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Accused killer of city teen makes court appearance

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/2/2016 (1242 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The man accused of killing and then dumping a Winnipeg teen's body made a court appearance by video link this morning.

Nicholas Bell-Wright, 22, who was arrested early Sunday morning, remained silent during the short prodecure. His next court date is Friday, March 4.

Late Saturday night, the body of Cooper Nemeth, 17, was found in a recycling bin behind a house in Valley Gardens. The Grade 12 student at River East Collegiate had been missing for a week.

Winnipeg police charged Bell-Wright with second-degree murder. The charge has not been proven in court, and he is presumed innocent.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/2/2016 (1242 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The man accused of killing and then dumping a Winnipeg teen's body made a court appearance by video link this morning.

Nicholas Bell-Wright, 22, who was arrested early Sunday morning, remained silent during the short prodecure. His next court date is Friday, March 4.

Late Saturday night, the body of Cooper Nemeth, 17,  was found in a recycling bin behind a house in Valley Gardens. The Grade 12 student at River East Collegiate had been missing for a week.

Winnipeg police charged Bell-Wright with second-degree murder. The charge has not been proven in court, and he is presumed innocent.

Nicholas Bell-Wright of Treger Bay in Winnipeg was arrested and charged with second-degree murder in the death of Cooper Nemeth.

GOOGLE+

Nicholas Bell-Wright of Treger Bay in Winnipeg was arrested and charged with second-degree murder in the death of Cooper Nemeth.

Hundreds of searchers had combed the city for Cooper after he disappeared early Feb. 14 after attending a party in the Sun Valley area. Friends, family and strangers had refused to give up the search, but tragic news came to them while they gathered at Gateway Recreation Centre before midnight Saturday.

The centre had been the command post for searchers the past week. Brent Sayles, Cooper’s uncle, took to Twitter to announce there would be no search Sunday and the family was expected to release a statement in the coming days.

Winnipeg police scheduled a news conference Sunday to divulge details of the slaying and the arrest, but key details had already been revealed to the Free Press by sources, including that a body had been found in a recycling bin and someone had been charged.

Sunday, police confirmed Bell-Wright was taken into custody in the early morning hours and was the same man whose house and vehicle on Treger Bay were searched by members of the homicide unit Friday.

Deputy police Chief Danny Smyth confirmed Cooper’s body had been found behind a house on Bayne Crescent in a recycling bin that didn’t belong to the homeowner.

Smyth noted the homeowner has no involvement with the case.

"Police were contacted by the property owner about suspicious activity after hearing unusual noises at the rear of the property," Smyth said.

Cooper Nemeth was last seen Feb. 14.

SUPPLIED

Cooper Nemeth was last seen Feb. 14.

The property owner heard noises around 8 p.m. Saturday, sources told the Free Press.

The homeowner checked out back and saw legs sticking out of a plastic bag, the sources added.

CBC News identified the homeowner who found Cooper’s body as Roshan Pothumulla. CBC reported Pothumulla and his wife heard a noise while watching TV Saturday night.

"I looked and I saw the dumpster and two legs sticking out from the… bin," he told CBC News.

"I thought it was somebody making a joke with me, put a dummy inside, like, fooling around."

Pothumulla told CBC he called police right away.

Investigators don’t believe there are any gang connections to Cooper’s slaying, and while Smyth wouldn’t confirm the death was connected to a drug deal, sources told the Free Press an arrangement had been made for Cooper, who was at a house party the night of Feb. 13, to sell Xanax to another man.

Xanax is a prescription medication used in the treatment of anxiety disorders. It is also sold illicitly as a street drug.

Cooper had been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, for which he took medication.

Cooper was seen getting into a car outside the home where the party was being held. Police said his cellphone last "pinged" about 10:34 p.m. Feb. 14 in the area of Burnett Avenue and Gateway Road. Whether he was still in possession of it at the time is unknown.

A close friend, who spoke to the Free Press on the condition his name not be published, said last week Cooper was with at least two other men when he got into the vehicle. According to the friend, one of the men had set up a drug deal with the other. The common link was Cooper, who was invited to come along.

Police do not believe Cooper’s death took place on Bayne Crescent and are confident his body was moved to the location.

The big break in the case occurred after the homicide unit became involved late last week and conducted followup interviews with many witnesses who had originally provided information.

"They found some inconsistencies in the information. They started to dig and it led them to the arrest," Smyth said.

Bell-Wright was arrested without incident Sunday around 4 a.m. in the Maples area in a stolen vehicle.

Sources told the Free Press the accused was hiding inside the vehicle with bare feet.

Bell-Wright doesn’t have an extensive criminal record, but he is known to police for one conviction for assault from a couple of years ago. Investigators allege Bell-Wright acted alone.

An autopsy will be conducted this week. Smyth declined to comment on the nature of Cooper’s injuries.

Police are melting snow this morning looking for evidence near where Cooper Nemeth's body was located late last night on Bayne Crescent .

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Police are melting snow this morning looking for evidence near where Cooper Nemeth's body was located late last night on Bayne Crescent .

Jasvir Singh and Manjit Kaur live across the street from the house where Cooper’s body was found. They said police knocked on their door at 9:45 p.m. Saturday to tell them to stay inside.

"They said, ‘You’re safe. There’s nothing to worry about,’" Singh said, a flyer bearing Cooper’s picture sitting on a table just a few steps away.

They believe the house in question has been empty for a short while as there have been no lights on for a number of days. Both police and firefighters were at the house a week ago, they said.

"We are worried about our kids now," Kaur said, noting the couple has two teenaged children, 15 and 16.

The Bear Clan Patrol, which helped with the search for Cooper, plans to hold a drum circle and smudge ceremony today at the Gateway Recreation Centre at 6 p.m.

The centre is at 1717 Gateway Rd.

Winnipeg police and forensic investigators at a crime scene on Bayne Crescent in the early morning hours of Sunday.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Winnipeg police and forensic investigators at a crime scene on Bayne Crescent in the early morning hours of Sunday.

Brent Sayles, Cooper's uncle, took to Twitter to announce there would be no search Sunday and that the family is expected to release a statement in the coming days.

 

 

The 17-year-old River East Collegiate student was last reported seen during the early hours of Sunday, Feb. 14, at a party in the Sun Valley area.

Members of the Winnipeg Police Service ground search and rescue unit, along with hundreds of volunteers, have been scouring the city and several surrounding communities since Cooper was reported missing.

 

 

A police cruiser parked outside of 15 Treger Bay Friday.

DAVID LIPNOWSKI / FREE PRESS FILES

A police cruiser parked outside of 15 Treger Bay Friday.

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Reporter

Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.

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History

Updated on Sunday, February 21, 2016 at 8:13 AM CST: Updates with police confirmation.

8:50 AM: New photo added.

10:17 AM: Writethru.

10:30 AM: Tweet by Laresa Sayles, Cooper's aunt, added.

11:12 AM: Photo changed, moved.

11:56 AM: Adds details from the crime scene.

12:18 PM: Updated with name of man charged.

12:48 PM: Photo of suspect added.

12:57 PM: Photos rearranged.

1:20 PM: Duplicate information removed.

1:56 PM: Writethru.

2:00 PM: Adds letter sent from River East Collegiate to parents of students today.

4:14 PM: Photo changed.

5:37 PM: Adds video of police statement.

7:07 PM: Adds details from source.

7:32 PM: Corrects reference to police telling residents to stay inside. This happened Saturday evening.

7:58 PM: Adds information on plans for smudge ceremony.

10:49 PM: Updates with writethru.

February 22, 2016 at 12:27 PM: Updated with information on court appearance.

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