Windsor police hope DNA composite profile will help solve 45-year-old murder
Published Thursday, April 21, 2016 10:27AM EDT Last Updated Thursday, April 21, 2016 4:57PM EDT
Windsor police are using new technology they hope will help them find the break they are looking for in an almost 45-year-old cold case.
It's a murder that CTV News profiled in a two-part series last year - one that involves the most innocent of victims, six-year-old Ljubica Topic.
Windsor police want you take a good look at the composite profiles.
They aren't an exact picture of the man they believe killed Topic, but they could offer clues about what he might have looked like then and now.
“When I close my eyes, I hear her voice, ‘Mama Mama,’ but nobody's there," says Paula Topic, mother of Ljubica Topic.
It’s a case that's haunted the loved ones of a six-year-old child, the community and Windsor police.
“I think it's the depiction of the most innocent victim you can imagine, a six year old girl," says Const. Scott Chapman Windsor police major crime unit.
On May 14, 1971 Topic was playing near her Drouillard Road home.
Between 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m., police say a man approached Ljubica and her 8-year-old brother.
“He offered Ljubica an amount of cash to go with him,” says Chapman. “He then provided a small amount of change to Michael to ride his bike in the other direction."
A search ensued. It didn't have a happy ending.
Ljubica's body was found in the backyard of a home in the 1600 block of Hickory Avenue. She had been brutally beaten and sexually assaulted.
Now, almost 45 years later, police have what they believe may be a look at the person responsible.
"We wanted to try something different to generate some new leads," says Chapman.
So they sent a DNA sample to Virgina, to a company called Parabon, for a DNA phenotyping service.
“What phenotyping does is it's an entirely new way to look at that DNA evidence,” says Ellen Mcrae Greytak, director of bioinformatics. “Rather than just pattern matching, it's able to generate new information about that person.”
For example, police now know the suspect likely has brown hair. But in 1971, they were searching for someone they believed was blond.
“Likely has brown or hazel eyes. Fair skinned and doesn't have any freckles."
They have also able to determine the suspect ancestry is northern European.
“British, Dutch, Irish, north European, Scottish or United Kingdom."
Parabon says the technology took five years to develop. It was funded by the U.S. department of defence. It launched about a year and half ago and the Windsor police service is only the second agency in Canada to use it.
“That composite is not intended to be a drivers licence photo of that person. All we're doing is predicting from their DNA.”
Which means they don't know things such as the suspects age, weight and hairstyle.
Still, it gives police a scientific glimpse into what the killer may look like and they hope it will generate more tips from the public.
“Her family still wants to know what happened to her this police service does and I think the city wants to know what happened."
After speaking about this case last year, they received dozens of tips and were able to rule out about 20 suspects.
They hope these photos might jog someone's memory.
They also say the male suspect likely had a missing a front tooth around the time that Ljubica went misising.
Although it's been decades, they remain confident they will solve this case.