Two years after her cry for help, the terrifying truth is revealed
Details emerge in a kidnapping that exposed the worst of humanity — and the rescue that highlighted the best of it
Just over two years ago, on Easter Sunday in 2015, Peter Hamilton was out walking his dog on his side street in Leslieville when he heard a cry coming from the front porch of a rundown red-brick house. “Help. Can you help me?” There was a woman there, naked from the waist down, covered in bruises, handcuffed and with her hands and feet bound by duct tape, Hamilton told me at the time. The woman said she’d been held captive for five days by a man with a gun who was inside the house. Hamilton helped as best he could, cutting her restraints with the nail clippers in his pocket, getting a passerby to call 911, standing tall as the captor fled the house past them and ran away.
“The horror of what happened to her, of what she had gone through, hadn’t really sunk in to me yet,” he said as he described it to me at the time.
Indeed, only the broad strokes of what had happened were known when I wrote about the encounter two years ago. The story of the woman’s escape from captivity, and Hamilton’s accidental role in helping with it, provided the smallest of silver linings to a horrifyingly dark cloud of a crime. How dark it was only became clear last week, when 45-year-old Rejean Perron pleaded guilty to use of an imitation firearm in the commission of an indictable offence, forcible confinement and sexual assault with a weapon. The details are very disturbing. According to the agreed statement of fact read in court April 4, Perron lived alone at the time in that red brick rooming house, supporting himself on Ontario Works. “During 2014, Mr. Perron devised a plan to find a vulnerable woman, kidnap her if necessary and force her to get engaged and married.”
He set about gathering tools to execute this plan: filling a duffel bag with two plastic guns, a hunting knife, five pairs of handcuffs, rope and masking tape. “He looked for a secluded location to execute his plan. An opportunity to execute his plan never presented itself,” the statement of fact reads.
When he realized his landlord would be away for two months, he decided to lure a prostitute to make good on his plan — he’d “bring her home, force her to marry him and keep her for himself.”
He set aside $160 to use as a lure, and prepared his bedroom with ropes set up between mattress and box spring to act as restraints.
“He practised what he was going to say to her, including the engagement and marriage ceremony. He prepared himself to use the gun and/or the knife to threaten her only if necessary.”
He waited for his landlord to leave and his roommates to clear out of the house, according to the statement of fact. On March 31, he armed himself and went out to the area of Shuter and Sherbourne Sts.
The victim, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, “struggles with addiction to crack and heroin,” according to the statement of fact. “She supports herself on Ontario Works, supplementing her income by participating in the sex trade.”
She had been consuming both crack and heroin the night Perron approached her on the street. She agreed to return to his room and have sex with him in exchange for $160, and they took a taxi to the Leslieville house.
There, he gave her the money and told her to bend over. “As soon as she did, Mr. Perron handcuffed her wrists.” She turned to face him and kicked at him, pleading “Please don’t kill me.” While assuring her he wouldn’t kill her, Perron bound her with a second set of handcuffs and taped her mouth, arms, back, stomach and legs “until she couldn’t move.” He removed his pants and sexually assaulted her. Coming down from her heroin use by then, experiencing drowsy, flu-like symptoms, she fell asleep when he was finished.
When she awoke, he told her of his marriage plans for the two of them. “Mr. Perron performed a marriage ceremony and put a Barbie ring on her finger.”
Over the next five days, “Mr. Perron continued to sexually assault” her in various ways. I will spare you the more graphic details. But he terrorized her continuously. She remained naked from the waist down, her undergarments and pants cut off by Perron.
She was kept in his bedroom, forced to relieve herself in a bucket. Perron called her “his Barbie” and cut her hair, painted her fingernails and toenails red and sprinkled her with glitter.
She “repeatedly attempted to free herself from the restraints” and he physically attacked her and also threatened her with the two guns, which he showed her briefly “in order to further intimidate her and ensure further compliance.” Only later did police determine that one gun was a plastic pellet gun and “the other was a plastic gun.”
She “did her best to remain calm,” trying to secure her release, the statement of fact says. At one point her attacker told her he “wanted to keep her for a little while longer,” at another, “he told her he was never going to let her go.”
Finally, on April 5, Perron bound her up from head to toe in tape, leaving only her eyes exposed, and went out and got them some food from 7-Eleven. Then he came back. “He removed some of her restraints, and they ate and smoked the cigarettes he purchased. After eating, he fell asleep.”
Finally, after five days of being assaulted and terrorized, she had a chance. The statement of fact says the victim, still handcuffed and bound, moved the mini-fridge that was blocking the door, and slid down two flights of stairs while calling for help. She made her way out onto the veranda outside, where Peter Hamilton was walking his dog.
“Mr. Perron woke up to the sound,” it says, of her “screaming ‘help me’ at his rooming house neighbour.”
Two years later, Perron has pleaded guilty. Sentencing will probably not take place for months. There are various hearings and reports expected between now and then. The crimes he has pleaded guilty to carry maximum sentences of 14 years for use of an imitation firearm in committing an offence, 10 years for forcible confinement and 14 years for sexual assault with a weapon. The imitation firearm charge carries a minimum sentence of one year.
Hamilton, the man who happened by and helped the victim, told me on the phone this week that he has thought about the crime every day for two years. He lives on the street where it happened.
His daughter’s school is directly across the street from the house where the victim pleaded for his help.
Hamilton has not met the victim since that day — he was expected to testify at trial but then the plea was entered — but thinks of her often. “I’d like to meet her if it would help her healing process in any way. Just to say, ‘How are you doing?’ To give her a hug.”
His actions that day, which I reported at the time, reflected some of the best of what we hope exists in the human spirit. “It was nothing less than heroic,” the Star’s editorial board wrote that week.
But the details of the crime that led to his moment of inspiring bravery are the opposite, an example of the very worst of human behaviour. What the victim lived through before she summoned the resilience and found the opportunity to escape is horrific, the stuff of nightmares. It is hard to imagine a jail sentence strong enough that it would serve justice. It is hard enough to imagine the crime. To let the horror sink in. With files from Alyshah Hasham Edward Keenan writes on city issues firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow: @thekeenanwire
Peter Hamilton was walking his dog on Easter Sunday in 2015 when he helped a woman escape her captor.
Rejean Perron kidnapped a sex worker and held her captive for five days in 2015.