On February 15, 2016, the Winnipeg Police Service requested the public’s assistance in locating Cooper James Nemeth (17) who had been last seen during the early morning hours of Sunday, February 14, 2016, in the Valley Gardens area of Winnipeg.
Members of the WPS Missing Persons Unit led the investigation, while family, friends and community members came together to volunteer and search throughout Valley Gardens, North Kildonan and other areas of the City.
Members of the Homicide Unit were also assigned to assist with the investigation.
The investigation led to the identity of a suspect and a warrant for arrest for 2nd degree murder was obtained for Nicholas Bell-Wright (22) of Winnipeg.
On Saturday, February 20, 2016, information led investigators to a residence in the Valley Gardens area where the deceased body of Nemeth was located.
On Sunday, February 21, 2016, Bell-Wright was located and arrested without incident.
He was subsequently detained at the Provincial Remand Centre.
Police indicate the investigation is continuing and did not release information regarding motive or the victim’s cause of death.
Media reports suggest the murder was drug related.
Investigators do not believe the incident was gang related.
Nemeth is the 4th reported victim of homicide in Winnipeg this year.
All four cases have been solved.
The 4th murder of 2015 was recorded on April 10.
The Winnipeg Police Service Missing Persons Unit often investigates highly suspicious missing persons cases that sometimes morph into murder cases.
Members of the Homicide Unit do not normally become involved in these cases unless circumstances dictate there is a high probability of foul play being involved in the disappearance.
The Elizabeth Lafantaisie case and the TJ Wiebe case are classic examples of cases where the Missing Persons Unit led the investigation until such time as significant information was developed that suggested the missing person was the victim of homicide.
TJ Wiebe was a twenty year old kid from St Vital who became a user of crystal methamphetamine. As is often the case, drug users engage in trafficking activities to subsidize their drug use.
Parents often don’t recognize the danger that faces their children when they become involved in the drug subculture. If you think your son or daughter is just experimenting with recreational drugs that pose little risk to their health and safety you should think again.
It wasn’t drug use that killed TJ Wiebe.
It was the people he connected with in the drug subculture that exposed him to the risk that ultimately claimed his life.
There are other risks.
If your son or daughter is involved in selling illicit drugs you should be aware that your home may be targeted by rival drug dealers or gangsters who may be motivated to do a home invasion to rip off their drugs or cash.
Home invasion drug rips are very common in the City of Winnipeg and many go unreported.
The thugs that do drug rip offs are usually high on drugs or alcohol, armed with edged weapons or firearms and wear balaclavas to secret their identity.
Home invasions are highly dangerous, frightening and traumatizing events.
If your son or daughter happens to hang with people who are involved in the drug subculture their mere association can put them at risk of violence at the hands of rival dealers or thugs. Police Officers often call it “collateral damage.”
Its important that parents talk to their children and elevate their awareness of their children’s drug use and enhance their knowledge of what kind of people their children are associating with.
If you take a proactive approach you just might avoid having your child become the next tragic statistic in the City of Winnipeg.