Lafantaisie slaying suspect ID'd

A 25-year-old man with a history of involvement with the criminal justice system is arrested in the slaying of Elizabeth Lafantaisie, whose body was found inside the trunk of her car in Winnipeg.
Police tape blocks the road where the car belonging to Elizabeth Lafantaisie was found on Feb. 24. (CBC)

A 25-year-old man with a history of involvement with the criminal justice system has been arrested in the slaying of Elizabeth Lafantaisie, whose body was found inside the trunk of her car last week in Winnipeg.

Thomas Brine is charged with first-degree murder, police said Tuesday afternoon.

Brine was arrested shortly before 8 p.m. on Monday in the city's River East neighbourhood. He's also facing charges of possession of property obtained by crime, assault causing bodily harm and assault, police said. At the time of his arrest, he was the subject of two warrants, said police.

A spokesman would only say Brine is known to police and would not elaborate.

Provincial court records show Brine has a number of convictions over the past six years, including for theft, dangerous driving, breaking and entering, possession of criminal property and breaches of court orders.

He was also convicted of escaping lawful custody in 2007.

Manitoba Public Insurance also successfully sued him for nearly $30,000 in 2008.

Police said Lafantaisie's slaying was a random event, suggesting the killing was not planned or premeditated. Under the Criminal Code, a homicide committed in the course of confining a person is considered first-degree murder.

Police said forensic evidence "certainly played a role" in making an arrest in the case.

Lafantaisie, 73, had been missing for almost a week when her vehicle was found Feb. 24 parked near River Avenue and Lewis Street in the Osborne Village area.

Police said Lafantaisie last spoke with family on Feb. 18.

Police turned to the public on Feb. 23 for help finding the woman, who was last seen in the city's Royalwood neighbourhood.

An electronic billboard was posted on Pembina Highway near Bishop Grandin Boulevard, featuring Lafantaisie's image and description.

Investigators from the Winnipeg Police Service's homicide unit and missing persons unit canvassed more than 1,000 suites at several apartment buildings, including the seniors' residence where Lafantaisie lived and a highrise in the Fort Garry neighbourhood where her purse was located.

Volumes of surveillance video were seized from multiple sources, police said.

Lafantasie's family has requested privacy.