DNA Samples Transformed into Composite Sketches of a Killer

Members of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are going high-tech to try to solve a brutal 1988 homicide.

In the afternoon of Friday, September 16, 1988, the body of Thera DIELEMAN was found in her Innerkip-area home on Oxford Road 29 in Blandford-Blenheim Township. The post mortem revealed that the 80-year-old widow had been beaten and strangled but had put up a fight, potentially causing injuries to her attacker.

At a news conference today (August 28th), OPP Detective Superintendent Ken Leppert and Superintendent Catherine Yeandle-Slater, Director of Support for OPP West Region, unveiled new images created from DNA recovered from the murder scene with a goal of providing resolution to Dieleman’s family. Parabon Nano Labs – a DNA technology company – was contracted to create one composite sketch of what the killer may have looked like in 1988 and a second, ‘present day’ likeness in an effort to reduce the current field of potential suspects and elicit new information from the public. Police continue trying to locate the person or persons who would have been driving a flatbed farm truck seen in the driveway of the Dieleman home. The truck was described by witnesses as red in colour with white lettering on the doors, dual rear wheels, and a black headboard protector behind the cab.

       Thera Dieleman
  Conceptual drawing         of perpetrator …
                      … aged
                                                      Truck at the scene

A $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Thera Dieleman’s killer remains on offer. Police urge those with information to call a dedicated tip line toll-free at 1-844-677-9414, or – to remain anonymous – call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

“We believe using existing DNA evidence in this innovative way will ignite memories to help us bring a resolution to Thera Dieleman’s family and her community. We urge everyone to look closely at the sketches and photos and bring information on any aspect of this murder forward for investigation,” said Detective Superintendent Leppert.

“Members of the OPP are committed to resolving this and other outstanding violent crime investigations in West Region to ensure it remains a great place to live, work and visit. The safety of our communities relies upon our residents and the police working together and sharing information, regardless of the passage of time, to find a killer,” added Superintendent Yeandle-Slater.