Investigators turn to genetic genealogy to identify girl’s remains found in Rosedale dumpster in May of 2022

Nearly eight months after the badly composed remains of a young girl were found in a dumpster in the driveway of a Rosedale home under construction, police are hopeful genetic genealogy will help them solve the mystery of the child’s identity.

Insp. Hank Idsinga, who oversees the homicide and missing persons unit for the Toronto Police Service, says investigators are now running the child’s DNA in an effort to figure out who she is.

Genetic genealogy is credited with the recent arrest of Joseph Sutherland, 61, charged with the murders of Susan Tice and Erin Gilmour, two women strangled to death and sexually assaulted in Toronto four months apart in 1983.

“We’re making some headway with that but again, it could take a year, it could take two years. We still don’t know who she is. We will find out who she is. I have no doubt about it,” Idsinga said about the process of analyzing the child’s DNA and trying to match it to family members who have sent their DNA to family genealogy websites.

Idsinga told Global News in a year-end interview that the case has been time-consuming as officers with the homicide squad and divisional officers at 53 Division have followed up on tips and calls regarding missing persons from across North America.

“It’s not that unusual here in Toronto, you would get a call from Texas and say, you know there’s a little girl who matches this description who disappeared at this point and time, so you have to follow that up, because you never know.”

Idsinga said the case is still considered to be a suspicious death investigation since the autopsy did not reveal a cause of death.

“We’re not at a point where we can call it a murder,” Idsinga added.

On May 2, the badly decomposed remains of a young child were found in a dumpster on the driveway of a vacant home under construction on Dale Avenue near Bloor Street and Castle Frank Road.

The post-mortem examination determined the girl was between the ages of four and seven. She was described as Black, of African or mixed African descent. She stood three feet six inches tall with a thin build and had curly black hair that was sectioned in four short ponytails. Two of the ponytails were braided and tied with blue and black elastics. Investigators said the child had all her teeth.

Police said they believed the human remains had been discarded in the dumpster between April 28 and May 2. They also said it was possible the child had been dead for several months.

At the time, police were also trying to identify a dark-coloured Porsche Cayenne SUV described as a vehicle of interest seeing stopping near the dumpster. Officers located the driver and later said neither the driver nor the vehicle was connected to the case.

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