York Regional Police say the 51-year-old cold case of a teenage girl who went missing in Toronto and was later found murdered has been solved using DNA technology.
In a press conference on Wednesday, YRP said investigators were able to solve the murder of 16-year-old Yvonne Leroux by identifying the suspect they say is responsible for her death with the help of genetic genealogy.
“Despite the sad circumstances of Yvonne’s death, I am gratified to be able to deliver her family this resolution, if not closure,” said Alvaro Almeida, deputy chief of investigations.
“I can’t imagine living how difficult it must have been living all these years with such a loss and not knowing, all this time, who was responsible,” Almeida continued.
Leroux was last seen alive on Nov. 29, 1972, around 10 p.m., walking in the Oakdale Road and Finch Avenue West in Toronto.
The following morning, police said her body was discovered by a passerby about 24 kilometres north — in the middle of 16th Sideroad, between Jane and Keele streets, in the Township of King. Investigators confirmed Leroux was murdered in King Township.
She had sustained blunt force trauma to her head, police said, deeming it a homicide. For more than five decades, despite investigative efforts by officers, public appeals and monetary rewards, the person responsible for Leroux’s death was never found.
A break in the case came when investigators sought the use of investigative genetic genealogy (IGG).
Police said investigators used the suspect’s DNA found at the crime scene to generate a DNA profile and then uploaded it to public genealogical databases.
IGG data is used by law enforcement, when all other leads have been exhausted, as it can identify relatives of the person whose DNA was found at the crime scene, then use that information to zero in on a suspect.
The DNA found at the crime scene was also “secured at the time and preserved for more than 50 years” which police said assisted in solving the murder.
“Through resulting information, along with an exhaustive review of public and archival records and evidence gathered through traditional police techniques, investigators were able to identify relatives of the suspect and eventually the offender himself,” police said.
Police have identified the man responsible for Leroux’s death as Bruce Charles Cantelon, who was 26 years old at the time of her murder.
However, police said Cantelon is no longer alive. Investigators said Cantelon had died by suicide in Toronto 19 months after the murder in 1974.
Cantelon was living in Toronto at the time of Leroux’s murder. Investigators said he was known to police “having committed several violent offences against women.” Cantelon was also in jail at various times in his life due to mental health issues, police said.
A prepared statement by Leroux’s family, read by police during the press conference, said “Yvonne is far from forgotten.”
“This has affected our family through many generations,” the statement said. “For over half a century our family has wondered. Getting some answers will never change what happened or bring her back.”
Global News spoke to Diane Leroux, Yvonne’s mother, in 2016 who said she was searching for justice for her daughter’s death.
“She never grew up. She never got married. She never had a chance in life. It’s just something you cannot describe,” Diane said.
“You think about it over the years, she was only 16. I have grandchildren from my oldest daughter, from my son and my youngest daughter. I have none from her,” Diane said.