Friday, March 12, 2010

The Murder of Christine Jessop


DNA Exoneration--Guy Paul Morin
by Robert A. Waters

DNA has been the gateway to freedom for many inmates--too many for Americans to have much faith in their judicial system. In Canada, DNA has also been used to clear inmates. The murder of nine-year-old Christine Jessop and the wrongful conviction of Guy Paul Morin was one of the first cases in Canada in which DNA proved the innocence of an alleged killer. This is a dark tale of kidnapping, rape and murder, and an even darker tale of cops and prosecutors framing a completely innocent man. The saddest thing about this case is that for more than 25 years, a child-killer has walked free.

On October 3, 1984, at about 3:50 p.m., Christine Jessop, a pretty nine-year-old, got off her school bus, picked up her family's mail, and bounded into her home. No one was there--her father was at work and her mother was running errands. Sometime between 4:00 and 4:30, Christine walked into a nearby convenience store and bought a pack of bubble gum.

The Queensville, Ontario schoolgirl was never seen alive again, except by her killer.

When Janet and Kenneth Jessop returned home at about 4:10, they saw Christine’s book bag on a kitchen counter, as well as the mail and a newspaper. Unable to find Christine, they called her friends and searched the neighborhood and a nearby park. No one had seen her. Sometime between seven and eight o’clock, Janet called police.

Christine was a “normal little girl,” Janet told investigators. She liked sports, especially baseball. She could be a tomboy, but she also had a sensitive side. She loved her dog, Freckles, and other animals. Christine was four feet nine inches tall, and “weighed about 40 pounds soaking wet.” She attended Queensville Public School and was in the fourth grade. Her mother told police that Christine had no reason to run away.

Within minutes of being contacted, York Regional Police began a search of the area. After interviewing neighbors, cops began to turn their attention to the Jessop’s next door neighbor. Guy Paul Morin, 23, was weird, neighbors said. He lived with his mother and father and worked at Interiors International Limited, a local furniture store. He played saxophone and clarinet in a band. A beekeeper, he kept beehives in his back yard, another “oddity,” according to neighbors.

Morin had little contact with his peers. He worked, played music with his band, and stayed home. He didn’t go to pubs and drink, spending most of his time indulging in his hobbies. He also had a girlfriend. Even though he’d never been in any trouble with police, detectives thought the neighbor fit the profile of a child-killer.

When Morin’s mother was interviewed, investigators later testified that they found his actions “strange.” Detectives said that during the session he “stared straight ahead” and never spoke. His so-called suspicious behavior caused cops to further focus on Morin as their one and only suspect.

The furniture maker, however, had an alibi.

According to a later investigation into the wrongful conviction of Morin, the court wrote: “On October 3, 1984, Guy Paul Morin was at his place of employment at IIL. His time card confirmed that he left work that day at 3:32 p.m. He testified that he drove the family Honda north in the direction of his home. He stopped at the Upper Canada Mall in Newmarket on the way and purchased a lottery ticket from Susan Scott at the Infoplace Ticket Centre. He bought groceries at the Dominion Store. He may then have filled up his gas tank at a nearby gas station. He continued to shop at Loblaws and then at Mr. Grocers. He then drove north on Leslie Street, arriving home, he swore, between 5:00 and 5:30 p.m. As he walked towards his house, his brother-in-law was leaving. They spoke briefly. Guy Paul Morin's parents and his sister, Yvette, were at home. He carried the groceries into the kitchen and then, he said, he napped until approximately 6:30 p.m. He had supper with his parents after which he worked with his father outside the house into the evening, using trilights as makeshift floodlights. At his second trial, the prosecution alleged that this alibi evidence was false and that the alibi put forward by Guy Paul Morin and his family had been concocted. (At the first trial, the prosecution contended that Guy Paul’s family [was] mistaken in their support of his alibi.)”

During the initial search for Christine, a police dog “hit” on the Morin’s car. A search of the vehicle turned up fibers that the Ontario Centre of Forensic Sciences later said belonged to Christine.

