Christine Jessop's killer helped in search, attended funeral and wake, family says

The man responsible for Christine Jessop's rape and murder went searching for the nine-year-old girl after she disappeared in 1984 and attended her funeral and wake, her mother and brother said during an interview with CTV News Toronto and CP24.

After Janet Jessop learned the name of her daughter’s killer – Calvin Hoover – on Thursday morning she began to recount the day Christine went missing more than three decades ago.

Janet said she was planning to visit Christine’s father in jail with her son, Ken Jessop, on Oct. 3, 1984.

Ken said prior to leaving for the visit, his mother had phoned his father’s lawyer, his boss and Hoover’s wife.

At the time, Hoover and his wife were neighbours with the Jessop family and police said Hoover may have worked with the father.

“When she was on the phone with Hoover’s wife, Christine was having a tantrum wanting to see her father,” he said. “She hadn’t seen her father in a month and she was told Christine you’re too young you can’t so (Hoover’s wife) sympathized with that and must have told (Hoover) in passing.”

“He saw his opportunity, his chance and he took it. There was nothing random about this.”

Janet said when they returned to their Queensville home from the jailhouse Christine was nowhere to be found, so they began to search a nearby park, phoned some of her friends and ultimately decided to call police.

“I knew something wasn’t right then,” she said. “About an hour and a half after we got home I thought this isn’t right – she’d be maybe hiding somewhere, playing a game, something like that. I got a little concerned then when you can’t find her anywhere, in the park, along the street, you know there’s something wrong.”

Christine’s body was discovered nearly three months later in a farm field in Sunderland, about 55 kilometres away from their home. Police said she had been raped and stabbed to death.

A neighbour, Guy Paul Morin, was arrested and wrongfully convicted of her murder. He was acquitted at his first trial, convicted of first-degree murder at his second trial but was then exonerated of any wrongdoing in 1995 after new DNA evidence emerged.

On Thursday morning, 36 years after Christine’s disappearance, police got in touch with her family to inform them that Hoover, who was 28 years old at the time of the murder, was the one responsible.

Semen found on Christine’s underwear was matched to Hoover last week, police told reporters during a news conference held on Thursday afternoon. He died in 2015.

“(The police) came in (to the house) and they sat down and I don’t think it was 10 minutes and he said ‘Well are you OK? Are you sturdy? Do you want to hear some news?’ I said ‘Yes’ and he said who did it and I said ‘Who?’ because it didn’t hit me until he said (the wife’s name) then I knew who it was,” Janet Jessop said.

She said she felt “relieved but confused” about the news, adding that she remembered Hoover to be “a quiet chap.”

“It took me all day yesterday and it still is a little bit this morning. It’s unbelievable why, which you’ll never know now. You try to piece things but you can’t. I can’t piece things together anymore as to what happened. I’ve got to get on with life.”

Christine’s brother said he did not remember much about Hoover but recognized the photograph police released of him on Thursday.

“He was my dad’s friend,” he said. “We were friends with the wife because we would get together for a barbeque and whatever and the kids would go one way and the wives would go one way the fathers would go another.”

Hoover was part of the ongoing search efforts for his sister after she went missing, attended her funeral and came into their family home for the wake with his wife, Ken said.

On Thursday, police said Hoover had an unrelated criminal history and was never considered to be a suspect during the initial investigation into the young girl’s death but did come up as a person of interest at one point.

Toronto Interim Police Chief James Ramer said there are still many unanswered questions in this case. He encouraged anyone with any further information to get in touch with investigation.