'He saw his opportunity and he took it,' Family speaks with CP24 after police solve 1984 murder of Christine Jessop
Published Friday, October 16, 2020 1:55PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, October 16, 2020 4:46PM EDT
Janet Jessop has broken her silence after police finally solved the murder and rape of her then nine-year-old daughter back in 1984, telling CP24 that she is “relieved” to finally have some closure but “confused” about why a trusted neighbour would have committed such a depraved act.
Police announced on Thursday that they have identified a now deceased man who they believe was responsible for Christine Jessop’s disappearance and murder 36 years ago.
Police said that the man, Calvin Hoover, was never considered a suspect in the case but did come up as a person of interest due to the fact that “he and his wife had a neighbour-acquaintance relationship” with the Jessop family.
In an interview with CP24 on Friday, Jessop’s mother Janet said that she is still getting over the shock of there finally being some resolution to the cold case but is happy that "how and who are done."
She said that if her daughter were here today she would likely be saying “woo hoo,” because she was “that kind of kid.”
“I felt relieved but I felt confused too,” she said of learning the news. “It took me all day yesterday. It is unbelievable. You try to piece things but you can’t. I can’t piece things anymore together as to what happened. We have to get on with life.”
Christine Jessop went missing from her home in Queensville, Ont. in York Region, just west of Highway 404 on Oct. 3, 1984 shortly after returning from a nearby store. Her body was then discovered nearly three months later in a farm field in Sunderland, Ontario. Police sad that she had been sexually assaulted and stabbed to death.
Speaking with CP24, Janet Jessop said that she remembers her daughter’s killer “as a quiet chap” who often socialized with her husband.
Her son Ken said that Hoover was close enough with the family that he helped with the initial search for his sister back in 1984 and then attended a wake at the house following the funeral.
He said that on the day of Christine Jessop’s disappearance he and his mother were visiting his father in jail, something he believes Hoover knew given his relationship with the family.
In fact, Ken Jessop said that before leaving the house his mother had called Hoover’s wife while Christine “was having a tantrum because she had wanted to go see her father” too.
He said that he suspects Hoover’s wife would have heard the commotion and maybe even mentioned it in passing to her husband.
“He saw his opportunity and his chance and he took it. There was nothing random about this,” he said. “I always said it was somebody that knew my father was in jail and used the pickup line of I will take you to see your father. I am sure he was at the house waiting when she (Christine) got back from the store.”
Another neighbour was wrongfully convicted in case
Another neighbour, Guy Paul Morin, was initially convicted of murdering Jessop and spent two years in jail before he was eventually exonerated thanks to a semen sample that was collected from the nine-year-old’s underwear.
That same semen sample used to exclude Morin as a suspect was then analyzed again in the past year.
Police say that they sent it to a lab in the U.S., which returned a genetic family profile. They then uploaded that profile to a genealogy database, which returned a list of names belonging to people who were related in some way to Hoover.
Police eventually identified Hoover as a person of interest but learned that he had died in 2015.
They then used a DNA sample that was obtained during an autopsy on his body to confirm a genealogical link.
“Don’t ever give up hope that it will come,” Janet Jessop told CP24 on Friday when asked what she would tell other people waiting for justice for their loved ones. “We never thought it would but it did.”
Case remains active
Police told CTV News Toronto on Friday that they are still “actively working” on the Jessop case, despite the significant break.
They said that officers are “working diligently to piece together Hoover’s whereabouts from the time Christine went missing to the time of his death.”
They say that they are doing that both to investigate Hoover’s activity in the years since the homicide and “determine the final moments of Christine’s life.”
Ken Jessop, however, told CP24 on Friday that the break in the case means that his sister “can rest now.”
He said that “it all makes sense now, all the pieces."
“I would have liked to see him (Hoover) face his crime but I think he has already faced it and I am sure it is really hot where he is right now and I hope he enjoys the long stay,” he said. “Rot in hell you bastard.”