Skip to main content

How investigative genetic genealogy helped to solve decades-old Windsor homicide


An American genetics genealogy lab based in Virginia is praising a recent decision by the Windsor Police Service to name the person responsible for the murder of a six-year-old Windsor girl over 50 years ago.

Earlier this week, Windsor police said Frank Arthur Hall was the person who killed Ljubica Topic in 1971.

Authorities initially declined to name the now deceased Hall as the individual who murdered Topic, citing the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, but later said new police leadership reexamined and ultimately overturned that decision.

“My team was incredibly honoured and pleased to be able to help Windsor with this case,” said CeCe Moore, chief genetic genealogist at Parabon Nanonlabs.

“We know that for families to be able to get answers and some kind of resolution is so valuable. So we really appreciate that the law enforcement officers trusted us to help with this case,” Moore said.

Moore told CTV News that this case was notable because it was one of the very first public cases in Canada where investigative genetic genealogy led to a suspect in the country.

“We have kept quiet all this time just as they (WPS) have and now that they finally made it public, we're really happy to be able to step up and talk about our part in this,” Moore explained.

According to Moore, hundreds of Canadian cases are using investigative genetic genealogy, believing it has a significant impact on public safety.

“I think now as time goes on, the Canadian public is going to learn that police have been using this behind the scenes more than has been apparent, and that they've really invested a lot into this new technique and tool and we've been able to use it to great effect up in Canada.”

Moore said Parabon is working with several Canadian agencies to train investigators how to utilize genetic genealogy in house for both cold and active cases, rather than sending away for results.

“I think because of some of the very early successes that Canadian officials saw from investigative genetic genealogy that really encouraged them to invest more in this tool. And so we have seen a real expansion of its use, but also of law enforcement learning to do this themselves and hiring in house genealogists to do this work.”

Moore admitted it’s a complicated process but that they’re looking at hundreds of thousands of genetic markers from two voluntary DNA databases, using reverse engineering to build family trees based on other family trees where there’s shared DNA.

“It’s important to remember that genetic genealogy is just a tip in law enforcement investigations. No one is going to get arrested because of it. It will point in the direction, and then law enforcement has to do their full investigation like they would on any other tip, like if I called it into Crime Stoppers,” Moore explained.

Moore added, “We can now help stop violent criminals in their tracks and we can keep people from reoffending because of this powerful tool and so we've mostly been working cold cases, but we do see that law enforcement is starting to use this more and more in active cases. And that's where it can have the biggest impact. We can keep people from ever becoming serial offenders, murderers or rapists and save a lot of lives in the process.” Top Stories

Stay Connected