WARNING: This article contains details of sexual assault and may affect those who have experienced it or know someone affected by it.
Windsor police say they've cracked the case of a six-year-old girl murdered more than 50 years ago, and have released the name of the person they say killed her.
Police said Wednesday night that a man named Frank Arthur Hall, who died in 2019, was responsible for the death of Ljubica Topic. Windsor police announced in 2019 that they'd solved the cold case, but are only now naming Hall as the person they say is responsible.
Police say they identified Hall, who was 22 at the time of the crime, "through relentless investigative work and advances in forensic technology," and noted that "DNA evidence was crucial."
Topic was abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered on May 14, 1971, police say.
She'd been playing outside her family's home on Drouillard Road when a stranger lured her away with the promise of money, police said in a media release. She was later found dead near an alley a kilometre away from her home. The case attracted national attention.
The case had been reopened six times since the 1970s, with hundreds of tips from across Canada and the U.S. In 2015, police revealed the profile of a suspect after new evidence — two of Ljubica's teeth and one adult tooth — were found near where her body had been discovered.
There have been more than 500 persons of interest in the case over the years.
Decision not to name culprit overturned
Police said in December 2019 that they'd found the man responsible, but wouldn't release his name. They now say Hall died in February 2019.
Police say Hall lived in the 1800 block of Drouillard Road, fewer than two kilometres down the street from the Topic home. According to investigators, Hall later moved to Edmonton and died there at age 70.
Police say while they initially cited the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act as a reason not to name Hall, "our new leadership team reexamined and ultimately overturned the decision. All such cases will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis for public awareness."
"We are committed to operating with full transparency and serving the interests of the people of Windsor and Amherstburg," Chief Jason Bellaire said in the release.
"We hope this decision meets the public's need for knowledge and offers the opportunity for members of the community to provide further information that may assist with other investigations."
CBC Windsor has reached out to Windsor police for further comment.
Support is available for anyone who has been sexually assaulted. You can access crisis lines and local support services through this Government of Canada website or the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. If you're in immediate danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911.