Police raise concern over dating apps after disappearance of 2 men with ties to gay village
Kayla Goodfield, CP24.com
Published Tuesday, December 5, 2017 9:17PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, December 5, 2017 11:00PM EST
Toronto police said they are raising concern around the use of online dating applications after two men in their 40s with ties to the city's Church and Wellesley neighbourhood went missing earlier this year.
Selim Esen, 44, went missing in the area of Yonge and Bloor streets on April 14 and Andrew Kinsman, 49, went missing from the Parliament and Winchester streets area on June 26.
In August 2017, police assigned a dedicated team of officers to focus on these two investigations together dubbed Project Prism. Throughout this investigation information was also used from Project Houston, which was an unconnected investigation into three other men going missing nearby.
In a news release issued on Tuesday, officers said the community actively participated in this investigation.
“The investigation into their disappearances is continuing,” the news release said. “However, as with any similar case, the longer these two men are missing the more concern there is that foul play may have been involved.”
Police added that the community’s input into this investigation has led investigators to believe that there is concern regarding the use of online dating applications.
Speaking with CP24 on Tuesday evening, Const. David Hopkinson said investigators have come up with some tips to help those using dating applications make informed choices.
“When we’re talking about getting connected with people using dating apps we suggest that you please get to know the person that you are going to connect with – that can include asking for photographs, social media profiles, it can also involve getting their phone number to call them and speak to them on the phone,” he said.
“If you intend to connect with someone, even if it’s in a casual way, we suggest doing that in a safe space. We suggest telling a family member or a friend where you are going to meet and who you are going to meet with and if you can’t do any of those things then leave a note behind that suggests where you are going to go and who you are going to be with.”
Hopkinson added that these tips are meant for anyone using dating applications. He said if any situation feels suspicious or uncomfortable then you are urged to contact police.
Since June, the disappearance of Kinsman has circulated on social media as being one of several LGBTQ men who have disappeared since 2010. Community members have suggested that these multiple disappearances are linked but police have said they have no evidence to verify this theory at this point.
Kinsman has been described as a six-foot-four man weighing about 220 pounds with a stocky build, brown hair and a brown beard. He has a tattoo on his right arm of the word “Queer” and another on the right side of his chest of an expletive. Investigators said he wears glasses and has a vertical scar on each of his knees from a medical procedure.
Officers have described Esen as a five-foot-ten man weighing about 150 pounds with brown eyes, brown hair and a full beard. He was often in possession of a silver suitcase on wheels, investigators added.
Police said both of these men were known to be connected to the city's Church and Wellesley neighbourhood and were both active on dating applications prior to their disappearances.
Anyone with any further information is asked to call police at 416-808-2021 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477).