TORONTO — A 61-year-old man has been charged in the cold murder of two women who were found dead in their Toronto home months apart nearly four decades ago, police said Monday.
Sheriff James Ramer said Joseph George Sutherland, of Moosonee, Ontario, was arrested Thursday and charged with first-degree murder in the 1983 murders of Erin Gilmour and Susan Tice.
Ramer said both women were sexually assaulted and stabbed to death. Although their bodies were discovered four months apart, he said, detectives linked the deaths using DNA technology in 2000, and investigators suspect the same man in both schools. fit.
Police say Gilmour is an aspiring 22-year-old fashion designer and Tice is a 45-year-old mother of four with a master’s degree in social work and working with disadvantaged children. .
Sean McCowan, Erin’s brother, said: “This is the day we and I have been waiting for almost our whole lives.
“It finally gave a name and a face to someone who was for all of us a ghost.”
In 2019, genetic samples in the case were sent to a laboratory in Texas, where the results were cross-matched with samples uploaded to Family Tree DNA, a commercial genetic testing company based in California. based in Houston, police said.
From there, detectives worked in reverse, building a family tree of the suspect’s closest common relatives, Det said. Sergeant Steve Smith. When they approached Sutherland, the police served him with orders to test his DNA to directly examine samples obtained from the crime scene.
Smith said the same lab helped police in another case, analyzing DNA samples to identify the man who likely killed 9-year-old Christine Jessop in 1984. Police said they would charged the man with murder, but Jessop’s family attorney said he died by suicide in 2015.
Smith said Sutherland was not previously a suspect or person involved in Gilmour and Tice’s deaths, and police would not have been able to connect him without DNA technology.
Toronto police said they would investigate whether Sutherland was involved in any other unsolved cases over the past 39 years. Smith said detectives are also contacting police departments across the province where the man may have lived or visited.
Ontario Provincial Police officers arrested Sutherland without incident on Thursday in Moosonee. He will appear in court on December 9.
Smith said Sutherland was living in Toronto at the time of the death. He said there was a ban on publishing the case and declined to disclose further details.