Se­crets of the river

A miss­ing girl found deadé

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The case RU­N­AWAY teen

Tina Fon­taine didn’t have the eas­i­est start in life.

Tina and her sis­ter – from the First Na­tions peo­ple, indige­nous to Canada – were raised by their great-aunt Thelma Favel, be­cause their al­co­holic mother and can­cer-suf­ferer fa­ther were un­able to care for them.

In Oc­to­ber 2011, Tina’s dad Eu­gene was beaten to death in an argument over money.

His death had a huge im­pact on Tina and, in June 2014, she left her home in Sag­keeng First Na­tion for Win­nipeg, to re­con­nect with her mother af­ter years apart.

Con­cerned when she didn’t hear from Tina over the next 10 days, her great-aunt Thelma called Child and Family Ser­vices (CFS).

Tina, 15, was found and taken into care. But, over the next few weeks, she went miss­ing sev­eral times. One so­cial worker for South­east CFS said Tina was placed in a ho­tel, but went miss­ing al­most im­me­di­ately. Tina shut­tled be­tween sev­eral lo­ca­tions in the city, sleeping on couches and oc­ca­sion­ally re­turn­ing to CFS care, only to walk away shortly af­ter. Soon af­ter, she started dat­ing a young man from St Theresa Point – al­most 300 miles from Win­nipeg. One night in mid-july, he and Tina were drink­ing on the street when they met 56-year-old Ray­mond Cormier as he was rid­ing past on a bi­cy­cle. Ac­cord­ing to Tina’s boyfriend, Ray­mond said his name was Se­bas­tian. The lad said Cormier gave them drugs and took them back to var­i­ous houses, in­clud­ing one at an ad­dress on Car­men Av­enue.

Then, on 6 Au­gust, Tina’s boyfriend flew back to his home at St Theresa Point.

Up­set that he had gone home, Tina cy­cled to the house on Car­men Av­enue to meet Cormier.

That night, it seems the pair got into an argument.

Wit­nesses said Cormier had been mak­ing sex­ual ad­vances to­wards the young girl.

And Tina be­came an­gry when she dis­cov­ered that Cormier had sold her bike in ex­change for drugs. Furious, Tina stormed out. The next re­ported sight­ing of the teenager came in the early hours of 8 Au­gust, when po­lice found her in­side a truck they’d pulled over, be­liev­ing the driver was be­hav­ing sus­pi­ciously.

Un­aware that she’d been re­ported miss­ing, the po­lice of­fi­cers let Tina go.

One hour later, she was found, passed out in a nearby al­ley­way, and was taken to the lo­cal chil­dren’s hos­pi­tal.

Tina was treated and dis­charged into the care of a so­cial worker, who got her a fast-food meal and checked Tina into a down­town ho­tel.

The so­cial worker tried to con­vince the trou­bled teen to stay at the ho­tel, but Tina in­sisted she wanted to go out to meet some friends.

She left at around 5.30pm – and never re­turned.

Nine days later, on

Her dad’s death had a huge im­pact

17 Au­gust 2014, Tina was found dead in the Red River, which runs through Win­nipeg.

Her slight body – weigh­ing just over 5st – was wrapped in­side a du­vet and plas­tic and weighed down with rocks.

The dis­cov­ery of the dead teenager sent shock waves through the city.

Hun­dreds took to the streets and so­cial me­dia to de­mand bet­ter pro­tec­tion for indige­nous women and girls, many of whom go miss­ing.

The po­lice be­lieved Tina had died around 10 Au­gust.

The river had washed away any DNA ev­i­dence that might have been left on her body and the du­vet in which she was wrapped. But they had other leads... Po­lice in­ter­viewed a wo­man who said Ray­mond Cormier lived in a tent in her back­yard.

She and her daugh­ter claimed that Cormier had the same du­vet cover that was found wrapped around Tina’s body.

On 1 Oc­to­ber 2014, the po­lice went to the house on Car­men Av­enue.

They found Cormier there, and he tried to run away.

Un­der ques­tion­ing, Cormier ad­mit­ted that he’d wanted to have sex with Tina when he first met her, be­fore find­ing out that she was un­der 18.

Cormier was placed un­der po­lice sur­veil­lance.

The op­er­a­tion, dubbed Project Styx, lasted six months and con­sisted of un­der­cover of­fi­cers wear­ing record­ing de­vices.

They en­gaged Cormier in 62 sce­nar­ios, de­signed to pro­voke a re­ac­tion from him and elicit in­for­ma­tion on Tina.

The po­lice also ar­ranged for him to live in an apart­ment where they placed lis­ten­ing de­vices to record his con­ver­sa­tions.

Fi­nally, in De­cem­ber 2015, Cormier was charged with sec­ond­de­gree mur­der.

At his trial this Jan­uary, Ray­mond Cormier pleaded not guilty.

The court heard ev­i­dence from Tina’s boyfriend, as well as a friend of Cormier.

The friend said Cormier had told him he and Tina ‘straight­ened it out’ af­ter their argument at the Car­men Av­enue house.

Ernest also claimed he had seen Cormier with the du­vet cover at the house.

The po­lice played the record­ings they had gath­ered while Cormier was un­der sur­veil­lance.

In the clips, Cormier seemed ob­sessed with Tina’s killing. He was recorded say­ing he wanted to find her killer, but also made state­ments about her death.

In one con­ver­sa­tion with a wo­man on 17 July 2015, Cormier said, ‘Fif­teen-year-old girl f*ck. I drew the line and that’s why she got killed. She got killed, I’ll make you a bet. She got killed be­cause we found out, I found out she was 15 years old.’ Th­ese state­ments, the Crown ar­gued, were ad­mis­sions of guilt. They ar­gued that Cormier killed Tina be­cause he didn’t want to be known as a pae­dophile. A pathol­o­gist told the court that a cause of death couldn’t be deter­mined, but the method used to dis­pose of the body was sus­pi­cious. Dur­ing the trial, the au­thor­i­ties didn’t in­tro­duce any foren­sic ev­i­dence or eye­wit­nesses di­rectly link­ing Cormier to Tina’s death.

And, at the time of the trial, the cause of her death still re­mained a mys­tery.

Cormier’s lawyers ar­gued that, with­out a cause of death, it couldn’t be known for cer­tain that Tina died as a re­sult of mur­der.

They said Ray­mond Cormier should be ac­quit­ted on that argument alone...

Cormier: Mur­der sus­pect

Po­lice ev­i­dence The du­vet in which Tina’s body was wrapped trou­bled: tina, only 15

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