Toronto police have made an arrest in a 2012 homicide after using social media to advance their investigation.
Mike Pimentel was stabbed to death in the city's Liberty Village neighbourhood on New Year's Day in 2012.
About a year after he was killed, a Toronto homicide detective began releasing photos and clues related to the case on Twitter, in the hope that it would lead to new information.
The method was a first for the force and was inspired by the popular crime podcast "Serial,'' which gradually released information about a real-life U.S. murder.
On Thursday, police announced the arrest of a Calgary man, Shawn Poirier, who has been charged with second-degree murder in Pimentel's death.
Police said the use of social media was "instrumental'' in identifying witnesses and gathering new evidence in the case.
"The social media campaign brought us more information that allowed us to further our investigation to identify the person we believe is responsible,'' said acting Supt. Greg McLane, adding that the online campaign was used to "reinvigorate'' the police investigation.
Calgarian Shawn Poirier has been charged with second-degree murder. (Photo: Toronto Police Service)
Pimentel, a 24-year-old father and a construction worker, had left a New Year's Eve party and was headed to a friend's home when he got separated from his colleagues.
Police say Pimentel then got into an altercation with another man and was seen staggering on a street a short while later.
"He was covered in blood at that time,'' said McLane. "A short time later Mr. Pimentel collapsed on a sidewalk suffering from an apparent stab wound.''
As the investigation progressed, police began an "extensive'' Twitter campaign, which involved the systematic release of photographs and information in the hopes of attracting the attention of party-goers who were in the area on the morning Pimentel was stabbed.
"The target ground from this campaign was national,'' said McLane. "This resulted in a very significant response from the public.''
Poirier was arrested on Dec. 3.
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