DNA technology sketches suspect in unsolved child sex assaults in Kitchener, Waterloo

A composite sketch of the suspect in the two unsolved cases. Waterloo Police

Waterloo police have released a sketch of a person of interest they’ve linked to two separate sexual assaults against young girls which have occurred in the area over the past several years.

The composite sketch, which was created by a U.S. company called Parabon NanoLabs, was not created by eyewitness accounts but from DNA which was left at crime scenes in 2013 and 2017.

“We have DNA that linked the two cases from 2013 and 2017 together,” Waterloo police Staff Sgt. Deborah McBride said.

WATCH: Waterloo police released a video related to the incidents

The first occurrence took place on Oct. 27, 2017, at around 7 p.m. at 318 Patricia Ave. in Kitchener. Police said a man assaulted a six-year-old girl in a stairwell of the apartment building.

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Witnesses told police they had seen the man in the area before the assault occurred.

“We don’t know that he was living in that area but we do know that he was hanging around that area prior to the assault,” McBride said.

Four years earlier, a similar crime occurred at 429 Barrie St. in Waterloo. On Oct. 20, 2013, a man approached a four-year-old girl and sexually assaulted her.

McBride said police have been unable to verify if any other cases can be linked with the other two.

Police are urging parents to make sure their children are aware that they need to come forward quickly if something happens.

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“The key message in here is obviously we want to identify the person but we also want to make sure parents are being really diligent about people approaching their children and really educating their kids to come forward right away,” McBride said.

READ MORE: Man arrested in 30-year-old cold-case murders of young B.C. couple

Police collected DNA at the two crime scenes which was used to create the sketch released Tuesday.

The sketch shows the suspect as he appeared as a 25-year-old, although police believe the man could be anywhere in the age range of 25-40.

This is the first time Waterloo police have used the technology in hopes of tracking down a suspect.

Parabon reports were generated for cases in Calgary and Windsor, Ont., and the technology was also recently used in Washington State to help track down the suspect in the murders of two Canadians in a 30-year-old cold case.

WATCH: 30 years after a young B.C. couple was killed, new DNA tech could crack the case

Click to play video: 'Breakthrough expected in cold case involving murdered B.C. couple'
Breakthrough expected in cold case involving murdered B.C. couple

A spokesperson for Parabon explained that the company’s technology often comes into play in cases where DNA has been left behind at crime scenes but police have no match in their database.

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“What this does is, it takes the DNA and because of certain predictors, it puts together a report,” Parabon spokesperson Laura Burgess said. “And this report gives you an idea of what this person may look like.”

The technology does have its strengths and limitations, however.

“It can’t tell age but it can tell certain characteristics,” Burgess explained “It can tell skin colour. It can tell how much freckling is on the skin. It can tell eye colour and hair colour but it can’t tell you if the hair is curling or straight.”

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