EPELBAUM firstname.lastname@example.org_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-09-16 published
Senior's death baffles neighbour
By Anthony REINHART Tuesday, September 16, 2003 - Page A16
The sight of an ambulance is nothing unusual to residents of the Kempford Apartments on Yonge Street in North York.
This is, after all, a seniors building, with many residents in declining health.
Still, no one could have anticipated the reason paramedics and police had to race here last Saturday evening, as the late-summer sun dipped behind the 14-storey building.
They arrived to find the broken body of 81-year-old Kuna EPELBAUM, a long-time resident, lying in the driveway.
And 12 storeys up, beyond the open window from which Mr. EPELBAUM had jumped, they found his mentally handicapped daughter, Sophia, strangled to death with a cord.
Police have no doubt that Mr. EPELBAUM, a retired dentist who immigrated to Canada from Eastern Europe in the 1970s, killed his 43-year-old daughter before taking his own life.
What they don't know -- and indeed, may never know with certainty is why.
Mr. EPELBAUM left no note before he leapt, nor had police ever been called to Apt. 1211 because of trouble in the past, said Detective Randy CARTER of the Toronto Police homicide squad.
The working theory, after interviews with Mr. EPELBAUM's three surviving children in the Toronto area, is that he was upset because his family was arranging to move his daughter out of his apartment to live on her own.
"I guess it's all maybe educated speculation, but our investigation showed us that the two of them had been living together for a number of years, and that was about to change," Det. CARTER said yesterday. "And something in that arrangement caused him to do what he did."
Family members declined comment yesterday, but the disturbing events were on the minds of many at the apartment building, one of several well-kept high-rises clustered on Yonge just south of Finch Avenue.
One woman, who said she had known Mr. EPELBAUM since his wife died 15 years ago, said he frequently expressed worry about Sophia's future after he, too, passed away.
"He was very concerned about this child, wondering what would happen to her if he died," she said, declining to be identified. "And it worried him to death."
Mr. EPELBAUM, known as Nick to some of his neighbours, suffered from shingles, a painful skin condition. He also had been struggling with pain from a fall several months ago, in which he broke his shoulder and arm.
"He would say many times, 'It won't be long before I'll be with my wife again,' " the woman said. "He was getting on the verge of feeling life isn't worth it, and we'd urge him on -- 'Come on, Nick, get out there and talk with the guys.'
While Det. CARTER said Mr. EPELBAUM and his daughter had lived together continuously since Mrs. EPELBAUM's death, his neighbour offered a different account.
She said Sophia moved out of her father's apartment for a time several years ago, "to give him a break," first living in an institution, then in an apartment on Bathurst Street, with help from a city social worker. She was unable to hold a paying job, but volunteered at a hospital, she said.
Then Sophia went missing from her own apartment before resurfacing at her father's place, the woman said.
Ever since, the widower and his daughter seemed to enjoy a close and caring relationship.
The woman said that when she last saw Mr. EPELBAUM a few days ago, he was worried because Sophia had not yet returned from the store.
The next thing she heard, her old neighbour was dead, and so was his daughter.
"I can't imagine him doing it," the woman said, in the building's lobby yesterday afternoon.
"He wouldn't harm a flea, and all of a sudden this happens. It's just not right."
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