British Columbia

Sister of Guy Paul Morin ecstatic cold case solved, wishes her father was alive to hear

Denise Kowalski says she's ecstatic that her mother lived to see her son exonerated — beyond a doubt — by science.

Denise Kowalski says her late father 'knew in his heart' his son was innocent all along

Guy Paul Morin's mother, Ida, sister Denise Kowalski, left, and sister Lisette on Jan. 23, 1995. Kowalski says she's ecstatic her mother lived to see her son exonerated. (Bernard Weil/Toronto Star/Getty Images)

Denise Kowalski says she's ecstatic her mother lived to see her son Guy Paul Morin exonerated — beyond a doubt — by science.

This week, Toronto police informed Morin they believe they have solved the cold, child murder case that ate up a decade of his life after he was wrongly accused and convicted.

"If dad was alive, my gosh, he would be just so, so happy. He knew in his heart his son would have never done that," Kowalski told CBC News on Friday.

Morin, now 61 and living in Ontario, was convicted of raping and murdering his nine-year-old next-door neighbour in Queensville, north of Toronto.

Christine Jessop's body was found in Sunderland, Ont., on Dec. 31, 1984. Toronto police say the child had been stabbed to death after she was sexually assaulted.

Morin, a neighbour, became the focus of the investigation.

Morin was tried twice and convicted in the killing of Christine Jessop, but later acquitted. (Moe Doiron/Canadian Press)

Morin was tried twice and convicted, but DNA testing eventually reversed the verdict.

He was exonerated in 1995 and paid $1.2-million in compensation.

But Kowalski, who lives in Richmond, B.C., says a shadow had always hung over her younger brother because the real killer hadn't been found. 

Then, on Thursday, police knocked on his door to say they'd made a DNA match to semen found in the investigation to a suspect named Calvin Hoover.

Morin told CBC that police apologized, but he declined to say much more.

Toronto police said in a news release they would be arresting Hoover — who was 28 at the time of the murder and known to the Jessop family — if he were still alive. He died in 2015. 

Nine-year-old Christine Jessop went in Queensville, Ontario after getting off the bus after school near her home. (Jessop family/Toronto Police Service)

Sources have told CBC News Hoover died by suicide. 

For Kowalski, it's a weight gone and she said she is grateful to the investigators who kept digging.

"I thought, 'My God!' my heart — the way I felt … I felt such a relief," she said. 

Morin served 18 months in prison before his exoneration.

While he was in custody, Kowalski said she often flew from Vancouver to Toronto, then travelled to Kingston on weekends to visit him in prison. She said he always chose to remain with the general prison population, refusing protective custody or segregation. 

Kowalski said she barely slept Thursday night, feeling both shock and happiness at the day's news. 

"Finally, after all these years, even though we knew he had always been innocent, and also the fact that he was exonerated. It never really cleared him, until the real killer has been caught."

Kowalski, seen here in her Richmond, B.C., home on Friday, says she's grateful to the investigators who kept working on the case. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Kowalski says she remains frustrated that investigators involved in the original case were not held accountable.

Morin "wouldn't hurt a fly, that's why it was so shocking to us that they would pick on someone nice like him — just because they didn't like his face," she said. 

She said the trials never should have happened.

"The whole thing was ludicrous," she said.

"All of us are really surprised by this — if they had looked further this could have been solved 36 years ago."

A family gathering after Morin was exonerated in 1995. Morin is in the centre in a white shirt. (Submitted by Denise Kowalksi)


Yvette Brend

CBC journalist

Yvette Brend works in Vancouver on all CBC platforms. Her investigative work has spanned floods, fires, cryptocurrency deaths, police shootings and infection control in hospitals. “My husband came home a stranger,” an intimate look at PTSD, won CBC's first Jack Webster City Mike Award (2017). Got a tip?