The Current

More answers needed after Christine Jessop's killer revealed: veteran reporter

Thursday’s announcement that police have identified nine-year-old Christine Jessop’s true killer leaves many unanswered questions, says a veteran justice reporter who wrote a book about the case.

Police used genetic genealogy to link Calvin Hoover to Ontario girl's 1984 murder

Nine-year-old Christine Jessop went missing on Oct. 3, 1984. Her body was found nearly three months later. Toronto police announced this week that DNA analysis helped them identify her killer as Calvin Hoover. (Handout)

Read Story Transcript

Thursday's announcement that police have identified nine-year-old Christine Jessop's true killer still leaves many unanswered questions, says a veteran justice reporter who wrote a book about the decades-old case.

"The prime one is, why was this man not a suspect? What was his alibi? What investigative steps did they go about trying to confirm his alibi?" said Kirk Makin, who worked for the Globe and Mail from 1979 to his retirement in 2013. He is the author of Redrum the Innocent.

"And why, after [Guy Paul Morin] was exonerated and there was a reinvestigation, why did they not go right back at [the real killer]? Why were hundreds of other people DNA tested in that reinvestigation, but he apparently wasn't?"

"More answers have to be given," Makin told The Current's Matt Galloway.

Jessop was abducted from Queensville, Ont., in October of 1984, before being raped and murdered. Her family's neighbour, Guy Paul Morin, was wrongfully convicted in her slaying, but was exonerated in the 1990s due to advancements in DNA technology.

This week, Toronto police announced they now believe a man named Calvin Hoover is responsible for murdering Jessop. Police said they used a relatively new forensic technique called genetic genealogy to identify him as the killer. Hoover, an acquaintance of the Jessops at the time, died by suicide in 2015, sources tell CBC News.

Toronto police utilized the cutting-edge science of genetic genealogy to help determine who killed Christine Jessop. The science narrowed the field enough to lead police to Calvin Hoover. 2:09

Makin said he believes police originally pegged Morin as the killer because they had run out of suspects.

"The investigation was, by that point, eight months old and they didn't really have anyone in their sights," he said. "The Jessup family next door happened to mention that Guy Paul was kind of a weirdo, as they saw him…. And so they were on the track." 

What resulted was two trials over the course of nearly a decade, one of which Makin said was among the longest in Canadian history.

Today there are safeguards in place to prevent another case like Morin's — "a debacle that in many ways defies belief and explanation," said Makin, who now serves as co-president of Innocence Canada, a non-profit organization that advocates for people who have been wrongfully convicted.

We cannot leave this case where it is.- Kirk Makin, former Globe and Mail justice reporter 

However, "tunnel vision is always going to be with us," he said.

Innocence Canada, for example, is currently reviewing 90 cases in which people have claimed they have been wrongfully convicted, according to the organization's website.  

"What we have is a very patchwork, piecemeal system of trying to find out when we have ruined somebody's life and put them behind bars for countless years," he said of Canada's justice system. "And it just cannot be that way."

"We cannot leave this case where it is."


Written by Kirsten Fenn. Produced by Howard Goldenthal.

now