50 years ago: Brutal murder of former model Christine Demeter shocked Mississauga

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Published July 18, 2023 at 3:16 pm

(Photos: The Mississauga News, via Mississauga Central Library archives)

Mississauga was still a year away from officially becoming a city when it made international headlines in 1973 for the gruesome murder of one of its own residents — a well-to-do former fashion model whose life was taken away in a flash of sudden violence by a hitman hired by her husband.

Christine Demeter, the 33-year-old wife of Hungarian-born real estate developer Peter Demeter, was attacked and bludgeoned to death inside the garage of the couple’s upscale Dundas Cres. home on July 18, 1973.

The west Mississauga home was located just steps away from the peaceful flow of the Credit River, which in the picturesque valley below wound its way through Erindale Park.

The serenity of the natural surroundings belied the swift and bloody violence that left the lifeless body of Christine Demeter (formerly Ferrari) lying face down on the concrete garage floor.

The former Austrian model, six years younger than her husband, had suffered a half dozen or so vicious blows to the head with a blunt object, which has never been found by police.

Her skull was crushed and blood and brain tissue were  sprayed throughout the garage.

Peter Demeter told police at the time he’d been shopping in Toronto that day and returned home in the evening on July 18 to make the grisly discovery. His wife’s body, head wounds clearly visible, was on the floor of the garage beside a Cadillac.

The couple’s three-year-old daughter, Andrea, was located inside the home, unharmed. She’d been watching TV.

What followed was the longest murder trial in Canadian history and in 1974, following an 11-week trial, Peter Demeter was found guilty by a jury and sent to prison for life for arranging the murder of his younger wife.

The hitman, who was never picked up by police, died a couple of years later in Hungary before Canadian authorities could bring him back to answer to charges.

The Demeters had married in 1967 and the marriage had become an unhappy one in the few years prior to Christine’s murder, the trial revealed.

Court also heard that Peter Demeter had taken out a $1 million life insurance policy in his wife’s name prior to her death (the trial also revealed that Christine may have been plotting Peter’s murder as well, also to collect on a $1 million life insurance policy).

An attempt to cash in on the policy after Christine’s death failed.

Court also learned that Peter Demeter had a 29-year-old Austrian mistress, Marina Hundt, in the time preceding Christine’s death.

In addition to the murder of his wife, Peter Demeter was found guilty of several other criminal acts in the ensuing years, including trying to orchestrate kidnappings and murders from prison.

He was also charged in connection with the 1983 arson that destroyed the couple’s former Dundas Cres. home.

Now 90, Demeter has survived a stroke, heart attack and several cancer diagnoses during nearly a half-century behind bars.

A 1978 Canadian film based on the Demeter murder case,  I Miss You, Hugs and Kisses, starred Hollywood actress Elke Sommer and received a “nasty video” designation in England for its brutality and violence.

The notorious case also inspired a 1977 book, By Persons Unknown, by journalists Barbara Amiel and George Jonas.

In recent years, insauga.com has taken an in-depth look back at Mississauga’s most notorious murder case.

Map shows proximity of the Demeter home, near the end of Dundas Cres. (upper right of map), to Erindale Park and the Credit River.

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