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“Cowardly murder”: U of T accounting clerk and part-time caterer found beaten to death in the foyer of his home in spring 2011

“Cowardly murder”: U of T accounting clerk and part-time caterer found beaten to death in the foyer of his home in spring 2011

Estranged husband, husband’s lover convicted seven years later

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]t 5:00 pm, Allan Lanteigne’s day finally ended. Saying goodbye to his colleagues at the University of Toronto’s Ancillary and Capital Accounting office, he walked out the door and headed home.

On his way, he thought of his estranged husband, who had been away in Europe for quite some time, and who had asked him earlier that day to call once he got home. About what, Lanteigne didn’t know; he was just told not to “dilly dally.”

After a twenty-something-minute commute through the west end, he arrived at 934 Ossington Avenue. Climbing the brick steps, Lanteigne fumbled for his key, hoping to get the conversation with his husband over soon.

At around 5:37 pm, he walked inside and closed the door behind him. Then, in an instant, he was attacked. Lanteigne had likely scratched desperately at his assailant, but could not fend him off.

His attacker fled, leaving him bleeding on the ground. Lanteigne died soon after. Bludgeoned to death.

The evening crept into morning.

Almost 24 hours later, police discovered Lanteigne’s body right in front of his door. He was lying face-down in the middle of the foyer, still wearing his coat from the day before.

On March 2, 2011 at 3:20 pm, Allan Lanteigne was found murdered in his own home, with “obvious signs of trauma,” according to investigators at the scene. 

Homicide Detective Tam Bui, one of the case’s investigators with the Toronto Police Service, would tell me years later that once officers arrived at the scene, there was no question that Lanteigne’s death was suspicious. The autopsy only confirmed what they already knew — he was beaten to death in a homicide.

News of Lanteigne’s passing spread quickly amongst family, friends, and colleagues. The day after the autopsy results were released to the public, people began posting messages of shock and horror on his Facebook wall.

“I will miss you so much,” wrote Carmine Malfitano.

“You will live forever in our hearts. There is no justice. You are the purest soul. My friend forever more,” posted Claudia Ammar.

On April 1, Lanteigne’s funeral was held  in Saint John, New Brunswick — a long way from his Ossington home. Mourners attended to remember their late friend, many of whom described him as “kind” and “gentle.”

But one prominent figure was missing. His husband, Demitry Papasotiriou, or Papasotiriou-Lanteigne, as he would be referred to years later in official court documents. He was in Europe at the time of the murder. He had heard about Lanteigne’s death over the phone, police said, but declined to return for the funeral.

In 2018, Bui told me that Papasotiriou-Lanteigne’s absence from his husband’s service was a strong red flag in the investigation. From the get-go, police had identified Papasotiriou-Lanteigne as a person of interest — they had spoken to him over the phone after they discovered Lanteigne’s body, but they found him to be uncooperative. According to Bui, he was confrontational and refused to speak to investigators unless his criminal defence lawyer was physically with police in Toronto while he was on speakerphone in Greece.

Lanteigne and Papasotiriou-Lanteigne’s marriage had taken their family and friends by surprise. The two had only known each other for a few months before they got married in November 2004. But they were a couple in a love, and Lanteigne soon moved into Papasotiriou-Lanteigne’s Ossington Avenue home. 

For a fleeting moment, they were happy.

Only five years later, a new man entered the picture: Mladen “Michael” Ivezic, a married father from Mississauga. He became Papasotiriou-Lanteigne’s new lover. They met online and almost immediately began what would later be described as an “intensely intimate” affair that they kept as a closely-guarded secret from their partners and their families. They grew so close that Papasotiriou-Lanteigne gave Ivezic a key to his house.

Despite their crumbling relationship, Lanteigne continued to live with his husband. Lacking a connection with his husband, he turned his attention on the house itself, investing time, money, and effort into making the building a comfortable place. He widened the front porch, put an addition into the third floor, and filled the home with antique furniture.

In 2009, Papasotiriou-Lanteigne was accepted into the University of Lucerne’s doctorate of law program in Switzerland. He left Lanteigne behind — but paid for Ivezic’s visits. A new start. 

That was supposed to be the end. Husband moves away with new boyfriend; partner stays behind and rebuilds. But things didn’t go that way.

