Coroner finds no DNA evidence in Truscott case
Ontario's chief coroner said Monday that it is impossible to conduct DNA
testing on the remains of Lynne Harper, the victim in one of Canada's highest
profile murder cases.
The girl's remains were exhumed last week as part of a review of the
conviction of her 14-year-old neighbour Steven Truscott, who was jailed in
1959 for the crime.
Mr. Truscott spent years on death row for the young girl's rape and murder
before being released on parole in 1969. In 2004, a report by a retired judge
concluded that there had been a miscarriage of justice in the case, which was
later referred to Ontario's Court of Appeal for review.
The exhumation of the girl's body was carried out under the orders of Ontario
Attorney-General Michael Bryant with the consent of Lynne's family.
Both Crown and defence experts were present at the disinterment and when
later forensic examinations were carried out in Toronto.
It had been hoped that DNA recovered from the body might help provide clear
answers in the case, which has haunted the Canadian justice system since the
time of the young girl's murder.
Dr. Barry McLellan, the province's chief coroner, said Monday, however, that
that now appears unlikely.
“It is clear to the experts, having regard to the condition of Lynne
Harper's remains, that it will not be possible to conduct DNA testing on the
remains to advance the criminal investigation into this death,” Dr. McLellan
That information had been given to the girl's family last week.
“Everyone involved has approached the disinterment and the subsequent
examinations with the utmost of respect for Lynne Harper and her family,” Dr.
McLellan said in a statement issued by his office.
“It was a conscious decision to wait until today to release this
information, notwithstanding the significant public interest in the process, to
provide the family with appropriate privacy until the re-interment was
All information arising from the forensic examination will be given to both
defence and Crown counsel in the case.
Mr. Truscott had lived in anonymity for the three decades after his release
from prison. He came forward in 1997, looking to prove his innocence in the
killing and had offered his DNA for testing.
The girl's body was re-interred late Friday after a short religious ceremony
attended by her family.
With a report from Canadian Press