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They are the party girls of the Jarvis Street track, and they wear the uniforms favored by prostitutes on the walk: hot pants or tight leggings, bustiers zipped down to mid-abdomen, plaited hair, high-heeled mules on their feet. They laugh and cajole one another, shouting sexual taunts at pedestrians and passing cars.
But when asked about what happened just three nights before—the execution-style slayings of three Toronto prostitutes—they become sober and defensive. The remark is meant to be funny. For them, mere survival has become a matter of chance. Shawn Keegan and Thomas Wilkinson, luck ran out on a stormy May 20, as lightning and Victoria Day fireworks lit up the city. Responding to a call at p. Just before midnight, security guards at a condominium on Homewood Avenue—a tree-lined residential street in the downtown core frequented by transvestite hookers—found the body of year-old Keegan, a crossdresser and part-time prostitute, lying in a stairwell.
Nine hours later, the body of Wilkinson, 31, a transsexual whose street name was Deanna, was found in a laneway off Homewood. Like Keegan and Ludgate, he had died of a bullet wound to the head. On the streets, meanwhile, police were informally advising prostitutes to be careful—which, in the trade, means working in pairs, taking down the licence plate numbers of suspicious cars and telling a friend where they are going to service a client.
There are now 12 unsolved prostitute murders in the Toronto area, dating back to March, ; there is no indication that the first nine are related to the last three. Among street prostitutes and the support organizations that try to help them, the re-. This has been going on for decades. Linda Lalonde knows all about that. A street prostitute for 18 years before going straight in , the year-old Lalonde is now a college graduate working with the Metro Toronto task force on street prostitution to develop an outreach program— called Off the Hook—to help hookers get off the street.
In her time as a prostitute, Lalonde says that she knew six hookers who were murdered. Most prostitutes—male or female—live in a complex web of violence, drugs and poverty. They face not only abuse from. And if hookers are assaulted, they are unlikely to turn to police. If they do, Lalonde says, they face beatings by other prostitutes—enforcing an unwritten rule against talking to cops.