Vigil for murdered teen, 'homeless hero' draws 2,000 people in Winnipeg
Published Sunday, August 17, 2014 1:27PM CST
Last Updated Wednesday, August 20, 2014 3:51PM CST
A vigil for Tina Fontaine and Faron Hall drew 2,000 people in Winnipeg on Aug. 19, as people remember the teenager killed and the man known as the "homeless hero."
As police investigate the killing of Tina Fontaine, 15, more details surrounding the tragedies she faced in life have come to light.
Thelma Favel helped raise Tina from the age of four, taking over for her father when he was diagnosed with cancer, and stepping in as a grandmother figure.
In 2011, Tina’s father was beaten to death.
“Their father was murdered in 2011 and since then – just this past year, that’s been really, really bothering Tina,” said Favel.
Not knowing where else to turn, the family arranged foster care for Tina, which was initially in the Powerview area, where they lived. Beginning in July, Tina came to foster care in Winnipeg, a move that concerned her grandma.
“She’s never been exposed to Winnipeg life,” said Favel.
Three times in the last year Tina had run away and Favel always feared the worst.
Relatives and police have now called for help from the public in the homicide investigation into Tina's death.
She had been reported missing on Aug. 9 and had last been seen in downtown Winnipeg on Aug. 8, before her body was found in the river on Sunday.
"She was part of the puzzle and now we have a piece of the puzzle missing," said Favel. "Our family's never going to be complete again without her."
"It's like somebody just ripped the heart right out of my chest," said Favel. "I can't think knowing that she's not coming home."
Police speak out on homicide investigation
Fontaine's body was found in the Red River near the Alexander Docks around 1:30 p.m. on Aug. 17.
“She was found wrapped in a type of bag. But she was definitely wrapped up in a condition that she couldn’t have put herself in,” said Sgt. John O'Donovan, an investigator with the Winnipeg police's homicide unit.
“She’s just turned 15. She’s barely been in the city for a little over a month and she’s definitely been exploited and taken advantage of and murdered and put into the river in this condition,” said O'Donovan.
“This is a child...society should be horrified. And that’s why we’re asking for people to come forward and help us with anything they know about this child,” he said.
Police said Tina was last seen wearing a white skirt, blue jacket and white runners.
“Somebody may have seen her between the 9th and yesterday, and we would like to talk to anybody who’s seen her. Anybody who knows who she was with or anything like that. That’s something we really want help with from the public," said O'Donovan.
Anyone with information can contact investigators at 204-986-6508 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-8477.
Favel said Fontaine had dreamed of working with kids as a career.
“She wanted to work with children. She loved children," said Favel.
Derek Nepinak, grand chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, met with Winnipeg police Tuesday to discuss the issue of missing and murdered women, including the AMC's desire to have greater political attention focused on it.
A vigil was held on Tuesday night, starting at 7 p.m. It started at the Alexander Docks and went to the monument for missing and murdered women at The Forks.
Shortly before 7 p.m. Tuesday, hundreds had already arrived at the location for the vigil. Estimates at the Alexander Docks pegged the number around 1,000. More appeared to join the vigil as it moved to The Forks, with estimates there pegging the number at 2,000 people.
- with a report from Ben Miljure