DNA Used to Solve 20 Year Old Cold Case Sexual Assault of 79 Year Old Grandmother

New Westminster, BC – New Westminster Police Department detectives have used DNA and other evidence to link James Gray to the 1996 sexual assault of Dorothy Darnel.

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In the early morning hours of October 4th 1996, Dorothy Darnel, a 79 year old grandmother was viciously attacked in her home as she slept. Her attacker beat her so severely that her cheekbone was shattered and she would lose sight in one eye. After Dorothy Darnel lost consciousness the attacker sexually assaulted her.

Original investigators recovered forensic evidence at the scene and followed up on the hundreds of tips that came in from across the province. An artist’s rendition of the suspect was circulated throughout the media and an appeal for witnesses to come forward was issued. Additionally, a $12,000 reward was offered by the New Westminster Police Board and a private donor for the arrest and charge of the suspect responsible.

In March of 2016, there was a DNA link between a suspect from 1996 and a recent break and enter in Coquitlam. Our Major Crime Unit investigated the new evidence and have since arrested and charged James Gray, a 48 year old male from Vancouver. The New Westminster Police Department would like to extend its appreciation to the Coquitlam RCMP for their assistance with this investigation.

With respect to the New Westminster charges, Mr. Gray has been charged with:

  • Aggravated sexual assault
  • Break and enter
  • Forcible confinement
  • Robbery
  • Choking to overcome resistance; and,
  • Uttering threats

Chief Constable Dave Jones was one of the original Constables who assisted with the Dorothy Darnel case.

“It means a great deal to me to see this 20 year old case has come to a close,” stated Chief Constable Dave Jones, “Mrs. Darnel was a strong woman who shared this experience with other seniors and empowered them to take steps to protect their own safety.”

“This case, sat idle for two decades,” stated Media Relations Officer Sergeant Jeff Scott. “It would still be unsolved if it wasn’t for the tenacious and persistent efforts of our Major Crime Unit and the piece of evidence provided by the Coquitlam RCMP. Their relentless pursuit of justice will now allow the Darnel family to close a very painful, yet important chapter in their family history.”

The New Westminster Police Department would like encourage anyone who knows something about an unsolved case to call our non-emergency line at 604-525-5411.

New Westminster Police Department


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