Manitoba

Families of missing, murdered daughters use GoFundMe to hire private investigators

The families of two slain women have grown tired of waiting for answers from police, and have launched a GoFundMe campaigns to raise money for private investigators.

Jennifer Catcheway went missing on June 19, 2008, her 18th birthday

Jennifer Catcheway went missing on June 19, 2008, her 18th birthday. She had phoned her mother earlier in the day to say she was heading home to Portage la Prairie, Man., but she never arrived. (gofundme.com)

The families of two slain women have grown tired of waiting for answers from police, and have launched GoFundMe campaigns to raise money to pay for private investigators.

"Our family needs answers and closure now, your donations will help us reach our goal in bringing Jennifer Catcheway home," Bernice Catcheway, Jennifer's mom, wrote on her GoFundMe page, which went up Sunday and aims to raise $100,000.

"My heart can only express how much I appreciate your gift. As a mother I call on you for your financial support as soon as possible. A private investigator will give us a peace of mind knowing that Jennifer's case is continuing forward."

Jennifer went missing on June 19, 2008, which was her 18th birthday. She had phoned her mother earlier in the day to say she was heading home to Portage la Prairie, Man., to celebrate with family, but she never arrived.

During the years since, the RCMP have received tips, including one that Jennifer had been seen at a party on Dakota Tipi, which is southwest of Portage la Prairie. However, her last phone call was traced to Grand Rapids, 365 kilometres north of Portage.

Her disappearance has since become an RCMP homicide investigation and investigators believe her body is somewhere between Grand Rapids and Portage la Prairie.

Bernice Catcheway and her husband, Wilfred, have searched and chased tips since their daughter disappeared.

The search for Jennifer has come across bones on two separate occasions, only to learn they weren't human. For the past month, the Catcheways focused their search inside Dakota Tipi First Nation.

Willie Starr, Jennifer's brother, said despite the fact that the official search has been called off for winter, his parents haven't stopped looking.

Jennifer Catcheway's brother Willie explains why his family has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for a private investigator 1:33

"My parents don't stop — it's day in, day out," Starr said. "Even though the winter months are here, there are other things we'll be doing, raising money, hosting events."

Wilfred added that stronger laws are needed to save indigenous women like his daughter.

"They're life givers, so they need to be protected," he said.

Simone Sanderson

The family of Simone Sanderson, who was found dead near an empty lot in Winnipeg's North End in September 2012, has already hired a private investigator and has turned to GoFundMe to help pay for the service.

Simone Sanderson was 23 when she was killed. Her body was found in a lot in Winnipeg's North End in 2012. (Family photo)
"The family has grown tired with the way the investigation has been handled from the beginning and are seeking answers themselves," the GoFundMe post states.
"The family refuses to let the case of Simone Sanderson grow cold any longer. She was a mother, daughter, granddaughter, sister, and friend. Taken too soon at 23-years-old, Simone had dreams of completing her education and raising her only son, Nigel Jr."
Nikketa Campbell, Simone Sanderson's cousin, says families are exhausted and campaigns like GoFundMe will help the investigation move forward 1:44

Nikketa Campbell, Simone's cousin, said the family feels the police investigation has stalled.

"We're stuck at that question of what happened and we haven't really moved forward from there," Campbell said. "The GoFundMe is to generate funds to hopefully locate some strategies or identify some ways to discover those questions and really find answers."

The family is trying to raise $3,000 to look further into leads they have developed over the past two years as well as to interview witnesses.

"There has been confident reassurance from our P.I. who feels strongly about the direction in which she can take Simone Sanderson's case — the direction the family has been hoping it would go for the last 2.5 years," states the GoFundMe post, which went up four months ago.