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Murder of teenage girl from Toronto more than 50 years ago has been solved, police say

York Regional Police say they have solved the “cruel and ruthless” murder of a 16-year-old girl who was killed in King Township more than 50 years ago.

The body of Toronto teen Yvonne Leroux was discovered by a passerby on the morning of Nov. 30, 1972 in the area of 16 Sideroad, between Jane and Keele streets.

Leroux was found 24 kilometres north of where she was last seen the night before at a clinic near York Finch General Hospital, now known as Humber River Hospital.

Police said an autopsy later determined that the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.

Despite decades of investigation and a $50,000 reward, the perpetrator was never caught.

The police service said it turned to Investigative Genetic Genealogy (IGG) in 2022 after exhausting all other traditional means of investigation.

“IGG is used in criminal investigations to identify relatives of the source of the crime scene DNA as a means to then identify the suspect,” Cold Case Unit Det. Johnathon Nauman explained at a news conference on Wednesday morning.

“Using suspect DNA found at the crime scene, which thankfully was secured at the time and preserved for more than 50 years, a DNA profile was generated. That profile was then uploaded to public genealogical databases.”

York Regional Police said that the tool ultimately led investigators to Leroux’s killer, who they identified as 26-year-old Bruce Charles Cantelon.

Cantelon, police said, took his own life just two years after Leroux's murder.

Investigators could not say whether the two knew one another prior to Leroux’s death.

York Regional Police were unable to provide a possible motive for the crime, saying only that Cantelon had a criminal record that involved several violent incidents against women. Police added that he was at one point incarcerated for a period of six years prior to Leroux’s murder.

“Despite the sad circumstances of Yvonne’s death, I am gratified to be able to deliver her family this resolution, if not closure,” Deputy Chief of Investigations Alvaro Almeida said at Wednesday’s news conference.

“I can’t imagine how difficult in must have been living all these years with such a loss and not knowing all this time who was responsible.”

In a statement released following the announcement, Leroux’s family said Yvonne is “far from forgotten.”

“This has affected our family through many generations. The case has remained a focus of attention in family gatherings and beyond and has brought experiences that we would not wish on anyone,” the statement read.

“Unfortunately, this news came late as many of our family members have recently passed. For over half a century, our family has wondered. Getting some answers will never change what happened or bring her back.”

The family went on to say that they hope more funding will be made available for new advances in investigative genetic genealogy so “more grieving families can have some form of clarity.”

IGG has been used to solve several recent cold case homicides in the province, including the deaths of two Toronto women, 22-year-old Erin Gilmour and 45-year-old Susan Tice, who were killed four months apart back in 1983.

Through the use of IGG, police identified and arrested 61-year-old Joseph George Sutherland last year in connection with the murders. He pleaded guilty to the offences last month.

“I think DNA and where we are moving with IGG is kind of the starting point of a resurgence in cold cases,” Nauman said.

“It has given us hope that we will be able to solve more cases.” Top Stories

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