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Michael DURANT





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Drugs
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: August 2003 / December 2005
Date of arrest: January 30, 2006
Date of birth: October 13, 1972
Victims profile: Diane Dimitri, 32 / Cassey Joyce Cichocki, 22
Method of murder: Hitting with a hammer
Location: Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
Status: Sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years on November 29, 2012
photo gallery

Jury finds Michael Durant guilty of killing two women

By Alison Langley - Niagara Falls Review

Friday, November 29, 2012

The families of Cassey Cichocki and Diane Dimitri gasped then broke into applause after a jury foreperson stood in court and announced Michael Durant was guilty of two counts of first-degree murder.

The six-man, six-woman jury deliberated for almost 65 hours over seven days before reaching a verdict Wednesday afternoon.

Durant, dressed in a wrinkled green dress shirt and black dress pants, showed no emotion as the verdict was read.

Justice James Ramsay sentenced the 39-year-old Niagara Falls man to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years.

Outside the court house, friends and families of the murdered women rejoiced.

“Guilty! Guilty!” one man yelled as he ran up and down the sidewalk in front of Welland Superior Court.

Wilma Kyle, Cichocki’s stepmother, was overcome with emotion.

“The past seven days have been torture,” she said. “We have been on pins and needles. We were just praying.”

She said she was grateful the jury looked beyond the fact that the murdered women were involved in the sex trade to fuel a drug addiction.

“They looked at these girls as human beings. They looked at them as our daughters.”

Kyriacos Kyriacou, Dimitri’s step-father added: “This has been a long time coming. This has been a roller-coaster ride.”

While nothing can bring back his stepdaughter, Kyriacou said the convictions can assist his family as they continue to heal.

“There is no closure,” he said. “There will never be closure. But at least this is something that proves our system is working. We’re taking a bad human being off the streets so he will not do it again to anybody else.”

Kyriacou, who is raising Dimitri’s children, said he has been shielding them from media reports on the trial.

“I’ve been really keeping them away from the core of all this,” he said. “They do know what’s going on and I’m sure they will be very happy when I go home and tell them what happened.”

Dimitri was 32 years old in 2003 when she went to a party at Durant’s Toby Cr., home in Niagara Falls.

During the trial, jurors heard she was hit in the head with a hammer. The murder weapon has never been found.

Dana Arnold, who was married to Durant at the time, said she came home to find a badly injured Dimitri in their home. She testified Durant made her drive to a rural area near the boundary of Welland and Niagara Falls. That’s where her body was dumped.

Durant’s lawyer Michael Lacy maintained Arnold was a skilled liar who made up the story and that Dimitri’s killer is her former boyfriend, a drug addict who later died of a drug overdose.

Cichocki’s body was discovered in an isolated area in the north end of Niagara Falls in 2006. She was 22.

Crown attorney David King contends Durant incapacitated Cichocki in his Queen St. apartment, took her into the basement and beat her to death. The young woman suffered more than a dozen blows to the head.

Four drops of blood were found on the underside of a staircase leading to the basement.

The Crown maintains Durant cleaned the area with acid then applied a fresh coat of paint to the floors, top of the stairs and parts of the walls.

Durant has been in custody since he was arrested in 2006.


Michael Durant murder trial winding down

By Alison Langley - Niagara Falls Review

Monday, November 19, 2012

The ex-wife of accused killer Michael Durant is a skilled liar who is incapable of telling the truth, Durant’s lawyer said Monday.

“Her evidence is hardly worth the oxygen she used to give it,” Michael Lacy said, referring to Dana Arnold’s earlier testimony that Durant forced her to drive him and a badly injured Diane Dimitri to a rural area where she said he dumped Dimitri’s body in a ditch.

“To her the oath (to tell the truth) is meaningless,” Lacy told the six-man, six-woman jury in Welland Superior Court.

“It would be a miscarriage of justice if you rely on what she has to say.”

Durant, 39, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of 32-year-old Dimitri, whose body was found Aug. 9, 2003 in a ditch in Welland near the Niagara Falls border and Cassey Cichocki, 22, whose body was discovered near Whirlpool Rd. on Jan. 24, 2006.

In his closing address to the jury, Lacy poked holes in Arnold’s version of what happened in August 2003.

Arnold had testified she never called the police because she was in fear of Durant, who she said was physically abusive towards her.

Lacy disputed her claim of being a battered spouse, saying letters Arnold wrote to Durant in jail clearly indicate she did not fear her ex-husband.