On December 31, 1984, Christine’s body was found in a field near Sunderland.

According to court documents, “Christine Jessop's body was on its back and her legs were spread apart in an unnatural position, with her knees spread outward. She was wearing a beige turtleneck sweater, a blue pullover sweater, a blouse from which some buttons were missing and a pair of white socks with blue stripes. Subsequently, it was determined she was in fact wearing two pairs of socks. Her panties were found at her right foot. Blue corduroy pants with a belt and a pair of Nike running shoes were found just south of her feet.”

An autopsy report revealed that Christine had been killed by multiple stab wounds to the upper body. Semen was found on her panties, but in 1984, DNA testing was still just a gleam in the eye of genetic biologists. There was no way to identify who the semen came from. Fortunately for Morin, the panties were stored in an evidence locker.

Since the child’s remains had been found in their district, the Durham Regional Police Service took over the lead in the case. Investigators met with the York Regional Police and were told to question Guy Paul Morin.

After further interviews, in which Morin continued to proclaim his innocence, he was arrested and charged with the murder of Christine Jessop.

The first trial took place in January, 1986. The prosecution’s theory was that Morin was an oddball who snapped on the day of the kidnapping. He raped and murdered Christine and then took her body several miles away to dispose of it. A technician from the Ontario Centre of Forensic Sciences testified that red fibers found in Morin’s car came from a sweater worn by Christine. This, the prosecution claimed, “linked” Morin to the murdered child. In addition, two jailhouse snitches, including one identified only as “Mr. X,” testified that while Morin was waiting in jail for his trial, he confessed to killing the girl.

On February 7, with little evidence against the suspect, he was acquitted by the jury.

That should have ended the case, but it didn’t. In Canada, the prosecution can appeal for a new trial if an accused person is acquitted. The prosecution did just that and won.

If a jury trial is a gamble, then Morin drew a dead man’s hand on his second trial. On July 23, 1992, he was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. The same jailhouse snitches, including the infamous “Mr. X,” were viewed more favorably by this jury. But it was said that scientists from the Quebec Centre of Forensic Sciences carried the day when they swore that fibers in Morin’s car matched fibers from a sweater worn by Christine and that a single hair on a necklace the child wore matched that of Morin.

Guy Paul Morin entered the prison as a child-killer. He was abused and raped by other inmates, even as his defense attorneys worked to get him a third trial.

An article from the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys summarized what happened next. “While Morin's appeal was pending before the Ontario Court of Appeal,” it read, “a forensic DNA test [on the semen] unavailable to either party during the first two trials eliminated Morin as the perpetrator. On January 23, 1995, Guy Paul Morin's appeal of his conviction for murder was allowed based on the DNA report, his conviction was set aside, and a directed verdict of acquittal was entered.”

Morin was set free and was eventually awarded nearly $ 1.5 million dollars. An inquest to determine what went wrong was devastating to the Canadian criminal justice system. Testimony revealed that the prosecution withheld exculpatory evidence. Technicians in the forensic lab contaminated the samples presented to them and withheld that information from the defense. The prosecution was aware of the problems in the lab, but illegally chose not to reveal them to the defense. “Mr. X” and the second jailhouse snitch were coached by prosecutors and their sentences cut short for testifying against Morin. In the hearing, it became clear that cops and prosecutors zeroed in on Morin to the exclusion of all evidence, including an airtight alibi that would have cleared him.

An article in The Canadian Encyclopedia illustrates how hard cops worked to convict Morin. “Some of the most dramatic moments in the Morin inquiry came,” the article read, “when Janet and Ken Jessop alleged that two veteran Durham regional police detectives, Bernie Fitzpatrick and John Shephard, convinced them to alter their original versions of events. The Jessops originally told the detectives that they arrived home at 4:10 p.m...But Morin could not have made it home from work before 4:14. In order to convince the court that he had enough time to kidnap and murder Christine, the Jessops changed their story to say they arrived home at 4:35.”

Ken Jessop tearfully apologized to Morin, as did many of those involved in the case.

Christine Jessop’s murderer is still unknown.

