TORONTO — The creator of an upcoming docuseries on the 1984 murder of an Ontario girl says the project will allow her family to finally tell their whole truth.
Toronto actor and producer Folklaur Chevrier says she has exclusive rights to the story of nine-year-old Christine Jessop and is developing "Darkness in Daylight" with permission from the family, including mother Janet Jessop and brother Kenneth Jessop.
Christine disappeared Oct. 3, 1984 while heading to a park to meet a friend after school in the southern Ontario village of Queensville. Her body was found on New Year's Eve that year, in an Ontario farm field about 55 kilometres away.
In 1995, DNA evidence exonerated Guy Paul Morin, who had been convicted of first-degree murder in a retrial three years earlier.
In October 2020, the case took another major turn: Toronto police said DNA evidence indicated the late Calvin Hoover had sexually assaulted Jessop and was the likely killer. Hoover, who died by suicide in 2015, had lived near Christine's family.
Chevrier says she wants to make the true-crime limited series because she feels Christine needs a voice.
"We've all heard the Guy Paul Morin story, respectfully so, but we've never heard from Janet and Kenneth Jessop — we've never heard an unvetted version, we've never heard their truth and we've never heard why their life has been a living hell," Chevrier said in a phone interview.
Chevrier said her journey with the case started more than a decade ago when an anniversary made headlines. "There were a few other occurrences" that Chevrier took as a sign to research the story, and she says she became "engrossed and almost obsessive about it."
The founder of the production company Folklaur Films said she initially planned a big-screen project and contacted Jessop family lawyer Tim Danson, met with Janet and Kenneth in person in Keswick, Ont., and spoke with Christine's father, Bob Jessop, by phone. Chevrier also met Morin and his mother, Ida.
With all the material gathered, Chevrier realized it would be better to turn it into a TV series in three or four parts.
Then the project "completely went in a different direction" with last year's news about Hoover.
"We had to change the whole trajectory of the story and of the series, because now the case is solved," she said. "But that doesn't mean that we have an ending. There actually isn't, because ... for the Jessops, essentially, it's not about closure for them.
"They're always going to have half of their hearts missing. They will always be a mother of a murdered daughter and a brother of a murdered sister. For them, it's about moving on, and for the very first time telling their truth."
Chevrier said she doesn't have a broadcaster but is "in the process of finding who will be the right fit to shepherd this project and to air it."
She plans to go into production next year and feature the Jessops as key subjects. While the family has given interviews before, "they always had to be very careful what they said, and quite frankly, they were fearful to speak the truth," she said.
Chevrier also plans to interview Hoover's now-ex-wife, Heather, for the series.
She said the Jessops are "faced with guilt and more questions than they had for the past 36 years," wondering: "How can the perpetrator be someone that was close to them, someone that aided in the search, someone that helped them?"
"They're filled with anger and they're also filled with hurt and disbelief," she said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 19, 2021.
Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press