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The books have been closed on three murders dating back as far as 35 years after cold-squad detectives determined the suspected culprits are dead.

At a news conference yesterday, the lead investigator of a special task force probing 20 cold murder cases in Southern Ontario said two suspects, now deceased, are responsible for three of those murders. Project Angel, launched in 1997, identified 20 unsolved cases in the region and has closed five.

But Detective Inspector Mike Coughlin refused to release the suspects' names. Provisions under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act dictate that they can't be revealed until 30 years after their deaths.

The male suspect in the murders of Londoner Jane Wooley, 62, in 1969 and Edith Authier, 57, of Merlin, Ont., in 1970, died in 1985, the inspector said. A man suspected in the 1964 murder of Victoria Mayo, 32, of London, died in 1996. CP