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CSI Sault: Blood stains link suspect to multiple break-ins

37-year-old pleads guilty to 12 charges, including four break-and-enters, assault and robbery while masked; sentence will be handed down in October
The Sault Ste. Marie Courthouse is pictured in this file photo.

When a masked and armed Justin Whalen broke into an elderly couple's Sault Ste. Marie home, he left behind a calling card: a sample of his blood.

The Nov. 1, 2021 robbery was among a number of crimes where police found blood at the scene that pointed to Whalen's involvement.

The 37-year-old pleaded guilty Friday to 12 charges.

The offences included armed robbery, four counts of break and enter, assault, robbery while masked, possession of stolen property, and breach of probation orders.

Ontario Court Justice John Condon heard the accused broke into the couple's Cunningham Road home through a basement window shortly before 8 a.m. 

His face was covered and he was armed with a knife.

Whalen pulled the phone out of the wall and went into their bedroom, prosecutor Karen Pritchard said.

He demanded the 92-year-old man and his 91-year-old wife hand over their money, saying "old people always have money." 

When the man confronted Whalen, the accused assaulted him, pulling off his shirt and scratching his arm.

The victim also received a black eye, the assistant Crown attorney said.

Whalen stole $60 from the woman's change purse.

He also cut out two sections of the carpet, which he took with him, along with the victim's shirt, when he left the home.

Blood found on other parts of the carpet matched Whalen's DNA.

Two years ago, on June 30, city police were called to another break-in on Willow Avenue.

The resident returned home to find a basement window had been pried open.

A $500 laptop and a $300 tablet were missing and blood was located on the window, Pritchard said.

In March of 2022, the sample was confirmed as a DNA match to Whalen.

On Nov. 8, 2021, a woman arrived at her Willow Avenue home to find an unknown man leaving the residence.

"She chased him off the property," the prosecutor told Condon.

The man had entered the home through a basement window, and had stolen jewelry valued at $2,000.

Police located dried blood on a door frame, which matched the accused's DNA.

On March 24 of last year, a man attempted to break into to a woman's Edmonds Avenue residence.

He broke a screw on the door and tried to crawl inside, Pritchard said.

The would-be burglar ran away when she called out at him. 

City police officers were in the area, and followed tracks in the snow to a Campbell Avenue address.

They spotted Whalen running across McNabb Street and chased him on foot.

The cops caught up with him at a Chapple Avenue residence.

Officers noted the smell of fresh cigarette smoke in the basement, and found Whalen hiding inside a freezer.

He also pleaded guilty to possession of stolen property, an offence that occurred on Jan. 15, 2020 in the municipality of Huron Shores.

Ontario Provincial Police received information that Whalen had items — a man's gold ring, some $1 and $2 Canadian bills and a bottle of Amaretto — that were taken during a burglary at a Mississauga Crescent home.

He had given them to a woman to see if she would try to sell them.

She contacted police and turned the items over to officers.

At the request of defence lawyer Jasmine Gassi, sentencing was put over until Oct. 31 so that pre-sentence and Gladue reports can be prepared.

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About the Author: Linda Richardson

Linda Richardson is a freelance journalist who has been covering Sault Ste. Marie's courts and other local news for more than 45 years.
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