Evidence from the 1953 Stanley Park crime scene, including a hatchet, found beside the skeletal remains of two boys. (Vancouver Police Department)

Evidence from the 1953 Stanley Park crime scene, including a hatchet, found beside the skeletal remains of two boys. (Vancouver Police Department)

DNA breakthrough expected in cold case involving murdered Vancouver boys, 7 and 8

Forensic analysts are working to identify relatives of the children, whose bodies were found in Stanley Park in 1953

DNA could soon provide a breakthrough of insights into one of Vancouver’s longest-running unsolved murder cases.

For more than seven decades, police investigators have worked to identify the skeletal remains of two boys, aged 7 and 8, found in 1953.

The children had been bludgeoned by a hatchet and covered by a woman’s coat near Beaver Lake in Stanley Park.

A groundskeeper made the harrowing discovery.

“We still don’t know who these boys were, why they were in Vancouver or who killed them,” said Sgt. Steve Addison.

So far, evidence found on the crime scene consists of the suspected murder weapon, a woman’s coat, shoe, belt and picnic basket of food.

Vancouver Police is contracting U.S.-based Redgrave Research Forensic Services to examine DNA recently extracted from the boys’ bones.

Forensic analyst Anthony Redgrave plans to compare the DNA to public databases, including Ancestry.ca and 23AndMe, to identify their relatives.

The whole-genome sequence gathered from the DNA can identify relatives as far back as the 6th-cousin level, Redgrave said.

RELATED: DNA privacy questioned in B.C. cold case arrest

It’s believed the children – referred to now as the “Babes in the Woods” – were killed in 1948 and laid undiscovered for close to five years.

One of the working theories from detectives is that the boys’ mother was involved in the boys’ deaths. This, gathered from the jacket that covered their bodies at the crime scene.

“For decades our investigators have chased down leads with hopes of someday identifying the victims and people responsible for this unsolved crime,” Addison said.

“We think the Redgrave team can build a family tree for these boys and possibly identify others who are related to these young victims.”

Knowing the identities of the murdered boys could lead to a breakthrough in finding their killer, Addison said.

READ MORE: B.C. cold case helps ‘60 Minutes’ explain genetic genealogy



sarah.grochowski@bpdigital.ca

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B.C.. homicidesdouble murderVancouverVancouver police

 

Over the years, police have worked with sketch artists to draw what the boys could have looked like at the times of their deaths. (Vancouver Police Department)

Over the years, police have worked with sketch artists to draw what the boys could have looked like at the times of their deaths. (Vancouver Police Department)

The Stanley Park crime scene, pictured in 1953. (Vancouver Police Department)

The Stanley Park crime scene, pictured in 1953. (Vancouver Police Department)

A hatchet, which was used to bludgeon and kill the two boys, was found at the Stanley Park crime scene in 1953. (Vancouver Police Department)

A hatchet, which was used to bludgeon and kill the two boys, was found at the Stanley Park crime scene in 1953. (Vancouver Police Department)

A belt, among other evidence, found at the Stanley Park crime scene in 1953. (Vancouver Police Department)

A belt, among other evidence, found at the Stanley Park crime scene in 1953. (Vancouver Police Department)

A picnic basket, among other evidence, found at the Stanley Park crime scene in 1953. (Vancouver Police Department)

A picnic basket, among other evidence, found at the Stanley Park crime scene in 1953. (Vancouver Police Department)