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Ontario cold case: DNA technology helps solve woman’s murder 25 years later, police say

Niagara police say they’ve solved a 25-year-old murder using DNA and genetic genealogy connecting the death of a Toronto woman to a suspect from Northern Ontario.

Homicide investigators say DNA evidence has linked the death of then 26-year-old Nadine Gurczenski with a New Liskeard truck driver who died in 2017.

Gurczenski’s body was found in a “roadside ditch” on May 8, 1999, around 5 p.m. in an area around Victoria Avenue and Eighth Avenue in the Town of Lincoln.

“Three passing cyclists … located a female’s body in the ditch on Victoria Avenue, which is in Vineland,” Det. Staff Sgt. Andrew Knevel explained.

Knevel says based on location, and the condition the body was found in, it was determined the 26-year-old club dancer from Mississauga had been murdered.

A postmortem conducted at the Center of Forensic Sciences in Toronto would determine the cause of Gurczenski’s death was a fracture in her neck via strangulation.

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She would be identified weeks later when her husband Paul Gurczenski came forward after investigators publicly released photos tied to the crime.

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DNA evidence of a potential suspect, collected from the victim’s body, could not be matched with any individual since no profile existed within known crime databases at the time.

Knevel says a dive by investigators into genetic genealogy and open-source databases, which allow consumers to find distant relatives through DNA testing companies, were able to narrow down a name associated with a potential profile.

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“That just simply creates … a person of interest, and then it’s up to us to utilize our … general investigative techniques to follow that up to compare DNA with an offender,” he said.

A road trip to New Liskeard, near the Quebec border, would turn out to be fruitful as the DNA of the man they suspected was collected and matched with a sample collected from the crime scene.

Joseph Archie “Raymond” Brousseau, formerly of New Liskeard, Ont. was eventually identified as the suspect, say police.

He was 34 at the time of the murder. He died in 2017, according to Knevel.

“Being a truck driver … we were able to determine that his trucking routes brought him in and through the Niagara region,” the detective revealed.

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“He was a trucker throughout Canada and the United States and we were able to determine that he utilized some of our roadways in Niagara, which could lead to his familiarity with the area.”

It’s not clear to investigators how Gurczenski and Brousseau met, resulting in a posthumous second-degree murder charge since previous connections between the two could not be established, says Knevel.

Gurczenski’s family expressed their gratitude to Niagara police in a statement and fondness for “new technologies” that progressed the closure of the case.

“We want to recognize that Nadine was an incredibly important part of our family. She meant more than a news headline,” the note said.

“She was a beautiful young woman inside and out, mother, wife, and now grandmother who had her whole life ripped away from her and everyone who loved her.”

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