder.  One similarity is they were both found partially clothed, however that is likely true in so many cases.

Soraya was hitchhiking so who knows who may have picked her up.

Very strange coincidence.
Title: Re: Soraya O'Connell - London, ON - Murdered - 1970
Post by: goNgo on November 19, 2010, 07:42:50 PM
From my review of LFP newspaper clippings at the London Library:

Soraya disappeared Aug 14, 1970.  She went to a drop-in centre that evening on Fanshawe Rd, about a quarter mile east of Highbury Avenue.  About 10:30 that evening she left the centre and reportedly began hitchhiking home.  She never made it.

Her skeletal remains were found on sunday May 26, 1974, almost 4 years later, in an old dump site (that hadn't been used in several years) about 5 miles south of Stratford.  Her body was found in a desolute bushy area about 40 feet off a dirt road, in a slight depression, and partly covered by a large piece of elm bark (which could have been placed there or simply there by chance).  There was no clothing on the skeleton, just a pair of 'cheap earrings'.  Identification of the remains was by dental records.

In a LFP article dated July 6, 1974, the police were of the opinion that the body was there the entire time since her disappearance.  In contrast, the chief pathologist estimated that death occurred between 9 and 18 months prior to the body being discovered.  He believe that it was possible that Soraya's body was there the entire time, but unlikely.

When she disappeared, Soraya was wearing a chain around her neck with a small key attached and was also wearing a wrist watch.  These items were not found (at least by July 6, 1974).

Unfortunately we do not know how Soraya met her death.

 


Title: Re: Soraya O'Connell - London, ON - Murdered - 1970
Post by: Jesa on November 19, 2010, 07:57:19 PM
Hi all..I am new here & have really not gotten up to speed yet on these cases. I do find some similarities though between the Jackson case (solved??) & the English case (unsolved). Both girls were taken from their part-time jobs, found in creeks, in same proximity, clothing scattered, & shoes left together. Just me pondering aloud, wondering if anyone else had an opinion on this?
Title: Re: Soraya O'Connell - London, ON - Murdered - 1970
Post by: jeb on November 20, 2010, 07:42:47 PM
Hi all..I am new here & have really not gotten up to speed yet on these cases. I do find some similarities though between the Jackson case (solved??) & the English case (unsolved). Both girls were taken from their part-time jobs, found in creeks, in same proximity, clothing scattered, & shoes left together. Just me pondering aloud, wondering if anyone else had an opinion on this?

Jesa:  I think this comment is in the wrong thread, but anyway.  Can you please give me your reference for stating that both girls shoes were left together.  Thanks
Title: Re: Soraya O'Connell - London, ON - Murdered - 1970
Post by: gibbons on April 08, 2011, 09:18:50 AM
Just a little more to add here from an LFP clipping.

Soroya left the drop-in centre on Fanshawe Road and began hitch-hiking.  A man, contacted later by police, said he stopped to give her a ride, but when she said her destination was Windsor, the driver continued on his way.   Detectives speculate that is was shortly after this, that Soroya was picked up and driven north on Highbury Avenue to Highway 7, then east to where her body was eventually found.

As stated in previous posts her body was found 5 miles south of Stratford.  The location is further described in the LFP article as being just off a Downie Township Road.  The site had previously been a dump site, but had not been in use for several years. Her body was found by a man and his wife who were looking for old bottles; the body was about 40 feet from a dirt road in a slight depression.  Her remains - when discovered - were covered by a large piece of elm bark that may have been used by the killer to hide her body; it was also mentioned that a large diseased elm had been cut down there in 1971.  Bark may therefore have covered her body by chance.
Title: Re: Soraya O'Connell - London, ON - Murdered - 1970
Post by: Have faith on April 27, 2011, 03:06:46 PM
hi gibbons:

Would you be kind enough to confirm something for me.  Originally, it was stated that Soraya left a "camp" at the Fanshawe Youth Centre. I have always assumed that this was the Fanshawe Conservation Area Day Camp, a YMCA property, located off Fanshawe at 1424 Clarke Road (east of Highbury Ave.) near the Fanshawe dam. You and goNgo have stated she left a drop-in centre on Fanshawe Road. There is no Fanshawe Road, and I assume that this should read Fanshawe Park Road. Without ever seeing the LFPress clipping, could you confirm that she did not leave the Fanshawe camp that night? It is confusing isn't it.

