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Female body in Winnipeg identified after three years
Female body in Winnipeg identified after three years

Female body in Winnipeg identified after three years

DNA testing has confirmed the identity of a woman’s body pulled from the Red River back in June 2012 but family members waited three years to get answers.

52-year-old Audrey Desjarlais was identified through a DNA sample.

She had once been ruled out as a match. But her daughter’s persistence led police to take another look.

The body was found on the riverbank of the Red in June of 2012. But it was so badly decomposed, the Chief Medical Examiner and police couldn’t figure out who it was.

Police put out sketches of what the woman may have looked like, and pictures of the jewelry found with her.

20 tips came back, naming various people. One of them – Audrey Desjarlais.

But as police started asking questions in fall of 2012, two witnesses said they had seen her in September and October, doing some shopping in Grunthal and Steinbach. Police decided there wasn’t reason to doubt them and Desjarlais fell off the radar.

But her daughter had doubts and went to the media in April. Police did a DNA test and it was a match.

Superintendent Danny Smyth says a DNA profile had not been done on the body until after Desjarlais was ruled out as a match.

“In the fall of 2012, certainly we looked to establish a DNA profile that would assist us. However, quite frankly, the focus of the investigation changed when those witnesses came forward because they were acting on the belief that Ms. Desjarlais was still alive,” he said.

Desjarlais had never been formally reported missing to Winnipeg police or RCMP.

Smyth says he isn’t second-guessing investigators.

“They had no idea who this was. There were over 20 tips that came in and they were also comparing the profiles of a great deal many more people that police had been in contact with. We had no missing person report to really support that it would be Audrey Desjarlais,” Smyth said.

Now they’re looking to find out what happened to Desjarlais in her final days, which they believe were in January of 2012.

The medical examiner couldn’t pin down a cause of death. Smyth says there were no clear signs of foul play.

He said the investigation remains open and that anyone with information about Audrey Desjarlais should contact the police missing persons unit at 204-986-6250.


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