RCMP announced today they have made an arrest in the case of an abducted teenage girl in the Landmark area.
On June 23, 2019, Manitoba RCMP received an emergency call from a homeowner indicating that an injured 16-year-old female was at their house and that she may have been the victim of an abduction. RCMP officers from Steinbach, St. Pierre as well as Police Dog Services immediately responded.
The preliminary investigation determined that the victim was walking her dog on Road 30 North when a male driver of a pick-up truck stopped and asked the victim if she needed a ride. When the victim declined, the male driver forced the victim into the vehicle.
As the vehicle was approaching a dead-end on Road 45 North, approximately four kilometres east of Landmark, it began to slow. It is at this time that the victim managed to escape.
She made her way to the nearest residence and police were called. The victim sustained minor injuries during this incident.
Extensive patrols were made but the suspect and vehicle were not located.
Then, five days later, Steinbach RCMP received a report of an abandoned pickup truck in a ditch within the city. It was later determined it was stolen out of Ile des Chenes on June 23rd, the same day of the kidnapping. Officers combed the truck for evidence and were able to connect this vehicle to the kidnapping but could not directly link it to any suspect.
Inspector Tim Arseneault says a breakthrough came in February 2022, when officers were notified that an unknown fingerprint collected during the initial investigation in June 2019, had just resulted in a match and a name. Officers were able to speak with the witness, which led officers to gather additional evidence and eventually identify a suspect. Inspector Arseneault explains there was a fingerprint found in the truck in June of 2019, however, it was unidentified through their national system. In 2022, it became identified into the national system which means someone had been convicted of a crime and a new fingerprint had entered into the system.
“So now we had that name,” he says.
On Tuesday of this week, 24-year-old Hercules Nicholas Chief of Steinbach was arrested and remanded into custody on charges of kidnapping, assault with a weapon, two counts of possession of property obtained by crime and theft of a truck.
The victim and the suspect were not known to each other. Inspector Arseneault says this appears to have been a completely random kidnapping. He says the victim has been made aware of the arrest, noting she is emotional, but relieved and thankful.
“It is my sincere hope that the arrest of this suspect, who remains in custody, brings some closure to the victim and reassurance to the community that we will do all we can to solve these serious crimes,” says Assistant Commissioner Rob Hill, Commanding Officer of the Manitoba RCMP.