Art and DNA technology combine to try to identify human remains from 1989

Syed Azam

On the surface, most people wouldn’t think there is a place for artistry in a law enforcement environment. Most people would be inaccurate.

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) has released a clay facial reconstruction in the hope of identifying human remains first recovered west of Kingston 33 years ago.

On October 21, 1989, a man’s body was discovered in the north ditch of County Road 14 in Stone Mills Township, three kilometres east of the village of Enterprise. A gag was in the man’s mouth and his hands were bound, indicating the victim met with foul play. It is estimated that the body may have been in the ditch for approximately two weeks during which time the man’s facial features decomposed making it difficult to determine age or nationality.

With the assistance of the Ontario Forensic Pathology Service and bio-geographical D-N-A testing, investigators have learned that the victim was of South Asian descent. Forensic anthropological analysis of the remains suggests that this is a South Asian male, aged 35 to 55 years. He had black hair balding on top with very little around the temple. He was wearing a white, short-sleeved ‘Pierre Cardin’ dress shirt, a red and blue fine-striped heavy pullover, a ‘Hunt Club’ sweater with a red, black and grey diamond pattern, size medium; grey socks with blue and red stripes; and black loafer-style shoes, size 8 ½. All investigative efforts to date have not been able to identify this victim.

Investigators then called upon the OPP Forensic Artist and Reconstruction Analyst.

A three-dimensional model was created by Detective-Constable Duncan Way who combined existing physical evidence, his interpretation of more recent DNA-related information and artistic talent to craft what is called a ‘facial approximation.’ This work is in addition to numerous projects requiring his talents to create 2-D sketches of suspects for the OPP and other police services to support their criminal investigations. The OPP investigation team is hopeful this 3-D reconstruction will prompt the public, family, friends or co-workers from that time to provide new information to help identify the individual.

The victim in this case was also wearing a unique ‘evil eye’ pendant attached to a gold chain by a safety pin. Detective Inspector Serge Acay (Major Case Manager) says the ‘evil eye’ pendant attached to a gold chain is significant and remains especially prominent in the Mediterranean area of Europe and in West Asia including Egypt, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Lebanon, as well as Southern Italy. ‘We hope this work and our ongoing investigation will assist with identifying this person and bring resolution to his family and friends,’ adds Acay.

A staggering number of people remain missing meaning many more families, friends and co-workers are affected by their absences in their lives. As of March 9, 2022, there were 8,007 people on the Canadian Police Information Centre database listed as missing; in Canada with 1,665 people are listed as missing; from Ontario (1,138 males; 527 females). In Ontario, 404 persons are noted as being missing from OPP-policed jurisdictions.

With 226 unidentified remains within the Missing Children/Persons and Unidentified Remains database, Deputy Commissioner Chuck Cox of the OPP Investigations and Organized Crime Command remarked, ‘We MUST do whatever we can to try to identify them. We are committed to finding out who these people are. We owe it to their loved ones.’

A reward of up to $50,000 is available for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for this crime. Police urge anyone with information to call the OPP non-emergency number at 1-888-310-1122, their local police service or – to remain anonymous – contact CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or online at . Anyone with new information on this case can call a dedicated missing persons hotline toll-free at 1-877-934-6363 (1-877-9-FINDME) in Canada only or 1-705-330-4144 from outside Canada. You can also submit information by e-mail at [email protected]


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