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The Unsolved Murder of Simone Sandler

The Unsolved Murder of Simone Sandler

Case File Overview

21-year-old Simone Sandler was last seen on Saturday July 23rd, 1994, in the Yonge Street and Gerrard Street area in Toronto, Ontario. Simone was working for the now defunct casting company Actors and Models Studio near Eaton Centre the afternoon she went missing, trying to recruit passersby to serve as extras in films.

Sandwich board sign used by Simone on the day of her disappearance*

Sign used by murder victim Simone Sandler
Source: Toronto Police Service

When Simone’s parents, Linda and Stephen, notified the police on July 24th that their daughter had failed to return home the prior evening, the York Regional Police believed that Simone had merely skipped her curfew on purpose and was out living it up. As a result, they failed to notify the Toronto Police Service, and the investigation into Simone’s disappearance did not begin for a week—an eternity in a missing person case.

At approximately 3:00PM on Saturday July 30th, 1994, the police responded to a 911 call from Lake Shore Boulevard E. and Don Roadway. Simone’s badly decomposed body had been spotted floating in the Keating Channel waterway by a couple passing by in a vehicle.

Location where Simone’s body was found*

Simone Sandler body location
Source: Toronto Police Service
Simone was naked from the waist down; her body was beaten and bloated from its time in the water. The police discovered that a green garbage bag had been knotted around Simone’s neck. The autopsy later revealed that Simone had died of strangulation.

Shoes Simone was wearing the afternoon of her disappearance*

Simone Sandler shoes
Source: Toronto Police Service

Knapsack Simone had with her when she vanished; it has never been located*

Murder victim Simone Sandler's knapsack
Source: Toronto Police Services
*apologies for the small, poor quality photos, but they are the only ones that the Toronto Police Service has released. 

Since Simone’s murder, the Toronto Police Service has reportedly interviewed over 100 people and has travelled to Vancouver, Saskatoon, and Northern Ontario to look for answers. Even though the police offered a $100,000 reward in 1998 for information leading to the conviction of Simone’s murderer, her case remains unsolved.

Case File Theories

Sadly, it is not an easy task to discuss possible theories in Simone’s case. In fact, the police have said that there are “no motive, suspects or leads.” Regardless, I will offer a quick overview of some of my thoughts on Simone’s murder.

Simone had just completed her first year in hospitality and tourism at Humber College when she began recruiting extras in a somewhat sketchy area of downtown Toronto. Simone was from Thornhill, a suburb of Toronto, and according to her parents she had lived a sheltered life and lacked street smarts.

While working downtown, Simone had formed friendships with the homeless people and so-called “social misfits” that often frequented the area surrounding Eaton Centre. She had even started dating a “tattooed but attractive” young man named “Joe” who was a year older than Simone. According to some accounts, Simone and Joe broke up around a week before she disappeared. Other witnesses, though, reported seeing them holding hands shortly before her disappearance.

Considering that most women who are murdered are killed by a partner or someone close to them, it is hard not wonder if Joe played a role in Simone’s death. However, it is important to note the police have never indicated Joe is a suspect in Simone’s death, even after extensive questioning. Moreover, Joe has no doubt had to live in the shadow of suspicion for all these years, which if he was not involved in Simone’s murder makes him a victim as well.

When Simone spent time with her new group of reportedly “lower-class” friends, she often attended get-togethers “in the wooded areas off Cherry Beach to smoke marijuana around sandpit bonfires.” The police later discovered that Simone was at one of these parties the night she disappeared. Was Simone killed by someone at this party? If she was, the police have never been able to prove it, and the party attendees sure are not talking.

Given forensic advances, you would think that something could now be gleaned from evidence the police collected from Simone’s body and her belongings found at the scene. However, the time Simone’s body and belongings spent in the water washed away most of the potential evidence. Forensic specialists even separated every knot made in the green plastic garbage bag used to strangle Simone in an attempt to locate new evidence to forensically test but had no luck.

Bizarrely, years after Simone’s murder the police stated that the autopsy had found evidence of “an unsuccessful attempt at rape.” I have no idea what kind of “evidence” this could have been, but clearly it would have been tested by now and must have been of no evidentiary value. I am left thinking that it will take a witness coming forward with new information to move this case forward.

Who do you think murdered Simone?

Simone has been described as “sweet and pretty, shy and trusting … [and] she loved to pose for pictures, bake carrot muffins and work out at the YMCA.” No doubt her tragic loss has irrecoverably broken the hearts of her loved ones. Her parents, Linda and Stephen, still seek justice for their daughter. They told the media that “…someone should not be getting away with this. If [the police] do find [the killer], it will at least give us some sense of closure.” Unless someone comes forward and provides the police with the break they need, it is unlikely the Sandlers will find the closure they seek.

If you have any information regarding this case, please contact the Toronto Police Service at 416-808-7400. You can also call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416−222−TIPS (8477), or reach the organization via the internet at

Related Reading

Simone Sandler – Toronto Police Service case file overview

“Woman’s murder unsolved but not forgotten”The Star article

Interested in unsolved murders? Check out the murder of Lisa Leckie and the slaying of Shelia Henry.

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Published inTrue CrimeUnsolved Murder Files



  1. Grace Patterson Grace Patterson

    I speculate that they would have checked to see if there were any similar crimes in the surrounding area. Losing that week to investigate Simone’s disappearance was definitely a huge mistake by the York Regional Police. I feel there is a good chance that her disappearance centers around the party she attended that night being as it was the last place she was seen. Having no forensics of any value sure will make this a hard case to solve. So sad for the family to have to go through this trauma with no resolution in sight.

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Grace – Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment! I agree wholeheartedly that the lost week is a huge hurdle to try to overcome. Like you, I feel that the people who were at the party are key to solving this case. One day I hope that someone comes forward so that Simone’s loved ones can have some closure.

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