DNA Leads to Identity of Woman

Homicide and Missing Persons Unit
A collaboration with a non-profit genetic genealogy organization led to the identification of a woman found dead 18 months ago.

In the early hours of June 10, 2020, police and paramedics responded to a 9-1-1 unknown trouble call in Trinity-Bellwoods Park. A woman was located who was unresponsive and not breathing. Attempts to revive her were unsuccessful.

At the time, she had no identification and fingerprint impressions and a review of missing persons reports didn’t lead to any matches. Investigators arranged for a composite image and an artist’s rendering of the woman and made public appeals were through social and traditional media channels in an attempt to identify her with no success.

“We tried everything and nothing came back to anybody that was in our systems,” said Cold Case & Missing Person A/Detective Sergeant Steve Smith, of the public appeals. “We have been doing genealogy investigations through the Cold Case office in collaboration with Sex Crimes and Homicide to identify offenders. In doing that, we have made a lot of connections in the genealogy community, some of whom have connections to the non-profit DNA Doe Project in the United States.”

Using genetic genealogy to identify John and Jane Does, the initiative has become the go-to organization for law enforcement agencies and medical examiners in the United States.

On September 9, 2021, the Ontario Forensic Pathology Service provided a sample of the women’s DNA to theDNA Doe Project.

The DNA Doe project volunteered to create this genetic genealogy profile for free, using public databases to try to tie the DNA results of the unidentified woman to other people.

Two people who shared their DNA with a family genealogical project were found to have common DNA. At that point, the DNA Doe investigators began a review of publicly such as family trees, obituaries and social media in an attempt to identify her.

Last December, the DNA Doe Project contacted Toronto Police with a possible identification. Through further investigation, police were able to contact the family of the identified woman and obtain dental records. The Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario confirmed the identity.

“Through collaboration with the DNA Doe Project and the diligent work of our investigators, we were able to positively identify this woman, bringing closure to her family, the community and the Service,” said Deputy Chief of Police Myron Demkiw. “By working with our partners and utilizing techniques such as genetic genealogy in our investigations, we can help advance our cold cases and give those who remain unidentified a name.”

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