Toronto police charge man in 1983 killings of 2 women

Nov 27, 2022, 6:22 PM | Updated: Nov 28, 2022, 1:24 pm
Sean McCowan, right, reacts as he stands with Kaelin McCowan, brothers of Erin Gilmour and partner ...

Sean McCowan, right, reacts as he stands with Kaelin McCowan, brothers of Erin Gilmour and partner Clair Kilgour after a press conference in Toronto, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. Police Chief James Ramer said Monday that Joseph George Sutherland from Moosonee, Ontario, was arrested Thursday and charged with first-degree murder in the killings of Erin Gilmour and Susan Tice in 1983. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)

(Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)

TORONTO (AP) — A 61-year-old man has been charged in the cold case killings of two women who were found dead in their Toronto homes within months of each other almost four decades ago, police said Monday.

Police Chief James Ramer said Joseph George Sutherland, of Moosonee, Ontario, was arrested Thursday and charged with first-degree murder in the killings of Erin Gilmour and Susan Tice in 1983.

Both women had been sexually assaulted and stabbed to death, Ramer said. Although their bodies were discovered four months apart, detectives linked the deaths using DNA technology in 2000, and investigators suspected the same man in both cases, he said.

Police said Gilmour was a 22-year-old aspiring fashion designer and Tice was a 45-year-old mother of four who held a master’s degree in social work and worked with disadvantaged children.

“This is a day that I and we’ve been waiting almost an entire lifetime for,” said Sean McCowan, Erin’s brother.

“It finally puts a name and a face to someone who for all of us had been a ghost.”

In 2019, genetic samples in the case were sent to a lab in Texas, where the results were cross-referenced with samples uploaded to Family Tree DNA, a Houston-based commercial genetic testing company, police said.

From there, detectives worked backwards, building a family tree of the suspect’s nearest common relatives, said Det. Sgt. Steve Smith. As they closed in on Sutherland, police served him with a warrant for his DNA to test directly against the samples recovered from the crime scenes.

Smith said the same lab had helped police in a different case, analyzing DNA samples to identify the man who likely killed 9-year-old Christine Jessop in 1984. Police said they would have charged that man with murder, but a lawyer for the Jessop family said he died by suicide in 2015.

Smith said Sutherland had not previously been a suspect or person of interest in the deaths of Gilmour and Tice, and that police would not have connected him without the DNA technology.

Toronto police said they will now investigate whether Sutherland is connected to any other unsolved cases from the past 39 years. Detectives are also reaching out to police services across the province where the man might have lived or visited, Smith said.

Officers with the Ontario Provincial Police arrested Sutherland without incident on Thursday in Moosonee. He is next set to appear in court on Dec. 9.

Smith said Sutherland was living in Toronto at the time of the deaths. He said there is a publication ban on the case and declined to release more details.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - In this July 12, 2017 file photo, an issue of the National Enquirer featuring President Dona...
Associated Press

National Enquirer, ensnared in “catch-and-kill” is sold

The National Enquirer, the scandal-plagued tabloid that engaged in “catch-and-kill” practices to bury stories about Donald Trump during his presidential campaign, has been sold. VVIP is also buying the National Examiner and Globe from magazine publisher a360 Media in an all-cash deal, though exact financial terms were not disclosed. In December 2018 the parent company […]
1 day ago
Patriot missile launchers acquired from the U.S. last year are seen deployed in Warsaw, Poland, Mon...
Associated Press

Poland deploys Patriot batteries to capital city, Warsaw

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Patriot missile batteries that Poland acquired from the U.S. last year have been deployed to the country’s capital Warsaw as part of military exercise, according to Poland’s defense ministry. Poland is taking additional steps to strengthen its defensive capabilities as Russia’s war in neighboring Ukraine enters its second year later this […]
1 day ago
FILE - People visit the Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida...
Associated Press

Florida to begin session on Disney district, migrant flights

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida lawmakers will meet Monday to complete a state takeover of Walt Disney World’s self-governing district and expand a migrant relocation program, key conservative priorities of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis ahead of his expected White House run. Republican leaders of the statehouse, in coordination with DeSantis, have ordered the Legislature to […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Media watchdog urges release of journalist detained in Kabul

PARIS (AP) — Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders along with 14 French media outlets and production companies on Monday called on Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers to release a journalist imprisoned for a month in Kabul. In a joint statement, RSF and French media said journalist Mortaza Behboudi, with dual French and Afghan citizenship, was arrested on […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Liz Weston: ‘Bridge’ your way to Social Security

Delaying the start of Social Security benefits is a powerful way for retirees to cope with inflation, survive bad investment markets and reduce the risk they’ll run short of money. The advantages of waiting are so great that financial planners often recommend their clients tap other savings, such as retirement funds, to help them delay […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

48 arrested in Europe over encrypted app used in drug trade

BERLIN (AP) — European investigators have shut down an encrypted communication service that was used as a secure channel for organized crime, particularly in the drug trade, and arrested 48 people, German authorities said Monday. More than 70 properties were searched in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Poland on Friday, when the arrests were made, […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Toronto police charge man in 1983 killings of 2 women