Warning: This story contains details that may be disturbing.
The Toronto homicide detective who solved the murder of Stephanie Wrangel says he was stunned by the young woman who was accused of murder, he admitted during his police interview.
Melissa Todorovich was just 14 years old when she ordered that the lead detective in the case strike her alleged love rival.
Wrangel was also just 14 when she was seduced from her East York home and stabbed to death by 17-year-old David Bagshaw, Todorovich’s then-boyfriend.
It was January 1, 2008, when Wrengel, the daughter of two Toronto police officers, was stabbed to death in the chest and left dead on an icy shore near her home.
Former Toronto homicide detective Steve Ryan remembers the day as it was yesterday.
“I was on the call that day, it was New Year’s Day 2008 and I received a call after 7:30 pm informing me that a 14-year-old girl was stabbed to death in East York near Northdale Boulevard and I was told that her parents were Toronto police officers.” Ryan said on this week’s episode of The Detective.
The veteran police officer had solved many murders and horrific crimes, but the fact remains that the young victim was from his own police family.
“Immediately my heart sank,” Ryan said.
As it turns out, this case will be a real eye opener for everyone involved. A high school student manipulates into killing a young girl for sex.
Wrangel was looking after her younger brother at home when she got a call from someone who was calling himself Steve. He asked her to meet him outside his house.
“He grabbed a coat,” said Ryan, remembering that it was one of the coldest days of winter. “In very light clothing and she ran outside to meet ‘Steve’ or whoever he was calling her, and David Bagshaw and Bagshaw blitzed her, stabbed her several times and left her in the snow.”
That year, Toronto was experiencing one of the coldest and snowiest winters in a long time. After stabbing Rengel in the chest six times, the killer fled, leaving him in a snowbank near his home.
She would have died alone in the cold if it were not for a passerby who would see her in the snowbank and stay with her.
“A passerby, God bless her, came and stayed with Stephanie until her last breath. He talked to her, she testified in court, very powerful testimony in court, he was the last person to see her alive.”
He calls 911 and an ambulance will be on the way, but Ryan says the tape of the 911 call is heartbreaking, as it raises Wrangel’s cry for help.
“She was calling her mom. She was cold, this passerby helped her, held her hand until paramedics arrived at the scene, but she took several blows that she had,” Ryan said .
What will soon emerge for investigators will be a horrifying tale of sexual manipulation that drives a young girl’s boyfriend to jealously kill her alleged rival.
Ryan says that the night Wrangel was murdered, his mother Patricia Hung arrived at the police station.
He had information that needed to be shared with investigators immediately.
“Stephanie’s mother and her father, stepfather showed up at the police station and remarkably Patricia insisted that she provide us with an interview that night because she had the information,” Ryan said. “This is a woman who just lost her baby and is just so stoic, so there’s a matter of fact with this information.”
Investigators already had a suspect name.
In Wrangel’s last breaths, he tells the off-duty police officer that he is holding her hand as to who did it.
But the Good Samaritan did not understand this properly. He said the person responsible was David Beggs.
Months earlier, Wrangel told his mother about a strange and bizarre encounter he had with a boy named David Bagshaw.
Ryan said that Bagshaw had come to Wrangel’s house weeks before the murder.
“She said ‘If Melissa calls, tell her I was here and I tried to kill you, but I got scared and ran away.’”
The police officer at Patricia Hung, Wrangel’s mother, knew this had to be dealt with immediately.
“Patricia had nothing like that. So she went to Bagshaw’s house and read the riot act to him and his mother. Basically said ‘Just, this is bullshit, stop it.’ And that’s how he dealt with it at the time, but it never stopped.”
Ryan said police would later learn from a neighbor of Wrangel that David Bagshaw was seen lurking around the house for hours before the murder.
Through Wrangel’s mother, detectives now had the name of David Bagshaw and arrested him for first-degree murder.
He also had his girlfriend named Melissa Todorovich, and Hung’s horrifying story tells the police about his daughter’s first encounter with Bagshaw.
“After Patricia gave us the information, we called Melissa Todorovich as a witness,” Ryan said.
The police were thinking that Todorovich would help strengthen their murder case against Bagshaw, believed to be the guy with the knife who seduced Rengel from his home and killed him.
