Investigators Use GPR to Demystify Three Cold Cases This Month

Ground Penetrating Radar, which uses radar pulses to create an image of the subsurface, has been making headlines lately across the world. It was cited as a key factor in the recent discoveries at Stonehenge, and it will also be installed on NASA’s Mars 2020 rover.

It’s also been used to investigate at least three different cold cases over the past month alone. Here are the cases currently being investigated using ground penetrating radar:


The Lyon Sisters

At the end of September, investigators in Bedford County, VA. conducted GPR surveys of Taylor’s Mountain to search for evidence concerning the disappearance of two Maryland girls in 1975.

Sisters Katherine Mary Lyon and Sheila Mary Lyon ages 10 and 12 respectively, vanished from the suburbs of Washington DC during a trip to their local mall. Their disappearances resulted in one of the largest police investigations ever conducted in the DC area, but the case remains unsolved.

Forensic anthropologists and investigators using GPR scanning to search the mountain are hoping to find cavities or disturbances in the ground that may give them a better idea of where to search for the two girls.

Nicole Morin

Schoolgirl Nicole Morin was on her way to meet with a friend when she vanished inexplicably somewhere north of Toronto, Canada. Now, almost 30 years later, Ontario police are acting on a tip they received after a video was released depicting Morin’s movements the day she disappeared in July 1985.

Last week, police began using GPR equipment and cadaver dogs to search a wooded, rural property north of Toronto that was searched days after her disappearance without the assistance of modern technology. Officials hope that radar scans will help shed light on what happened to Morin.

Ontario Triple Murder

GPR surveys were taken in another rural area north of Toronto last month at the behest of Glenna Mae Breckenridge, an Ontario resident who claims that she witnessed her father kill three aboriginal boys on their farm 58 years ago and bury them under the barn.

Breckenridge claims the first boy was killed after he tried to stop his father from abusing her, and the other two were killed when they came looking for the first. But she couldn’t get authorities to listen for years. The police didn’t find any bodies, and records show that no children were reported missing.

Even when Breckenridge teamed up with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reporter Paul Hunter, the current owner of the farm was resistant to letting either of them search for bodies on his land. After repeated arguments, he finally agreed to let the pair investigate using a GPR scanner that wouldn’t disturb the property.

The GPR surveys revealed three anomalies about five feet long a few feet below the floor, exactly where Breckenridge claimed the bodies would be. The discovery reignited police interest in the case only 24 hours after the CBC story aired.

All of the cases are still in progress, but the technology stands to leap each investigation forward and obtain justice for the victims of decades-old crimes.