Lacy contends Dimitri’s boyfriend, a man who is now deceased, attacked Dimitri in Durant’s Toby Cres. garage.

“He had motive and opportunity,” he said.

Also, Lacy said the case against his client in relation to the Cichocki murder is entirely circumstantial.

“If you have reasonable doubt, the law requires you to acquit Michael Durant,” he said.

While the Crown contends the young woman was not seen alive after entering Durant’s Queen St. apartment on Dec. 5, 2006, Lacy said there is no evidence to support that fact.

Court heard earlier that Durant was eager to provide police a sample of his DNA when he was arrested in connection with Cichocki’s death.

At one point during a police interview, he pulled out a handful of his hair and dropped it on a table in front of a police officer.

Michael Durant was not afraid of what the tests would show,” Lacy said.

Male DNA found on duct tape that was wrapped around Cichocki’s neck did not belong to Durant.

Lacy said his client, who did not take the stand in his own defence, has maintained his innocence since his arrest in 2006.

“He had been consistent in his denial (of any involvement in the murders). Consistency is often the mark of truthfulness.”

The Crown will give its closing address to the jury on Tuesday.


Durant jury shown graphic photos

By Alison Langley - Niagara Falls Review

September 27, 2012

Dozens of photographs of Michael Durant’s Queen St. apartment and a graphic photo of Cassey Cichocki, her neck wrapped with duct tape, were shown to a jury Thursday.

One photo showed Cichocki’s body in a wooded area off Whirlpool Rd., near Churchs Lane.

Her head and face are covered in blood and her neck is wrapped with duct tape. Her body is draped in a bed sheet.

Michael Durant, 39, has pleaded not guilty in Welland Superior Court to two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Cichocki, 22, and Diane Dimitri, 32.

The photographs submitted by Det. Const. Tracey Rinaldo, a member of the Niagara Regional Police forensic services unit, included shots of a car that had been leased by Durant’s ex-wife as well as numerous photos taken in early 2006 of a storefront apartment on Queen St. and the former Canadian Tire store on Victoria Ave.

Rinaldo testified she spent approximately four days processing the scene inside the apartment at 4670 Queen St.

The apartment was in a former store that had been converted into a three-bedroom apartment.

Various construction materials, including paint cans and tools, were found throughout the building.

Rinaldo also submitted photographs of the former Canadian Tire store on Victoria Ave. There were mattresses and beer bottles on the main floor and bed sheets in the basement.

Court was told the officer also sprayed the trunk liner of Durant’s ex-wife’s former vehicle with a chemical agent that reacts with blood to create a temporary fluorescent effect.

Rinaldo said she received a “positive reaction” from the spray but that positive reactions can arise from products other than blood.

Court heard subsequent testing of the liner at the Centre of Forensic Sciences in Toronto did not yield any positive results.

The trial continues Monday before Judge James Ramsay.


Blunt force trauma to head, face killed woman: Doctor

By Alison Langley - Niagara Falls Review

September 25, 2012

Cassey Cichocki died from blunt force injuries to her head and face, the pathologist who examined the 22 year old’s body told court Wednesday.

Dr. Chitra Rao, a pathologist at Hamilton General Hospital, said Cichocki suffered multiple facial fractures and lacerations. Such facial wounds often result in massive bleeding, and a person can inhale or swallow blood leading in asphyxia, she testified in Welland Superior Court.

Rao said she could not say for certain if that was the case with Cichocki, because she couldn’t determine the degree of blood loss due to the body’s advanced decomposition when she examined it in January 2006.

She said Cichocki had cocaine in her system at the time of her death, which could have resulted in an adverse affect on the internal organs, such as irregular heartbeat or cardiac arrest.

“The toxic effects of cocaine are so widespread it involves all the organs,” the doctor said. “In the presence of an injury, it exaggerates the effects of the injury.”

Michael Durant, 39, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Cichocki and Diane Dimitri, 32.

The six-man, six-woman jury was shown graphic photographs of Cichocki’s head wounds, as well as the bruises that covered her shoulders and back.

Rao said the woman’s jaw bone was fractured in several places and it would have taken “considerable force” to inflict such an injury.

“It’s quite a hard bone. To fracture it, you’d have to use quite a lot of force.”

Also, Cichocki’s teeth were loose and one tooth was found in her stomach.

