Nicole Morin: 8-Year-Old Disappears Into Thin Air
What Happened to Nicole Morin?
It’s been almost 40 years since Nicole Louise Morin went missing, leaving police investigators and her community baffled. Her disappearance launched the largest missing person investigation in the Toronto Police Service history, but she was never seen again.
Nicole was born on April 1, 1977, the only child of Jeanette and Arthur “Art” Morin. Her parents had been married for 12 years before she was born. Nicole lived with her mother, and her father resided in nearby Mississauga when she vanished.
Described as a "happy-go-lucky child who was fun to be around," Nicole was a normal little girl who had many friends.
Message From a Childhood Friend
Det. Const. Melissa Elaschuk was a childhood friend of Nicole. The two girls would walk to school together every day.
“We had a lot of fun playing together,” Elaschuk told Toronto.com. “We would make our own fun (using) our imaginations and played outside, and we used to go swimming all the time in the pool that was for (our) particular building.”
Nicole’s case is now considered cold, but Elaschuk reminds the public that it is not closed.
On July 30, 1985, at approximately 11 a.m., Nicole left her parents' penthouse apartment on the 20th floor of a large condominium building in the Etobicoke borough of Toronto, Canada. She was heading to the lobby to meet her friend Jennifer and the two were planning to swim in the condo pool.
There has been a debate about whether Nicole was last seen entering the elevator or walking down the hallway.
Before leaving her apartment, Nicole talked to her friend via the intercom and said she would be in the lobby in a few minutes.
The pool was in the rear of the complex.
Approximately 15 minutes later, Jennifer buzzed Nicole’s mother to ask why Nicole had not shown up yet. Nicole’s mother, Jeanette, had been busy with other small children in daycare in her apartment and thought Nicole had already left. Jeanette told Jennifer her daughter had gone to the pool, or maybe she was playing with other children at the back of the complex.
Not until hours later did Jeanette realize her daughter was missing, and she finally made a police report at 3 p.m.
When the police were called, they responded quickly to the scene and began conducting active searches and canvassing throughout the apartments.
Staff Sgt. Madelaine Tretter, who has been managing the case since 2008, said the search for Nicole was the largest for a missing person in Toronto police history.
Roadblocks were set up around the perimeter of the complex, and police cars with PA systems informed the community of the search.
The police knocked on every door of the 429-unit complex and went into the apartment if the door still needed to be answered. A woman who lived in the building remembered seeing Nicole, and police determined that she had traveled down the elevator and entered the lobby.
The day following Nicole's disappearance, the police started a "dragnet" consisting of foot patrols, marine units, helicopters, and mounted police to begin searching an area around Highway 27 near the complex. Tracking dogs were brought in to search the utility rooms, storage units, sump pump rooms, and underground garages.
The newly formed Crimestoppers posted a $1,000 reward, printed fliers, and produced a reenactment of Nicole's movements before her disappearance that appeared on television a week later.
Police would eventually offer a $100,000 reward, which is still active today.
The Toronto Star created 6,000 copies of a flyer with a photograph of Nicole and information, along with the number for the police department.
Investigators devoted 25,000 hours to the investigation and questioned approximately 6,000 individuals, focusing on hundreds of sex offenders. The investigation cost an estimated 1.8 million during the first year.
It was the largest effort to find a missing child in Toronto's history. A 20-member task force was created and was active for nine months.
Nicole's family and friends were cleared of involvement in Nicole's disappearance.
In more recent years, age progression photographs have been distributed. At one point, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in Alexandria, Virginia, assisted.
“Somewhere between her apartment and the lobby, she disappeared,” said Acting Detective Sgt. Stephen Smith.
Smith told City News that the police did not have the capabilities they have now, and no cameras were available. In a twist of fate, the complex owners had previously scheduled cameras to be installed the day after Nicole’s disappearance.
Currently, one full-time investigator on Nicole’s case and several other investigators are assisting.
Smith said they recently digitized the files and found many tips leading to a location north of Toronto but have yet to find anything.
Smith vows that the police will continue investigating the case; they hope that just one person calls with the information they didn’t previously have to help find Nicole and bring peace to the family. Smith added that Nicole’s disappearance has impacted every investigator who has worked on the case.
In a strange twist, shortly after Nicole vanished, police discovered that she had written in her diary: “I’m going to disappear.”
Police said they didn’t quite know what to make of it, as children that age can write all kinds of things down without having any significance.
Another twist happened during the investigation. Police traveled to Quebec to interview Art’s brother-in-law, who had been convicted of killing Art’s sister in 1961. He has since passed away, and investigators concluded he was not in Toronto at the time Nicole went missing.
Important Tip in 2020
The police investigated thousands of tips over the years, but in 2020, a woman came forward and said that she had seen Nicole at a nearby park on the day of her disappearance.
The woman was only 12 years old when Nicole disappeared and was asked why she waited so long to come forward. She explained that the man she saw Nicole with had molested her before, and she feared coming forward with the lead.
Interested in this lead, police went to the park with cadaver dogs and excavated an area where the dog detected a "hit."
So far, their persistent efforts have yet to lead them closer to finding Nicole.
Nicole’s disappearance shook the community to the core. Parents became more cautious and the community seemed to hold their children a bit tighter after that.
Nat Mann was a year older than Nicole and lived down the street from her as a child. To this day, Nat still thinks about little Nicole.
“I grew up not far from her, still live close by, and I remember driving by her apartment building always wanting to know what happened to her ... wondering ... it was horrible,” Nat Mann said. “As an empathetic kid, it scared me. I knew there were weirdos everywhere, just got that vibe, and I think that’s why I’m interested in true crime.”
Nat says she was aware of her childhood surroundings, and what happened to Nicole greatly worried her.
In This Lifetime
Nicole’s father, Art, always said he only wanted to discover what happened to his daughter during his lifetime.
Art moved back in with Jeanette after their daughter’s kidnapping, but they permanently separated in the late 1990s.
“When Nicole disappeared, I honestly believed we would be able to find her. I cannot help but keep my hope that she will surface again one day,” Art told the Toronto Star in 2010.
Nicole was the apple of her parent's eyes.
Knowing he did everything he could as a father, Art kept hope that his precious daughter would be found, even after all these years. He still lives in the Etobicoke area, not too far away from the place where Nicole vanished into thin air.
Jeannette died of a heart attack in 2007, never knowing what happened to her daughter.
While she lived, Jeanette never lost hope.
Anyone with information is asked to call 22 Division investigators at 416-808-2205 or Crimestoppers online at www.222tips.com.