This post revisits a 1962 Toronto, Ontario cold case. The provincial capital was rocked when the body of shy, 16-year-old Julian Wolanski turned up in a ditch near the Humber River. Her murder remains unsolved.
It was the phone call that lured her away.
Sixteen-year-old Julian Wolanski picked up the receiver at her west-end Toronto home on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 7th, 1962. One of her brothers overheard snatches of an exchange peppered with “Yes, sir,” and “No, sir.” When her mother arrived home a short time later, a visibly upset Julian – her friends called her Julie – told her a teacher had called to say she had to take an exam in order to graduate to Grade 10 for the coming school year. This was puzzling; Julie excelled in her studies and had been exempted from taking exams because her marks were so high.
“Yes, sir. No, sir.”
Her mother suggested she wait for her father to drive her the next day. But no, Julie insisted, she had to leave right away.
“I have to go today, Mummy,” she said. “I have to meet a man at Yonge and Eglinton.”
Julie left home wearing a white sweater, white sleeveless blouse, green pleated skirt, flat-heeled brown shoes and nylon stockings. There was $10 in her handbag and she carried three streetcar tickets. Her mother watched her walk across the bridge that connects Wallace Avenue and Dundas Street. The time was 4:20 p.m.
It was the last time she saw her daughter alive.
“I have to go today, Mummy. I have to meet a man at Yonge and Eglinton.”
The following Sunday, a young couple were out horseback riding near the Humber River, about 23 kilometres northwest of downtown Toronto. They spotted something odd in the underbrush. “There’s a store-window mannequin over there,” one of them called out. Going for a closer look, they realized – to their horror – it was the body of a teenage girl.
Julie Wolanski, missing for five days, had been found.
Julie’s body was found far to the northwest from where she was last allegedly seen.
Police surmise that her body had been tossed from a car parked on the road above and rolled to the spot where it was found. She wore only a garter belt and silk stockings. She had been beaten, raped and shot through the heart.
“There’s a store-window mannequin over there.”
After her story appeared in newspapers, tips started coming in. A cab driver told police he had seen Julie at around 6 p.m. the day she went missing, the unusual design of her handbag having stuck in his mind. He said she was standing on the northeast corner of the Yonge-Eglinton intersection — the spot where Julie told her mother she was meeting the “teacher”.
“She seemed to be waiting for someone she knew, the way she looked,” he said.
Two women claimed to have come across Julie in the Eglinton Avenue subway station, seemingly in distress and looking for change of a quarter so she could use a payphone.
A bus driver said he also saw Julie at around the same time. She had approached his bus at a stop, hesitated, then changed her mind and stepped away.
“She seemed to be waiting for someone she knew, the way she looked.”
It’s unclear how reliable the police consider these sightings.
But what is certain is that Julie was clearly targeted, and it was the second known attempt to trap her. Someone had previously phoned to tell her go to Givens Street school – where she attended – and pick up a trophy she’d won. She told the caller she would claim it when classes resumed in the fall.
If this was the same man with whom Julie arranged to meet with on the day she went missing, his persistence paid off. And since 1962, this killer of a shy, 16-year-old girl has continued to evade justice.
What We Know
Name: Julian (Julie) Wolanski
Last reliable sighting: Tuesday, August 7th, 1962 at around 4:20 p.m.
Discovered murdered: Sunday, August 12th, 1962, at around 4:30 p.m.
Location of discovery: in a ditch beside Indian Line in Claireville, near the Humber River
Estimated date of death: 2-3 days prior to discovery
Cause of Death
Shot with a .32-caliber bullet from an automatic pistol that went through the heart and lodged in the spine.
Clothing and Personal Items
- white sweater
- white sleeveless blouse
- green pleated skirt
- flat-heeled brown shoes
- nylon stockings
- straw summer handbag
Despite an exhaustive search, it appears these items were never recovered.
- in Toronto’s Yonge-Eglinton area between 6-7 p.m. on August 7th
Notes and Speculations
Julie was not the only girl targeted that summer. A man posing as a member of the board of education or a doctor on the board was phoning teenage girls at this time. He learned personal and academic details about them, their friends and classmates, then informed the girls he had to give them a physical examination.
If this “doctor” was the same man responsible for Julie’s murder, it’s likely the “exam” he said she had to take was a physical exam, not a written one.
This modus operandi would also explain – if he was not known to Julie personally – how her killer was able to learn enough about Julie to deceive her and convince her to meet with him.
After police exhausted the “school teacher” angle and cleared Julie’s friends and relatives, they turned their focus elsewhere. Julie and her family had strong connections to Toronto’s Polish community; maybe her killer shared the same ties. Had he attended the same social functions at Polish Veterans Hall? Was he a patron at the restaurant where Julie worked part-time? Police explored these and other theories.
But despite a gruelling months-long investigation, they never caught up with the killer.
Canadian Press (1962, August 13). Girl, 16, Assaulted, Murdered. The Ottawa Journal, p. 1.
Canadian Press (1962, August 13). Girl, 16, Shot in Heart Near Toronto. The Ottawa Citizen, p. 9.
Canadian Press (1962, August 14). Police Draw Blank in Hunt for Killer. The Brandon Sun, p. 1.
Canadian Press (1962, August 22). Boy Friends Questioned in Death Probe. The Gazette, p. 26.
Canadian Press (1962, August 23). Girls Give Police Clue to Killer. The Ottawa Journal, p. 5.
Canadian Press (1962, August 29). Identification of Man May Be Lead in Toronto Girl’s Death. Nanaimo Daily News, p. 16.
Canadian Press (1962, August 14). Phoney Caller May Have Lured Girl to Death. The Gazette, p. 4.
Picton, John (1983, November 13). 21-year Manhunt for Julie’s Killer. The Sunday Star, p. A1, A10.
If you have any information that can help solve Julian’s murder, please contact Toronto Homicide at (416) 808-7400 or email@example.com.