Rao told Crown attorney Jeffrey Richardson the young woman could not have lived more than six hours after the injuries were inflicted.

The jury also heard from a Niagara Falls man who happened upon Cichocki’s body while walking his dog along Whirlpool Rd.

Donald Lafranboise testified he was walking in the area Jan. 23, 2006 when he spotted what appeared to be large piece of white plastic lying on the ground.

“There was so much garbage back there, that I didn’t really understand what it was,” he said. “I didn’t give much thought to it.”

When he returned to the area the next day, he decided to take a closer look.

“Curiosity kills the cat, they say, so I proceeded to see what it was,” he said.

As he got closer, he realized it wasn’t a plastic sheet but a bed sheet covering a woman’s body.


Man implicated in murder denies involvement

By Alison Langley - Niagara Falls Review

September 25, 2012

A former drug addict implicated in the bludgeoning death of Diane Dimitri by murder suspect Michael Durant denied any involvement in the woman’s untimely death in the summer of 2003.

Raymond Gallan, 52, testified Tuesday in Welland Superior Court that, despite being a heavy user of heroin and cocaine that summer, he was not present when Dimitri was killed.

It has been suggested in earlier testimony that Dimitri, her boyfriend, Gallan and Durant were partying and doing drugs in Durant’s garage on Toby Cres. when the boyfriend became angry with the 32-year-old woman and struck her in the head with a hammer.

Defence counsel Michael Lacy has suggested the boyfriend, a man who has since died, and Gallan left with a badly injured Dimitri and that Durant stayed behind to clean up the blood.

Gallan testified he had bought drugs for Durant in the past but insisted he had never been to his home.

“I don’t know where he lives so how would I know where his garage was?”

He said he last saw Dimitri alive in early August, possibly two to three days before her body was discovered Aug. 9, 2003 in a ditch near Welland.

Durant, 39, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Dimitri and Cassey Cichocki, 22, whose body was found Jan. 24, 2006 near Whirlpool Rd.

Gallan said he knew Dimitri and her boyfriend from “the night life in Niagara Falls,” most notably from a cafe that was "infested with drugs," he told Crown attorney David King.

He described the couple’s relationship as rocky.

“He was always hitting her,” he recalled. “It was a bully romance relationship.”

Concerned by the abuse, Gallan said he warned the boyfriend to leave Dimitri alone.

Lacy launched his cross-examination by pointing out inconsistencies between Gallan’s testimony Tuesday and what he originally told police in the fall of 2003.

During his cross-examination, Gallan, who suffers from serious medical issues, told Judge James Ramsay he could no longer continue with his testimony.


Durant's ex grilled by lawyer

By Alison Langley - Niagara Falls Review

September 18, 2012

A combative Dana Arnold defended herself for a second day against her ex-husband’s lawyer who attacked her credibility, suggesting she concocted stories that implicated Michael Durant in a murder case to suit her own needs.

“There are so many versions we can’t even keep track of them, right?” defence counsel Michael Lacy asked Arnold in Welland Superior Court on Tuesday, referring to Arnold’s various interviews she gave to police detailing the events of a summer night in August 2003.

“I am going to suggest you don’t know what the truth is any more, correct?”

“And, I’m going to suggest to you that I do,” Arnold replied.

“You’re a pretty convincing liar,” Lacy said.

“I don’t think so,” Arnold replied.

Durant, 39, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of 32-year-old Diane Dimitri, whose lifeless body was dumped in rural Welland in 2003, and Cassey Cichocki, 22, whose body was found Jan. 24, 2006 near Whirlpool Rd.

Arnold testified earlier she returned to her Toby Cres. home one night in August 2003 to find her then-husband covered in blood and a badly injured Dimitri in the garage.

She said Durant put Dimitri in the back of the family car and ordered Arnold to drive to the outskirts of Welland where he dumped her body in a ditch.

She admitted she originally lied to police about her involvement out of fear of her husband.

“I’m sure I lied through my teeth for a lot of it to make Michael look good.”

In the fall of 2007, four years after Dimitri’s death, Arnold met with police and told them Durant was responsible for the 32-year-old woman’s death.

Lacy suggested the woman only came forward because she had entered into a new relationship with another man and feared Durant may get out of jail if there was not enough evidence to keep him behind bars.

Arnold maintained her story is true, adding how else would she know what Dimitri looked like, what she was wearing, and where her body had been dumped.

Lacy said the case made headlines at the time and was featured in both newspapers and on television.

