Big new reward in Orangeville murder investigation
Published Wednesday, August 28, 2013 11:37AM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, August 28, 2013 6:51PM EDT
It's been three years since someone killed Sonia Varaschin, left her Ontario home stained with blood and dumped her body in a wooded area.
While police have continually been chasing leads and sifting through evidence, just who was responsible for the 42-year-old's gruesome murder remains a mystery.
Now, in an attempt to trigger a break in the case, the provincial police is offering a $50,000 reward to anyone with information that leads to the apprehension of her killer.
A white cross with flowers and a stone plaque marks the spot where the remains of Varaschin were discovered on a quiet side road near Orangeville in September 2010. Lisa Coombes owns a business downtown close to where Varaschin lived. She says she doesn't feel as safe as she used to here.
“We aren't even open late unfortunately, now,” she says. “We are really conscious of who is parked next to you; you have a tendency to look at people a little more, maybe taking a license plate number more than you ever did.”
Varaschin was reported missing Aug. 30, 2010 when she didn't show up for work. That day police found her blood-stained car in an alley in downtown Orangeville. Police described her condominium as the scene of a horrific crime. Varaschin's remains were found by a local resident out for a walk a few days later. Her killer has never been caught.
Police do have some clues to help solve the case. They know Varaschin's killer wore a size-11 work boot that was purchased at Marks Work Warehouse. They also have the killer’s DNA and today police announced a substantial cash reward to help jog people's memories for more information.
“The government of Ontario in conjunction with the Ontario Provincial Police are offering a $50,000-cash reward for any individual with information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible,” OPP Sgt. Peter Leon says.
News of the reward is encouraging for residents in Orangeville.
“I hope it doesn't get put on the back shelf,” says Tabitha VanMannen. “That would be awful not just for justice for her but for her family. I hope it doesn't get put on the back shelf I hope the reward helps.”
Sam Reid, resident, says, “I hope it doesn't happen to somebody else. I hope he does get caught.”
Police Continue Building Solid Case
The case drew national attention as investigators revealed the culprit likely left Varaschin's home covered in a significant amount of blood and used Varaschin's car to move the nurse's body to the wooded area where it was found.
Later, to narrow their list of suspects, police also asked for voluntary DNA samples from men who either knew Varaschin or came in contact with her before she died.
That sort of collaboration with the public remains an extremely important part of an investigation that has never waned in its intensity, says Ontario Provincial Police Det.-Insp Tracy Dobbin, the lead case manager on Varaschin's file.
"There's still a dedicated team of investigators that are assigned solely to this investigation. That hasn't changed," she says. "Every day we're closer, because we have a better grip on the information, and we're dealing with new information."
Investigators continue to receive tips on the case on a weekly basis and hope anyone with information or suspicions linked to Varaschin's killing will contact them, despite the time that has lapsed since her death, says Dobbin. And while it may appear that the search for Varaschin's killer is moving slowly, a long investigation allows police to build an extremely solid case, she says.
Case Tough On Those Close to Varaschin
Having to deal with another year that has passed without finding Varaschin's killer, however, has been hard for those close to her.
"It still hurts a lot," says Marija Bojic, a close friend of Varaschin's who helped set up a nursing scholarship in her memory. "I think the safety of everybody is shaken."
Police have said the person responsible for the crime likely knew Varaschin and the local area. But Bojic continues to be baffled by the case. Meanwhile, Varaschin's parents, although aware that police continue to work on their daughter's file, have been finding it hard to deal with the lack of public information, says Bojic.
"They are disturbed in a way, that there is no news whatsoever about her case," she says. "It's just really hard for them simply to not know."
Police say the case is still active. Investigators are asking anybody with information to contact the Orangeville Police Service or Crime Stoppers. They say no detail is too small.
With files from Diana Mehta, The Canadian Press