Police Collar Suspect in Sanderson Killing – Bizarre Twist in Postscript

Simone Sanderson (FB)

The Winnipeg Police Service Homicide Unit has made an arrest in the 2012 killing of Simone Sanderson (23).

On Tuesday, April 26, 2016, Police held a press conference announcing the arrest of Kyllan James Ellis (28) of Lorette, Manitoba.  Ellis has been charged with 2nd degree murder in connection with Sanderson’s killing.

He was detained in custody.

Sanderson’s body was discovered on September 2, 2012 in a vacant lot in the area of Main Street and Burrows Ave.

No suspects were immediately identified and the case proved difficult to solve.

Police subsequently revealed Sanderson was a drug-addicted sex trade worker who plied her trade in the area where her body was discovered.  Sanderson’s family disputes this information and hired a private investigator to make further enquiries.

Crime aficionado James Turner indicates his sources suggest the private investigation provided no information to assist the police investigation.

More on that later.

James Turner - Twitter
James Turner – Twitter

It’s interesting to note Deputy Chief Danny Smyth indicated, “Kyllan was known to sexually exploit women he believed were working in the sex trade.”  He also indicated Sanderson and Ellis were not previously known to each other.

The comments are highly suggestive of some kind of connection to the sex trade.

(It’s important to stress issues regarding the sex trade often raise the degree of difficulty to solve a homicide case but never impact an investigators commitment to resolve it.  Victim lifestyle decisions are irrelevant to homicide investigators. Homicide investigators are highly motivated people who are driven to solve murder cases – end of story.)

WPS Homicide Sergeant Wes Rommel indicated Police became suspicious of Ellis’s potential involvement sometime in January of 2014.

It’s clear Ellis became a “person of interest” in the investigation around this time.

“At that point, Mr. Ellis was one of a number of people who had come up in the investigation we were following up at the time,” said Rommel.

“It wasn’t until the summer of 2015 when we received further information regarding Mr. Ellis’s involvement. At that time, it’s probably fair to say we began focusing the investigation and certainly looking at him in more depth from that point forward.”

On April 12, 2016, Police held a press conference requesting the public’s assistance with the investigation.

Police indicated Sanderson was last seen alive during the evening of Sunday, August 26, 2012 in the north-end area of the City.  Investigators believe Sanderson was killed during the evening of Sunday, August 26 or during the early morning hours of August 27.

Police believe Sanderson was brought to the area where her body was discovered by a suspect who was operating an older model, small style, 2-door car.  Photographs of the body recovery site were provided.

Body Discovery Site (Police Handout)
Body Discovery Site (Police Handout)

Police advised the investigation resulted the development of a male DNA profile that investigators believed would be crucial in identifying the person responsible.  Police suggested there were also indications the suspect returned to the crime scene in the nights following Sanderson’s murder.

Police released Sanderson’s description and provided contact numbers seeking information from the public.

The timing and nature of the press conference was strongly suggestive of major progress in the case. Police seemed to be close to putting all the pieces of the puzzle in place.

(I had other suspicions regarding the investigation that I will not share in this article – if these suspicions turn out to be true, the information will undoubtedly come out at trial.)

What About the DNA?

DNA can be extremely compelling evidence.

In the recent trial of Thomas Brine, now convicted killer of seventy-three year old grandmother Elizabeth Lafantaisie, the DNA match suggested the odds of someone other than Brine being the killer was estimated at 1 – 68,000,000,000,000. (1 – 68 trillion)

During the press conference, Sgt Rommel indicated Police have not yet compared the crime scene DNA sample to a control sample of the suspect Ellis.

So what happens if the DNA doesn’t match?

Does Ellis go free?

I suspect the release of the information regarding the suspect’s DNA was a calculated investigative manoeuvre designed for a specific purpose.

I suspect the case does not hinge on DNA evidence.

