Winnipeg police did their best in death of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine: chief

WINNIPEG — The chief of police in Winnipeg says the force did its best to investigate the death of a 15-year-old girl whose body was pulled from the Red River.

Danny Smyth told the city’s police services board Friday that he was disappointed a jury last week acquitted the man accused of killing Tina Fontaine in 2014.

“Frankly, we did our best on this one,” Smyth said.

Raymond Cormier was found not guilty of second-degree murder in Tina’s death. Her body was wrapped in a duvet cover and weighed down with rocks when it was found in the Red River days after she was reported missing.

Smyth told the board he ”certainly had hoped for a different outcome” but added that it was clear the jury didn’t find enough evidence to convict.

“I wish we could have brought forward additional or more compelling evidence,” he said.

Smyth commended the officers who he said worked hard on the case and thanked prosecutors for taking it to trial.

“If not anything else, this trial provided transparency,” Smyth said. “The community was able to learn about the investigation. They were able to see evidence and learn about the circumstances that led up to Tina’s death.”

He suggested that one positive outcome prompted by Tina’s death is that Manitoba no longer uses hotels to house children in care.

Tina was raised by her great-aunt, Thelma Favel, on the Sagkeeng First Nation, 120 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. She left to visit her mother in Winnipeg at the end of June 2014 and became an exploited youth.

Favel called Child and Family Services with concerns about Tina, who ran away repeatedly from a youth shelter and hotels where she was placed.

She was last seen leaving a downtown hotel, where she told a private contract worker employed by child welfare that she was going to a shopping centre to meet friends.

It’s not known how Tina died. A pathologist testified at the trial that the girl’s death was suspicious because of the manner in which her body was found.

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