The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and Kingston Police have arrested and charged a 65-year-old Kingston man with the murders of three Kingstonians that took place between 1995 and 2001.
“Nearly 24 years ago, a crime spree began with a violent break and enter which resulted in the death of an elderly Kingston woman. What followed would be two additional murders, a bank robbery, a suspicious fire, and even the use of an explosive device,” said Antje McNeely, Chief of Kingston Police, at a joint OPP and Kingston Police press conference on Friday, Feb. 15, 2019.
“These crimes may have occurred almost a quarter century ago, but any such unsolved crimes are continually reviewed with investigated tips and avenues explored until all leads are exhausted. I am pleased to announce that, through a collaboration between the Kingston Police and the OPP, there have now been two arrests made in this long-standing investigation.”
McNeely then announced the three cold case homicides linked to the accused, Michael Wentworth (AKA Michael Verney).
“Today we can announce we have provided some degree of resolution to the families of Henrietta Knight, Richard Kimball, and Stephen St-Denis,” McNeely continued.
“Our joint investigations have produced a result that offered an opportunity for these grieving families to try to move forward, having lived with their respective tragic losses for so long.”
Wentworth was arrested on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019 as the result of the ongoing investigation, which police indicated had picked up significantly over the past year as they zeroed in on Wentworth and his former wife, Sandra Carr, 52, also of Kingston, was also arrested and charged.
“While I speak about the details that lead us to an arrest, I can tell you that the information that we received over the last 12 months played a pivotal role in the investigation,” said Det. Inspector Jim Gorry of the Criminal Investigation Branch of the OPP.
“We are very proud of the results of this long term investigation. Today marks a milestone for the victims and families in pursuit of resolution and justice.”
Gorry went on to explain that Wentworth’s first alleged victim was Henrietta Knight.
“On November 4, 1995, Henrietta Knight, an innocent 92-year-old woman, died of her injuries that were sustained months earlier in a violent break and enter at her home. This led to an investigation into a series of events, and there are still people working with the Kingston Police Service right now that were involved in the original investigation. One of those individuals is Chief McNeely,” Gorry said.
Gorry then explained the next two crimes police allege Wentworth was behind.
“On July 4, 1995, there was a brazen armed robbery of the Toronto Dominion Bank at 494 Days Road in the City of Kingston. Two armed robbers made off with a sizable amount of money, and our investigation is finally solved as far as that crime,” he said.
“In November of 1995, Richard Kimball went missing. Our investigation led to the discovery that he had been murdered. The evidence to this point points to the accused.”
Detective Inspector Brad Collins then explained the next two crimes Wentworth is allegedly behind.
“In July 2000, an explosive device was detonated in a residential area of Toronto. It caused extensive damage, but thankfully no injuries. Our investigation has garnered evidence pointing to accused. As a result, we have laid charges of causing damage by explosion, possessing and planting an explosive device with intent to cause harm,” Collins said.
“Then, in October of 2001, Stephen St-Denis was discovered deceased in a structure fire on Joyceville Road in Kingston. Our investigation has revealed evidence supporting a charge of first degree murder in relation to this death, attributing this crime to the accused.”
As a result of the efforts of investigators with both the OPP and Kingston Police, the following charges have been laid against Wentworth:
- First degree murder of Henrietta KNIGHT
- First degree murder of Richard KIMBALL
- First degree murder of Stephen ST-DENIS
- Armed robbery
- Disguise with intent
- Hostage taking using a firearm
- Possession of an explosive device
- Endangering life by planting an explosive device
- Intentional and reckless cause of damage by explosion
Additionally, the following charges have been laid against Sandra Carr:
- Obstruct justice
- Party to first degree murder
Both Gorry and Collins pointed to a concerted effort from all involved investigators over the 24 years since Knight’s death, as well as the group effort over the last year that allowed police to collect information to substantiate the charges. Police unlined that the case is not closed, and that they would like to hear from anyone with any information that may help in the investigation.
“We are open to exploring any and all additional matters that could be related to these incidents. We certainly are under no illusions. Mr. Verney has been involved in the criminal element a great deal of his life. There is a good potential for him to have been involved in other serious crimes of these matters, and that’s why our investigation will be continuing beyond this date,” said Gorry.
“We’re not ruling out that more charges could be coming, and we’re not ruling out that more arrests could be made.”
Collins explained that both technology and DNA played an integral role in the investigation, but would not elaborate on that as the investigation is ongoing.
Both Wentworth and Carr were arrested on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019 as part of an elaborate operation that involved the raids of two Kingston Properties. Kingstonist has learned that the property on Middle Road, which had just recently been sold, belonged to Wentworth, and that the property raided on Cottage Farms Road belonged to Carr. Those who knew Wentworth said they were surprised by his arrest, as he is slight in stature and came across as simple and non-threatening. Police would not say where exactly Wentworth was arrested.
“He was arrested while he was being followed in the City of Kingston when we got him to the point where we had predesignated to effect the arrest,” said Collins.
Gorry said that the two properties are currently being searched by OPP, who are likely to remain on scene for several days collecting evidence. He also said that police are not considering Wentworth a serial killer.
“The question was considered, and although, because of the timespan of the crimes that it covered and the fact that there are three homicides with which he’s charged, it’s understandable that people would want to consider this a serial case, however, it doesn’t fit the normal definition of a serial killer, per se. So, no, we’re not categorizing him as such,” he said.
Gorry then explained the amount of resources that went into the investigation and subsequent arrest of Wentworth and Carr, expressing the emotions experienced by officers involved in the investigation.
“[There was] a great deal of jubilation [in our offices yesterday]. A tremendous amount of work has gone into this investigation, and not just over the last push in the last year. As I said, these matters go on from the initial crime date and time. It’s been touched by many, many officers in that time period, and in the last year, a very focused effort by probably 50 or 60 active officers… Then the take down day yesterday, over 120 officers are involved in an operation of that magnitude,” he said.
Gorry said “the tenacity of the individual and the desire to solve the case was what helped us” in bringing about the arrests, and then spoke to the hope that solving such cold cases instills not only in police officers, but also in the victims and families affected by cold cases.
“When you arrest somebody for a 24-year-old homicide, I think it does give hope to people who have been waiting for answers,” he said.
And as for the experience of delivering the news and closure to the families of the three deceased connected to Wentworth, Gorry candidly expressed what those meetings on front doorsteps feel like.
“We take victims of these types of crimes very seriously. We went to the individuals personally and told them. It’s probably one of the finest things you can do, when you can give somebody that type of resolution and it is quite something,” said Gorry, who had been involved in the investigation of the TD Bank robbery in 1995 himself.
“Over the years, I have done it numerous times, and it’s still a great feeling.”
Both Wentworth and Carr appeared in court on the afternoon of Friday, Feb. 15, 2019. Carr is being held in investigative detention until a bail hearing on Friday, Feb. 22, 2019. She is not permitted to speak with several people, including some family members until then. Wentworth was determined to be not eligible for bail given the charges against him. He was issued a three-day investigative hold as the investigation continues, as well as a long list of people who he is not allowed to communicate with. He will appear in court for a bail hearing via video on Friday, Feb. 22, 2019.
Kingstonist will provide more updates as information becomes available.
Any person with information regarding the investigation is requested to contact the OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or Kingston Police at 613-549-4660. Should you wish to remain anonymous, you may call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), where you may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $2000.
With files from Cris Vilela.