NEWS

Paul Henttonen cold case: 12 years later, we don't know who killed him

10/09/2014 05:00 EDT | Updated 12/08/2014 05:59 EST
Brent Henttonen, 25, remembers how his dad, Paul, was always there, even in the six years after his parents separated.

He would see his dad every weekend and at every after-school sports game.

"He was my role model, he was my dad. He was my big dad that I loved, loved to go spend time with."

On May 17, 2002, Paul Henttonen was not answering his son's phone calls. His son sensed something was wrong.

The 54-year-old father had been brutally stabbed to death in his Georgetown, Ont., apartment at the Rosetta Street warehouse where he lived and worked. A cleaning lady made the discovery.

Brent Henttonen was just 12 when he learned his dad, his hero, was dead.

His mother and other relatives delivered the tragic news after he had returned from a bike ride.

"They gave me the news of what had happened to my dad, and my whole world just dropped, and I fell to the ground and cried."

His father, who owned and operated a scrap metal business, had been stabbed repeatedly with a kitchen knife.

Killing seems 'personal'

Det.-Sgt. John Mans, the head of the Halton Regional Police Service homicide squad, believes Henttonen knew his killer or killers.

"He did have defensive wounds, so he did fight back," Mans said in a recent interview.

"It seemed, just the nature and brutality of it all, it seemed to be personal to somebody."

Henttonen had been dropped off at home by a taxi shortly after midnight, after spending the evening at the nearby Barber Towne Pub.

His green 1997 Chevrolet pickup was found abandoned two days later on a residential street a few kilometres from his home.

Police developed several DNA profiles from the scene and seized more than 150 pieces of evidence.

They also found a palm print in Henttonen's truck.

That palm print has been added to a new RCMP database so at some point forensics may help.

There are many possible motives police must consider, including robbery. Henttonen was in a cash business and was known to carry a lot of money around.

"We believe that a large sum of money was taken, although I don't believe that that was the motive for this," according to Mans.

Crime scene 'staged'

When the cleaning lady arrived at Henttonen's apartment that morning, everything initially appeared to be normal.

Mans said the crime scene was "staged" to look that way.

"It would appear that somebody spent some time there. They methodically made their exit out of this place … took the time to do certain things so that when people arrived first thing in the morning, it would appear that nothing was amiss."

Despite the passage of time, investigators maintain the case is solvable and that someone knows what happened.

Mans hopes a "moral compass" finally moves people to call in and help solve the case, for Brent's sake.

"This son who lost his father deserves an answer and to find out what happened to his father and why."

Brent fondly recalls his dad as a family man who loved sports and playing cards.

Paul Henttonen came to Canada from Finland when he was very young, but Brent says he always liked to keep a couple of Finnish traditions, including having Christmas on Dec. 24.

'Anything helps'

Brent Henttonen says bringing the killer to justice would bring him peace of mind.

"You can make a lot of things right by just coming out and saying … 'I may know, or I have a hint or a feeling,' anything helps."

He initially pursued a degree in criminology, but discovered a passion for renovations and is now a contractor. He knows he was robbed of an important adviser and still misses his dad.

The young man who was a boy in 2002 fights back tears when he speaks of the killing and his loss.

"It's horrible. It really is to be 12 years old and find out that you don't have him anymore.… Trying to figure out your way in this world, and the one that you really want to talk to for a helping hand, who always was your helping hand, is gone. It is tough."

Anyone with information on the killing of Paul Henttonen is asked to call the Halton police homicide tip line at 905-825-4776 or Crime Stoppers.

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