10/28/2015 13:06 EDT | Updated 10/28/2016 01:12 EDT

Trial starts for dad charged in daughter's murder after body found in suitcase

TORONTO — A trial has begun in Toronto for a father charged in the death of his daughter, whose charred body was found in a burning suitcase 21 years ago.

Everton Biddersingh has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Melonie Biddersingh. He has pleaded not guilty.

Melonie's body was found in a burning suitcase in an industrial area north of Toronto in 1994, but her identity remained a mystery for years until police got a tip that gave them a break in the case.

That tip allowed them to identify the body after visiting the girl's biological mother in Jamaica and obtaining a DNA sample.

Everton Biddersingh and Melonie's stepmother, Elaine Biddersingh, were arrested in March 2012 and charged with first-degree murder.

Elaine Biddersingh's trial is set to begin in April 2016.

Crown lawyer Anna Tenhouse says Melonie was treated like a slave, beaten, starved and emotionally abused before her death.

Tenhouse says the prosecution will seek to prove that Biddersingh murdered his daughter and then disposed of her body so she would never be identified.

"After hearing all the evidence, we will be asking you to find Mr. Biddersingh guilty of first-degree murder. The planned and deliberate murder of Melonie Biddersingh," Tenhouse told the jury hearing the case.


The Canadian Press