Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/2/2016 (454 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Cooper Nemeth is believed to have been killed within a few hours of vanishing from a Winnipeg house party on Valentine’s Day — the victim of a drug-related robbery, severe beating and shooting, the Free Press has learned.
Details of the suspected timeline of events in the high-profile case have been outlined to some relatives of the 17-year-old River East Collegiate student, say multiple family and police sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Hundreds of volunteers spent the better part of last week scouring numerous locales in the city for any sign of Cooper. But all hopes for a happy ending were dashed Saturday night when the teen’s body was found concealed in a recycling bin outside a home in Valley Gardens.
Nicholas Bell-Wright, 22, was arrested hours later and is charged with second-degree murder.
The grim discovery and the nearly week-long gap between Cooper's disappearance has led to numerous questions, including when and how Cooper was allegedly killed. Police have been tight-lipped, at least publicly.
But court documents against Bell-Wright indicate police believe the homicide happened "on or about Feb. 14," which is the same day Cooper went missing.
A source said Tuesday family members have been given more specific information, with the belief the crime occurred in the early morning hours of that day. Nemeth was allegedly taken to a residence in the area where it’s believed he was first beaten and then shot, while also having drugs he had in his possession stolen from him.
His body is then believed to have been stored in a secure location such as a shed for much of the week while the search was ongoing. It was only on Saturday evening that the body is believed to have been moved to the recycling bin.
All of this occurred while Bell-Wright was under intense police scrutiny. As the Free Press has previously reported, the accused was first taken in for questioning on Feb. 14 and detained for a lengthy period of time before officers eventually released him without charge.
Last Friday, police obtained a warrant to search Bell-Wright's home on Treger Bay. They also towed his Cadillac away from the scene. But Bell-Wright was not taken into custody at the time.
The information to obtain the warrant, which would include specific allegations of what police believe occurred, has been ordered sealed by the judge who authorized it last week. However, it’s clear police met the significant legal test required to obtain such a warrant, as they can’t search on a hunch.
Following the discovery of Cooper's body on Saturday night, a warrant was authorized for Bell-Wright’s arrest. Sources told the Free Press a bulletin was issued to police officers suggested the accused may be armed with a handgun.
Police have not said whether such a weapon was located when Bell-Wright was found early Sunday inside a stolen van. He was wearing neither shoes nor socks, sources said.
Police have not formally released a cause of death and say autopsy results are pending. If there was indeed a murder weapon involved, police haven’t said if it’s been located.
Bell-Wright remains in custody and will return to court on March 4. None of the allegations has been proven and he is presumed innocent.
Police have said they are operating on the belief there were no other people involved and no other arrests or charges are pending at this time.
Police have also said they believe the killing is connected to the drug trade.
As the Free Press previously reported, Bell-Wright is accused of setting up a deal for Cooper to sell Xanax, an anti-anxiety medication, to another man who arrived at the house party. The three then allegedly drove away.
As the Free Press reported Monday, Bell-Wright is still on probation for a violent October 2014 attack against a young, intellectually disabled teen. He plead guilty last summer to assault after a 16-year-old boy was pulled off a bicycle and had his hoodie yanked over his head before being punched in the face and abdomen. Bell-Wright then shoved him against a tree and threatened to "cut your head off" if he ever saw him again.
This attack happened in the field outside Chief Peguis Junior High and River East Collegiate. The victim had apparently been talking with a 12-year old girl, who is Bell-Wright’s niece, court heard. There is no suggestion of anything improper happening, but Bell-Wright didn’t like it and took it out on the victim, who suffered cuts, scarring and a black eye.
The judge gave him a one-year suspended sentence with probation including anger management counselling.
Bell-Wright portrays himself through social media as leading a gangster-style lifestyle. He dubbed himself "Kush Montana" on several different sites, including one where he posts music he claims to have recorded. One rap song is titled Murder Scene. On his Instagram page he described himself as an "Indi Rap Artist" and "Entrepreneur."