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Crime News Cold Cases

Man Charged For 1983 Murders Of Two Women Who Were Raped, Stabbed To Death, Including Daughter Of Fiji Water Founder

Toronto Police say 61-year-old Joseph George Sutherland murdered Susan Tice, 45, and Erin Gilmour, 22, in their homes in separate attacks four months apart.

By Jax Miller
How To Use DNA To Crack A Case

Law enforcement officials in Canada have made an arrest in the separate cases of two women murdered nearly 40 years ago.

Joseph George Sutherland, 61, was arrested on Friday for the 1983 murders of Susan Tice, 45, and Erin Gilmour, 22, according to the Toronto Police Service. The women were both raped and stabbed to death four months apart in their Toronto homes and reportedly did not know one another.

With the help of Othram Inc., a laboratory that analyzes DNA, police say genetic genealogy was the key in identifying Sutherland, of Moosonee, Ontario, as a suspect.

“As pleased as we are to announce this arrest, it will never bring Erin or Susan back, and on behalf of the Toronto Police Service, I want to again express my condolences to their families,” said Police Chief James Ramer. “After 39 years of dogged police work, our investigators have made sure this individual will answer for these heinous crimes.

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“The Toronto Police Service will never give up on finding people who commit crimes in our city and who show a flagrant disregard for people’s lives,” Ramer continued.

Police handouts of Joseph Sutherland

The investigation began on Aug. 17, 1983, after a male relative went to Tice’s Grace Street home in Bickford Park, finding her body in an upstairs bedroom. Police say Tice was “sexually assaulted and stabbed numerous times,” with the CBC reporting she was murdered in bed.

Tice was a family therapist and mother of four, having moved to Toronto from Calgary just months prior, according to the Canadian news outlet, The Globe And Mail.

Just four months later, on Dec. 20, 1983, the body of Erin Gilmour was found at her Yorkville apartment. She was also raped and sustained multiple stab wounds.

The murder of Gilmour — an aspiring fashion designer — was widely publicized because she was the daughter of Canadian tycoon David Gilmour, co-founder of Barrick Gold (and later, the founder of Fiji Water). According to CBS News, Barrick was then the world's largest gold-mining company before rival firm Newmont acquired the business in 2019.

It was the son of Barrick founder Peter Munk who found Erin Gilmour’s body, according to the Globe and Mail.

Police handouts of Erin Gilmour and Susan Tice

Both the Toronto Police Homicide and Missing Persons Unit, as well as their Cold Case division, had actively investigated the murders. In 2000, DNA from the original crime scenes helped them determine the same suspect was responsible for both homicides,

Othram Inc. was enlisted in 2019, due in part to their existing rapport with the Toronto Police Service, and used forensic genetic genealogy to track Sutherland down.

“[Sutherland] was not a suspect or person in this case,” Detective Sergeant Steve Smith told reporters, according to the Globe and Mail. “If we had not utilized this technology, we would have not came to his name.”

At a press conference on Monday, Tice’s daughter, Christian Tice, said she was “absolutely amazed” by the technology that led investigators to her mother’s alleged killer, according to the Globe and Mail.

“I don’t even know how to put into words the 40 years that our lives have been affected by this,” she said. “I just can’t believe that they did it.”

Gilmour’s brother, Sean McCowan, also spoke at the press conference, stating that the recent arrest “finally puts a name and a face to someone who, for all of us, had been a ghost.”

He lamented the fact that their mother died two years before Sutherland’s arrest, according to the Globe and Mail.

“She would have been so relieved if there would have been an arrest,” McCowan stated. “And so happy that someone would finally face justice after being anonymous for 39 years.”

The Toronto Police Service thanked several agencies for their assistance, including the Ontario Provincial Police and past and current members of their Homicide and Missing Persons Unit and the Cold Case team.

Sutherland is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and is expected to appear in court on Dec. 9.

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