The Disappearance of Holly Painter
Case File Overview
On Monday, June 26th, 1995, 18-year-old Holly Painter disappeared from Toronto, Ontario.
Holly was last seen leaving her home at 359 Dawes Road at approximately 6:00PM. She was accompanied by two acquaintances: Steven Warner, 33, and Susan Livingstone, 25.
It is reported that the trio left the house in a dark green or brown Ford Bronco with licence plate number 4JESTR.
When questioned, Warner informed the police that later that evening Holly had exited the vehicle and took off running near the intersection of Kingston Road and Warden Avenue.
Holly has never been seen again.
At the time of her disappearance, Holly was 5’6″ (168 cm) and weighed 115 lbs (52-53 kg). Holly’s hair is dark brown, long, and slightly curly, and she has brown eyes. She fractured her left leg eight years before she vanished.
Although details about the clothing Holly was wearing the evening she disappeared have not been circulated, we do know that she wore three gold hoop earrings in each ear, required Ventalin for her asthma, and used glasses for distance.
Case File Theories
Ran off to start a new life
Did Holly run away to start a new life? Rarely does a missing person case occur without this theory being discussed. In this case, I think that it is highly unlikely.
Holly and her adopted parents were close, according to her mother, Linda Painter, even through Holly had some anger issues that seemed to go beyond the norm of the typical teenager. For example, when Holly was 17 she got into an altercation with her father and was arrested for assault. Linda explained that Holly was known for her “short fuse, which had always been a trademark.”
Nevertheless, Holly landed a job shortly after the incident with her father and moved out on her own into a room at a boarding house. She began working at Save the Rouge Valley System, a local environmental group, after successfully completing a six-month co-op position with the organization. Holly also attended school regularly, and was in touch with her family on a daily basis.
The week that Holly was last seen, she was excited to be starting a rock climbing course. She had just gotten her braces off and was set to receive an award at school for being the top co-op student that year. By all accounts, Holly’s life appears to have been happy and on track. Taking all of this into consideration, I think that the chances are that Holly did not run off to start a new life or has remained out of touch with her loved ones all of these years by choice.
Met with foul play
If Holly is dead—the Toronto Police Service currently lists Holly’s case as a homicide investigation—most of the evidence points in the direction of the people she was with on the evening of her disappearance: Warner and Livingstone.
As I have already mentioned, the week Holly vanished she was going to begin a rock climbing course. On June 26th, the day she disappeared, Holly called her mother, Linda, asking for a ride to work to pick up her bank card that she forgotten there so she could purchase some climbing shoes that evening. Holly, however, called back and told her mother she had found another ride.
Warner has told the police that he drove Holly to her office to retrieve her bank card. They then met up with Livingstone and returned to Holly’s home. A short time later, Holly and Livingstone got into an argument in the basement and Holly reportedly assaulted Livingstone. Warner says that he then told Holly that they were taking her to her parents’ house. It is supposedly on this trip that Holly leapt from the vehicle and disappeared.
A couple of nights later, a note appeared on the Painters’ door that read, “I’ve had enough. Don’t try to find me.” Because of this, Holly was not reported missing until approximately two weeks after she disappeared. However, in retrospect, Holly’s family thinks that the note was not written by their daughter.
Disturbingly, Holly’s bank card was used in Cheektowaga, New York on July 1st, shortly after she vanished, and Warner later admitted to the authorities that he was the one using Holly’s bank card. The media reports that although “Warner has left Canada voluntarily because of an immigration matter,” the Toronto Police Service consider him “a person of interest” in the investigation.
Warner and Livingstone’s story leaves many unanswered questions. Why would Warner insist on driving Holly, a person who was independent and living on her own, to her parents’ house just because she got into a fight? How did Warner get Holly’s debit card pin number to use her card? Did he kill Holly so that he could access her accounts? Was Livingstone also involved in Holly’s death? Was the fight, perhaps, much more serious than reported? Did Holly really die in her basement on the evening in question?
I suppose Holly could have gone running from the vehicle that night like Warner and Livingstone claim, and then was killed while on the run by someone yet unknown to the police. However, I think the odds of that are pretty astronomical.
What do you think happened to Holly?
Holly’s loved ones are still trying to find out what happened to her on that fateful June night in 1995. Linda, Holly’s mother, desperately wants to know what happened to her daughter. Linda explained, “There’s just something about that night that’s (been) lied about, I think.” If you happen to know anything about this case, please reach out to the authorities and help shine a light on the truth.
If you have any information regarding this case, please contact Homicide at 416-808-7400, or at [email protected]. You can also call Crimestoppers at 416−222−TIPS (8477), or reach the organization at www.222tips.com.
Holly Anne Painter – Toronto Police Service case overview
“Police believe teen was murdered” – The Globe and Mail article
Holly Anne Painter: The Doe Network