Manitoba

Simone Sanderson homicide: Winnipeg police suspect sex trade john

The man suspected in the 2012 death of Simone Sanderson made return trips to the scene where her body was found, Winnipeg police say.

Winnipeg woman found dead near vacant lot in North End in September 2012

Simone Sanderson homicide: Winnipeg police suspect sex trade john

5 years ago
1:47
The man suspected in the 2012 death of Simone Sanderson made return trips to the scene where her body was found, Winnipeg police say. 1:47
The man suspected in the 2012 death of Simone Sanderson made return trips to the scene where her body was found, Winnipeg police say.
The body of 23-year-old Simone Sanderson was found under a piece of cardboard on Sept. 2, 2012 in an empty lot at the corner of Burrows Avenue and Main Street in Winnipeg. She was last seen on Aug. 26. (Family photo)

DNA evidence belonging to the single profile of a man has been recovered "at more than one" location around the crime scene, police said.

They don't, however, know who that man is yet.

Little information about Sanderson's homicide has been released since her body was found behind a building in North End Winnipeg 3½ years ago. That has frustrated her family, which has held vigils and walks and hired a private investigator in the hopes of trying to discover some leads.

RAW: Winnipeg police provide update on Simone Sanderson murder case

5 years ago
2:35
Winnipeg police are pleading for information to help them crack the case of an Aboriginal woman murdered in the North End almost four years ago. Simone Sanderson's body was found in a vacant lot in September 2012 near Burrows and Main. 2:35

On Wednesday, police shared a bit of what they know, but urged the public to come forward with any information they might have.

"We're asking members of the public to please do the right thing and contact us. Her family is frustrated and angry … they lost a loved one and had no answers in 3½ years," Sgt. Wes Rommel of the police service's homicide unit said.

"Her family and friends want and deserve justice [and] she did not deserve what happened to her."

Police say Simone Sanderson's body was found in this lot, just behind the building in the background. (Google Street View)

Sanderson was last seen alive on Aug. 26, 2012, and was reported missing a week before her body was found at the southwest corner of Burrows Avenue and Main Street on Sept. 2, 2012.

Days later, police declared her death a homicide but they've never said how she died. Rommel said on Wednesday that Sanderson's body was concealed but didn't say how.

Police believe Sanderson was picked up by a john and killed on Aug. 26 or in the early hours of the 27th. The suspect vehicle is described as small, two-door, older-model car.

That information has been put together through witness interviews and surveillance video, Rommel said

The investigation suggests the man returned to the scene several times and is someone who uses sex trade workers, he added.

Investigators have spent a great deal of time trying to track Sanderson's activities on the night of the 26th, but it hasn't been easy, he said.

"A challenge in this case, being the nature of Simone's lifestyle at the time of her death, she certainly was struggling and she certainly had contact with a lot of people who were unknown to her or maybe not familiar," Rommel said.

"When you're trying to track down all of those individuals at periods of day that is often covered in darkness, it becomes very difficult."

While he acknowledged there isn't a lot of new information, Rommel hopes it will trigger some tips from the public.

"We're looking for someone who has a suspicion about that person [responsible for Sanderson's death]; something that they saw that night, somebody who maybe was told by that person about events that may have occurred that evening," he said.

Rommel understands Sanderson's family's frustration but he's disappointed they have hired an investigator.

"There are potential risks [to the case] when you have someone else interviewing witnesses," he said. "We're trying to manage our information."

For their part, Sanderson's family is angry the police held a news conference because they do not agree with Sanderson being labeled as a sex trade worker. They are also planning their own news conference for Thursday morning.

A police spokesperson confirmed the family asked the WPS not to hold a press conference, but police decided to go ahead with one anyway.

"The ultimate goal is the resolution of the investigation for both for the service and the family," the spokesperson said.

"The process is not always sensitive to individual needs."

Simone Sanderson was last seen on Aug. 26, 2012, and was reported missing a week before her body was found at the corner of Burrows Avenue and Main Street on Sept. 2. (Courtesy Winnipeg Police Service)

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