Over a half century ago 16-year-old Yvonne Leroux of Toronto was murdered on 16th Sideroad in the Township of King.
For 51 years , the crime went unsolved, with little known about what happened the night of Nov. 30, 1972.
Leroux had last been seen in Toronto on Nov. 29 before her body was discovered the next day, 24 kilometres north on 16th Sideroad between Jane Street and Keele Street.
She had died of blunt force trauma to the head, but a killer was never identified until now. York Regional Police confirmed Tuesday using new technology and forensic DNA testing that she was killed by 26-year-old Bruce Charles Cantelon of Toronto.
Police could not confirm whether the two had previously been known to each other nor the circumstances of what took place that night beyond Leroux’s murder, but Deputy Chief Alvaro Almeida called it “cruel and ruthless.”
Although specifics are unclear, police said Cantelon had committed multiple violent offences against women and had been incarcerated at various times in his life due to mental health issues, police said, including an incarceration of six years prior to the murder of Leroux.
Cantelon committed suicide 19 months after the murder of Leroux, in 1974, which made it difficult at the time to connect the murder back to him, police said. After his death, all records of him pretty much ceased, police explained, whereas there would have been decades of potential opportunity to gather further evidence about him.
“It absolutely made it more difficult,” Nauman said. “The trail ended with his death.”
Despite multiple appeals to the public, including a $50,000 reward, and years of investigation, Cantelon was never found until now.
York Regional Police Cold Case Unit Det. Jonathan Nauman was able to get a breakthrough on the case thanks to Investigative Genetic Genealogy (IGG), a tool that identifies suspect DNA left at a crime scene when other investigative means have been exhausted.
“IGG is used in criminal investigations to identify relatives of the source of the crime scene DNA, as a means to then identify the suspect,” he said.
The Cold Case Unit turned to IGG in 2022, and using suspect DNA found at the crime scene that was preserved for more than 50 years, was able to generate a profile that was uploaded to public genealogical databases.
Using IGG, along with other evidence investigators, were able to identify Cantelon earlier this year and with more investigation, including speaking with relatives, police said they were comfortable confirming him as the killer a few months ago.
“If he were alive today he would be facing a charge of murder,” said Nauman. “The diligence and dedication of the investigators who worked this case for the last 50 years has finally paid off.”
While it took decades, the Leroux family never gave up, police said, and continued to work with them throughout the investigation in hopes of one day identifying Yvonne’s killer.
In a statement prepared by the Leroux family, they said she is far from forgotten and that her murder has affected the family through many generations and remained a focus of attention at family gatherings. The family said the murder has brought experiences they wouldn’t wish on anyone.
“For over a half century our family has wondered,” the statement said. “Getting some answers will never change what happened or bring her back.”
The family also added that they hope more funding will become available for new advancements in DNA genealogy so that more grieving families can have clarity.
“Despite the sad circumstances of Yvonne’s death, I am gratified to be able to deliver her family this resolution, if not closure,” said Almeida. “I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been living all these years with such a loss and not knowing all this time who was responsible.”
York Regional Police’s Cold Case Unit says it will never stop searching for answers, no matter how old the case may be. If you believe you have information about this case or any cold case, email investigators at [email protected] or call Crime Stoppers. Learn more about cold cases of York Region here.