Murder suspect identified
RCMP arrest and release suspect in investigation
of 15-year-old's disappearance

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

NNSL (Feb 21/97) - RCMP have identified a suspect in the Charlene Catholique murder investigation, more than six years after she disappeared.

He is one of three Rae men -- aged 26, 27, and 28 -- arrested over the past couple of days. All three were arrested but then released from custody because police didn't have enough evidence to place a charge.

Sgt. Tom Steggles of the community policing section said the RCMP acted on tips from several residents of Rae to make the arrests.

"As a result of media saturation, the community came forward and our guys have seen a marked increase in co-operation from them," he said.

On July 22, 1990, 15-year-old Charlene Catholique of Lutselk'e left Rae to hitch a ride to Yellowknife. She was on her way back from Rae, where she was visiting friends for a few days after attending the Dene National Assembly. Catholique was last seen walking east on Hwy. 3 towards Yellowknife. Her body was never found.

RCMP from Rae, Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet, Hay River and Yellowknife were involved in the six-year investigation that has prompted a $10,000 Crime Stopper reward for the arrest and conviction of the person responsible.

Steggles said that it's too premature to discuss the reward right now, but he is confident that this latest lead will help police crack what they are calling one of the longest unsolved murder cases ever in the NWT.

"Now we have identified a suspect, whereas before it was so wide open," he said.

He added, however, that police are still looking for information surrounding her disappearance.

"To this day, I'm sure there's a lot of pieces out there that we don't know about," he said. "And we're going to need them to place a charge."

Steggles credits co-operation between police, Crime Stoppers and the media since October 1996 with the identification of the suspect.

"In some communities, people feel that if you help the police, you won't be accepted into the community," he said. "That feeling is out there."

He maintains that this attitude is starting to wane in Rae as people want the investigation solved as soon as possible.