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Who Murdered Samuel Lottery?

The Unsolved Murder of Samuel Lottery

Case File Overview

On Friday, January 19, 1996, Samuel Lottery failed to return to his London, Ontario home. Sam’s concerned family immediately contacted authorities and reported him missing.

When he disappeared, Sam was 17 years old and an H.B. Beal Secondary School student.

Samuel Lottery

Image of murder victim Sam Lottery
Image source: London Police Service website

Sam was a happy-go-lucky teen, electronics whiz, and loved spending time in Jamaica with family. He also enjoyed basketball and listening to hip hop.

Soon after his disappearance, Sam’s family received letters suggesting where his body could be found.

In March 1996, a handwritten letter on unique stationery was discovered at the Pillar of Fire Church, Sam’s family’s place of worship. The letter intimated that Sam’s body could be found by the Thames River. Sent with the letter was a photograph of Sam that was in his wallet when he disappeared.

Months later, in November 1996, a similar letter was sent to Sam’s parents at their home. It provided more details about where Sam’s remains could be found; however, police were unable to locate Sam.

Unique stationery

Image of the stationery received by the family in the Samuel Lottery murder case.
Image source: London Police Services

In May 1997, an arm bone was found by a man out walking his dog along the Thames River near Blackfriars Bridge. More bones were eventually located. Finally, in April 2008, a human skull was discovered on the bank of the Thames River near Greenway Park.

Distance from Sam’s family’s church where one of the letters was left to the location of Sam’s remains: 3-min. drive

Image of the distant between the church where the letter was received in the Sam Lottery murder case and the location of Sam's remains.
Image source: Google Maps

On October 26, 2009, after forensics confirmed the remains were Sam’s, a homicide investigation was officially opened by the London Police Service.

Case File Theories

Sam was murdered by a stranger

Although unlikely, Sam could’ve been murdered by a stranger. The murderer would’ve had to find out details about Sam and his family after the murder to write and send the letters. Or, perhaps, the murderer could’ve told someone about the crime and that person either knew Sam’s family or found out information about them and then wrote the letters. However, this doesn’t account for how the photograph that Sam had with him at the time of his disappearance was included with the first letter.

Sam was murdered by someone he knew

There appears to be only one viable theory in this case; Sam was murdered by someone he knew. The London Police Service recently explained, “We know that Samuel Lottery was targeted by one or more people who were known to him and that multiple people have information about his murder.”

Given the letters Sam’s family received after his disappearance, this makes sense. Although they aren’t releasing much information, the London Police Service have called the two anonymous notes sent to Sam’s family “the heart of the investigation.” Whoever wrote the letters knew enough about Sam’s family to leave one of the letters at their church. Also, the second letter was delivered to Sam’s home, suggesting the letter writer either knew where Sam lived or put in the effort to find out the information. Although the content of the letters hasn’t been released, the letters could’ve included personal details about Sam, named a suspect in his murder, or the writer could’ve taken responsibility for the crime.

We don’t know if the letters were written by the murderer or a witness, although the inclusion of the photograph Sam had on him at the time of his disappearance makes me lean towards the murderer. Regardless, clearly the police don’t have enough evidence to make an arrest and are waiting on a witness to come forward to help crack this case.

Who do you think murdered Samuel Lottery?

After Sam’s skull was located, his mother, Tathlin Lottery, said, “This is not giving me hope. It’s just more heartache.” Tathlin and her husband, Errol, turned to their faith to carry them through the loss of their beloved son. Tathlin explained, “The Lord comforted me. I know the Lord and I trust him. He keeps me going.”

I find it especially disheartening how little information there is out there on Sam’s disappearance and murder, and I wonder if this is a case of Missing White Girl Syndrome. If Sam had been a white, beautiful teenage girl, would his case have received more coverage?

Sam and his family deserve some semblance of  justice. If you recognize the unique stationery or have any information about the murder of Samuel (Sam) Lottery please contact the London Police Service at 519-661-5674, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or go online at

Related Reading

Samuel Lottery Case Overview – The London Police Service

“Who Killed Sam Lottery?”London Free Press article

Interested in unsolved murders? Check out the mysterious murder of Lisa Leckie and the slaying of Andrew Moore.

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Published inTrue CrimeUnsolved Murder Files



  1. Gracie Gracie

    This looks more like stationery that a female would use. Maybe the girlfriend of the murderer that could possibly have been given the wallet. Was the wallet missing or just the photo? I do feel that Sam was murdered by someone he knows. The letters would signify that either the murderer wants to take credit or he/she is feeling remorse. Hopefully whoever knows anything about the murder of Sam will come forward.

    • Christine Christine

      Great points! I agree that the stationery seems to stereotypically gesture towards a female owner. I believe that Sam’s wallet disappeared with Sam when he vanished and that the photo (and not the wallet) was mailed with the letter to his family. The reports did not mention a wallet being located with his skeletal remains, but I suppose it could’ve been and the police kept it quiet. Like you, I really do think Sam was murdered by someone he knew. I hope that someone who knows something will come forward and help to give his family some semblance of closure. I can’t imagine going about my business and passing people in the streets and wondering if they had something to do with the murder of my loved one.

  2. Gracie Gracie

    I just feel it is a female informant maybe of the boyfriend or a close associate of hers. If so, the weight of carrying around this “secret” will wear her down. Would be nice to know what was written in the letter as this is what I feel will bring justice!

    • Christine Christine

      Here’s hoping the burden of the secret does weigh whoever it is down; unless someone comes forward, there’s unlikely to be closure in this case. I agree! Maybe one day the police will consider releasing the letter contents. Fingers crossed!

  3. So did the police not take the letter seriously? Because all they had to do was take cadaver dogs down to the area. But in the entry it says they were unable to find him?

    • Christine Christine

      Thanks for your comment. Great question! I’ve always been confused why it took so long to find Sam’s body after the letters. Authorities don’t explain what happened, but the media implies the police did search the area and didn’t find anything. Like you, I’m left wondering how they missed the remains. I guess they could’ve been moved there by the murderer after the initial search, but I find this highly unlikely, especially given the letters. I guess the body could’ve been at least partially in the water and that could’ve interfered somehow. Definitely a strange case.

  4. Jason Jason

    While he case is a tragedy and needs to be solved, I find it disgusting how you could insinuate the case didn’t receive enough coverage because he wasn’t a white girl. There are countless murder cases each year that get little or no media attention. How is I know about this case and not many others? Because it was brought to my attention by the media. I clicked on your post to see if you night have any information they missed. Unfortunately you just copied and pasted the details and added your sick racial theory. You should be ah amazed for yourself.

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Jason. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment. I agree that it would be terrific if Samuel Lottery’s case could be solved. However, I have to strongly disagree that race and gender play no role in mainstream media coverage of crime. I wish it was just a “sick racial theory,” as you suggest, but sadly it has been researched and proven time and time again. I have attached some links if you’d like to learn more about how race and gender can impact media coverage, which is what I maintain has occurred in Samuel’s case. I’ll happily keep spreading the word about Samuel, helping in any way that I can.

      News Media Coverage and the Epidemiology of Homicide

      Cleveland Abductions: Do White Victims Get More Attention?

      Missing White Woman Syndrome: An Empirical Analysis of Race and Gender Disparities in Online News Coverage of Missing Persons

    • Nancy Nancy

      Look how many people are still talking about Maura Murray vrs Alexis Scott. The more research i do into cases, The more i believe it’s not just missing white woman but missing pretty and middle class or higher syndrome

      • Christine Christine

        Definitely (and depressingly) a variety of such factors impacts what gets covered by the media and what the general public typically cares about.

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