Thanks,
Have Faith
 Edited: Based on the address supplied by jeb, I erased my reference to which way she was hitch-hiking, as it is not relevant.
              Thanks jeb for the clarification.
Title: Re: Soraya O'Connell - London, ON - Murdered - 1970
Post by: jeb on April 27, 2011, 05:45:09 PM
Have Faith:  From the London Free Press article dated Thursday, August 20th, 1970, no writer or reporter listed:  "She was last seen about 9:30 pm Friday at the Fanshawe Youth Centre, 1455 Fanshawe Rd., where she had been playing bridge."  From the London Free Press article dated Wednesday, August 19th, 1970, written by Jim Taylor:  "The centre on Fanshawe Road east of Highbury Avenue,..."  Hope this helps.
Title: Re: Soraya O'Connell - London, ON - Murdered - 1970
Post by: jeb on April 29, 2011, 09:16:24 AM
Hi Have Faith:  Many of the photocopies of London Free Press articles I have with regards to Soraya O'Connell's case, are of very poor quality.  They are very hard to read.  Because of this, I had hand typed some of them (for ease of reading.)  The info I gave you in a previous post was from a hand typed copy, and it is incorrect.  The address I gave you was 1455 Fanshawe Rd., and after checking the actual photocopy, it should read 1445 Fanshawe Rd.  My apologies.  The good news is, when I looked at the actual photocopy from Wednesday, August 19, 1970, written by Jim Taylor of the Free Press, I saw that there is a hand drawn map in the London Free Press article.  It would appear from this map that Fanshawe Park Rd. turns into Fanshawe Rd, east of Highbury Ave.  (I'm assuming whoever drew the map, also labeled it correctly.)  There is also a photograph of a building in the article.  The caption underneath reads, "This is the Fanshawe Youth Centre from where Soraya O'Connell, 15, was last seen Friday.  Police and family fear for her safety.  The building is a former school."
Hope this is helpful.       
Title: Re: Soraya O'Connell - London, ON - Murdered - 1970
Post by: Have faith on April 29, 2011, 10:35:35 AM
jeb, thanks for the info.  Today it would be called Fanshawe Park Rd. E., per google maps.

Since LE speculate that she was picked up (hitch-hiking) and driven north on Highbury Ave., she would have known fairly soon after entering the car, that the driver was NOT taking her where she wanted to go (home). This suggests that the driver (if solo) had a means to subdue her.  This could denote that he was an "organized" killer and came prepared.

This area where she started hitch-hiking would have been fairly isolated back then (still is to a degree).  I wonder how random it would be to cross paths with an organized killer at 10:30 at night, out in the boondocks?
Title: Re: Soraya O'Connell - London, ON - Murdered - 1970
Post by: rkay on January 31, 2012, 10:18:57 PM
Here's an image of Soraya (apologies for the quality; I'll replace if I can find something better):

(http://i215.photobucket.com/albums/cc220/rkay7/xtra/SorayaOConnellcloseup.jpg)
Title: Re: Soraya O'Connell - London, ON - Murdered - 1970
Post by: leonagleant on February 16, 2013, 11:32:19 PM
I wonder if the killer also resided on Bridle Path, given that two women who were murdered seven years apart lived in residences virtually next door to one another in a town house complex on Bridle Path. Good research Jeb.
Title: Re: Soraya O'Connell - London, ON - Murdered - 1970
Post by: goNgo on March 22, 2014, 09:05:05 PM
Hopefully the recent interest in these cases may lead to solving Soraya's murder!  I have always felt badly that Soraya hasn't received as much attention as other victims during this time period.

I am thinking of you, Soraya!
Title: Re: Soraya O'Connell - London, ON - Murdered - 1970
Post by: goNgo on April 21, 2014, 05:18:46 PM
Soraya was mentioned in the recent "To Catch a Killer" episode on Lynda White.  Their lead theory is that the same person who killed Lynda White also likely killed Soraya.

She was also mentioned in a London Free Press (and Sun News affiliates) article about the recent TV shows, and the Jackie English case in particular. 

Quote
The files were the starting point for Arntfield and his team. A report leaked to The Free Press that has been sent to the OPP links English's death, along with the deaths of Lynda White, who disappeared in 1968 and Soraya O'Connell, who vanished in 1970 to the same suspect. Both young women also vanished from London, their remains later found in the region.

http://www.chathamdailynews.ca/2014/03/22/western-university-professor-mike-arntfield-and-team-of-investigators-uncover-suspect-in-killing-of-jackie-english (http://www.chathamdailynews.ca/2014/03/22/western-university-professor-mike-arntfield-and-team-of-investigators-uncover-suspect-in-killing-of-jackie-english)



Still thinking of you Soraya.

