Vancouver police announced Tuesday (Feb. 15) that they have identified skeletal remains found in Stanley Park nearly 70 years ago.
Police said brothers Derek and David D’Alton, ages seven and six, respectively, at the time of their deaths. Investigators believe they were killed by a close relative who died about 25 years ago.
The boys’ remains, found in 1953 by a groundskeeper clearing brush near Beaver Lake, continued to be investigated over the years. In 2021, investigators sent a DNA sample from the boys to Redgrave Research Forensic Services, a Massachusetts-based forensic genetic genealogist company.
The company was able to identify the maternal grandparents of one of the boys and constructed a family tree by comparing the brothers’ DNA to that of family members who used private companies for genetic testing.
“We knew there were good odds of finding a living family member out there somewhere,” said Det. Const. Aida Rodriguez. “But, once we discovered that DNA match, we still had a significant amount of work to do to locate family members, check school records, and confirm specific details about the victims so we could be absolutely certain about their identities.”
Investigators met with a distant relative who lives in the Metro Vancouver region earlier this month and were able to learn that the boys were descendants of Russian immigrants who came to Canada near the start of the 20th century.
Police believe that the boys were killed by a close relative who died 25 years ago.
“After seven decades as a cold case, we presumed that the person who killed Derek and David had likely passed away,” said Insp. Dale Weidman. “But at this stage in the investigation, it was never about seeing someone charged for these crimes. It was always about giving these boys a name and finally telling their story.”