Suspect accused of robbing blind woman surrenders to police
Rachael D'Amore, CTV News Toronto
Published Thursday, October 19, 2017 12:54PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, October 19, 2017 6:33PM EDT
Police have arrested a suspect accused of robbing a blind woman she befriended on a chartered bus from Sudbury to Toronto.
The suspect, who police identified earlier Thursday, surrendered to authorities. Officials confirmed she was in police custody around 4 p.m.
The arrest comes hours after police released the suspect’s identity along with a photos taken from a security camera in a Toronto hotel.
The victim, who requested anonymity for this story, told CTV News Toronto about her ordeal earlier this week.
On Oct. 17, the victim was headed from Sudbury to Toronto for a doctor’s appointment.
Having lost her vision eight years ago, the woman wanted to take steps to regain her independence and travel to the city on her own.
While on the bus, the victim started chatting with the woman sitting next to her who told a tale of homelessness and a recent family tragedy.
“She had said that she was recently arriving into Toronto and had no place to stay,” Greenaway told reporters on Thursday. “She said she had gone through a family situation where she lost a parent.”
The blind woman said she “felt sorry” for the woman and offered that she stay with her at the Comfort Inn in North York.
“The victim said, ‘Since you have no place to stay, I’m only here for a few days for a medical treatment, you’re more than welcome to stay with me tonight,’” Greenaway said.
The two women sat talking in the hotel room for some time. The victim said she seemed “very nice.”
At one point, the victim told CTV Toronto she got up to go to the bathroom and on her way back to the room, the suspect passed her by, telling her she was going to the vending machines in the hallway for a drink.
The victim said “something seemed weird” after time passed and the woman hadn’t returned so she went to her jacket and discovered that the $800 she travelled with was missing.
The victim went out into the hallway and called her name but to no avail, she said.
“That wasn’t nice. It was all money for my trip, my cab, my food, my ticket to go back,” the victim said, fighting tears .
Left with only the $100 she had hidden in her bra, the victim called the front desk to look for the woman but was told she had gotten into a cab and left.
CTV News Toronto received a number of calls and emails from viewers who wanted to offer their assistance.
Insp. Colin Greenaway called the theft “cowardly” and “troubling” but acknowledged the “great citizens” and police officers who stepped up to help the victim in her time of need.
A Toronto police officer identified as Amir Butt of 31 Division took the victim to and from her doctor’s appointment the next day.
“He went out of his way to assist a person who was in dire straits and really needed some special needs and I’m really proud that PC Butt stepped up to the plate to do the right thing for all the right reasons,” Greenaway said.
Butt said he “feels very great” the community has people out there to “help vulnerable people like that” and that she “was a very deserving person.”
The bus driver, who is familiar with the victim, also pooled together money from fellow drivers and covered the cost of her ticket home.
Since sharing her story earlier this week, a GoFundMe page created by the woman’s daughter has surpassed its goal of $800 and currently sits well over $3,000.
The woman said that she and her daughter are “overwhelmed” by the outpouring of support.
“The people in Toronto are unbelievable, they have a lot of heart,” she said.
“I thank you and appreciate everything.”