Family desperate to know who killed ‘little sweetie’ 52 years ago

Almost 52 years ago, 11-year-old Geraldine Settee left her St. Vital home to buy pop and chips at a nearby drug store on New Year’s Day.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 09/12/2021 (365 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Almost 52 years ago, 11-year-old Geraldine Settee left her St. Vital home to buy pop and chips at a nearby drug store on New Year’s Day.

She never returned.

One day later, her aunt and uncle found her body in a wooded lot on St. Mary’s Road near Fermor Avenue, midway between her house and the drug store, just 300 metres from her front door.

Supplied Geraldine Settee with Leonard (Geraldine’s dad) when they lived on Matheson Island.

“I was born a few years after her death, so I’m too young to have met her but her death has always bothered me,” said Ryan Settee, her nephew.

“I grew up near where her body was found and I always knew it as a safe neighbourhood. It always blew my mind: how could this happen? Who did it?”

Settee’s family has been seeking answers for decades. Next week they plan to hold a news conference at the legislature to demand the province hold an inquiry into the case.

“We are not going to stop until this guy’s punished,” said Glen Settee.

A 16-year-old was charged with non-capital murder, but the charge was stayed due to a lack of evidence.

“All these years later, the healing journey hasn’t begun for my family,” he said.

Supplied Geraldine Settee was murdered in Winnipeg in 1970.

“Families won’t get over it when this happens. It’s why the family is going public with this.”

Settee’s slaying was on the front page of Winnipeg newspapers for several days.

When her body was found, St. Vital Police Chief David Forbes Parker said it “seems a real kook or screwball is on the loose.”

The chief said the girl had been stabbed six times: one blow went through her sternum and another broke a rib. He said it must have been a man who did it because of the strength needed.

St. Vital’s city council — two years before the community and several others amalgamated as Unicity into present-day Winnipeg — voted to post a $1,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of Settee’s killer. Stories reported suspects had been taken in for questioning, but were later released, and that the child had been threatened during a phone call three weeks before her slaying.

A few days after the homicide, Parker warned parents to watch their children because “some demented deviate has killed the girl and who is to say he may not strike again.”

As the anniversary of the crime draws near, the family wants to raise public awareness about it.

Settee, whose parents and nine siblings had moved to Winnipeg from Matheson Island four years before her slaying, was “a little sweetie” her brother said.

“She had some funny things she would do,” said Glen. “She would mime songs with a pretend microphone. Her favourite songs were Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond and Shocking Blue’s Venus.”

Glen said his sister was just heading to the drug store for a few minutes. Newspaper articles at the time said it was for a bottle of pop and a bag of potato chips and, when her body was found, little more than a dollar’s worth of change was in her pocket.

“It was just a block and a half away, it was a five-minute walk,” he said.

“We were all stunned. Just absolutely stunned. But, as family members, we didn’t even know how to talk about it.”

Supplied Geraldine Settee was murdered in Winnipeg in 1970.

Glen said there were always rumours about the teen who was charged, but never convicted.

“I never knew him before this crime, but later I was having a beer at the St. Vital Hotel and he wandered in and I was told who it was. I went over and I just made it clear to him he was not welcome there.”

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

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