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Bootprints offer clue in slaying

ORANGEVILLE, Ont. - The person who killed an Ontario nurse left behind some clues that police say could help them track the culprit — through his boots.

ORANGEVILLE, Ont. - The person who killed an Ontario nurse left behind some clues that police say could help them track the culprit — through his boots.

Forensic work has revealed that the killer of Sonia Varaschin wore a specific type of boot sold only at Mark's Work Wearhouse, said Det.-Insp. Mark Pritchard of Ontario Provincial Police.

"We are reaching out to the public in the Orangeville area with what we believe is a key piece of information that will lead us to the killer," Pritchard told a news conference Wednesday.

Whoever killed the 42-year-old Orangeville, Ont., resident was wearing men's size 10 or 11 boots sold by the popular retailer under either the Wind River or Dakota brand name, he said.

Investigators are asking members of the public to think back to Aug. 30, when the killer may have come home with unexplained stains on his clothes or boots.

Pritchard said the person may have discarded the boots or bought new ones since then, or may try to get rid of them now that the information is public.

"A friend, co-worker or spouse will hold the key to solving this crime," he said, urging anyone with "doubts or suspicions" to contact police.

Pritchard said he doesn't believe the crime was random and police have said the person responsible likely knew Varaschin.

"We believe that Sonia's killer is very familiar with Orangeville, the outskirts of Orangeville, Sonia's neighbourhood, Sonia's townhouse complex and potentially Sonia herself," Pritchard said.

Varaschin was reported missing on Aug. 30 after she failed to show up at work. Her blood-stained car, a white Toyota Corolla, was found in an alley the same day.

Police also found blood inside and outside her home, and had asked the public to be on the lookout for blood-stained bedding. Days of ground, air and trail searches of the Orangeville area — which is predominantly rural — failed to find traces of the missing woman.

But on Sunday morning, a person walking a dog discovered human remains in a wooded area in Caledon, about 12 kilometres from Orangeville, and contacted police.

Two days later, the remains were confirmed as Varaschin's.

Investigators have released few details about the crime scene but said the culprit likely left the woman's home covered in a significant amount of blood.

They've also said the culprit used Varaschin's car to move the body from her home to the wooded area.

On Wednesday, Pritchard said there were a "number of persons of interest" and numerous leads and tips in the case but would not talk about possible suspects.

In a statement last week, Varaschin's family made a heartfelt plea for her safe return, calling the young woman a "hardworking and caring individual."

"Our thoughts and our prayers go out to the family of Sonia," Orangeville police Chief Joseph Tomei said Wednesday at the news conference.

"Our primary focus is now to find the person responsible for this heinous act," said Tomei, adding police share the family's desire "to see that justice is done."

 
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