It was the summer of 1999, and 15-year old Sharmini Anandavel needed to earn some quick cash to buy a middle school graduation outfit. Her family had immigrated from Sri Lanka to Toronto, Canada a few years back, and had a hard time supporting themselves as her parents barely spoke any English. Sharmini took it upon herself to raise money to buy a fancy dress and shoes.
She told her parents she had found a job answering phones in an office. But to her friends, she claimed she was to be employed as an undercover drug operative. Her parents had offered to give her a ride to work that day, but Sharmini had refused. She was hiding something.
Sharmini never returned from work that day. 4 months later, her skeletonized remains were found by a hiking father and son in a ravine by a river, carelessly tossed into a shallow grave. Her body had decomposed from the summer heat, and had been ravaged by coyotes who lived in a den nearby.
Sharmini was identified from her dental records, since there was nothing but a skull and bone fragments left as evidence. Investigators also found hair and fingernails that were painted blue, just as Sharmini had done before disappearing.
Her classmates and teachers were shocked. She was described by everyone as a vivacious, outgoing and often mouthy girl, who would never hesitate to stand up for herself. The boy sitting next to Sharmini was crushing on her, and teachers were often bemused by her witty sense of humour. How could she vanish without a trace, on the way to some obtuse job offer?
In Sharmini’s apartment complex, there lived a man named Stanley Tippett, a troubled individual with severe facial deformities caused by Treacher-Collins syndrome, and a criminal rap sheet longer than a novel.
Stanley was 23 at the time, and married with children. He did however have a creepy roving eye, and pretended to be a police officer so he could lure children in the complex to go swimming and on drives with him. In reality, he was a bum who struggled to gain employment and took his rage out on the rest of the world.
He stalked several women throughout his life, once offering a fake job to a woman at a Wal-Mart fair, then proceeding to visit her house repeatedly to leave her gifts. Stanley once kidnapped a 12 year old girl, who was luckily saved when bystanders heard her scream. He had even kidnapped a woman from a bus stop with a fake gun, pressing it to her head and only relenting when she lied to him that she had HIV and was on her period.
Witnesses claim to have seen Stanley around Sharmini at the apartment before her disappearance, and police believe he had made a false job offer to her, pretending to be an officer who would pay her to go undercover. Police found a job application in her bedroom which looked scam-like, but Sharmini was naive and accepted it in good faith. Stanley had probably advised her to keep the fake police job a secret, but Sharmini had told her friends, though she didn’t mention his name.
That Saturday June 12 morning sealed Sharmini’s fate. Stanley had most likely lured her to a remote location, and assaulted and killed the innocent teenager who was merely looking for a job to buy herself a beautiful dress.
Stanley currently rots in jail for other sexual assault related offenses, but refuses to confess to Sharmini’s murder, and detectives do not have any concrete evidence to tie him to her death either. All that exists is circumstantial evidence, which is inadmissible in court.
How and why Sharmini died remains a mystery. All we know is that she was taken advantage of by a disturbed human being, and that her tragic story serves as a warning to never trust anyone.