Erin Gilmore, a 22-year-old student, and Susan Tice, a mother of 45, were stabbed to death in their Toronto homes four months apart after being sexually assaulted.
Nearly four decades later, “scientific advances” helped Toronto police arrest Joseph George Sutherland, Inspector Steve Smith announced at a press conference.
After connecting the two murders in 2000 through the suspect’s DNA collected at the scene, authorities used genetic ancestry to “identify a family” and thus “narrow down the number of suspects,” Smith said.
This method of investigation consists of comparing the suspect’s DNA with the family tree of a distant relative.
“If we hadn’t used this technology, we wouldn’t have gotten his name,” Smith explained, adding that Sutherland was never suspected.
“This is the day our family has been looking forward to most of our lives,” said Sean McGowan, Erin Gilmore’s brother.
“In a way it’s a relief that someone has been arrested. But it brings back so many memories of Erin and her brutal and brilliant murder,” he added.
An aspiring fashion designer, Gilmore is the daughter of David Gilmore, co-founder of Barrick Gold, one of the world’s largest gold mining companies.
According to police, he had no relationship with Susan Dice, a family therapist and mother of four.
Joseph George Sutherland, now 61, is due in court in early December to answer a charge of first-degree murder.
Officials said he could be linked to other open cases as they continue to investigate.