In fact, I doubt any Senior Crown Attorney with Manitoba Justice would have authorized murder charges if the DNA evidence was critical to secure a conviction.

If the DNA evidence was critical, police would have used investigative techniques to secure a covert sample from Ellis and done the comparisons long before he was arrested and charged.

Police and Crowns wouldn’t expose themselves to that kind of risk – essentially putting the cart before the horse.

The Bizarre Twist

In a bizarre twist, the Sanderson family held a press conference today with PI Janie Duncan (Duncan Investigations) suggesting the WPS investigation into Sanderson’s killing was “seriously flawed.”

Dennis Ward APTN - Twitter
Dennis Ward APTN – Twitter

If you peruse Duncan’s FB page you will find postings with multiple updates regarding her investigation into Sanderson’s murder.  Duncan has pointed criticism for the Police investigation into Sanderson’s killing and indicates WPS Sgt Wes Rommel asked her to refrain from using social media in her investigation.

“Did they think I would submit to their requests to cease making public posts, particularly when the public is helping me solve this crime?” she writes.

I’m not sure what good can come out of conducting a homicide investigation on social media but I can assure you conspiracy theories and red herrings do nothing to advance the cause.

Murder investigations are solved by evidence – real, tangible, solid evidence.

Rommel isn’t the only person Duncan likes to criticize.

In March of this year, Duncan published a post on FB demanding a retraction for a story I published regarding the sex trade.  She took issue with one of the paragraphs that made reference to Simone Sanderson and her connection to the sex trade.

“We are asking James Jewell to recant his story and apologize to the Sanderson family,” Duncan wrote.

The demands were echoed by Simone’s grandmother on social media.

It was a strange request given the information was provided by the WPS and reported by media outlets throughout the City.

Not sure why I was singled out.

Nevertheless, how bizarre that after the murder case is solved Duncan leads the charge in a presser, with Simone’s grandmother by her side, criticizing the investigation and suggesting Police may have arrested and charged an innocent man.

It might have been prudent to pause and find out what the evidence against the accused killer is before people go on rants suggesting the Police got it wrong.

It just seems a touch irresponsible.

The real damage caused by this kind of rhetoric can be measured in terms of the destruction of the Sanderson families relationship with the WPS and the negative impact it may have on the general public’s confidence in the Police Service.

That said, I’m sure accused killer Kyllan Ellis is grateful for any attempt to exonerate him.

The Sanderson case reminds me of how difficult homicide investigation can be, the moving parts, the lack of sleep, missed days off, missed birthdays, anniversaries and holidays.  Not to mention the internal and external hurdles investigators have to overcome.  It can be overwhelming at times.

I can assure you, it’s a lot tougher than following around people who cheat on their significant others.

Lost in all the noise is the fact 2012 was an extremely busy year for the WPS Homicide Unit.

In 2012, the WPS Homicide Unit investigated a total of thirty-one (31) homicides solving all but two (2) cases.

That translates to a solvency rate of 93.5%.

A job well done in my estimation.


  1. Hmmm – now the family and community will go into denial mode — speaking only “wonderful” things about her – never being in reality that if you are into drugs and the sex trade the outcome is never good. And of course they will have negative things to say about how the police didn’t do a good enough job, that there was a race/discrimination issue — blah blah blah. It is such a shame that the truth and facts were not accepted and that reality is not faced. Classic cases are the Boushie Crew/Stanley and Tina Fontaine cases to name a few. So pathetic!! Good job police and investigators!! Another case solved as so many have been successfully in spite of the whining and crying from many of the people who are never happy and , again, do not face facts, truth and reality!! Kudos!!

  2. jeff b: sure. her family is to blame. that makes so much sense. thanks for your intellegent contribution

  3. Ms Duncan, Are you a Truth Seeker or just building your business??..because I googled you and there ain’t much there…just sayin.

  4. Wendy Schwartz

    Hey Ms. Duncan…

    Just one question. How many homicides have you been a part of solving??

