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It was a case that shook the heart of a Canadian city, uniting a community while also inciting its residents. A young girl’s death at the hands of a heinous monster. The Jones family’s grief spread to the public, leaving citizens wondering how safe their children truly are. Over 300 people were working on Holly’s case.

The disappearance of Holly Jones

Holly Jones, a 10-year-old girl, volunteered to walk her friend Claudia home after an after-school play date on May 12, 2003. Holly was a shy girl who was gaining independence as she approached adolescence and was eager to demonstrate her maturity. Claudia only lived a few blocks away from Holly, so they walked along Sterling Street, the same route Holly took to school.

Holly and Parents.

Holly returned to her house after seeing Claudia off. Holly left home at 6:00 p.m. while it was still daylight, but as the darkness grew, her parents, Maria Jones and George Stonehouse, became concerned. They promptly reported her missing, and a “Amber alert” was issued the next morning. In addition to a request from Holly’s parents for information on her whereabouts and safe return.

Early Life Of Holly Jones

Holly Maria Jones was born in a loving home on September 14, 1992. Holly was the youngest of four siblings, and her older siblings, Shone, Natasha, and James, lavished her with attention. Holly was a lively, gentle, and energetic young lady with a big imagination and even bigger dreams.

She aspired to be a famous singer because she loved music. Holly excelled in school, and was a well-liked good student and athlete, playing basketball and running cross-country, but most importantly, she had a special relationship with her mother.

Bags Found off the Shores of Toronto Island

On Ward’s Island, a man walking his dog came across two bags on the shoreline, each containing body parts. Holly Jones’ remains were identified by police. “The search for Holly Ones is now a search for her killer,” police said hours later.

Police divers continued to search the waterfront for evidence, and police kept the investigation going by releasing posters of the two bags and dumbbells recovered from Lake. Even asked the public if they had any information about Holly’s disappearance and murder.

Toronto police say their hotline has received more than 1,650 phone call tips, and it was flooded with thousands of possible leads with little success.

Police appealed for help in identifying two men seen aboard the Toronto Island Ferry, around the time Holly’s remains were found. One of the men came forward and was cleared as a suspect, the other not identified.

On May 20th Holly was laid to rest at Saint Vincent DePaul Roman Catholic Church with hundreds of mourners, even police and politicians coming out to support the Jones family. Holly’s neighborhood was on high alert after her death, with more and more reports of attempted abduction, people lived in fear for their children’s lives and schools and forced stronger security measures.

On June 2, a man was seen leading a young boy out of the Grocery store in Holly’s neighborhood. He ran off when the boy’s mother screamed at him.

Law enforcement continued to search for evidence going through the city’s garbage, beginning a controversial program for voluntary DNA collection from men within the area.

Search for the killer

Only a few men refused to take part in the program, one of them was a 35-year-old Software developer, named Michael Briere. Michael had no criminal record, and authorities obtained his DNA after he discarded a soda can in a public trash bin.

Michael Briere

Michael’s DNA matched blood found under Holly’s fingernails, prompting police to arrest him while under interrogation Michael confessed to the murder of Holly Jones.

After viewing child pornography he happened to walk outside just as Holly passed in front of his home and he made a split-second decision that ultimately ended Holly’s life. He sexually abused and strangled her within an hour of taking her hostage, then hid her body in his refrigerator and dismembered her.

Over the course of three days, he disposed of her body by dumping the bags in the harbor then disposing of the rest in the garbage. Michael Briere was charged with first-degree murder and was held without bail in protective custody.

Holly’s family was relieved that her killer her been caught, In the ensuing months Michael waived his right to a preliminary hearing. He chose to plead guilty on June 17, 2014, to spare the Jones family from a painful trial, he was sentenced to life in prison and will not be eligible for parole until 2028.

Briere pleaded guilty to the crime, which he himself described as “cruel, inhuman, and nightmarish,” stating he wished to spare his victim’s family the pain of a trial.

Holly Jones Memorial

Michael attributed his action to child pornography and stated that had Holly not been in the wrong place at the wrong time she would still be alive today.

Since the trial, two memorials have been created in Holly’s honor at two parks in the neighborhood where she lived. Holly’s mother has maintained her own garden in Holly’s memory at her home. Nothing will ever bring back her youngest daughter but she and her husband strive for change by proposing Holly’s law.

The proposal seeks to provide education and tools to children that help them identify and deal with sexual abuse. In hopes of ending it once and for all.

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