Nearly 51 years after she was last seen alive, York Regional Police detectives say they finally know who killed North York teenager Yvonne Leroux — thanks to decades-old DNA evidence.
Leroux, who was 16 years old at the time of her death, was last seen alive on the night of Nov. 29,1972, walking in the area of Oakdale Road and Finch Avenue West in Toronto. The next morning, her body was found on a side road in the Township of King, 24 kilometres north. She had died of blunt force trauma to the head.
For years, no one knew who killed her — but on Tuesday, police announced a new investigative tool, coupled with preserved DNA evidence from the scene, had pointed detectives to Leroux’s killer: a Toronto man named Bruce Charles Cantelon.
Cantelon, police say, died by suicide in 1974, 19 months after Leroux’s death. The 26-year-old was known to police at the time, investigators say, having committed several violent offences against women and having been incarcerated at various points in his life due to mental health issues.
In a news release issued Wednesday, police said if Cantelon was still alive, he would have been charged with murder.
Deputy Chief Alvaro Almeida called the incident a “cruel and ruthless murder” at a news conference.
“Despite the sad circumstances of Yvonne’s death, I am gratified to be able to deliver her family this resolution, if not closure,” Almeida said. “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 is responsible.”
Police say dozens of investigators worked on the case over the years, and the York Regional Police Services Board had twice issued a $50,000 reward linked to the case, but to no avail.
Instead, it was investigative genetic genealogy (IGG) technology, which can identify relatives of the source of the crime-scene DNA, police say, that led investigators to Cantelon.
“Having exhausted all traditional investigative means in this case, in 2022, investigators turned to IGG to assist with the investigation into Yvonne’s murder,” police said in the news release. “Using suspect DNA found at the crime scene, which thankfully was secured at the time and preserved for more than 50 years, a DNA profile was generated and then uploaded to public genealogical databases.”
Armed with that new information, alongside a review of public and archival records as well as evidence gathered at the time Leroux’s body was found, investigators narrowed their search down to Cantelon’s relatives, and then finally, to Cantelon himself.
“[York Regional Police] owes its gratitude to the Leroux family for its ongoing support in very difficult circumstances,” police said in the news release.