Title: Re: Soraya O'Connell - London, ON - Murdered - 1970
Post by: jellybean on April 21, 2014, 06:43:51 PM
Quote: the body was about 40 feet from a dirt road in a slight depression.  Her remains - when discovered - were covered by a large piece of elm bark that may have been used by the killer to hide her body; it was also mentioned that a large diseased elm had been cut down there in 1971.  Bark may therefore have covered her body by chance. unquote.

If the diseased elm tree had been cut down in 1971, why is it that her remains were not discovered by the people cutting down the tree? Or by those who were pre checking the elm trees for disease in 1971?

In any event, the elm tree must have been very close to her remains in 1971, and she was murdered in 1970.

quote from post #4:

In a LFP article dated July 6, 1974, the police were of the opinion that the body was there the entire time since her disappearance.  In contrast, the chief pathologist estimated that death occurred between 9 and 18 months prior to the body being discovered.  He believe that it was possible that Soraya's body was there the entire time, but unlikely.



If the chief pathologist is right - then this places a different view on her disappearance. ie Where she was for that length of time, prior to her remains being found.
jb
Title: Re: Soraya O'Connell - London, ON - Murdered - 1970
Post by: Declan on May 12, 2014, 12:08:51 PM
Based on the published description of where Soraya was found (relative to Stratford and highway 7), coupled with a description of an out of use garbage site, it is possible that the location shown here, a laneway leading into bush where it appears a refuse site may have previously existed (lane exits from Downie Rd. 122 near Line 15), is where the killer left Soroya.  The woodlot appears to contain some older trees, suggesting that it may have one time contained old dead elms.  The area appears to be a series of gravel pits or lime pits, with a series of small roads throughout that may have become a garbage dump site.  The nearest true refuse site is the Old Downie Dump - five miles north of here near Highway 8 (and its location is not consistent with reports in the LFP). 

Attachment 1 shows a dirt road leaving a Downie township road (consistent with reports in the LFP).

Attachment 2 shows a view of the woodlot (arrow) from the vantage point of the nearby CPR line as it crossed Line 15.
Title: Re: Soraya O'Connell - London, ON - Murdered - 1970
Post by: capeheart on May 12, 2014, 12:46:36 PM
Maybe there is a mistake in when the tree was cut down, is it a known fact that it was 1971. Weather and elements would possibly make a difference in all of this, because it would be a year or so.  What time of the year was she murdered, was it summer or winter months. :o
Title: Re: Soraya O'Connell - London, ON - Murdered - 1970
Post by: Declan on May 12, 2014, 12:57:52 PM
Hi Capeheart,

It was August when she went missing.  I know that a lot of farmers around London were paid to maintain a woodlot on their farm property - as it would provide an additional source of income.  Hardwoods, especially Elm and Maple were planted.  Of course with Dutch Elm disease, many of these dead Elms would be seen in farm woodlots during the sixties .  What makes me think that it was not a farmers woodlot per se...but something that might have been corporate owned or publically owned is that "workers were cutting down the elms".  On most farm woodlots, the elms were simply left there to fall down on their own.    There is another woodlot, a bit further north along Downie Rd. 122 that also connects directly with the Township Rd.  Quite possibly it is a viable alternative to this locations - but otherwise there are not many woodlots that connect to a Downie township rd via a smallish dirt road. 
Title: Re: Soraya O'Connell - London, ON - Murdered - 1970
Post by: Nancy Drew on April 03, 2015, 06:08:28 AM
Hi, I'm with an investigative documentary program at the CBC called the fifth estate. We are looking into several cold cases. If any of you are, or know, the friends Soraya spent her last evening with, please get in touch with us at fifth@cbc.ca
Thank you.
Title: Re: Soraya O'Connell - London, ON - Murdered - 1970
Post by: elsie on June 24, 2015, 08:07:11 AM
Murder City: The Untold Story of Canada’s Serial Killer Capital, 1959-1984  by Michael Arntfield has been released.       Here is the website with information ---  murdercitythebook.com
It is a fascinating read.   FYI -- just to avoid internet confusion -- There is also another book titled Murder City  about murders in Mexico called -Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy's New Killing Fields.   
Title: Re: Soraya O'Connell - London, ON - Murdered - 1970
Post by: chickapey on June 25, 2015, 11:27:12 AM
Nancy Drew... from what I've heard , Soraya's family are not interested in anything to do with going public about her murder. Your best bet is with her friends