Manitoba

'We don't know what happened': Family shattered after woman, 18, found dead in snow

The body of 18-year-old Autumn Prince was found Tuesday outside a home in Winnipeg's Centennial neighbourhood.

Dozens mourn death of Autumn Prince at vigil outside home where body was found

Autumn Prince's mother, Gardina Prince, confirmed the 18-year-old has died. (Submitted by Gardina Prince )

Family and friends of an 18-year-old woman, whose body was found curled alongside a house in central Winnipeg, are shattered and desperate for answers.

Autumn Prince was last seen the evening of Sunday, Feb. 17, and reported missing to police the following night. Her body was found Tuesday.

"I just want people to know she was loved," her mother, Gardina Prince, said at a vigil Wednesday night.

Prince's mother said she found her daughter's body in the snow in a narrow passage between a chain link fence and a home on Ross Avenue southeast of Sherbrook Street. She said Prince was not wearing a jacket or shoes. Temperatures dipped to –25 C Monday night.

The mother said she thinks Prince knocked on doors before ending up next to the house.

"Have a heart … if someone is going around knocking on doors at night," she said.

Autumn Prince's body was found outside a home on Ross Avenue on Tuesday. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

Dozens attended the vigil outside the house where Prince was found to smudge, pray, sing and honour the young woman.

Her mother, father, younger sister, relatives and friends embraced each other, cried and knelt at candles before a poster board covered in her photos.

The family said they didn't know who lived at the house or why she was there, adding that nobody answered the door when they knocked. 

"It's hurtful because we don't know what happened. Why she was laying there. We don't know until an autopsy comes back," said Jerilynn Beauchamp, a relative of Prince who is from Skownan First Nation, where Prince's father is also from. 

Winnipeg police are investigating the death and an autopsy is underway.

Beauchamp said she spent a lot of time with Prince growing up, taking her to movies, birthday parties and visiting Brokenhead First Nation, where her mother is from. 

"She was friendly, always smiling, always happy, posting pictures on Facebook all the time how happy she is. She was a good girl growing up, always listened," she said. 

"All we can do is just pray. Stick together as a family. This is really hard for all of us."

Prince recently moved to Winnipeg from Selkirk, and family members said that's when she got in with the wrong crowd. 

About a dozen of Autum Prince's friends came in from Selkirk to attend the vigil. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

About a dozen of her friends from her old high school, Lord Selkirk Regional Comprehensive Secondary School, attended the vigil. 

"She always made you smile, every time you came near her, she made you laugh, smile everything," said Jordan Campbell, 18.

Prince was outgoing and loved to sing and dance like no one was watching, said Campbell.

"She had a good energy about her. Very sweet and kind and genuine. She had a lot of friends. She was very social," added Millie Prince, who was her classmate and friend.

Campbell said the death is hitting everyone hard. 

"I am hurting for her loss, but I'm hurting for everyone else who were closer to her," said Campbell.

Autumn Prince was found dead in Winnipeg on Tuesday. (Submitted by Gardina Prince)

now