Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Arrest made in 6-year-old killing

'Mountains of forensic evidence' sifted in case: police

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Police have arrested a Saskatchewan-based man in connection with the murder of a transgendered sex-trade worker six years ago.

Divas Boulanger, 28, was last seen during the late night hours of Sept. 28, 2004 in Winnipeg.

A month later, her body turned up outside a Trans-Canada Highway rest stop east of Portage la Prairie, a victim of what an autopsy determined was blunt-force trauma.

Police said Friday they have arrested a 40-year-old man and charged him with second-degree murder. They credited the arrest to dedicated Mounties sifting through piles of evidence.

"I can tell you that I know for a fact that in this particular investigation, there's numerous witnesses to interview, mountains of forensic evidence to go through, and all of that takes time and it has to be done thoroughly," said RMCP spokesman Const. Miles Hiebert. "It's taken this long to put the evidence together in a fashion that an arrest could be made."

Police said Boulanger's murder happened inside Winnipeg before her body was dumped.

Divas B. was the street name for David Joseph Boulanger, who was born a male and originally hailed from Berens River First Nation, about 270 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

Boulanger lived as a woman and became mired in drug addiction and the sex trade. Relatives grew concerned when she failed to pick up her social assistance cheque and keys for a new Spence Street apartment.

She was buried back in Berens River. The family told reporters Friday they're relieved by the arrest.

Last August, the RCMP and Winnipeg Police Service announced a dedicated task force to examine 84 unsolved cases of murdered and missing women. That task force was involved in the investigation into Boulanger's death, along with other officers from the RCMP and the Winnipeg police missing persons unit.

Street sex-trade workers speculated after Boulanger's death that she might have been murdered after a violent john picked her up.

"We have nothing to indicate at this time that there's any link between this suspect and any other homicides," Hiebert said.

He did not say Friday how the man charged in Boulanger's death met her. However, Mounties don't believe they knew each other well.

Police said they're not seeking anyone else in connection with the death.

Theodore Raymond Herntier, 40, was arrested and charged Wednesday. The oil rig worker in Arcola, Sask., was due to travel outside Canada when officers arrested him.

He'll be transported back to Winnipeg to face the charge. He has family in Winnipeg, including a brother who works for the Winnipeg Police Service.

"That would never have any bearing on our investigation," Hiebert said.

Tammy Reimer, program manager of Mount Carmel Clinic's Sage House, said she was "absolutely thrilled" with the arrest. Sage House works with women involved in the sex trade, and a small group of transgendered people.

"It's encouraging to know that the investigation was ongoing, that it wasn't dropped, (and) that for women who are often seen as invisible, that they truly are not ignored," Reimer said.

gabrielle.giroday@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 17, 2010 A3

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