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

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

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)

Just Posted

Graeme Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-86, died this month at age 89. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Community Archives)
City of Nanaimo flags at half-mast as former mayor Graeme Roberts dies at 89

‘Giant-killer’ beat out Frank Ney in mayoral election in 1984

Curl B.C. chairperson Teri Palynchuk is this year’s winner of the Janette Robbins Award for leadership. Palynchuk is pictured here with the Curling Canada Foundation Cup along with past chairperson Peter Muir, left, and Curl B.C. CEO Scott Braley. (Photo courtesy Curl B.C.)
Nanaimo curling exec wins Curl B.C. leadership award

Teri Palynchuk receives Janette Robbins Award

(Black Press file photo)
RCMP: Air ambulance called to Whiskey Creek after crash involving 2 motorbikes

Both riders taken to hospital with serious injuries

Vancouver courthouse. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Man loses bid to appeal conviction for 1999 rape at Abbotsford music festival

James Redden, 53, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty in 2019 following six-day trial

Nanaimo author B.S. Thompson has released his debut novel, ‘The Book of Nodd.’ (Photo courtesy Nora Funk)
Nanaimo author invites readers into dangerous world of dreams in debut novel

B.S. Thompson unveils ‘The Book of Nodd’ with online launch June 20

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

There is an emergency shelter near the Golden Ears peaks. (Facebook/Special to The News)
Hiker fogged in on Golden Ears, spends 2 nights

Talon Helicopters, Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue bring him home Monday

Annamie Paul, leader of the Green Party of Canada, speaks at a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on June 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul facing no-confidence motion from party brass

move follows months of internal strife and the defection of MP Jenica Atwin to the Liberals

Tulips bloom in front of the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa, Thursday, May 10, 2018. Day two of a full week of scheduled hearings will be heard in Federal Court today on a case involving Indigenous children unnecessarily taken into foster care by what all parties call Canada’s “broken child welfare system.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
AFN slams Ottawa for ‘heartless’ legal challenge of First Nations child compensation

2019 decision awarded $40,000 to each Indigenous child removed before 2006

Rick Ruppenthal of Saltair will host a 12-hour talk-a-thon Friday, June 18 over Facebook live. (Photo submitted)
Talk-a-thon to focus on men’s mental health issues

Island man spearheading a campaign to generate more conversation during fundraiser

Ivy was thrown out of a moving vehicle in Kelowna. Her tail was severely injured and will be amputated. (BC SPCA)
Kitten thrown from moving vehicle, needs help: Kelowna SPCA

The seven-week-old kitten had severe tail and femur injuries

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre estimates that less than five per cent of mass-marketing fraud is ever reported.
Tips to avoid scams targeting Vancouver Island seniors

In most cases, fraudsters impersonate an individual, business or agency seniors recognize and trust

A health-care worker holds up a sign signalling she needs more COVID-19 vaccines at the ‘hockey hub’ mass vaccination facility at the CAA Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on Friday, June 4, 2021. This NHL-sized hockey rink is one of CanadaÕs largest vaccination centres. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
‘Vaxxed to the max’: Feds launch Ask an Expert campaign to encourage COVID shots

Survey shows that confidence in vaccines has risen this spring

Port Alberni court house (Alberni Valley News)
Inquest set into 2016 death of B.C. teen after a day spent in police custody

18-year-old Jocelyn George died of heart failure in hospital after spending time in jail cell

Most Read