Friday, July 2, 2021

44-year-old murder mystery of man found in septic tank solved using genetic technology

Forensic technology has unearthed the identity of a murder victim discovered in a septic tank 44 years ago in canada, according to local authorities.


The Alberta Royal Canadian Mounted Police have said the remains were of Gordon Edwin Sanderson, an Indigenous man, believed to be in his twenties, originally from Manitoba. At the time of his death, he had been living in Edmonton, according to the police.

“He was known as Gordie to his family and friends,” Sargent Jason Zazulak said at a press conference.

“Gordie had a hard life. He was separated from his family at nine years old and during the ‘60s Scoop and placed in foster care.”

The ‘60s Scoop refers to a government policy in Canada that removed thousands of child from Indigenous communities from their families and put them into care homes.

Recently in Canada, there has been a push for action from the government over the injustice faced by Indigenous communities. In November 2020, the 60s scoop healing foundation was established with the intention to create “deeper knowledge and empathy for survivors’ experiences and histories.“ This included being split up from families, a loss of cultural heritage, and other injustices. Survivors and their families have become outspoke about the trauma it still causes.

Mr Sanderson “struggled with addictions and had various run-ins with the police,” Sgt. Zazulak said.

At the time of his initial discovery in 1977, police had determined Mr Sanderson had been abused, both physically and sexually after his body was uncovered on a farm in septic tank. This was 43 miles away from where he had been living in April 1977 in Tofield.

To uncover the truth about the remains, they used the same methods as to figure out the identity of the Golden State Killer; genetic genealogy. The process began last year when the authorities in Alberta sent DNA samples to Texas to be studied in Othram Labs. They checked the police samples against other DNA samples to determine Mr Sanderson’s family history by finding genetic matches, finding out he had a sister, Joyce Sanderson.

Before doing this, investigators had attempted to create a 3D model of what he face might have looked like in order to identify Mr Sanderson.

According to Sgt. Zazulak, he was “last heard of by family when he was going to meet his younger brother, Arthur, in Calgary.”

He also said his identity was confirmed in January, and prompted an active murder investigation, but admitted the killer could be dead by now.

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