No charge yet
Rae, Lutselk'e residents asking "why"

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 07/97) - Rae residents want to know why the RCMP publicly identified a murder suspect two weeks ago when they didn't enough evidence to charge him.

"We were surprised and we wondered why ... when there weren't any charges laid," said John Ivey, manager of the Rae Band.

Two weeks ago three Rae men were arrested in connection with the Charlene Catholique case. Catholique is the 15-year-old who disappeared more than six years ago walking home to Lutselk'e from Rae. Her body was never found.

Of those three men -- aged 26, 27, and 28 -- one man was identified as a suspect. Police released their suspect when they didn't have sufficient evidence to charge him.

"We don't know who these men are, and one of them is only a suspect anyway at this point," said Ivey. "I haven't heard that people here are scared because a murder suspect has been identified."

He added, however, that residents of Lutselk'e -- where Catholique grew up -- have been calling Rae looking for information.

"They want this to come to an end," he said.

North Slave MLA James Rabesca said that the RCMP have a responsibility to apologize if they are wrong about their accusation.

"If it is true we must make sure that the body of Charlene Catholique is found and returned to her family and buried in a Christian way so that her spirit may come to rest," he said.

"If it is not true then the RCMP must come up with an explanation and apologize to the community."

One woman from Rae who didn't want to be identified said that she, too, was surprised when the suspect was identified because of the lack of evidence.

"People here can't believe that these men were identified," she said. "People are asking the question why."