WATCH: 12-year-old Carolyn Lee was killed in 1977 while 11-year-old Jessica States was murdered in 1996. Bother killers were eventually caught and their DNA was used to convict them.
The summer of 1996 saw the City of Port Alberni gripped with fear and grief after 11-year-old Jessica States was brutally murdered.
A year later another suspect went to trial for the 1977 murder of 12-year-old Carolyn Lee and when it’s when DNA evidence was used for the first time in Canada.
“In Canada Port Alberni is where it all started,” said Shayne Morrow who has written a book about the murders and how DNA evidence was used to catch the killers.
Heritage House Publishing says the book is about “two landmark murder investigations on Vancouver Island that changed the course of forensic DNA history in Canada.”
Morrow started as a reporter at the Alberni Valley Times in 1996 and followed both cases closely.
“The samples had been saved. The crime scene samples had been saved, oddly enough. That’s how determined the police were at the time,” said Morrow.
Morrow decided to write the book back in 1999 and says he’s had an interest in DNA since he “geeked on it” in high school.
What struck him the most beyond how DNA convicted both killers is that the RCMP never gave up.
“It’s about this community that wasn’t going to let go,” he said. The Carolyn Lee case in particular just hooked them. We’re going to get this guy. We’re going to get this guy.”
Police had the samples but it didn’t become legal to use DNA in court until 1997. By then Port Alberni RCMP was ready and waiting.
But 42 years after Lee’s death, Morrow found people are still very affected by it.
“Lyle Price, he was the man how found Carolyn out in the potato fields. He was a city councilor for years. I was able to contact him and he told me straight up this affected him for the rest of his life,” said Morrow.
The “Bulldog and the Helix” will be launched at a free event in Port Alberni on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Echo Centre.