By PAM DOUGLAS
Special to Focus
The horrible truth about what happened to Poonam Litt has finally— after three long years— been confirmed.
The 27-year-old pregnant mother-of-one is dead.
Peel Regional Police revealed the sad news at a press conference today. It was her remains that were found on a rural property near Caledon Village on February 22, three years after her unusual disappearance.
But how she died is still not known, and how her remains wound up in Caledon is a question still not answered.
Her death is officially still being ruled “suspicious”, although the Peel Homicide Bureau is, as it has been for the past two years, conducting the investigation.
“Obviously, the family is devastated,” said Peel Homicide Insp. George Koekkoek.
Koekkoek said police are appealing to the public for information in the ongoing investigation that has waned, but never stopped in the past three years.
“We are of the opinion that, locally and abroad, (the public) has information about the circumstances that lead to Mrs. Litt’s death,” Koekkoek said at a news conference at Peel police headquarters in Brampton today.
Koekkoek told reporters he would not reveal the condition of her remains, and that police are still working on the cause of death.
OPP Insp. Chris Gilpin said scientific testing and forensic anthropology were both employed to positively identify the remains.
Police searched the rural area for two days after the remains were found, but called off the search because of deep snow. That search resumed today.
“We will try to find evidence of how she died and those responsible for her death,” Insp. Gilpin said.
Both inspectors said there is no threat to public safety.
“Without going into any details, we’re satisfied there’s no threat to public safety,” Koekkoek said.
Litt’s sudden disappearance on Feb. 5, 2009 had been completely out of character. Her little girl, just two years old at the time, pined for her mother. Litt adored Kiranjot, who is now five years old, and just two days before she was reported missing, Litt announced she was pregnant with her second child. Her husband, Manjinder, was in India with his mother at the time of her disappearance, and she told him the good news over the phone. Police say the couple were very much in love.
So what happened to Poonam Litt?
It is a mystery that has had some strange twists.
Koekkoek said finding Litt’s remains is “another piece of the puzzle, and hopefully, a key piece.”
At the time, Litt’s family told police it was 9 a.m. when she said goodbye to Kiranjot, handed her to her sister-in-law and left her Cordgrass Crescent home for what was supposed to be a 15 minute walk to work, mostly through quiet, residential streets.
She never arrived at her dental-receptionist’s job at Torbram Road and Steeplebush Avenue. Her co-workers alerted her family and police.
Litt’s purse, identification, and credit cards were still in the house, which she shared with her husband Manjinder, her sister-in-law, brother-in-law, their two children, her father-in-law and mother-in-law.
We now know the rumours that swirled— persistent and hurtful— around the community that she had run off to British Columbia with a boyfriend were untrue. Police at the time insisted the rumours were false, there was no boyfriend, and there were no confirmed sightings of her, but the anonymous rumour monger would not reveal himself.
The case was being investigated by 21 Division detectives in the first few months as a “missing person”, even though lead detective at the time, Kim Taylor, said her gut told her “something’s wrong”.
Her husband, Manjinder, appeared at a Peel police press conference five months after her disappearance, offering a $25,000 reward for information.
With few leads, the case got colder, and months passed without word. No one reported seeing her walking to work that morning, despite extensive canvassing in the area by investigators.
“The case’s motion may have slowed, but it never stopped,” Koekkoek said today. “We are following up all investigative leads.”
The Missing Persons and Homicide Bureau took charge of the case in late 2009. It would take another four months before police would admit that they weren’t still treating the case as a “missing person” investigation— they suspected foul play and believed Litt might be dead.
On March 20, 2010, more than a year after her disappearance, police forensics officers were at the family’s Cordgrass home for several hours conducting a search. They would not say what they were looking for.
One month later, in April 2010, homicide investigators took the very unusual step of publicly stating that they believed someone in her household— a family member— knew more than they were telling about her disappearance.
That revelation came just days after The Guardian broke the news that her father-in-law, Kulwint Singh Litt, was charged for a second time by Peel police with stalking a Malton woman. The Guardian also revealed that this wasn’t the first time Kulwint Litt had been arrested. In 2007, he pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a Brampton woman, received a conditional discharge and 18 months probation.
Police also revealed they had a report that a minivan had left the Litt home at 1 a.m. and returned at 4 a.m., just five hours before Poonam Litt disappeared.
If police know who was driving the minivan, where it went and why, they have not said.
Today, Koekkoek would not comment on police statements made two years ago except to say, “We’re working on that information, as well as anything gathered since then.
He said Litt’s family is “co-operating with us fully.”
However, he said police are questioning everyone.
“Our inquiries are far and wide— family members, friends, neighbours, everyone who was around…”
Anyone with information is asked to call Peel police, Homicide Bureau, at 905-453-2121, ext. 3205, or Peel Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
By PAM DOUGLAS