LIGHT­ING FIRE UN­DER COLD CASES

Fi­nal ef­fort to iden­tify Chris­tine’s killer be­fore re­tir­ing pays off

Toronto Sun - - FRONT PAGE - JOE WARMINGTON jwarm­ing­ton@postmedia.com @joe_warm­ing­ton

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.

TORON­TO­SUN FILES

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.

CALVIN HOOVER

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