DNA solves 1984 murder of Christine Jessop, suspect dead: Toronto police

Click to play video: '1984 cold murder case of Christine Jessop solved, suspect dead: Toronto police'
1984 cold murder case of Christine Jessop solved, suspect dead: Toronto police
WATCH ABOVE: The 1984 cold murder case of Christine Jessop has been solved, Toronto police say, however, the killer – identified as Calvin Hoover – died in 2015. Jessop’s family told Global News they are “happily stunned” and are grateful to investigators who never gave up on the investigation. Caryn Lieberman has more – Oct 15, 2020

Toronto police say DNA has helped to solve the 1984 murder of Christine Jessop, however, the suspect is now dead.

Toronto Police Chief James Ramer identified Calvin Hoover as Jessop’s murderer. He was 28 at the time of the case and he died in 2015.

Ramer said a DNA sample found on Jessop’s underwear was identified on Oct. 9 as belonging to Hoover.

Kenney Jessop, Christine’s brother, told Global News the family is “feeling stunned” but “happily stunned” after hearing the news. He said they are experiencing all seven stages of grief.

Kenney said the suspect died by suicide a few years ago and was a friend of the family. The alleged killer’s wife was their father’s co-worker, Kenney said.

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“They were friends and Christine and I would go down and play with their kids,” he said, adding he remembers Hoover’s wife but not Hoover himself.

“Even 35 years later, you think about it every day. Was it this person? … From day one, I truly believed it was someone who knew our family, knew my dad was in jail and knew that we were going to visit him that day (without Christine,)” Kenney said.

The nine-year-old went missing on Oct. 3, 1984 in Queensville, Ont., and her remains were found three months later on New Year’s Eve in a rural part of Durham Region.

The little girl had been raped and murdered.

The case drew national attention, especially when police charged Jessop’s neighbour, Guy Paul Morin, with the nine-year-old’s death. However, in 1995 Morin was exonerated due to advancement in DNA testing. He had served 18 months in prison.

Click to play video: 'Toronto police identify suspect in 1984 murder of Christine Jessop'
Toronto police identify suspect in 1984 murder of Christine Jessop

Ramer said this brings closure to both the Jessop family and to Morin, who was updated on the development Thursday morning.

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Morin’s lawyer, James Lockyer, issued a statement on his behalf — the only statement Morin said he will be making.

“This morning, two members of the Toronto Police Service came to my home and told me that they had identified the man who murdered Christine Jessop through DNA found on Christine’s clothing.

“I am relieved for Christine’s mother, Janet, and her family, and hope this will give them some peace of mind. They have been through a dreadful ordeal for 36 years since they lost Christine in 1984,” the statement continued.

“I am grateful that the Toronto Police stayed on the case and have now finally solved it. When DNA exonerated me in January, 1995, I was sure that one day DNA would reveal the real killer and now it has.”

However, police are still asking for the public’s help for information on Hoover to determine a timeline as to his whereabouts and the last moments of Christine’s life.

Police said Jessop had plans to meet up with a friend that evening at a nearby park but that she never showed up. She was last seen buying a pack of gum at a local convenience store, close to her home.

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Supt. Peter Code said they utilized a new investigative technique using genetic genealogy to identify Hoover.

“What we do is we start with an unidentified semen stain that has a DNA profile to it. This is submitted to a lab. And from that profile, they build out a potential familial lineage. And it’s from that lineage that the investigators then work downwards to be able to try to identify potential persons of interest,” Code said.

“The name Calvin Hoover is one of the names that came up in two specific families that we saw. Upon review of the investigative file [Hoover] is a name that we know had a connection to the Jessop family.”

“Simply put, it is not a DNA match. What it is, is it provides a potential and I must stress a potential family lineage from a DNA sample. Then it is up to a police investigator to build from that potential family lineage,” he continued.

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Click to play video: 'DNA helps find suspect in 1984 cold case murder of Christine Jessop, suspect dead: Toronto police'
DNA helps find suspect in 1984 cold case murder of Christine Jessop, suspect dead: Toronto police

Ramer said there is a “great sense of relief” in solving the case.

“This has impacted the entire judiciary and the legal system including prosecutors, judges and anyone involved in this process. I can say that we’re all genuinely relieved that the person responsible has finally been identified,” Ramer said.

Kenney went on to praise the investigators, who he said never gave up on the case.

Click to play video: 'A look back into the Christine Jessop investigation'
A look back into the Christine Jessop investigation

“It’s a miracle that they solved this, an absolute miracle. … I owe them everything, we owe them everything for solving this.”

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With files from Caryn Lieberman and Erica Vella

Calvin Hoover. Toronto police/Handout

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