On September 7, 2012, the Winnipeg Police Service issued a missing person media alert for Robert (Bobby) Thomson (21) years.
Police indicated Thomson had last been seen on Friday, July 20, 2012 at 10:15 pm in the downtown area of Winnipeg around Broadway Ave & Spence Street. Thomson was described as Caucasian, 5’7″, 140 pounds, slim build with brown hair and blue eyes.
The alert indicated the Police were concerned for Thomson’s well-being.
On November 28, 2013, Police updated the alert indicating new information had been received indicating Thomson was last seen during the evening hours of Saturday, July 21, 2012 at the River & Osborne Liquor Mart at 469 River Ave while in the company of a male and female.
Police indicated foul play had not been ruled out in the disappearance.
On December 11, 2013, Police further updated the information and provided a Police artists sketch of the male believed to have been with Thomson during the evening of July 21, 2012 at the Liquor Mart.
The male was described as Caucasian, approximately 5’10 – 6′ tall, dark coloured eyes, muscular build, dark hair – possibly spiked on top. Police asked for the public’s assistance in identifying the male & female subjects.
On January 14, 2014, the WPS held a press conference announcing the arrest of Tanner Prevost (21) who has been formally charged with 2nd Degree Murder in connection with Thomson’s death.
Police advised the investigation revealed that Thomson met Prevost and an unidentified female on July 21, 2012 while in the River Avenue and Osborne Street area. After purchasing liquor Thomson, Prevost and the female proceeded to drink and socialize near the banks of the Assiniboine River.
At some point during the evening, Thomson and Prevost became involved in a serious physical altercation that ended with Thomson being thrown into the river. Prevost then fled the area.
Prevost was arrested by members of the WPS Homicide Unit on January 13, 2014 while in custody on unrelated charges.
He remains in custody.
Thomson’s body has never been recovered.
Thomson’s murder is the 31st reported Homicide of 2012.
Public information Officer Constable Jason Michalyshyn indicates the Police Service still holds out hope that Thomson’s body might be recovered.
The WPS Homicide Unit rarely gets involved in missing persons cases unless there is a significant likelihood that foul play contributed to the disappearance. Often times, the WPS Missing Persons Unit will take ownership of the first phase of the investigation until such time as concerns regarding foul play become significantly elevated.
Circumstances that can elevate suspicions regarding foul play are;
- The circumstances surrounding the disappearance
- The victim’s participation in organized crime, drug trafficking or other illegal activities
- The victim’s prior history – if the victim has never been reported missing in the past?
- Witness, crime stopper or informant information indicating foul play has occurred or may have occurred
- Termination of cell phone use, credit or ATM cards
During my tenure as a Homicide Investigator and Supervisor several missing persons cases evolved into Homicide investigations. The TJ Wiebe case (2003) and the Elizabeth Lafantaisie case (2011) are two examples of high-profile cases that made that transition.
These types of cases forced the WPS Missing Persons Unit to evolve into the highly technical, high functioning investigative unit it is today.