16 comments:

Life...Love...Thoughts and Opinions...(of a Divorce Mediator and Counsellor) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rose Forget said...

Has anyone thought to contact the vidocq society? They specialize in extremely cold cases.

ladydove said...

I am Chrissy's cousin. I think of her daily and am very sad that my Mom is no longer here to see the outcome. I think of them both (Chrissy & Mom) and know that they are watching over us as we wait to see justice done. The killer is still running free but his days are slowly gonna come to an end.

Action said...

We are holding an event for Christine Jessop and many other families of unsolved murders on Family Day. This is the Friends of Alex Take Action | 2012 Family Day ONLINE EVENT held by the Facebook group Action For Alex | Help Find Justice for Alexandra Flanagan '2011'. This group was created when our friend was brutally murdered and dismembered and her remains left scattered all over our city. We held 2 events 2 years in a row on family day looking for answers to this murder.An arrest was made last fall and the alleged accused has been charged with first degree murder and causing an indecency to a body. 1500 people participated in the event last year posting links to the information on their Facebook Wall. Since there has been an arrest in the case we are using this event to now work on any other cold cases in this area. Just go to " https://www.facebook.com/groups/Action.For.Alex/357334494294265/?notif_t=group_activity " for further details. :-)

sweetcake said...

I just finished reading the book Redrum the innocent. I was appauled at how the police botched the investigation so bad, they left people of great interest unscaved. They were so fixated on Guy Paul Morin wasting presious hrs that could have been used to get the real killer. I know they were pressured into making an arrest as the whole community wanted answers to the tragidy. I sincerly hope that one day the real killer will be caught.

Alyssa said...

I remember being at the park that day, when her dad approached me with a picture asking if I had seen her, and I had not long before that walking into the store....breaks my heart. To this day.

MICHAEL said...

Her piece of shit BROTHER sexually assaulted her ..... hey, THERE's a good place to start !!!

MICHAEL said...

Her piece of shit BROTHER sexually assaulted her. Hey, THERE's a place to start!!!

Darrell41 said...

I agree with the other commentator, the child's brother did admit molesting her...did cops even bother to check his alibi for the time Christine disappeared ?

Unless the Jessup's were convinced by the police that lying about their arrival at home times,under oath, would convict a murderer, then I don't sympathize with them, especially in light of the criminal conduct of their son.

Darrell41 said...

leasu

MICHAEL said...

did cops even bother to check his alibi for the time Christine disappeared ?

Why would the YORK REGIONAL POLICE want to check the CHILD MOLESTER's alibi. They already had their "killer" ... and their "evidence" against him??? He seemed ODD!!

Way to go, YRP ... professional law enforcement at its best !! On the side of every single police car in YORK REGION, the words "DEEDS SPEAK" are emblazoned. When it comes to GUY PAUL MORIN, they spoke volumes!!

Melissa King said...

Her father wasn't at work he was in jail and her mother was suspected at the very beginning of staging the kidnapping in hopes that her husband would be let out early.

ruby sedore said...

i had no connections to Christine, but when i see pictures of her and to read about her health issues as a baby, i know in my heart that she was a girl with Williams Syndrome, my son has W.S. and her symptoms as a baby are identical to Williams Syndrome criteria. Also her personality fits perfectly,WS people have a "cocktail" personality, which means they are friendly and will talk or go with anyone, anyone is their "friend"...i wish with all my heart someone, somewhere, would look at the case again, science has advanced, i think with a little work, there will be an answer to who killed a sweet, innocent girl, who never had a chance to live.....never forgotten, even by those who never knew you....

ron claringbold said...

i believe that the detectives that handled the case should be held accountable after all they botched the case Morin had someone punch his card after he had already left
further more i believe someone saw something but because they are friends with Morin i believe these 2 persons are lying for Morin.

shelley newman said...

I heard she was found near a car and a trailer..who did those plates belong to?

Unknown said...

You are a fool. His semen didn't match. He didn't rape her, do you think someone else raped her and Guy just happened by and decided to murder her?