CBC IN GARDEN HILL

Manitoba First Nation complies with DNA sampling in Teresa Robinson murder case

The community of Garden Hill First Nation is co-operating with Manitoba RCMP for an unprecedented initiative to collect hundreds of DNA samples on the reserve as part of the murder investigation of 11-year-old Teresa Robinson.

Police hope to gather about 2K samples from men in community to help solve case of murdered girl

Men in Garden Hill First Nation tell CBC why they are complying with an unusual request from RCMP -- to supply the police with DNA samples. The blood will be used in the police's investigation into the murder of 11-year-old Teresa Robinson. 2:43

The community of Garden Hill First Nation is co-operating with Manitoba RCMP for an unprecedented initiative to collect hundreds of DNA samples on the reserve as part of the murder investigation of 11-year-old Teresa Robinson.

RCMP say the majority of men between the ages of 15 and 66 are providing DNA, but would not say what the compliance rate has been with the voluntary initiative.

Bobby Monias, 35, is one of several Garden Hill men CBC News spoke to who said he let the Mounties prick his finger and use his blood to compare it against evidence gathered during the investigation.

"I don't feel like that I've been violated as a person when my DNA was asked for," said Bobby Monias. "I feel like that I was actually helping the cause." 1:05

"I really didn't want to fight against that because we have to bring justice for the little girl," the father of five said while fighting back tears.

"The brutality of what happened to her is why I feel so sad sometimes. It's unfair. I think about what she must have went through, screaming for help, trusting whoever did that."

In May 2015, Teresa Robinson's body was found on the reserve. It was so badly mangled that at first, it was thought she was killed by a wild animal.

Investigators quickly determined it was a homicide.

Garden Hill First Nation is a remote community, only accessible by plane most of the year. The isolation means investigators were most likely dealing with a limited pool of suspects, but eight months later there has still been no arrest in the case.
RCMP are currently taking DNA samples from men in Garden Hill First Nation hoping to find answers about what happened to 11-year-old Teresa Robinson. She was murdered in the remote northern Manitoba community eight months ago. (Facebook)

Last weekend, for the first time ever, Manitoba RCMP started asking men in the community en mass to provide their DNA to rule them out as suspects. Police hope to gather about 2,000 samples.

"If you have nothing to hide then you shouldn't fight against something that's trying to help your people," said Monias.

On Thursday, a Winnipeg human rights lawyer said the mass sampling violates the men's rights.

"I don't feel like that I've been violated as a person when my DNA was asked for," said Monias. "I feel like that I was actually helping the cause."

The Mounties said anyone who turns them down will not automatically be a suspect and the samples will only be used for this investigation.

John Hill, 32, said police haven't approached him for a sample yet, but he will provide it when he's asked.

"I have nothing to hide. If they want it they can have it," Hill said. "It's a horrible thing, to kill a child."

The Garden Hill man knows loss too well. He said his cousin was murdered a few years ago.

Hill said police should have done more with Robinson's investigation from the beginning.

"I'd say it's a little too late," he said. "They should have done [the DNA collection] right away."

Tommy Harper, 44, already gave a sample of his DNA.

CBC's Chris Glover is reporting from Garden Hill First Nation this weekend. The remote community is almost 500 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. (CBC)
"I hope they catch him because it would be like a closure, because this thing is always on my mind. I wonder, 'Who did it, who the killer is, why he did it,'" Harper said. "She was just a beautiful little girl."

Harper's daughter and Robinson were close friends. He recalled how difficult it was to explain to his daughter what happened.

"I talked to my daughter about it and sat down with her.  'How come,' she kept asking us, 'Why, why what happened?' I couldn't say anything to her."

Investigators finished the first round of DNA sampling on Thursday. Police will be back in the community at least three more times to complete the sampling.

About the Author

Chris Glover

CBC News Reporter

Chris spent half a decade as a political reporter for CBC Winnipeg, but now that he's returned to his hometown of Toronto, he's excitedly sinking his teeth in all sorts of stories. Discovering new neighbourhoods isn't a 9 to 5 job and after years away, he has a lot to catch up on. When he's not running around the city with a camera, you can find him on the island soaking up the sun or riding the trails along the Don River.