Paavo (Paul) Henttonen
Who killed Paavo Henttonen?
By Lisa Tallyn
It was shortly after midnight when Paavo (Paul) Henttonen was dropped off by a taxi at his Rosetta St. apartment following an evening at the Barber Towne Pub 11 years ago.
Hours later he was found dead in his blood-splattered apartment. Police said he had been stabbed repeatedly with a kitchen knife.
At the time, Halton Regional Police spokesperson Sgt. Val Hay called the May 17, 2002 murder “a real whodunit.”
Today, following an initial two-year investigation and many reviews of the cold case by investigators, the identity of Henttonen’s killer(s) remains a mystery.
The 54-year-old man’s body was found by an employee of his scrap metal and pop machine repair business.
“The crime scene was fairly extensive and horrific at the time,” said Det. Sgt. John Mans of the Halton Regional Police Service Homicide and Regional Fraud Unit.
Henttonen, who was estranged from his wife, died of multiple stab wounds from a large knife, believed to have come from his apartment. Mans said it’s quite possible whoever killed him may have been injured.
“There was blood everywhere,” he said. “There was hair, there were fingerprints. Everything you can possibly think of was gathered. To date that evidence has not identified who the person was.”
Some witnesses had reported that Henttonen had recently won a couple thousand dollars in the lottery. Mans said money was taken when he was killed, but it’s unknown if that was the sole motive or due to an “opportunistic moment.”
There was other things in the apartment police believe would have been removed if robbery were the only motive, he said.
Shortly after the murder, Hay said there was no sign of forced entry, the apartment wasn’t ransacked, and it didn’t look like there had been any struggle or fight.
Henttonen’s green 1997 Chevrolet pickup truck was found abandoned at Mountainview Rd. and Dominion Gardens Dr. two days later on the morning of Sunday, May 19. Some witnesses said they had seen two people in the truck as it fled Henttonen’s apartment.
“The possibility exists there was more than one person involved and just from experience the likelihood of one or two individuals being involved in a crime like this and being able to keep that to themselves and not sharing the information or speaking to others is fairly unlikely,” said Mans.
“We know whoever was there, whether it was a vehicle of opportunity for them at the time, they obviously got his keys from the apartment, they removed his vehicle. It traveled a short distance away, they parked it in a subdivision and made good their escape from there,” said Mans.
He believes Henttonen knew his killer(s).
Brent Henttonen was 12 years old and living with his mother in Brampton when his dad was killed. He said his parents had been divorced about six years at the time, and he saw his dad every weekend, if not more.
“He was awesome. He went above and beyond for me,” said Brent, who now lives in Innisfil.
He said “it’s not too bad” coping on a daily basis now with the loss of his dad.
“But the times you actually think about it, or you need somebody, or you think I wonder what my dad was like at this age, you never get to ask him,” he said.
He said the investigation seemed to “go nowhere real fast,” and he often wonders who killed his dad.
“If I never get closure on it I don’t think it would change the direction of my life, but having that closure would be a huge blessing and ease in my life. Just being able to see somebody being held accountable for what happened, even if it’s just to know why, if they had a reason.”
Mans said there has been little information provided to police since the initial investigation.
“It’s been very limited. We had the occasional phone call come in where somebody shares bits and pieces of information with us, none of it has led us to the identity of the person(s) responsible,” said Mans.
He said when investigators aren’t working on current cases they are going over cold cases looking at witness statements and determining what things perhaps weren’t done 11 years ago that should be done now.
Investigators contact witnesses again to see if they remember anything else, or anything differently.
“We truly believe in this case there are people out there who know what happened to Mr. Henttonen. We hope as time moves on, their conscience gets the better of them and they would come forward and provide us with that information,” said Mans.
He said sometimes its reward money that motivates a person to contact police, but other times people may be at a “particular stage in their lives where they realize it’s the right thing to do and they should have come forward a long time ago.”
Cold cases are often broken either because someone who has been holding onto information comes forward, or due to a forensic advancement that ties that last piece of evidence to someone, said Mans.
He said officers go through the evidence in the Henttonen case— especially forensic evidence that was seized at the time— with an eye to advancements in the field.
“We would submit something, say 30 years ago, and they would say it’s insufficient for DNA. Now when we send it, it could be sufficient,” said Mans. Even in the years since the murder there have been advancements, he said.
Fingerprints from the scene are always routinely checked to see if somebody has been recently arrested and charged who has the same prints.
A palm print found in Henttonen’s truck was recently submitted to a new RCMP database, but Mans said no match has been found yet.
“We do not let these cases go; many of the officers will have photos of the victims or family members of the victims on their boards,” said Mans.
He said they want to be able to bring closure to victims’ families.
“It doesn’t sit well with any one of us to have a case sitting there (when) we know full well that someone is aware what happened, someone out there is responsible for this. We will pursue them until these people are caught,” said Mans.
Anyone with information on the Henttonen homicide is asked to contact the Homicide Unit at 905-465-8760 or 905-878-5511 ext. 8760 the tip line at 905-825-4776 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).