How did police identify the girl found in a Rosedale dumpster?

On May 2, 2022, a young girl’s body is found in a Rosedale dumpster. Police have no idea who she is or where she’s from.

On June 29, 2023, she’s identified as Neveah Tucker, aged four, of Toronto.

What happened in between?

On Friday, CityNews spoke with the Texas company that helped Toronto Police solve the riddle of her identity, despite having little initial evidence.

The advanced genetic testing company, Othram Inc., explained how it constructed a detailed genetic profile that aided investigators and ultimately led them to a positive identification.

The company, which was also instrumental in helping solve other high-profile cases in Ontario, like the murder of Christine Jessop, says its technology can go far beyond the capabilities of traditional forensic labs to piece together a more fulsome genetic profile.

“We will build a DNA profile and unlike the conventional profiles that the traditional forensic lab tests produce, that’s got like 20 markers in it, we are building profiles that have hundreds of thousands of markers, so we can learn a lot of information about bio-geographical ancestry and Toronto Police Service can use these profiles,” Othram CEO Dr. David Mittelman explained in a phone interview Friday.

Once police have a detailed DNA profile, they then begin searching for matches through DNA sites where people have voluntarily submitted samples.

“Law enforcement can upload a profile and then get matched against people that are both genetic relatives and also consenting to be matched, not everyone wants to do it, and those initial matches are what starts the investigation off.

“So you get your first clue, which is some distant genetic relatives, to start building your family tree from.”

RELATED: Genetic testing that identified suspect in Toronto murders helping solve cold cases across North America

In the case of Tucker, Mittelman said, “it eventually led to the identification of her family and specifically her mother.”

On Thursday Insp. Hank Idsinga said he wouldn’t “comment on the status of her mother in our investigation” adding that at this point no charges have been laid.

He also said the case hasn’t been ruled a homicide because an autopsy failed to determine a cause of death.

“We will see where the investigation takes us,” Idsinga said. “It’s definitely in our minds that this could still potentially become a homicide case.”

Whether any charges come about in Tucker’s death remains to be seen, but the first step is identifying the person, something Mittelman believes would be nearly impossible without the type of advanced DNA technology his company provides.

“No one recognizes the kid and if they don’t pop up in any databases, there’s no fingerprints. What do you do? There’s no other clues to what happened, there’s no witnesses. At that point this (advanced DNA testing) is an excellent method to make sure these cases don’t fall through the cracks and people never get identified.”

“This is the wave of the future.”

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