With the federal government’s first phase of the missing and murdered indigenous women inquiry underway, Saskatoon is looking back on two local high-profile cases of 2015.
As the calendar rolls over to 2016, Jerry Constant awaits his day in court in the second degree murder case of Karina Wolfe.
Wolfe’s body was discovered in a marshy ditch on Whelan Road just north west of the city Nov. 14. Saskatoon Police said a distressed Constant came to their headquarters and told them the area where they could find Wolfe. Over four days, police searched an area the size of a football field before finding a body. DNA samples confirmed it was Wolfe.
Constant is charged with second degree murder and offering an indignity to a body. A psych assessment found Constant was fit to stand trial after a judge ordered the evaluation during the his first appearance in court.
Speaking through an interpreter, Karina’s mother Carol gave an emotionally charged speech in the days following the discovery of her daughter’s body.
“The last memory I have is Karina saying ‘I love you mom, and I will be home later,” Carol said. “Karina never got to come home.”
During a tour of the crime scene, friends and family built a makeshift memorial with flowers, sweetgrass and tobacco.
Iskwewuk E-wichiwitochik (Women Walking Together) co-founder Darlene Okemaysim-Sicotte was one of the first to lay flowers.
“When you’ve endured five years of helping the family and doing the marches and the vigils, you develop a similar agony and compassion towards what the family is going through,” she said.
Police do not believe Constant and Wolfe knew each other before the night Wolfe disappeared.
Jerry Constant faces charges of second degree murder and offering an indignity to a body in the death of Karina Wolfe. Facebook
Wolfe’s case is similar to another murder which returned to the spotlight in 2015. Douglas Hales tried to appeal his 2014 conviction for the murder of Daleen Bosse. The two met at a bar in May 2004, the same night Bosse went missing.
Hales was found guilty of killing Bosse, then burning and dumping her body north of the city.
In 2008, he confessed the murder to undercover officers who were part of a Mr. Big sting operation.
Hales was also charged with second degree murder and offering an indignity to a body.
During his appeal, Hales argued he should have received a new trial because the rules around sting operations changed during his time in court.
The judge, however, disagreed and sent Hales back to prison where he is currently serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for 15 years.
In a landmark 2014 report, the RCMP put the total of missing and murdered aboriginal women at 1,181 between 1980 and 2012.
Statistics Canada said indigenous people were about six times more likely than non-indigenous people to be victims of homicide in 2014. They also found there were 1,073 recorded aboriginal female homicides between 1980 and 2014. The murders account for 16 per cent of all female victims, despite female aboriginals making up four per cent of the female population.