About 140 km northeast of Hamilton is a small body of water name “mud lake,” which is immediately encircled by swampy land, a rarely travelled road, and minimal residents. This area is surrounded by folklore, a place where people can disappear without a trace, lost to annals of time. But folklore and reality can sometimes bear no commonality.
In December of 2019, we produced a two-part series on the disappearance of a 29-year-old Hamilton woman, Monica Chisar.
Monica was a young mother who had a bit of a troubled past. She was described as bohemian, frequently travelling, moving from one area to the next. She had some issues with drugs and has been known to trustingly go off with random strangers.
At the end of June and the very beginning of July 2018, Monica travelled from Ontario Canada to Portugal and then to the United Kingdom. A trip paid for by a close friend. She then returned to Canada, allegedly found a new job fairly quickly at a nearby bar and was living on a friend’s sofa close to Barton and Melvin in Hamilton, one of Ontario’s larger cities, about 40 minutes east of Toronto. Monica already had plans to travel to Mexico in August of that year to visit her son, who is in the custody of his father. She desperately missed the little boy and was apparently working towards being able to have care of him once again.
Either immediately before travelling or very shortly after returning from her trip overseas, she had stolen some items from her father, causing some frustration within the family. Something that she has done in the past.
On the night of Tuesday, July 10, 2018, Monica was given a ride by a family friend after an alleged shift at the bar where she was working. He dropped her off just after midnight on Wednesday, July 11, at the Beer Store parking lot located at the corner of Barton and Parkdale, in Hamilton, instead of at the apartment building where she was staying. According to the family friend who dropped her off, this was by request from Monica, despite having several bags for her to carry. This area itself would have been dimly lit as the stores at the plaza would have been closed. Additionally, there were no immediate bars or taverns beside the beer store, although a few were a little further down the street. It is unknown if Monica had planned to meet anyone in that plaza at that time or simply didn’t want the family friend to know exactly where she was staying.
At the time of her disappearance, she was apparently staying with a friend in an apartment on Melvin Street, close to the beer store on Barton and Parkdale in Hamilton Ontario, Canada. She was working on the evening/night of July 10, 2018, and a friend drove her close to where she was staying. This friend dropped her at the beer store parking lot after midnight on July 11, a Wednesday. According to the news conference in 2019, the police have not been able to trace her steps past this date & time. Law enforcement has not been able to confirm the identity of the friend where Monica was allegedly staying. The beer store parking lot would have been dimly lit at the time with little foot or vehicle traffic as the area is mainly apartment buildings, bungalows, the beer store and a Kia dealership. Both the Kia dealership and the beer store would have been closed at this time. At the corner of Melvin and Parkdale was a building, previously a bar & hotel, that was being renovated into social housing apartments. This location was still like a construction site at the time.
This would be Monica’s last reported sighting. Two months would pass before she would officially be reported missing, something that tears her sister apart. Her sister explained to us that she had gone to Italy for a few weeks while Monica returned from Portugal and the UK. During that time and when she returned, she sent several messages to her sister via social media, which went unanswered. She then found out that Monica had taken some items belonging to her father. Her sister assumed she was ignoring her due to embarrassment, which happened a few times in the past. However, shortly after this, she realized that Monica had posted anything on any of her social media accounts on June 8. She was very much out of character for Monica to go this long without any activity on any social media platform.
After a few discussions with family and friends, it came to light that Monica had mentioned that she had run into some trouble in her city, whether that was Hamilton or Toronto is unknown, as she owed money due to drugs. She also mentioned that Albanian mafia people were after her. Could this have been the reason she stole those items from her father?
Shortly after opening her missing person’s case, the Hamilton major crime unit stated to the media that they suspected foul play in her disappearance.
On Christmas Eve, 2019, a father and son were walking through a rural wooded area. Through a dense area of bush, across from a body of water that locals affectionally call “mud lake,” near highway 6 and Southgate road 10, in West Grey, Ontario, just west of Holstein. There they came across what they suspected to be human remains. They contacted the police right away, and the OPP criminal investigations branch launched an investigation. This area is mostly wooded farmland, with very few residences. The Bruce Grey OPP were on scene for several days, along with OPP forensic identification services, the chief coroner’s office, and Ontario forensic pathology services. They were quick to block off the area to local residents with yellow police tape and road closure signs at both ends of that section of the road. The police had generators on site. This specific area is swampy and not densely populated. The few residents of the region have indicated that people commonly dump items in that area near the highway but are still secluded. Generally, there is little traffic, and the road itself isn’t maintained in the winter. And, there is very little, if any, police presence.
This area is about 1 hour to 1hour and 20 minutes drive from Hamilton. It is not densely populated, just off the highway and yet secluded. The topographical area is swampy, wooded and has a thick brush. There is quite a bit of wildlife in the area, such as coyotes, which many people believe would likely spread any remains left there. How did Monica get from Barton and Parkdale in Hamilton to a few KM outside Holstein in a wooded and swampy area? She certainly didn’t walk there. Law enforcement would not comment on the synopsis of events that led her from Hamilton to the location where her remains were found.
Based on the location, the topography, and the distance from where she was last seen, this makes me believe that this location is known to the person or persons responsible for leaving her body in this dense, bushy swampy area. And based on local folklore, a spot where people and animals can forever go missing, leads me to believe that she was likely not killed on-site, but rather her remains were placed there.
Law enforcement only communicated the confirmation of the identification of her remains in May 2020, 5 months after the remains were discovered. This was following a thorough forensic examination. The remains were confirmed to be hers at least a few weeks before it being released to the media. Based on the lengthy forensic examination and the time it took to identify her remains, she believes that her body was placed in there shortly after she went missing and has been there for a long time. Likely, she was killed shortly after her disappearance on July 11, 2018.
Law enforcement did confirm when her body was first discovered that they believed that the remains had been there for quite an extended period.
Police made no mention of any suspects at this time; however, they did indicate that several different leads are coming up through the investigation that they are following. Monica had a wide circle of associates in the greater Toronto area, Kitchener, and the Hamilton area. Additionally, she has many acquittances overseas and has travelled extensively.
Currently, there is a dedicated joint force between the Ontario Provincial Police and the Hamilton police to solve Monica’s murder. Law enforcement is hoping that members of the public will come forward and provide any information, no matter how small or irrelevant it may seem.
If you have any information relating to Monica Chisar, please contact the Ontario Provincial Police tip line at 1-855-677-4636. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can contact crime stoppers at 1-800-222-tips (8477) or via their online form by visiting www.cstip.ca.
If you want to know a little more about how crime stoppers work, please listen to episode 14 – you can be a Hammertown hero, part 2 of Monica Chisar’s story. Special guest from the Hamilton Crime Stoppers provides information regarding how crime stoppers works and anonymity.
Discussions with friend(s) and family