A 61-year-old man has been charged in the cold case killings of two women who were found dead in their Toronto homes within months of each other almost four decades ago, police said Monday.
Police Chief James Ramer said Joseph George Sutherland, of Moosonee, Ontario, was arrested Thursday and charged with first-degree murder in the killings of Erin Gilmour and Susan Tice in 1983.
Both women had been sexually assaulted and stabbed to death, Ramer said. Although their bodies were discovered four months apart, detectives linked the deaths using DNA technology in 2000, and investigators suspected the same man in both cases, he said.
Police said Gilmour was a 22-year-old aspiring fashion designer and Tice was a 45-year-old mother of four who held a master’s degree in social work and worked with disadvantaged children.
“We’re all very happy an arrest has been made in the vicious murders of Erin and Susan Tice,” said Sean McCowan, Erin’s brother. “This is a day that I and we’ve been waiting almost an entire lifetime for.”
Police Detective-Sgt. Steve Smith said advances in science allowed them to narrow down a suspect family, then a suspect. Police are looking to see if Sutherland is linked to any other cases.
Smith said Sutherland was living in Toronto at the time of the deaths. He said there is a publication ban on the case and declined to release more details.
Sutherland is next set to appear in court on Dec. 9.
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