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This article was published 25/4/2017 (1856 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A Manitoba First Nation is horrified after a video allegedly showing part of a young woman’s slaying and a screen grab of a conversation about the killing surfaced on social media.
Two girls, aged 16 and 17, are facing charges of second-degree murder in the slaying of the 19-year-old Saturday night in Sagkeeng First Nation.
RCMP have not identified the victim, whom they said was from Powerview, but the Sagkeeng’s Facebook event site, as well as family and friends, identified her as Serena McKay.
The video was shared on Facebook between numerous residents of Sagkeeng and beyond.
"It is pretty disheartening, of course, for the community," Chief Derrick Henderson said Tuesday. "We’ve no idea what happened."
Henderson said he has heard about the video. The Free Press has seen it but has decided not to post it.
The video, likely taken with a cellphone, shows a person wearing a boot repeatedly kicking at a woman trying to shield her bloodied face with her hand and arm as another person jumps in to pull back the victim’s arm.
"I don’t want to see it," the chief said bluntly.
"We are hurting enough as it is. But I would ask the person who took it, ‘Why didn’t you say something? Why didn’t you do something?’ If you see somebody being hurt, why don’t you do anything? That’s what really bothers me.
"Why wouldn’t you stop it?"
In an instant message exchange sent to the Free Press by a resident of the reserve, one of the alleged suspects writes at first, "We fought, I broke her nose then that happened, she left after, she was OK.
"She was up and walking."
A few hours later, the same suspect writes, "She was found dead bro... Promise me say when we fought it wasn’t that bad. Her nose was just bleeding lots... I’m f---in scared.
"Promise me, you won’t tell em I fought her deadly. Please bro... Say after we closed the door, she left."
'"Shock" is a good word to use'
RCMP said in a statement the victim was last seen Saturday by a family friend and reported missing Sunday. While Mounties were searching the community, a call came in saying a woman’s body had been found near a home in Sagkeeng.
RCMP spokesman Sgt. Paul Manaigre said officers have obtained a copy of the video.
"We cannot confirm it is her (the victim)," Manaigre said. "The officers are reviewing the video, and they’ll make that determination."
Manaigre said if RCMP determine the victim is in the video, it could lead to further charges against the suspects or any others who may have been present.
"'Shock' is a good word to use," Manaigre said. "How people can think of doing such a thing is unbelievable. The Internet is full of these types of videos. If people see something like this, they should report it to police."
Manaigre said Mounties are still investigating at the scene of the crime.
RCMP are asking anyone with information about the case to call the Powerview detachment at 204-367-8728 or Manitoba Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. The public can also send a secure tip online at www.manitobacrimestoppers.com or text "TIPMAN" plus a message to CRIMES (274637).
'You couldn’t even recognize her as a human'
A woman,who lives near where the body was found, said she took RCMP officers to the body after another resident came to her house "almost hysterical."
"While I was going to the house I phoned the police," said the woman, who asked not to be identified.
"I was one of the first on the scene... I’m taking medication now. I can’t stop seeing it. It’s really hard. She was on the ground outside and you couldn’t see until you walked up... from the road, you couldn’t really even see her.
"It’s really haunting, seeing that girl there. You couldn’t even recognize her as a human. They were really awful to her."
The woman said she didn’t see what happened to the victim, but she heard "a lot of noise" Saturday.
"But we hear this every night over there," she said. "I thought, ‘Well, it’s another party again,’ so when the noise stopped about (12:50 a.m.)... I went to bed not thinking anymore.
"I feel terrible. I keep thinking I should have called... I should have called."
Victim, suspects attended same school
Another reserve resident, who asked not to be named, said McKay was "an outgoing person.
"She loved to be around her friends. She was an innocent girl... she was happy all the time. She was a beautiful young lady.
"She didn’t deserve this. It’s very tragic."
Henderson said the victim and the two suspects attended the same high school.
He said the victim’s mother lives in Winnipeg and he has spoken to her by phone. The chief confirmed Monday the victim isn’t from the reserve and was living with a family in Powerview while going to school in Sagkeeng.
"I know (the mother) personally. That makes it even worse," he said.
"I know her through education and through work. I am hoping to meet with her (Tuesday). She is pretty devastated."
Henderson didn’t say whether he is related to either of the suspects.
A vigil to remember the victim and to help the community begin to heal is planned for Thursday, he said.
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.