Charges in violent cemetery sex attack

A Toronto man facing an attempted murder charge in connection with the heinous beating and sexual assault of a 61-year-old woman at the Pine Hills Cemetery on Monday.

Russell Benjamin Kirkpatrick, 44, is also facing a charge of aggravated sexual assault. Police said the man was previously known to police.

Kirkpatrick appeared briefly in a Scarborough court Thursday morning with visible injuries and blood on his jumpsuit. Police would not comment on how those injuries were sustained.

Toronto Police said Kirkpatrick was arrested Wednesday evening. He was apprehended just 1 km east of the cemetery near the intersection of Kennedy Road and St. Clair Avenue East, police said at a press conference Thursday afternoon.

The attack occurred Monday afternoon when the woman was dragged from the main cemetery path and brutally attacked while visiting her mother’s grave site.

The victim remains in hospital in stable condition, police said.

Det.-Sgt. Corrine Bellon of the Sex Crimes Unit said that the case was “very shocking.”

She credits tips from the public and collaboration between police services for Kirkpatrick’s speedy arrest.

“It was a combination of our inquiries within the police service, as well as tips from the community, that we came to the conclusion that Mr. Kirkpatrick was at first a  person of interest,  and with further inquiries and investigation, it eventually lead to his arrest,” Bello said at the press conference.

Police are asking anyone who may have come into contact with Kirkpatrick this week to contact investigators.

He is scheduled to appear in court again on Monday morning via video link.