In the spring of 2010, the couple moved to Greece, where Papasotiriou-Lanteigne has dual citizenship. Papasotiriou-Lanteigne demanded money from his husband so that he and his boyfriend could sustain a lavish lifestyle, away from the demands of his numerous commitments.

At this point, Lanteigne had been working two jobs. Aside from his job as an accounting clerk for U of T, he also worked part-time as a caterer, providing for both himself in Canada and his husband abroad. He was struggling to pay the bills and maxed out his credit cards just to survive.

Tensions between Lanteigne and Papasotiriou-Lanteigne eventually reached a breaking point. Papasotiriou-Lanteigne asked Lanteigne to liquidate the $23,000 that he had saved for retirement, but Lanteigne refused.

“I am working my ass off and I do not see you doing anything,” wrote Lanteigne in an email. 

“My husband is having the time of his life in Greece and Switzerland and with his hand out and I’m here like a slave giving it to him,” he wrote to someone else.

A month before his death, Lanteigne sent his spouse $1,425. 

“There will be no more,” he told his husband.

On March 2, Papasotiriou-Lanteigne sent Lanteigne an email, asking Lanteigne to call him in Greece. “Don’t dilly dally on your way home buying shoes and shirts and crystal balls,” wrote Papasotiriou-Lanteigne. At 5:00 pm that day, Lanteigne packed up his bag and walked out the door. After a short commute, he arrived home at Ossington Avenue and unlocked the door.

More than a year and a half later, Papasotiriou-Lanteigne was arrested in Toronto.

In a press conference at police headquarters on November 2, 2012, Bui told reporters that they had arrested Papasotiriou-Lanteigne on charges of first-degree murder. He had just arrived back in the country after years of living in Europe.

With Bui was Dan Sterritt, husband of Lanteigne’s sister, Jocelyne. “When you lose someone through something so senseless and tragic as a murder, it’s almost incomprehensible,” said Sterritt.

“Allan was a loving family member. That sounds so inadequate to say. He was the organizer of the family reunions, he was the favourite uncle to nieces and nephews, he was a brother that was remembered as being kind and generous.”

But why was Papasotiriou-Lanteigne back in Canada?

Shortly after Lanteigne was brutally murdered, without stepping foot on the continent, Papasotiriou-Lanteigne sought all the financial benefits he believed he was entitled to as a surviving spouse. With the help of Ivezic, who was physically in the GTA at that point, Papasotiriou-Lanteigne was able to receive thousands of dollars in benefits as Lanteigne’s widower.

The main attraction among the benefits was Lanteigne’s $2 million life insurance policy. Spread across two private companies, it named Papasotiriou-Lanteigne as the sole beneficiary.

When Lanteigne’s family caught wind of his movements, they fought Papasotiriou-Lanteigne in court. Their lawyer would argue that a man found criminally responsible for killing his husband should not be able to profit from it.

Papasotiriou-Lanteigne’s legal team contended that the family was not named in the life insurance policy — ergo, they should not be eligible to receive any benefits from Lanteigne’s death. In late 2012, after months of a civil suit, Papasotiriou-Lanteigne returned to Canada to fight the case. Police arrested him soon after.

The hefty life insurance policy, Bui told me, was another red flag. He explained that Lanteigne earned around $50,000 a year at U of T, which has a general employee policy that is around twice the employee’s salary. This means that Lanteigne’s policy would have been around $100,000. It would also be normal for Lanteigne to have an additional $100,000 policy, Bui said, so an approximate $200,000 policy would have been suitable for their economic conditions.

The seven-figure amount sounded an alarm for investigators and, coupled with other factors, led to the charge and arrest of Papasotiriou-Lanteigne.

Police also identified Ivezic as a suspect and charged him with first-degree murder. Two months later, with an arrest warrant issued by Interpol, the Hellenic National Police arrested Ivezic in Athens. By early June 2013, Ivezic had been extradited back to Canada and had made a court appearance at Old City Hall, signalling both the end of a two-year manhunt and the beginning of a five-year legal process. The search for suspects was over.

It was the moment that Lanteigne’s loved ones had been waiting for. With both suspects on Canadian soil, the criminal trial could finally begin. But due to delays, proceedings wouldn’t begin until the end of the summer the following year, when preliminary hearings — used to determine if cases can go to trial — began.