But what happened next, Ryan says, wasn’t what he was expecting.
“During that interview, my partner at the time asked her if it was fair to say that you set it up, and she said ‘yes.’ I’m going to explain now, but she said ‘Yeah, I wanted her to die,’ and her mom tried to silence her at the time, and said ‘Melissa, what are you saying.’”
Todorovich told the police, “I wanted him to die and I’m glad he is.”
Ryan says she immediately stopped the police interview because she was now a suspect in the Stephanie Wrangel murder.
Todorovich was handcuffed and taken to a holding cell at the police station, while the stunned detectives regrouped.
It wasn’t that they thought it would end. Todorovich was now arrested in connection with the murder and was brought from the cells for a second interview, this time not as a witness, but as a suspect in the murder of Stephanie Wrangel.
Ryan says that the interview with Todorovich has to be by the book, that with a minor, detectives have to be mindful of the law and careful not to dot every “i” and cross out every “t”. If this statement were to stand Court.
“It’s nearly impossible to get a statement in evidence of a child stealing a Snickers bar, let alone a charge of murder.”
She sat on a couch about two feet from her mother, staring at her Ryan and his partner in complete shock.
Todorovich told investigators about Wrangel in a calm, muffled voice.
“There was just a general feeling that I didn’t like him and I wanted him to die,” she said.
In the videotaped interview, Ryan is heard questioning him about the details of Bagshaw’s plan to kill Wrangel.
“So he calls you up and says ‘I have an eight-inch blade and I’m going to Stephanie’s house. What was your reaction to that?’ Ryan asks.
“Well, do whatever you want,” answered Todorovich.
Ryan asked “What did you mean when you said ‘do whatever you want’?”
Todorovich replied, “If you want to kill him, kill him.”
The interview continues with Ryan finding out more details about the plan and how it felt for Melissa after Stephanie died.
“There was a part of you that felt relieved,” Ryan said to Melissa, who replied “I wouldn’t have to deal with it.”
“After all, he has taken care of that,” Ryan says. “Yes,” replied Melissa to the murder detectives.
Both the boyfriend and girlfriend will be charged with first-degree murder.
Ryan recalls the pressure of being in the witness stand for Crown and several years earlier when Todorovich admitted to the police that he wanted Stephanie to die.
Ryan will be in the witness stand for three days of difficult cross-examination by defense counsel.
“It was a rough time, a packed courtroom. You definitely don’t want to spoil things. There are no overs. Everything has to be perfect that comes out of your mouth. If the statement pans out, so be it. That could be the end of your statement. And probably your case against him.”
In the end, the statement was not overruled by the judge and the jury helped seal Todorovich’s fate.
Todorovich was found guilty of second-degree murder, while Bagshaw was found guilty of first-degree murder.
“The jury came in, they said they had a verdict and my knees bent, they literally bowed because I was afraid we were going to lose this murder charge for Patricia, for her family. And the jury was a Murder came back with a guilty verdict. I thought I was going to get sick, my knees bent, I sat down at the table and acted calm and calm, but I was dying inside.”
Both will be sentenced as adults, with Bagshaw serving life imprisonment and no chance of 10 years of parole. and his girlfriend, the mastermind behind the murder plot, with life, and no chance of parole, for seven years.
A psychiatric report filed in the courts found that Todorovich displayed a borderline personality disorder and that he displayed a characteristic that the judge called frightening.
Justice Ian Nordheimer said the facts were unprecedented.
“The concept that juvenile anger becomes the driving force for murder leaves us both stunned and incredulous,” he said.
But what worries Ryan now is when Todorovich comes out of prison, and he quotes one of the key witnesses in this unusual murder trial.
“The psychotherapist who testified on Crown’s behalf said that any other person who becomes involved with Melissa in the future, without any emotion, is in danger because of her domineering manner.”
Todorovich was released from prison. She was granted day parole for six months at the end of 2018, but was quickly recalled by the parole board after they found her violating the terms of her release.
His actions outside the prison were described by the parole board as a calculated hoax.
Todorovich was involved in a love triangle with two ex-cons on day parole, a clear violation of his parole terms.