Posts Tagged ‘Toronto’

Double Murder of Jewish Snowbirds Makes ‘Every Day a Nightmare’ for Daughter

January 8, 2014

This piece was first published in the Forward.


Police have recovered DNA evidence from two women in the heartbreaking double-murder of a Jewish retiree couple who were found slain in their Florida condo home.

The female suspects have not yet been identified in the killings of Rochelle Wise and David (Donny) Pichosky — and police in the Ft. Lauderdale suburb of Hallandale Beach concede the case has proven stubbornly difficult to solve.

Heartbroken relatives admitted they never thought they would be mourning the couple at a press conference called to mark the first anniversary of the slayings.

“As horrible as we all know murders are, we never think it would happen to someone we love,” Sari Rosenblum, Pichosky’s daughter, said.

“Over the past 12 months, we have learned to live in a new reality,” she added. “The sun comes up, the birds may be singing but for our family, every day is a nightmare.”

Wise, 66, and Pichosky, 71, both of Toronto, were found dead in their Florida condo by a neighbor on January 10, 2013. Last year, it was revealed that the couple had been asphyxiated, although police have not said how.

Police revealed on Wednesday that they were also bound.

The DNA revealed by police Wednesday does not match anyone who would have had permitted access to the slain couple’s home, or to any of the entries in the FBI and Canadian law enforcement databases.

Chief of Police Dwayne Flournoy told reporters that the forensic evidence collected at the crime scene showed that there were at least two perpetrators, and that both are female. He called that description unusual.

Click here to read more.

© 2014 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

Olivia’s Legacy Roars On

November 25, 2013

This piece was first published as “Terminally ill Jewish teen, who inspired millions with Katy Perry son, dies aged 16″ in The Times of Israel.

Toronto teen Olivia Wise, who died of brain cancer, inspired millions of people worldwide with her rendition of Katy Perry's hit song "Roar." (Courtesy of Jeff Kassel)

Toronto teen Olivia Wise, who died of brain cancer, inspired millions of people worldwide with her rendition of Katy Perry’s hit song “Roar.” (Courtesy of Jeff Kassel)

Olivia Wise, the 16-year-old Jewish Toronto girl who inspired millions of people worldwide, died from brain cancer on Monday. Wise gained widespread attention, including from pop star Katy Perry, after a video of her singing Perry’s hit song “Roar” was posted to YouTube. The video, made at a recording studio in September, when Wise was already too weak to stand, has gotten over a million views.

Jeff Kassel, Wise’s cousin, told The Times of Israel that she passed away at home on Monday afternoon, surrounded by family, including her mother Kari, father Michael, older sister Kaily, younger sister Sabrina and younger brother Jason.

Wise, who was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2012, shortly after her 15thbirthday, was reportedly buoyed by a video message Perry sent her. “It was the last thing she was aware of,” said Kassel. “She was unconscious for the last couple of weeks after that.”

Wise was consequently unaware of the recent tribute video and scrapbooks made for her by some 1,500 Ontario high school and university students, or of special recognition given to her in the Ontario Legislative Assembly on November 18 by MPP Michael Harris.

“Today, I rise to honor a special young lady named Olivia Wise who has impacted the lives of millions of people, including myself,” the member from Kitchener-Conestoga said. Harris, who represents an electoral district in which Wise does not reside, told the provincial parliament about a fund in Wise’s name for pediatric brain cancer research and treatment. He concluded his speech by saying, “My wish for Olivia is that her legacy inspires others to keep fighting.”

Click here to read more and watch Olivia’s video.

© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

Dying Toronto Girl Gets Love From Hero, Peers

November 18, 2013

This piece was first published in The Times of Israel.

Olivia Wise sings Katy Perry's 'Roar.' (photo credit: YouTube screenshot)

Olivia Wise sings Katy Perry’s ‘Roar.’ (photo credit: YouTube screenshot)

Young people in Toronto’s Jewish community came out in large numbers last week to support one of their own, a 16-year-old girl named Olivia Wise, who has terminal brain cancer.

Inspired by a video of Wise singing Katy Perry’s hit song, “Roar,” which has gone viral on YouTube and attracted worldwide attention, some 1,500 university and high school students participated in making a video for her. They wanted to send Wise their best wishes and let her know how much they admire her.

The students’ video came hot on the heels of a 30-second video message of support directly from Katy Perry herself.

“I love you. A lot of people love you, and that’s why your video got to me. It moved everybody that saw it,” the singer told Wise. “I just wanted to send you some love and some light and tell you that I’m thinking about you. Thank you so much and keep roaring!”

Click here to read more and watch Olivia Wise’s video.

© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.


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