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Woman found dead in Lake Ontario in 2017 matches identity of missing person in Switzerland

Genetic genealogy has helped Toronto police identify a woman who was found dead in Lake Ontario in 2017.

Police announced the new development in the five-year-old cold case on Wednesday.

On August 10, 2017, officers responded to a call for unknown trouble at Humber Bay Shores Park in Etobicoke, Ont. at 5:15 p.m.

The woman was discovered wearing a red tank top and navy blue pants with no identification or personal possessions.

Police released an artist’s rendition of the woman, describing her as white, 44 to 70 years old, five-foot-four to five-foot-six inches, 135 to 150 pounds with brown eyes and short gray hair.

Investigators launched a Canada-wide missing person case and made public appeals to identify the woman, but no leads surfaced.

Then, in January 2023, Toronto police began using investigative genetic genealogy, which revealed that the unidentified woman had distant relatives in North America, most of whom had heritage that traced back to a specific region in Switzerland.

In August 2023, Toronto police with the assistance of the RCMP reached out to police in the European nation, and began focusing their investigation on a woman who went missing from there in September 2017.

A DNA comparison between the deceased woman found in Lake Ontario and relatives of the missing person in Switzerland confirmed that the cases were a match.

Swiss police notified the woman’s family of their discovery. Toronto police said they are not releasing the woman’s identity because her death was not a criminal matter. 

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