Thompson, Manitoba — Mellissa Ivy Chaboyer, 35, the mother of a 17-year-old son, drove for North Star Taxi in Thompson. She had worked part-time as a cab driver for about 20 years and worked full time with developmentally challenged adults.
Shockingly, shortly before 1 a.m. on Saturday, November 26, 2005 another taxi driver found Ms. Chaboyer's body beside her cab in the City Centre Mall parking lot. An autopsy revealed that she had been stabbed to death.
Cab driving is riskier than police work. In fact, taxi drivers and police have the highest on-the-job risk of murder, according to a Statistics Canada study of occupation-related homicides from 2000 to 2010.
Of the two, the study says, taxi drivers were twice as likely as police officers to be a victim of homicide while working, which drivers say reflects the fact that they are seen as vulnerable targets.
"It's not a good feeling to have a gun to your head," said Santanu, 41, a cab driver who lives in Rogers Park. He said he's been robbed twice while working the night shift since becoming a licensed cab driver. "It did shake me up quite a lot for a few weeks."
A 2008 University of Illinois at Chicago survey found that 58.7 percent of Chicago cab drivers said they have been threatened, attacked and subjected to hostile racial comments. During physical attacks inside the cabs, guns were the weapons most used against drivers, followed by knives, according to survey results.
The combination of isolation, picking up strangers and carrying cash makes taxi drivers a target for criminals, crime experts said, particularly during the busy hours of 1 a.m., 2 a.m., and 3 a.m.
Hundreds of Thompson, Manitoba residents attended a memorial ceremony in the in the parking lot that afternoon and a vigil was held in the evening.
Thompson's three taxi companies (North Star, Driftwood Nickel and Cliff's) shut down from 3 p.m. until 7 the next morning as drivers attended the vigil. Cabs were parked bumper to bumper around the lot so that attendees could warm up after standing in subzero temperatures. Several restaurants donated coffee.
"She was one of the gentlest drivers in the whole industry," said Jas Gills, manager of North Star Taxi. "If someone didn't have the money, she'd smile and say, 'pay later.' She never would have gotten into a dispute with someone."
No charges have been laid in Mellissa's murder, and the case remains unsolved.