She emerged from a thick fog that blanketed much of southern Manitoba on Saturday morning, her first taste of freedom in more than a year.

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This article was published 26/10/2016 (2037 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

She emerged from a thick fog that blanketed much of southern Manitoba on Saturday morning, her first taste of freedom in more than a year.

The recluse dubbed the Ghost of Easterville was back.

DAVID LIPNOWSKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Shelly Chartier who's nickname the "Ghost of Easterville" walks to a car with her husband Rob Marku after she was released from prison after a year behind bars Saturday October 22, 2016 at the Women's Correctional Centre in Headingley.</p>

DAVID LIPNOWSKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Shelly Chartier who's nickname the "Ghost of Easterville" walks to a car with her husband Rob Marku after she was released from prison after a year behind bars Saturday October 22, 2016 at the Women's Correctional Centre in Headingley.

But what Shelly Chartier is returning to remains a mystery. She may have walked out of the Women’s Correctional Centre in Headingley after serving two-thirds of her 18-month jail sentence for a string of cybercrimes that gained international notoriety, but Chartier might not want to get too comfortable at home just yet.

There is a 15-count arrest warrant outstanding in Colorado, court documents obtained this week by the Free Press state. The charges are separate from the fraud, impersonation and threats offences she admitted to during her October 2015 sentencing in Easterville, her home community located 500 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

The new charges include five counts of criminal impersonation, three counts of identity theft, two counts of racketeering, two counts of theft, sexual exploitation of a child, extortion and computer crime. They largely involve the same victims as the Canadian offences, but not necessarily the same transgressions. If convicted, there is the potential for a sentence of up to 24 years.

Chartier, 31, has not been arrested by police on the charges, as an extradition request is still being worked on by American and Canadian authorities. A spokeswoman for the Douglas County district attorney’s office in Colorado was unable to provide a timeline.

"We are exploring every possible scenario," she said Monday.

The Canadian government officials could balk at extradition if they feel the charges are too similar to what she’s already been convicted for here. If extradition is approved, it could set the stage for a lengthy legal battle as it’s unlikely Chartier would willingly go to the U.S.

Chartier declined to speak to a Free Press reporter and photographer who met her outside the facility Saturday. She was whisked away in a vehicle by her uncle and taken to Easterville to be reunited with her ailing mother. She was also greeted by her husband, Rob Marku, a New York man who met Chartier online and married her before her sentencing.

Chartier’s story has caught the eye of international media. A documentary crew filmed her release Saturday, and ABC’s 20/20 and MTV’s Catfish are also coming to Manitoba later this year to film segments on her.

Chartier was described by a Crown attorney as a manipulator who enjoyed toying with the lives of strangers while hiding behind a computer screen. This was pulled off by a woman with only a Grade 6 education, a celebrity obsession and a high-speed Internet connection in a remote community rife with violence, poverty and addiction.

Her victims included a professional basketball player, a Hollywood actress and a lovesick Texas woman. Her crimes spanned more than three years, and the complex investigation included more than 40 police officers in two countries and the execution of 39 search warrants. A court-ordered ban prevents the names of Chartier’s victims from being published.

"These offences were perpetrated over the Internet and impacted the lives of people all over North America. By posing as various real people that she met online, Shelly Chartier hid from the realities of her life... but also hid behind her keyboard while she befriended and defrauded her victims," Manitoba provincial court Judge Ryan Rolston said during her sentencing. "Cyber-predators can offend from behind their keyboards without regard to the victims they leave in their wake, no matter what real-life borders separate them from their victims."

Chartier remains on two years of supervised probation, which includes performing 200 hours of community service work and not using the Internet. She previously told the Free Press she’d like to upgrade her education and perhaps pursue a career in the medical field. "My life started late, but I don’t regret it," she said. "But after my arrest, my life started."

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Sports columnist

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.