LIGHTING FIRE UNDER COLD CASES
Final effort to identify Christine’s killer before retiring pays off
One of his last duties as a Toronto Police homicide detective paid off big.
“As I was wrapping things up before retirement, I wanted to make sure the evidence in the Christine Jessop case was sent to apply the new genealogy investigative technique,” retired detective-sergeant Stacy Gallant said Friday.
In December, as he was wrapping up his 31 years with the force — 15 in the Homicide Unit — there had been media reports suggesting little was happening in the cold case.
But Gallant said things were not as they appeared.
“We had to keep it quiet,” he recalled. “We couldn’t even tell (Christine’s mom) Janet.”
But investigators were about to turn a 36-year-old cold case into a hot one.
“They were having some success with this new technology in the United States and I thought we would try it,” Gallant said. “When you get into being a homicide detective, you want to solve these cases. All of the detectives are the same.”
One of his final actions as a cop led to that happening.
But even he didn’t know how it was going to turn out after he submitted DNA evidence found from the young victim’s clothing.
By January, Gallant was working in his new role with the security company Gardaworld and suddenly found himself in the dark as well.
“They couldn’t tell me how it was going,” said Gallant. “I understood that but was glad when they did tell me Thursday.”
His Hail Mary worked out — police now had a name and a profile of who killed the 9-year-old Queensville girl in 1984.
“There is great satisfaction,” Gallant said. “It’s also good for many cold cases.”
When he was in charge of that department, there were 600 cold cases in Toronto.
Not all have DNA opportunities, but the ones that do could see this new tool be utilized.
By tracing DNA through genealogy entries, police are now able to get a list of potential people within a family tree.
“It’s a small world,” Gallant said. “There are seven degrees of separation.”
Turns out Calvin
Hoover was a hit.
Better yet “he was in the (investigative) box.”
Never a suspect, police knew Hoover was a neighbour of the Jessops and worked for the slain girl’s father, Robert.
The only match from this profile to anything in the Canadian DNA bank was that of Christine.
If Hoover were alive today, he would be charged with first-degree murder in her kidnapping, sexual assault and murder.
Considering a man was convicted and went to jail for a crime he didn’t commit and there was suspicion cast on others, this is a better outcome than never knowing.
This case has also changed the way Toronto cops tackle cold cases.
“I have always been interested in using technology to my advantage,” said Gallant. “In the past, most of the cold-case work happening was reactive. When a tip came in on a case, it was investigated with the hopes it would lead somewhere.”
With this case, and now others, he “developed a plan, a multi-stage plan to use technology.” It worked.
“This shows it can be done,” said Gallant.
The science was there to solve this.
But so was a dogged police detective who didn’t want to go into retirement without making one more attempt to get justice for Christine Jessop.
One of Stacy Gallant’s last acts before retiring as a detective-sergeant in the Toronto Police Homicide Squad was to turn to a new technique for tracing DNA genealogy in hopes of solving Christine Jessop’s murder.
Christine Jessop plays in a pile of leaves at the family’s home in Queensville. Her murderer has finally been exposed.