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Witnesses testify they rarely saw Phoenix in 2005

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The "owner" of the home rented to Phoenix Sinclair's family on the Fisher River Cree Nation knew nothing about the tenants living in the tidy white bungalow where five-year-old Phoenix suffered until her death went unnoticed in June 2005.

Angie Murdock told the inquiry into Phoenix's death today that she lived in the band-owned home when it was first built then rented it out when she moved off reserve. Her mom arranged to rent it out to Karl "Wes" McKay in 2005, she said. Murdock testified that she knew nothing about him or who was living with him.

The inquiry heard that McKay, his girlfriend Samantha Kematch, their baby and Kematch's daughter Phoenix moved from Winnipeg to the reserve. In May, McKay applied for band assistance for his family including Kematch and three children, including Phoenix. He would've likely taken them to the office when he filled out the application that listed three children from different bands and their treaty numbers, said a band assistance administrator at the time, Shirley Cochrane.

The administrator who dealt with McKay is since deceased, said Cochrane who didn't know or deal with Phoenix's family.

Phoenix was seen in the area once that summer before she died.

A cousin of McKay's ran into him at a store in the area with Kematch, their baby and Phoenix in the back seat of a car. Phoenix's head was shaved, Florence Bear told the inquiry today.

"I looked in the window and asked whose boy is this?", Bear recalled asking McKay.

"He said 'that's not a boy that's Samantha's little girl... She's too ugly to be mine and there's no resemblance."

In July, McKay and Kematch killed Phoenix and no one noticed her missing.

In August, Bear said she picked up McKay to come to her home in nearby Peguis to play bingo. There was no sign of Phoenix and didn't recall seeing any toys in the yard, she said.

On Thanksgiving morning, she went to their home to invite them to her mother's home for supper. They joined her with the baby but not Phoenix, said Bear. She didn't ask about the little girl, she said.

After Thanksgiving, she said McKay contacted her husband to see if they could stay with them for a few days because they were kicked out of their house. Murdock told the inquiry she evicted them when she didn't receive the rent one month.

McKay and Kematch stayed at Bear's home for four nights and McKay never left the bedroom except to go to the washroom, said Bear. Kematch told her McKay was depressed. Bear said she told her husband she wanted McKay out of her house - that there was a bad smelling coming from his room and she felt uncomfortable having him there.

"That look on his face kind of scared me."

She drove him and Kematch and their baby to McKay's grown daughter's home in Winnipeg in October. Bear said she didn't ask about Phoenix, and the little girl's name was never mentioned.


Updated on Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 4:53 PM CST: changes headline, corrects that Phoenix was killed in June

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