A first date with a playful, late-night search for ghosts inside a University of Toronto landmark ended in tragedy yesterday when a 29-year-old woman plunged to her death.
Leah Kubik, just two weeks shy of her 30th birthday, was found without vital signs inside a courtyard just before 2 a.m.
“They were believed to be exploring an old building because it’s rumoured to be haunted,” Toronto Police Const. Wendy Drummond told the Sun.
The Gothic-style, 134-year-old Connaught medical research building was the site of a grisly murder in 2001 but paranormal experts stress it’s not haunted, only rumoured to be cursed.
Police said the pair managed to enter the ivy-covered building through an open window and then climbed three flights of stairs to the roof. There was still dust used by forensic investigators to recover fingerprints around the window yesterday.
The man crossed from one roof to the other, but a wire the woman was holding onto gave way and she plunged several storeys to her death, Drummond said. Police tape was still blocking people from one stairway, which is suspected to have been used by the pair to gain access to the roof.
Police said they are still trying to determine whether it was death by misadventure.
“(The investigation) is ongoing and we’ll have to go over any video surveillance, if there is any,” Drummond said, adding they are also awaiting toxicology reports and an autopsy.
American-born Kubik worked in Toronto as a support centre engineer. She had also worked as a bartender. Bar owner George Bozikis recalled the former employee as a nice person who had an eccentric style accented by the homemade eyeglasses she fashioned.
The building, erected in 1875 as the former seminary for Knox College, is no stranger to tragedy. In January 2001, U of T professor David Buller was found stabbed there.
The talented artist suffered several wounds during the knifing frenzy in the second-floor studio where he’d taught painting for 15 years. Professor George Hawken said he was friends and a colleague of Buller. Hawken said employees use swipe cards to gain access to the building.
More accurate story:
By MARY KATE MALONE
Tribune Staff Writer
A former Osceola resident was not “ghost hunting” when she died after falling from a historic Toronto building Sept. 10, her mother says.
Contrary to media reports that 29-year-old Leah Cunningham Kubik was on a drunken ghost-hunting chase, her mother says her death was the tragic result of curiosity.
“She just saw the building and thought it was interesting,” said Sue Strantz, Kubik’s mother. “She had wanted to get in there for a long time, and it just so happened that (Sept. 10) was the night she did it.”
Kubik was on a first date with a 34-year-old Canadian the night of her death. After dinner, the pair decided to sneak into a 135-year-old University of Toronto building at 1 Spadina Crescent.
Kubik reportedly fell three stories while climbing on the roof. She died in her date’s arms once he reached her minutes later, said Kubik’s mother, who lives in Osceola.
The Toronto Star, the largest daily newspaper in Toronto, reported that Kubik had been on a “quest for ghosts” that night.
“Just before 2 a.m. yesterday, a drunken ghost-hunting trip across the building’s roof went from an eerie adrenaline rush to a painfully real-life tragedy,” the paper reported.
Strantz said her daughter was never interested in ghosts or ghost hunting. “It’s not as crazy as you might think when you think about things you have done in your life that could have ended badly,” Strantz said.
Police in Toronto said they will not know Kubik’s blood-alcohol level for several months.
Iain Marlow, the Toronto reporter who covered the story, said police initially told reporters that Kubik had been ghost hunting.
“Police originally told us they were ghost hunting and they had candles. … That piqued (the media’s) interest,” said Marlow, who quoted paranormal “experts” extensively in his story.
“The news stories are quite inaccurate, leading people to believe all kinds of things that never happened,” Strantz said.
Kubik, a 1997 graduate of Jimtown High School, was the eldest of four girls. She moved to Toronto four years ago, Strantz said. – southbendtrib