Manitoba RCMP have laid a first-degree murder charge against a 15-year-old boy from Garden Hill First Nation in connection with the death of 11-year-old Teresa Robinson.

The arrest was made “without incident” in the remote northern community where the girl went missing last May. The male suspect cannot be named, due to the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Sources tell CTV News he came from a troubled home and was affected by family suicides.

Police had taken the unprecedented step of asking all 2,000 of the community's 15- to 66-year-old males to provide DNA samples. Hundreds voluntarily gave samples of their blood.

RCMP Sgt. Jared Hall told reporters in Winnipeg Friday that forensic work and DNA “does have … relevance to this investigation” but he would not say whether the accused provided a DNA sample.

The officer would not comment on whether the victim and the accused knew each other.

Robinson disappeared last May after leaving a birthday party. When her body was found six days later, officials believed she had been mauled to death by a bear. Police later said it was murder.

George Leonard, who helped with the search, is still haunted by the death. “To put it in your mind that I’m now going to hide this person by mutilating them and then dispersing their body in a dump,” he said. “Just think of the mindset.”

Sgt. Hall confirmed that “animals are believed to have disturbed Teresa's body” after the murder.

Hall said there are no other suspects at this time, but that the investigation is not yet complete.

RCMP Supt. Paulette Freill called the murder “an absolutely senseless and horrific crime.”

“It shook the community of Garden Hill as well as Manitobans, as well as the members of the RCMP who were working it,” she said.

Freill said she hopes the charge will help bring closure to the family and community.

“RCMP will continue to provide ongoing support to the family and community,” she added.

Sgt. Hall offered details on the resources dedicated to the case so far:

  • Approximately 80 RCMP officers and civilian employees were involved.
  • At least 10 units of the RCMP worked on it.
  • About 600 “investigative tasks” were carried out.
  • More than 400 interviews were conducted.
  • Hundreds of volunteers offered their time.
  • Tens of thousands of police hours were dedicated.

Sgt. Hall said that “the resources and efforts in this case are not unique to this particular investigation," adding this is how "the men and women who work for the RCMP approach these cases."

Garden Hill Chief Dino Flett said the arrest is part of the healing process for his community. “We needed closure, we needed answers and we got that today,” he said.

“I’d like to thank the RCMP for not giving up on this case and the community members that cooperated in this case with the RCMP, a big thank you to them,” he said.

“There has been fear in Garden Hill, almost a year,” he said. “We had no idea what was going on, if this person was still out there.”

Sheila North Wilson, the grand chief for northern Manitoba, also thanked the community and RCMP for their contributions.

However, she said the murder “speaks to a larger issue of our communities all across our north: our young people are in crisis, in despair.”

“I think that it's upon all of us to make sure they get what they need to find happiness and success in their lives,” she added.

With a report from CTV Manitoba Bureau Chief Jill Macyshon