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.
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.
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
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 www.londoncrimestoppers.com.
Samuel Lottery Case Overview – The London Police Service
“Who Killed Sam Lottery?” – London Free Press article