By Paul Legall -- The Hamilton Spectator, Burlington. August 31, 2002.
 

A woman whose naked body was found in an area described as a "lover's lane" was probably beaten to death with a club or some other weapon.

An autopsy yesterday revealed the woman died as a result of "blunt trauma" to the head. Blunt trauma is a term used by police to refer to injuries inflicted by a solid object and too severe to have resulted from a fist or unarmed attack.

The post-mortem examination at the Hamilton General Hospital also showed the woman recently had dental work.

Police describe her as an adult with shoulder-length black hair.

Halton police Sergeant Frank Phillips described the discovery as a classic "whodunit."

He said the dental work could help police identify the victim.

A city worker stumbled upon the body in a wooded area on the west side of Kernscliff Park off Kerns Road at about 1:15 p.m. Thursday.

No identification could be found at the site.

Police say they don't know how long the woman had been dead.

And they couldn't tell yesterday whether she had been killed in the park or dumped there.

Police are appealing to the public for help and checking missing person reports in an effort to determine who she was.

Investigators spent several hours yesterday searching the dense strip of vegetation between Kerns Road and a parallel laneway leading to a parking lot inside the park.

The area was still marked off with yellow tape more than 24 hours after the body was found. Phillips said officers were looking for articles of clothing, weapons, or anything relating to the body but apparently found nothing.

The victim was difficult to see in the brush but there was no obvious attempt to cover the body.

The area is several hundred metres from the nearest houses on Bonfield Court.

Guy Ehmann, who lives in the court, said he wasn't surprised when he heard about the body in Kernscliff Park.

He said the unlit area has become a popular party spot for young people since the city of Burlington developed the former lime quarry as a nature park a few years ago by building hiking trails, a boardwalk and laneways for motorists.

"It's a lover's lane," he said yesterday. "We've seen needles, broken bottles and condoms. It was an accident waiting to happen. It's been a nightmare."

Ehmann added area residents have complained to the city and police about noise from late-night parties, the litter in the park and the extra traffic on Kerns Road, which winds its way through the Niagara Escarpment to Waterdown Road.

Last year, he said, a youth lost control of his sports utility vehicle coming down the hill, crashed through a fence and landed in his neighbour's back yard. And a teenager was killed during a bush party when he fell off a cliff to the bottom of the old quarry near the edge of the Niagara escarpment. 

Jim Robertson, who lives on Gloucester Drive off Kerns Road, said the former quarry -- which is largely overgrown with trees and shrubs -- has been a contentious issue among residents since he moved in to upscale Tyandaga neighbourhood 10 years ago.

Most homeowners chose the community because it provided peace and tranquility in the pastoral setting on the fringe of the Niagara Escarpment and are opposed to any new development that threatens their quiet lifestyle, such as increased park use.

New homes here can cost anywhere from $600,000 to $1 million and have attracted some celebrity residents such as NHL player agent Don Meehan, who represents Curtis Joseph and Jerome Ignila.

"It would have been nice to leave things the way they were. There was little traffic and it was quiet before," Robertson said.

Asked how the murder would affect the neighbourhood, he replied, "It's not going to make people feel any better about the park."

But the discovery of the body hasn't apparently caused any panic or excessive fear in the community.

"Whoever did this chose the area because it's an isolated place, out of the way and out of sight (with no lighting)," Robertson suggested.

 

You can reach Paul Legall at plegall@hamiltonspectator.com or at 905-526-3385.