  5. The comments section is always telling! You get a sense for who is more grounded, by the tone they take with their comments. Class always wins!

  6. Wow! She seems nice!

    Since I never promised personal attacks, I’m gonna suggest that her clients to first look in the mirror at how their family member ended up a drug addicted sex trade worker. Something I assure you will come out at trial. Secondly, this PI, is sure throwing around a lot of accusations, however I haven’t seen any facts related to them. She almost sounds like the accused lawyer instead of someone representing the family of the victim! Kind of acting as reckless and careless with her comments as her clients are! Crying foul right after an arrest is made because they were left out of the investigation, is as moronic as it gets! I get that they dont understand the word integrity, but the investiagtion has to maintain it thriighout the process. Thirdly, to hurl insults at a very well respected retired Sergent of the Winnipeg Police Service, is uncalled for. A well spoken, professional officer, Ret. Sgt. Jewell, speaks from experience and with great passion and conviction. Maybe this PI should speak to some of the families of the victims of homicides that he helped lock up and convict before she runs her mouth. Just because Gordon Sinclair listens to her, doesn’t mean anyone else does.

  7. Janie Duncan

    That is right because video evidence never lies.

  8. James G Jewell


    Not sure you understand what a personal attack is..

    My reference to private investigations was not a personal attack on your abilities.

    I was comparing the PI industry to Homicide Investigation, which I think even you might admit is a much different ball game.

    Conversely, your sarcastic references to my career, my schooling, education and my writing skills are clearly personal attacks.

    I’m not going to take it there with you.

    The great thing about our differences is we will definitely find out who is on the right side of the equation when the case goes to court.

    One of us will be eating a big helping of humble pie.

    I’m sure we will remind each other who that is when the time comes.

    Looking forward to that day.

  9. Janie Duncan

    Mr. Jewel;

    Please be advised that I am not engaging in personal attacks, I am simply telling you the truth. It is too bad your ego is bruised. However, it is okay for you to attempt to undermine my abilities by assuming that I follow cheating spouses all day. Like I say, I would encourage you to get educated.

  10. James G Jewell

    Like I said, I’m not going to engage in personal insults or attacks.

    When the evidence comes out we can continue the conversation regarding who needs to go back to school.

    In the meantime, I’ll be monitoring social media for the next big break in the case.

  11. Janie Duncan

    We presented the facts Mr. Jewel and what we did was prudent because of the police cover-up. However, I would suggest that you go back to school and work on your writing skills.

  12. James G Jewell

    Ms Duncan…

    It’s not your experience that’s at issue in this case and I don’t intend to launch any personal attacks.

    It’s your conduct that’s at issue.

    Police announce an arrest in the heinous killing of a young woman and your hold a presser with a grieving family member attacking the investigation.

    Not only is it bizarre, its unprecedented.

    Its just my opinion but I think it irresponsible and question your judgement.

    I’m sure the accused killer tremendously appreciates your efforts to undermine the Police Investigation and your suggestion they charged an innocent man.

    I’m not sure how that serves the interests of your client.

    It might have been more prudent to wait until you had an opportunity to assess the evidence before you held a presser to shoot down the investigation.

    I’m confident Manitoba Justice would not have authorized charges if the Police did not have a compelling case. As you know, the charge standards are much more stringent today then they were 30 years ago.

    I look forward to the evidence coming out.

    If I’m wrong, I’ll take my lumps.

    When it comes to homicide, I know there really is no such thing as closure but I am happy for the Sanderson family now that they can put a face and name to their loved ones killer.

    It’s an important part of the grieving process.

    It’s unfortunate the issue has become so complicated for them.

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  13. Janie Duncan

    Mr. James Jewell – there is a reason why you were transferred out of the homicide unit and it was very prudent to come forward now. As you may know, I have investigated two wrongful murder convictions. I have 27 years experience conducting a wide range of investigations.

    Hopefully, you will gain more viewers on your page.

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