Friends of a 17-year-old Edmonton girl are in mourning after her death was ruled a homicide and police announced charges have been laid.
Autopsy results released Thursday showed teenager Leona Neapetung-Stevens was stabbed to death on Halloween night.
Police found her lying on the living room floor of a home near 96th Avenue and 176th Street at about 5 p.m. Saturday. One friend says it was a fluke that she was even in Edmonton that night.
They have since charged a 20-year-old man with second-degree murder.
"My buddy and I invited her to come with us to Banff," said Chris Sale.
Neapetung-Stevens turned down the invite. She wanted to go to a Halloween party in Edmonton instead.
Sale, who used the endearment "twin sister" to describe her on Facebook, was one of the last people to speak with her.
"She was a very outgoing person, very talented. Someone you could really trust," he said.
Neapetung-Stevens was in Grade 12 at St. Joseph high school. She played fiddle, painted, danced and sewed her own clothes. Sale said she once told him she'd like to design for a living someday.
Erlene Monteith taught Neapetung-Stevens in elementary school, when she studied at Ben Calf Robe-St. Clare indigenous school in Edmonton. They remained close. Monteith called her "my girl," she said.
"She was just such a special, gentle, kind person. And for something like this to happen to her for no reason — that's the hardest thing to deal with," said Monteith.
Her voice breaking, Monteith recalled when Neapetung-Stevens danced in her troupe and every year at the Ben Calf Robe powwow. Monteith wrote a prayer based on those memories on the teenager's Facebook wall.
"It's just such a great loss," she said. "She could have had such a beautiful life. She had so much hope and she was so smart."