He went on to say Durant may have had blood on his hands in the garage that night because he had cleaned up the blood that resulted from a physical altercation between Dimitri and her boyfriend who had been in the garage with another man.

Arnold vehemently disagreed.

“The truth needs to come out and Mike needs to own up for what he did.”

“The families need closure,” Arnold said.

“Did the families not deserve closure in August 2003?” Lacy countered.

“Are you trying to set yourself up as a martyr to the family?”

“No, I’m not a martyr,” Arnold replied.


Durant trial to begin Monday

By Alison Langley - Niagara Falls Review

Friday, September 7, 2012

It's a day Wilma Kyle has waited more than six years for.

The Welland woman will be in Welland Superior Court on Monday to hear how her young step-daughter met her untimely death.

Twenty-two-year-old Cassey Joyce Cichocki, of Niagara Falls, vanished without a trace from the city's downtown in early December 2005.

Her body was found Jan. 24, 2006 near Whirlpool Rd. and Church's Lane.

"We as Cassey's family are still missing her...loving her," Kyle said. "The wounds are still very open."

Michael Durant, of Niagara Falls, pleaded not guilty last week before Judge James Ramsay to two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Cichocki and Diane Dimitri, whose body was discovered in Welland in August 2003.

His trial begins Monday before a 12-member jury and is expected to last between four and six months and include testimony from more than 200 witnesses.

Hundreds of potential jurors were at the courthouse over two days this week.

A large number of individuals were dismissed by the judge after submitting letters from employers and physicians which explained that such a lengthy trial would be a strain on their health and/or finances.

The judge also dismissed nursing mothers and pregnant women.

Each potential juror was also asked by Toronto defence lawyer Michael Lacy if they had read anything about the case or watched any news coverage of the case. Those who said yes were also dismissed.

Meanwhile, Kyle is preparing for the trial and she knows some of the evidence will be painful to hear.

She also doesn't want people to judge Cichocki, who police have said engaged in high-risk behaviour to support a drug addiction.

"Cassey was a lost child that was so very loved," Kyle said.

"I just want to remind everyone that knew Cassey or my family what Cassey meant to us and to please not judge her for what she did but to remember that she was a sweet child of God and loved her family so very much and was loved by her family."

Durant, 39, was arrested in January 2006 and charged with first-degree murder in connection with Cichocki's death.

Seven months later, he was charged with first-degree murder in connection with Dimitri's death.

Dimitri, a 32-year-old widow and mother of four from Niagara Falls, was found in a ditch on Darby Rd. on Aug. 9, 2003.

Durant has remained in police custody since his arrest.


Second Murder Charge For Niagara Falls Man

June 5, 2006

He’s already accused in the death of an exotic dancer and now a Niagara Falls man faces a second murder charge.

On Monday, Michael Durant was charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of 28-year-old Diane Dimitri, whose body was discovered in a Welland ditch in August of 2003.

Dimitri is one of five women – all of them prostitutes and/or strippers – found dead in the Niagara region since 1996.

Cops won’t say if D.N.A. helped them amass enough evidence to lay the charge.

“I think that might be getting into a little too much detail with regards to the investigation,” cautions Niagara Regional Deputy Chief Donna Moody.

Earlier in the year Durant, 33, was charged with second-degree murder in the death of 22-year-old Cassey Cichocki. Her body was found in January wrapped in a blanket near the Niagara Gorge. That charge has since been upgraded to first-degree murder.

Niagara Police launched a task force earlier in the year to determine whether the deaths of Cichocki, Dimitri and three other women – Dawn Stewart, 32, Nadine Gurczenski, 26, and Margaret Jugaru, 26 – were related.

Moody admits investigators are still looking into a possible connection between all five slayings. But at this point, Durant doesn’t face charges in connection with the other deaths.

Kyri Kyriacou, Dimitri’s father, asked for respect from the media when talking about his daughter and said he was hopeful her killer would be brought to justice.

“For the past three years we’ve had no idea why, no questions answered, and now we have a possibility,” he said.

“It’s going to be a long struggle. Closure is the important thing.”

He knows his daughter’s profession may raise eyebrows but he contends those who knew her were aware she was anything but that stereotype.

“My daughter, she would have been 32 years old in September, the year that she was murdered. Very loving mother, very caring about the children.”

Durant will make a court appearance in St. Catharines on June 16th to answer the new first-degree murder charge.



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