That fall, the trajectory changed again. In an unexpected decision, Ontario Court Justice Shaun Nakatsuru threw out the first-degree murder charge against Papasotiriou-Lanteigne, citing insufficient evidence presented against him at the time. Papasotiriou-Lanteigne was subsequently released to his mother. Ivezic continued to stand trial.

“It was very tragic when Allan died and it will always be tragic,” Papasotiriou-Lanteigne said through his lawyer at the time. “I’m just relieved to be free of the accusation that I had anything to do with it.”

The Crown quickly sought to overturn the decision. On October 21, Crown lawyers alleged that Nakatsuru had failed to consider the array of evidence presented to him in preliminary hearings, and asked a higher court judge to order Nakatsuru to move ahead with the first-degree murder trial of Papasotiriou-Lanteigne.

But before the Crown’s appeal could go through, Ontario Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur intervened using a rare move called “preferred indictment” to bypass the system. Under the Criminal Code, the Ministry of the Attorney General has the power to reinstate a case — “prefer” an indictment — to the Superior Court if it was dismissed during preliminary hearings.

And so it was settled. The case would finally go ahead.

In a courtroom at Old City Hall on November 27, 2017, jurors began listening to the criminal case against Papasotiriou-Lanteigne and Ivezic. After years of delay from Papsotiriou-Lanteigne and Ivezic, the trial was finally given the go-ahead in late 2017 — exactly 13 years after Lanteigne and Papasotiriou-Lanteigne were married.

The proceedings were ugly. Crown prosecutor Anna Tenhouse painted a picture of a secret affair, closely-guarded from the two suspects’ families, and a heightening sense of greed that led to a plot to murder Lanteigne for the financial benefits.

Tenhouse read excerpts from emails exchanged between Papasotiriou-Lanteigne and Ivezic while they were together to the jurors, and pointed out that Papasotiriou-Lanteigne gave Ivezic a key to 934 Ossington Avenue. 

She argued that since there was no evidence of forced entry into the home, Ivezic had used the key to enter the home and wait for Lanteigne to arrive home. The “dilly dally” email, Tenhouse argued, was the couple’s way of luring him into their trap.

However, the so-called ‘smoking gun’ wasn’t the emails or the money. Forensic biologist Kimberley Sharpe discovered foreign DNA under Lanteigne’s fingernails, indicating that he had fought off his attacker — and the DNA matched Ivezic’s. According to Sharpe, the DNA transfer had to have come from something close, something physical.

Ivezic denied the charge, and said that the transfer most likely came from the last time he saw Lanteigne —  they had allegedly had lunch together days before the incident. He said that even though he and Papasotiriou-Lanteigne were in a romantic relationship, he kept an acquaintanceship with Lanteigne. His argument was strongly undercut by the fact that jurors did not see any evidence that supported these claims. 

Papasotiriou-Lanteigne’s defence, on the other hand, hinged both on the fact that he was out of the country at the time of his husband’s death, and that he had a pending property sale in Greece that could have netted him around $600,000.

The crux of his legal arguments, however, threw his lover under the bus. During the trial, Papasotiriou-Lanteigne’s counsel suggested that Ivezic may have had his own reasons for potentially murdering Lanteigne, like jealousy. They told jurors that he may have acted without informing his new lover.

Earlier, Ivezic claimed he was being unfairly prosecuted for his lifestyle. He conceded he was guilty of cheating on his wife and lying to his three children, but “last time I checked, an extramarital affair is not a criminal offence in Canada.”

Ivezic fired his lawyer and began to represent himself during court proceedings.

The case dragged on.

In early June this year, the jury handed down their decision to convict both Papasotiriou-Lanteigne and Ivezic of first-degree murder. The two men were automatically sentenced to life in prison, without eligibility for parole for 25 years. 

“This was not a spontaneous response to a lover’s quarrel, or a couple of drug dealers fighting over turf. This was a cowardly murder, by two-cold-blooded killers of a gentle and decent man,” said Superior Court Justice Robert Goldstein in court.

Earlier this month, Papasotiriou-Lanteigne appealed his case, alleging that jurors misunderstood the “don’t dilly dally” email and that his communications with Lanteigne and Ivezic are under interpretation. He was released from prison on bail and is currently under strict house arrest.