February 26, 2011

06/29/07: Gianluigi Urso, 36, Windsor, ON, Canada

Louie Urso
On June 29, 2007, an ambitious, well-liked elementary school principal, Gianluigi "Louie" Urso, 36, made headlines in what was a baffling disappearance just before the Fourth of July weekend.

Urso's sudden disappearance was highly out of character.

Urso had been the popular principal of St. John the Baptist Catholic elementary school in Belle River, Ontario since January 2007. He had begun his teaching career in 1996 at Our Lady of Carmel, became vice-principal of Queen of Peace school in Leamington in 2000, the moved to Holy Cross in 2002. He went on to become principal of L.A. Desmarais September 2006 before he was transferred to St. John the Baptist. He was described as a passionate, dedicated educator full of fresh ideas.

"There was no limit to what Louie could do, no limit. Anything that he tackled was done absolutely the best possible way."
- Carm Casalena, friend
Urso was also a co-owner of La Cantina, a specialty food store on Cabana Road in Windsor, with his brother and served on a fundraising advisory committee for Transition to Betterness (T2B). T2B is a charity organization that improves hospital rooms to make them more comfortable for cancer patients.

Urso, who lived in LaSalle, Ontario, was last seen early in the early morning hours on Friday, June 29, in the Walkerville area of Windsor, Ontario--about 12 minutes south of Detroit.

Photo credit: Windsor Star
After his disappearance, concerned restaurant owners, community organizations, and parents from schools he had worked at, put up posters around the Windsor area seeking information.

Holy Names vice-principal Carm Casalena, who knew Urso since he was 10 years old, told the Windsor Star, "There was no limit to what Louie could do, no limit," she said Wednesday before Urso's body was found. "Anything that he tackled was done absolutely the best possible way. He was loving to everyone. He was kind. He was religious. He loved his family. He loved his children (students). He did everything he could for his kids that he taught. "

At 8:40 a.m. on July 3, a phone call about an abandoned car led police to Urso's 2006 black 4-door BMW 525. The car had been left in the parking lot of a vacant building at the corner of Mill and Sandwich streets; it was locked, the alarm system was on, and there were no signs of foul play in or around the vehicle. The car was towed away and examined by forensics officers.

The Search for Louie Urso

According to the Windsor Star, after the car was found, "about a dozen uniformed officers and plain clothes detectives from Windsor and LaSalle combed the area around Mill Street between Sandwich and the Detroit River. Mill Street Heritage Park was cordoned off by yellow police tape. A police dog was brought to the scene at 12:45 p.m. and the Windsor police boat was searching the Detroit River." Other reports indicate that police boats searched the area around around Mill Street Heritage Park on Windsor's west side.

Urso's body was found by OPP unit divers in 10 feet of the murky Detroit River off an old dock at Mill Street Heritage Park on July 4. The location was not far from where his car was found the day before.

Inspector Greg Renaud of the Windsor police major crime unit told Canada.com that the OPP arrived around 12 p.m. Wednesday to help with the search.

“We gave them a general area of where to look at,” Renaud said at the scene after the body was found. “Within 30 minutes they had located a body, down about 10 feet in the water.” (Canada.com, 7/4/07.)

Windsor police have not reported the cause of death, but said there is no indication of foul play.

On July 12, hundreds of family and friends gathered at Assumption Church for a funeral mass. Louie Urso was not married, but leaves behind 11 nieces and nephews.

Facts in this Case:

Name/age: Louis Urso, 36
Last Seen: 6/28/07, 11:30pm, South Walkerville
Recovered: 7/4/07, Detroit River near Mill Street Heritage Park
Physical Description: white male, 5'2", 145, brown eyes, closely shaved hair, goatee. Last seen wearing a white t-shirt and blue jeans.
Residence: LaSalle
Investigating Agency: La Salle Police Service, 519-969-5210.
Links: Louis Urso Missing (Facebook), Principal Urso (Facebook), Legacy.com Guest Book

1 comment:

SilentKai Gamez said...

Mr. Urso was my Principal at St John the Baptist. I'm now 15 and I'm always thinking about Mr Urso. I'm usually a shy girl, but I loved to talk to Mr. Urso when he first came to SJB. He was a wonderful Principal, and I'll always miss him. I haven't known him long, but I think as an older student of Mr. Urso, I say he was a great and intelligent Principal that done a job well done at SBJ.