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Police are hoping genealogy can help solve 70-year-old murder

Modern science, old crime

Vancouver Police are hoping modern science could provide new clues in one of the city’s oldest unsolved murders.

Police hope DNA from the victims can lead to a break in the case, which has puzzled investigators for nearly 70 years.

“No homicide case is ever closed before it’s solved, and for decades our investigators have chased down leads with hopes of someday identifying the victims and people responsible for this unsolved crime,” said Sgt. Steve Addison. “Now, advancements in science, combined with peoples’ interest in learning about their own ancestry, has created an exciting new opportunity for VPD to finally get some answers.”

The case – known in popular culture as Babes in the Woods – dates back to 1953, when skeletal remains of two boys were discovered by a groundskeeper near Beaver Lake, in Stanley Park. The children’s skulls had been bludgeoned by a hatchet, which was found near their bodies, and they were covered by a woman’s coat. It’s believed the children, aged seven and eight, were killed in 1948 and laid undiscovered for five years.

“We still don’t know who these boys were, why they were in Vancouver, or who killed them,” said Addison. “But, we hope genealogical testing will finally give us the answers we’ve been looking for.”
VPD has contracted Redgrave Research Forensic Services, a Massachusetts-based forensic genetic genealogist company, to study DNA recently extracted from the victims’ bones.

Using public DNA databases, such as GEDmatch and FamilyTreeDNA, Redgrave Research hopes to identify living relatives who share the same DNA as the murder victims by comparing the DNA from the victims to people who have submitted their DNA to private companies to learn about their own ancestry.

“With so many people curious about their ancestry and willing to submit DNA for genetic testing, we think the Redgrave team can build a family tree for these boys and possibly identify others who are related to these young victims,” Addison said. “This process could give us new leads to follow, and we hope it will finally help us give these boys a name and identify their killer.”

Click here to read more about VPD cold cases or to submit a tip.



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