Peter Frumusa

Ontario, Canada
Date of Crime:  August 22, 1988

Peter Frumusa was convicted of murdering Richard and Annie Wilson, a married couple. The victims were found dead in their beds and died as a result of blows to their heads. No murder weapon was found. There was no evidence of forced entry to their house, or of robbery or vandalism. Since Richard's wallet and money were found close to his body, robbery appeared not to be a motive and the killings were thought to be executions.

Frumusa lived with the deceased woman's daughter, Brenda Smith. Although the violence of the deadly beatings caused blood to spatter widely, none was found on Frumusa. No forensic evidence linked him to the crime. Frumusa was first arrested for the murders due to a blood-stained shirt found in his car. The police subsequently learned that the blood was from Frumusa's daughter.

Frumusa was convicted of the crime due largely to testimony of an informant, Frank Costello. Costello was an acquaintance of Frumusa, but not a friend. Costello claimed Frumusa had telephoned him from jail and had admitted to him that he committed the murders. Costello testified that after being charged with unrelated criminal offenses, he told police of the admission, but only after police had agreed that he would receive bail and the charges against him would be dropped.

Following Frumusa's conviction, two witnesses came forward and gave evidence that Costello's testimony was false. Garnet Cecil Cameron gave a statement that implicated Costello and other individuals as the murderers. Sherry Lynn Thorne testified that Costello had told her that Frumusa had not admitted the murders to him, but that Costello had reported the false admission to the police in order to get bail and have certain charges against him dropped. There was also additional evidence provided by a third witness, Dave Fretz. Fretz, who had apparently lived with Costello, denied statements made by Costello regarding his phone call from Frumusa. He also denied statements made by Costello to officers who investigated Cameron's statement.

Frumusa also presented evidence that following his conviction, Costello had been a Crown witness in two other cases. In R. v. John Patrick Walker, Costello had testified to a conversation with the accused which was calculated to convict him of first-degree murder. During trial, Costello's credibility was successfully attacked by the defence, resulting in Crown counsel telling the jury that Costello was a liar and that the jury should not convict on Costello's evidence. In the other case, R. v. George Buric, Costello had testified that he participated in a scheme to fabricate evidence at the request of the accused to procure his acquittal. In each case, Costello provided testimony for the Crown when he was in jeopardy, after receiving an assurance of favourable treatment, or in hope of favourable treatment.

The Ontario Court of Appeals overturned Frumusa's conviction in 1996 and charges against him were dropped in June 1998. Frumusa settled a suit for compensation in 2004, but the terms were not publicly disclosed.  [12/08]


References:  Regina v. Frumusa, Frumusa et al. v. Regina et al.

Posted in:  Victims of the State, Canadian Cases, Career Informant Cases