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Two men have been charged with attempted murder in the serious assault and dumping in the river of a 16-year-old girl last Friday.

Justin James Hudson, 20, and a 17-year-old male were arrested on Nov. 11, and charged with attempted murder, aggravated sexual assault, and sexual assault with a weapon.

Rinelle Harper

SUPPLIED PHOTO

Rinelle Harper

Both have been remanded in custody.

Winnipeg police Supt. Danny Smyth said the release of Rinelle Harper's name helped with the quick arrest of two suspects.

"The Harper family have been tremendous to deal with," Smyth said. "I really want to thank them for trusting us in identifying Rinelle."

Smyth said surveillance cameras on area buildings also helped.

"The Harper family have been tremendous to deal with," said Winnipeg Police Service Superintendent Danny Smyth.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

"The Harper family have been tremendous to deal with," said Winnipeg Police Service Superintendent Danny Smyth.

Grand Chief David Harper, of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), which represents northern First Nations, said a press conference with Rinelle's grandfather Fred Harper will take place Thursday. The girl's parents may also take part; Rinelle herself will not.

"Police told (the family) when the arrests happened," Harper said.

"It was a relief to them that somebody is behind bars for this brutal attack on their loved one... the family wanted to know if (the suspects) were natives or not and they were told yes."

Same suspects charged in second assault

Harper is from God's Lake Narrows but has been living with family in Winnipeg while she goes to school. She was out with friends last Friday when she became separated from them and attacked.

Police said Harper was assaulted on the river walk near the Midtown Bridge and dumped into the Assiniboine River. The teen was swept downstream before getting out of the water, but then two suspects allegedly attacked her again with a weapon, Smyth said.

He said Harper was "essentially left for dead."

Harper was found unconscious about seven hours later by a passerby and rushed to hospital in critical condition. She is expected to recover.

Smyth said the same night the two suspects attacked another woman - a 23-year-old - around Sherbrook Street and Portage Avenue at about 2:30 a.m.

The woman was sexually assaulted and assaulted with a weapon.

Smyth said there is no evidence at this time linking Harper's assault with the slaying of Tina Fontaine, a 15-year-old girl from the Sagkeeng First Nation whose plastic-wrapped body was pulled from the Red River on Aug. 17. 

School providing counselling

Meanwhile, Southeast Collegiate, where Rinelle goes to school, also released a written statement indicating the school’s staff and students "are trying to come to terms with this horrific assault on one of our own.

"Southeast Collegiate has spent the long weekend comforting her classmates, as well as providing ongoing support to Rinelle and her family. In-house counselling support has been made available for staff and students.

"We are extremely thankful of the remarkable progress she has made since Saturday. We are wishing her a speedy recovery and hope she returns to school soon."

The school’s administration has asked for privacy of their staff and students, but has indicated they will also make another statement on Thursday.

 

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason
Reporter

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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