Witness says she saw Jennifer Catcheway the night she disappeared
For seven years, rumours of how Jennifer Catcheway disappeared and where her remains may be buried have circulated around the Dakota Tipi First Nation in Manitoba.
But a new witness brought fresh information to the RCMP on Friday, reviving the family’s hopes of finding Jennifer, who disappeared on her 18th birthday in 2008.
The anonymous tipster said she knows where Jennifer Catcheway was the night she disappeared, and who she was with.
“We waited so long for this day and the day has finally come -- somebody has come forward,” Bernice Catcheway, Jennifer’s mother, told CTV News.
The family has followed all leads possible, breaking ground at neighbours' yards, digging countless holes and even rifling through garbage dumps on three separate occasions.
On Friday, the family was searching a forested area where a woman said she heard screams the night Catheway went missing.
"It’s hard to detect under seven years of fallen leaves," said Bernice Catcheway as her boots crunched over the forest floor.
But just as the family believed they were making progress, the chief of the Dakota Tipi First Nation told the Catcheways that they won’t be allowed to continue their search beyond Friday unless they have a police presence.
Chief David Pashe says the new wave of media attention is painting the community in a bad light.
"Our community is getting a black eye from all of this publicity. Now everyone is saying she got murdered in Dakota Tipi. So it makes us all murderers by assumption," Pashe told CTV Winnipeg.
Police say Jennifer’s case is an “active investigation,” and the family regularly shares their information with the RCMP in hopes of finding answers.
Police did not attend the search on Friday.
The RCMP said families often have more leeway than investigators in their searches.
"The family will often obtain consent to search or dig when we would not have enough grounds to obtain the required legal authorization to do so," the RCMP said in a statement.
Jennifer Catcheway is one of 164 indigenous women who have gone missing since 1980, according to RCMP figures, with 1,017 more women victims of homicide. Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau has pledged to launch an inquiry into the cases.
With a report by CTV’s Manitoba Bureau Chief Jill Macyshon