The Killing of Kindness – The Elizabeth Lafantaisie Murder Investigation – Part II – “Cloudy Waters”
Friday, February 25, 2011
The next day we started work at 7:00 a.m. sharp.
As is the normal procedure, the day started with a full briefing with all investigators. During the briefing investigative tasks and results were thoroughly reviewed. These are the sessions that can make or break a homicide investigation.
Like just about everything else, communication is key to success, especially in a complex murder case.
During these briefings investigators brain storm, theorize and play devils advocate. These sessions form the heart and soul of a homicide case.
Key investigations taking place at this time continued to focus on the high-risk sex offender angle and our need to include or exclude him as a potential suspect. Other investigators were assigned to identify car wash locations in the district in efforts to locate the car wash where the killer took Elizabeth’s car after the murder.
Many car wash companies have video surveillance cameras installed on their property for security purposes. This evidence could prove to be vital for a prosecution.
We also issued a public appeal asking witnesses to come forward if they had occasion to see Elizabeth’s vehicle in the possession of any suspicious person (s) at a car wash.
Meanwhile, the Missing Persons Unit was assigned to compile a list of high-risk sex offenders residing in the area of concern. They also continued with the canvass of 77 University Cres and 100 Adamar. These locations contained over 1,000 suites that had to be canvassed. In a high stakes case such as this, the answer could be found behind any one of those doors.
Investigations to determine Elizabeth’s daily routine continued.
Aside from pursuing leads related to Deangelis, the majority of the day was spent investigating erroneous tips that came from the public regarding the Elizabeth’s car and various car wash locations.
At 11:00 pm, after working a sixteen (16) hour day, I pulled the plug on investigators and we retired from duty.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Saturday was a scheduled day off.
As a rule, homicide investigators do not take days off while working a “hot” murder case, at least not when we have several important avenues of investigation to pursue.
Lost days off come with the territory in homicide investigation. The sacrifice of lost family time is a reality that all homicide investigators accept and never complain about.
We started at 9:00 am with the usual routine – the shift briefing.
At the center of discussion were conflicting witness reports regarding the victim’s vehicle. Some witnesses indicated the vehicle was not at the “dump” location over the weekend while others suggested the vehicle may have come and gone at different times.
The operating theory at this time was Elizabeth had been abducted and killed sometime during the day on Friday, February 18, 2011. It would then be logical to expect the killer would have immediately cleaned her vehicle and dumped it shortly thereafter. It seemed unlikely the suspect would have come and gone from the dump location with Elizabeth’s body in the trunk.
Photographs from the dump location showed the vehicle in question had enough snow on the rooftop and windows to suggest it had been parked at the site for some time.
Environment Canada weather service reported the following snow accumulations in the Winnipeg area on the dates in question:
- .5 mm – Saturday, February 19th
- .5 mm – Sunday, February 20th
- .5 mm – Tuesday, February 22
Investigators had to be assigned to resolve the conflicting information received regarding the victim’s vehicle and its alleged movements.
At this point the canvass was approximately 70-80% complete and had provided little in the way of helpful information. At the same time, investigators were conducting analysis regarding card access to the garage at 100 Adamar Rd.
As the scope of the investigation widened, other scenarios had to be considered. One such scenario was the possibility Elizabeth met her killer at the St Vital Mall, a large local shopping center. As a result, efforts had to be made to review video recordings obtained from mall security cameras. (A time-consuming significant task.)
At 5:05 pm, Detective Sergeant Brent Black contacted me and advised he’d interviewed a witness who confirmed Deangelis smoked Studio brand cigarettes. This information more than just peaked my interest, I was starting to become a believer. Even though the case was moving forward, the harsh reality was we were nowhere close to putting handcuffs on anybody.
Regardless, the team remained highly motivated and committed to the task. We had a lot of work ahead of us.
At 9:30 pm, we retired from duty.
There would be no Sunday off with the family.
To be continued….
Written by James G Jewell – Sergeant – Winnipeg Police Service – Retired
Editor’s Note – this article was previously published on The Police Insider website on February 18, 2016.