Winnipeg police locate remains of homicide victim Christine Wood
The body of Christine Wood, a 21-year-old woman who went missing last summer, has been located in a farm field east of Winnipeg, police say.
“To George and Melinda [Wood], Christine’s parents, I can’t begin to know your pain but I will ensure that Christine is returned home to you as soon as possible,” said Winnipeg Police Chief Danny Smyth at a news conference Saturday.
Wood, 21, was last spotted on Aug. 19, 2016, when leaving a hotel on Berry Street after 9 p.m. CT. She had been visiting family in Winnipeg from her home in Oxford House.
On Thursday, officers were called to the rural municipality of Springfield, 34 kilometres east of Winnipeg, just after 10 a.m. after a farmer checking on his canola crops noticed a partially uncovered hole.
The decomposed remains were found inside the shallow grave located in a ditch off Spruce Road, south of Highway 15.
In April, police declared Wood’s death a homicide and charged a suspect, but said they had not yet located her remains. Winnipeg police say there was enough forensic evidence at the home of Brett Overby, 30, to charge him with second-degree murder.
Sgt. John O’Donovan, with the Winnipeg police homicide unit, said police believe the remains were in the field since mid-August 2016 and there was a deliberate attempt to conceal them. He added police know how Wood got to that location, but would not disclose more information.
“We do know the cause of death and we do know that Christine didn’t die naturally,” he said.
Wood’s parents held many searches for their missing daughter and pleaded for anyone with information to come forward.
“We are heartbroken and overwhelmed; we never imagined a life without our Christine,” they said in a statement after Wood’s death was declared a homicide in April.
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Sheila North Wilson, grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), said she spoke with the parents Friday night and Saturday morning after an autopsy confirmed that their daughter’s body was found.
“[Melinda Wood] naturally of course has very mixed emotions. She is very happy that she has been found and very sad that she is gone,” North Wilson said, adding the family still had a faint hope that she was alive.
“Now they will have a little bit of closure … and take her home. And I know that it’s been a long gruelling few months for them – never-ending searches and never-ending pain.”
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North Wilson said Melinda Wood was grateful for the support from police and the community and was relieved her daughter will be brought home “to people who love her and not in an empty field by herself.”
That Wood’s remains were found as the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls wrapped up its first public hearings in Whitehorse was a clear sign that the national tragedy continues, North Wilson said.
“[It’s] a sad reminder that the issue is ongoing,” she said.
On Saturday afternoon North Wilson, along with Audrey North, who is related to Wood’s family, and Jennifer Wood went to the site where the remains were found to pray and leave pink flowers. Wood’s favourite colour was fuchsia, they said.
“We just had to come here and pay our respects,” North Wilson said.
Staring at the ground, beside a dusty road, where the remains were located, North Wilson said she felt mixed emotions — relief that the family would have answers and a lot of sadness for the young woman.
“I don’t know how another human could just ditch someone in this open area like that, leave her like that,” North Wilson said.
The women called Wood’s mother from the site and sang Amazing Grace.
“The words are fitting to her situation. She was lost but now she’s found,” North Wilson said. “Her family needs a lot of grace right now and a lot of care.”
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