December 9, 2018

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Thelma Krull's remains found in woods southeast of city

More than three years after Thelma Krull vanished in the northeast part of the city, human remains discovered in late October in the RM of Tache have been identified as those of the 57-year-old Winnipeg grandmother.

Now Winnipeg police are hoping the public can help them hunt down her killer.

Homicide unit Sgt. Wes Rommel told a news conference Thursday that Krull's remains were found Oct. 27 in a wooded area near Municipal Road 52 N and Chemin Perrin Road, east of Highway 12 and north of the Trans-Canada Highway.

The remains, confirmed by DNA analysis Wednesday night, were found by a hunter about 50 kilometres southeast of where she was last seen on July 11, 2015, Rommel said.

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More than three years after Thelma Krull vanished in the northeast part of the city, human remains discovered in late October in the RM of Tache have been identified as those of the 57-year-old Winnipeg grandmother.

Now Winnipeg police are hoping the public can help them hunt down her killer.

Homicide unit Sgt. Wes Rommel told a news conference Thursday that Krull's remains were found Oct. 27 in a wooded area near Municipal Road 52 N and Chemin Perrin Road, east of Highway 12 and north of the Trans-Canada Highway.

A hunter on the same half-section of Crown Land Thelma Krull's remains were found. (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press)

A hunter on the same half-section of Crown Land Thelma Krull's remains were found. (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press)

The remains, confirmed by DNA analysis Wednesday night, were found by a hunter about 50 kilometres southeast of where she was last seen on July 11, 2015, Rommel said.

"With the recovery of Thelma, we now have a second location that we believe will be a critical piece in connecting the suspect to the investigation," he said.

"We think it (the location) is very significant. In terms of connection with the suspect... it is something we want the public to cue on. This individual may be familiar somehow with that area, with that specific location."

But Rommel would not say if police know how Krull was killed, exactly what was found, whether she died near her Harbourview South home or at the rural location, or even how far off a road she was found.

"There was some effort (to get the remains where they were) — that's all I'll say," he said.

Thelma Krull was last seen in July 2015.</p>

Thelma Krull was last seen in July 2015.

But Rommel admitted finding Krull is a major jump forward in a case in which police have released details, among them a home security video of Krull on her morning walk the day she went missing and a composite sketch of a man police want to speak with.

"It's a significant piece," he said. "We've been waiting for a break in this investigation. We've been gathering tips and information over the last 3 1/2 years. This is a major step forward."

Rommel said the family has been notified and he asked the media to respect their privacy at this time.

"We are not done," he said, urging anyone in the Tache area or where Krull was walking in Valley Gardens to think back to July 11, 2015, and if they remember something to call homicide detectives at 204-986-6508 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477).

Family and friends of Krull could not be reached for comment.

Krull was last seen at 7:23 a.m., leaving her home to go for a walk in her neighbourhood. She was building up her endurance for a hiking trip she was planning to take with her brother in British Columbia.

Police released this sketch in 2017 of a man seen in the area of Kimberly Avenue and Grey Street the morning Thelma Krull disappeared.

Police released this sketch in 2017 of a man seen in the area of Kimberly Avenue and Grey Street the morning Thelma Krull disappeared.

Police later found her eyeglasses in the area of the Valley Gardens Community Club. Police have since said they believe that's where she was attacked and dragged to a nearby vehicle, building or residence.

 After Krull went missing, her husband, Bob, said family and friends were trying to stay positive.

"Thelma was a very, very positive person," he said at the time. "What's that saying? 'Every time a door closes, a window opens.' That's the kind of person she is."

Krull's husband said he was asleep when his wife left on her walk, but they were supposed to meet each other afterward at a nearby Canadian Tire store.

"I assumed that she had changed her plans; it's not that uncommon," He said, adding that by 10 a.m., he began to be concerned about where she was.

Homicide unit Sgt. Wes Rommel would not say if police know how Thelma Krull was killed, exactly what was found, whether she died near her Harbourview South home or at the rural location, or even how far off a road she was found. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)</p></p>

Homicide unit Sgt. Wes Rommel would not say if police know how Thelma Krull was killed, exactly what was found, whether she died near her Harbourview South home or at the rural location, or even how far off a road she was found. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

Two years later, he went to court and received an order to officially declare his wife dead so that her estate could be settled.

The first clue that there was a major break in the case came in a news release sent out by the RCMP Oct. 30, saying Steinbach RCMP officers had "received a report of possible human remains" in the evening on Oct. 27.

"A male was hunting in the area and found what he thought to be a human skull. Officers, along with specialists from the forensic identification unit, attended the scene and it was confirmed that it was human remains... it is believed the remains have been there for an extended period of time, but the exact time frame is unknown."

Rommel said two days later, Winnipeg police were on the scene and they soon took over the investigation.

"I'm glad for the family they have some degree of finality, no longer wondering where she is," he said.

Homicide Sgt. Wes Rommel (from left), Bob Krull (Thelma's husband) and Lisa Besser (Thelma's daughter) at a press conference on the one-year anniversary of Thelma Krull's disappearance. (Boris Minkevich / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Homicide Sgt. Wes Rommel (from left), Bob Krull (Thelma's husband) and Lisa Besser (Thelma's daughter) at a press conference on the one-year anniversary of Thelma Krull's disappearance. (Boris Minkevich / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Members of Krull's family have made similar comments.

"There is not a day that goes by that I don't wake up and wish that today will bring my family answers that will lead to an end to our continuing nightmare," Krull's niece Wanda Bretecher said earlier this year.

"I wish that I could say with time the pain becomes more manageable. It doesn't."

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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History

Updated on Thursday, November 29, 2018 at 3:07 PM CST: Name of road fixed.

3:30 PM: Edited

3:35 PM: adds sketch of possible suspect

5:39 PM: full write-thru

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