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Edmonton police charge 62-year-old man with attempted murder, kidnapping, child sexual assault

An Edmonton Police Service logo is shown at a press conference in Edmonton, Oct. 2, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

A 62-year-old man is facing numerous charges, including attempted murder and sexual assault, in connection with an Edmonton police investigation into crimes in which a child was the victim.

On Friday, Harold William Gairdner was arrested and charged with attempted murder, kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated assault, choking, strangling or suffocating someone to overcome resistance, sexual interference and abduction of a person under the age of 14.

Police said the investigation involved the Edmonton Police Service’s historical crime section. When Global News asked when and where the alleged offences occurred, police declined to say.

Police declined to say whether the victim was a boy or girl and noted there is a publication ban on any information that could identify the victim.

Police did reveal that “throughout the years,” investigators have resubmitted DNA from the victim’s clothing whenever there was an advance in investigative technology.

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In 2020, police said an article of clothing was resubmitted for “touch DNA testing.” They said a DNA profile was identified as a result — one that matched a profile in the DNA Data Bank Convicted Offender Index — and led investigators to a suspect.

“This was the first time the suspect’s name had ever come up throughout our investigation,” Staff Sgt. James Vanderland said in a news release on Monday.

“A team of investigators from (the) historical crimes section and investigative support services pursued the investigation to gather additional evidence.

“It’s a testament to the conviction of all of the investigators who have been involved in this case over the years. This terrible act of violence was committed against a vulnerable child in our community. The recent advancements made in DNA technology are providing hope for both police and victims of serious crimes like this one that justice can still be served, even many years later.”

Gairdner is in custody and scheduled to appear in court on June 24.

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