Police ask those who knew Jana Williams to help homicide investigators
Anyone who saw, talked to her in recent weeks should contact police, they say
The death of Jana Williams, whose remains were found near the Red River at Alfred Avenue last week, was a homicide, police say.
Police said last week they responded to a call around 6 p.m. Thursday reporting the discovery of a body near the Red River.
Jana Williams' family held a vigil Sunday night near the river, and police confirmed Monday morning that they had found her remains.
The vigil shows just how loved Williams was by her family and in the community at large, said Const. Jay Murray, a police spokesperson, during a news conference Monday morning.
"There was a significant outpouring of support for her. It's very tough and it kind of reminds us of the human element in these cases," he said.
Williams would have been 28 when she died. Her birthday was March 5, police said, meaning she would have turned 29 just one day after her body was discovered.
Williams' remains were found outside, but police don't think her body was in the river at any point, Murray said.
They also don't believe her remains were there for a significant amount of time, he said.
"We know someone was involved with the disposal of her body. That much is for sure," he said.
"I don't like to use the word disposal. I struggled with another word to use, but when the facts of this case do come out, I feel it's the most accurate word to use, unfortunately."
Whoever left Williams' body there had tried to conceal it, but Murray couldn't say how. He said where she was found was "not necessarily where she passed away," indicating there may be another crime scene.
He couldn't say how police think she might have been killed.
Williams was from Winnipeg, but police don't believe she was living at a fixed address in the last days of her life, Murray said. She also had not been reported missing, he said.
Investigators are hoping someone in the community, particularly those living or working in homeless shelters, might have seen or talked to her in the two weeks before her body was found.
Police decided to release photos of her in case it jogs someone's memory, Murray said.
"There's a lot we don't know about Jana. There's a lot that we want to establish," he said.
"Traditionally, investigations like this where we recover a body and we have to start working backwards, we have to start establishing where she was in the days leading up to her death, when that death occurred and the people she was with. So it can be incredibly challenging."
He also asked that people living in the area where her remains were found call police if they can remember noticing anything suspicious in the last few weeks.
Anyone with information is asked to call the homicide unit at 204-986-6508 or submit a tip anonymously via Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477).
AMC wants to see federal MMIWG action plan
In response to Williams' death, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs is calling on the federal minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, Carolyn Bennett, to address the 231 calls for justice of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Specifically, the AMC wants to see a national action plan, a news release says.
"This is another horrific murder of a First Nations woman in Winnipeg and I am asking the minister how many more First Nations women have to die in this country before the federal government will finally address the calls for justice and implement the national action plan?" said Grand Chief Arlen Dumas in the release.
The federal government is contributing to more deaths of First Nations women, Dumas alleges, by refusing to address root causes of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, follow the calls for justice of the MMIWG inquiry and commit the resources necessary to implement an action plan.
"First Nations women and girls deserve action from the federal government and deserve to live in safety and security, free from violence and misogyny," he said.
With files from Nicholas Frew