Cassandra Do was known for being ‘very discerning’ about her sex trade clients. So how did she end up dead in her bathtub?

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Cassandro was a sex trade worker with a reputation for being careful.

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The 32-year-old did not use drugs or work on the streets. She carefully examined who had come to her downtown apartment on Gloucester Street near the church, which was decorated in the French classical style.

Attract customers through advertisements in the back pages of a website and a weekly newsletter.


Before a client came to her apartment, he screened her either over the phone or over coffee.

“She was very understanding on her clients,” said acting Det. Toronto Police Sergeant Stephen Smith in a police-produced video on the case.

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She hadn’t completed the male-to-female gender transition and was open about it with her clients, so there will be no surprises.

Customers knew him as “Libra”. She was short, five-foot-two, thin and had wonderful raven hair.

She had breast implants and a delicately changed nose.

She had surgery after moving from Kitchener to Toronto, where she worked as a nurse’s aide at a senior citizen’s home.

“I didn’t know that many men were attracted to transsexuals until I moved to Toronto,” he told the producers of a 2002 documentary called “Skin Deep.”

“And it was great because I felt like I wasn’t crazy anymore. There are actually guys out there who find themselves attractive…

“I think most people in public when they look at me see someone attractive and maybe a little different.”

In Toronto, she did so well financially in the sex trade that she was able to help relatives with their bills.

Eventually, she plans to complete her gender transition and earn enough money to become a nurse, she told the documentary.

“I think I’m looking forward to getting back into nursing because I think people can look at me and say, ‘I see a woman’, which is what they saw earlier, which is a young male. Who’s struggling, trying to be a woman. And I think the more feminine I look and the surgeries I’ve had that have helped me achieve that.”

She was born to an American soldier and a Vietnamese mother, and moved to Canada when she was eight years old.

“Growing up, when I look at myself in the mirror, I feel so sad and confused,” she said in the documentary. “It was so upsetting that I see someone who looks male and I didn’t feel like …

“It was so hard in high school. I was teased and made fun of… I was so lonely. I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere. I didn’t fit into any particular group or anything.

“I don’t think I realized I was transsexual until I was 16. Then I realized I was attracted to men, but I wasn’t like other gay men – I didn’t want to be a man, I felt like a woman. “

After being rejected by her boyfriend and parents, she moved to Toronto at a particularly low point in her life.

“I felt like I had nothing to live for. And I seriously wanted to end my life, and it was only after I failed to do that, I moved to Toronto and wanted to get away from everything that hurt me.” And I felt like Toronto would be a more sensible and acceptable place…

“When I first moved to Toronto, I wanted to get back into nursing. I called and applied to several places for work. And the response is, ‘Oh yeah, we’re hiring. Please visit. Us Need someone to work soon.’ And when I immediately showed up because of my presence, I was told that we already hired someone or we would call you and they would never call me back.”

For a time, Doe lived in the West End, where she enjoyed a goth bar. She moved to town to get away from a customer who wouldn’t stop bothering her.

Eventually she realized that even surgery could do so much more.

“I don’t think any of my surgeries are going to change some people’s minds. There are some people out there who won’t like me, the fact that I’m transsexual and I’ve only done anything from regular strangers to law enforcement people and what not. I’ve experienced all kinds of prejudices, and it’s so sad, but that’s what it is.”

On Monday, August 25, 2003, Do had planned to meet a new customer at 4:30 in the afternoon. She had another “date” scheduled for that evening, and then a meeting with relatives.

The 4:30 date must be clear to allow inside his door.

“He was able to talk to her the first time she saw him,” Smith said.

Something went terribly wrong almost immediately after they met.

His dead body was found that evening by a relative in his bathtub. His throat was strangled.

The police concluded that her killer had attempted to dominate and humiliate her in the last moments of her life. This also included raping her before strangulating her.

Police investigated whether Doe’s killer was the same man who killed Lien Pham, a 39-year-old widow and sex worker who was strangled less than two months later.

Pham October 13, 2003 – was found dead on Thanksgiving Monday in an 18th-floor apartment on Mabele Avenue in Etobicoke.

Pham was the mother of two children whose husband had been the breadwinner of the family until his death.

She did not speak English well enough to enable her to do more work, but she was a good earner in the flesh trade, sometimes getting as many as seven clients a day.

The clients of her escort agency often referred to her as “May-ling”.

DNA evidence was found on Pham’s body, but it did not match samples taken from any other crime scene, Smith said.

However, DNA found on Do’s body linked his attacker to the sexual assault of a sex worker near Do’s apartment in 1997.

The 1997 sexual assault victim was still alive at the time of Du’s murder. After the rape, she managed to escape to a bathroom and locked herself inside until the attacker left.

That first victim described her assailant as a powerfully built, clean shaven black man with finely chopped hair. His height descriptions have varied from six-foot-two to six-foot-six.

He brought handcuffs to her apartment.

Police investigated several theories about the man whose DNA was linked to the two attacks.

Can he stay in the area? work there? Was he a mobile hunter?

“It could be anything,” Smith said.

Investigators ran his DNA through a national data bank for criminals as well as foreign data banks, but with no success.

Smith won’t go into details, but says he believes there is someone who can identify Doe’s killer.

“We know that person knows,” Smith said.

Meanwhile, investigators can’t help but wonder where Doe’s killer went. did he die? settle down? Keep committing crimes without leaving your DNA?

“He could have lived an otherwise normal life,” Smith said.

And where did he get the handcuffs?

“Was he a security officer?” Smith asked. “Did he work in law enforcement? Was he a bouncer at a club?”

Doe’s life ended in a relatively quiet phase of her life, when she had no plans to further alter her appearance with more surgeries.

He still had a lot of plans for a lifetime.

“I feel like I have to work with my inner self and just be happy with myself and other people around me and not focus so much on cosmetic surgery,” she said in the documentary.

“For me, I find that what will make my life more fulfilling and happy is being in a relationship with someone who loves and is in the nursing field that I really love and a normal life.” I’m living.”

The Do and Pham murders remain unsolved.

Peter Edwards is a Toronto-based reporter who primarily covers crime for the Star. Reach him via email: [email protected]

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