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Homicide investigation 'advances' say RCMP
Drone used to take video of scene crashes

Shane Magee
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, January 29, 2015

Police were back in Fort Simpson last week hoping to dig up more clues as the year-old Billy Cholo murder investigation continues.

NNSL photo/graphic

Fort Simpson RCMP Const. Kris White, left, and Yellowknife RCMP Sgt. Chris Self stand over the wreck of a police drone that crashed in the village on Jan. 22 as investigators revisited the scene of Billy Cholo's homicide. Police had been taking aerial photos with the drone of the area near the health centre where Cholo's body was found just over a year ago. - Shane Magee/NNSL photos

Police said in a news release they were returning as the investigation into his murder "advances."

Officers with the major crimes unit of the RCMP from Yellowknife came to the village for several days using an unmanned aerial vehicle, commonly called a drone, to revisit the scene from above where his remains were found. The officers also hoped to speak with witnesses to the crime.

RCMP Const. Elenore Sturko said police know there are witnesses in the community who could come forward.

An avid outdoorsman, the 45-year-old was reported missing in December 2013.

Cholo's remains were found by an RCMP officer inside a gazebo beside the Fort Simpson health centre Jan. 9, 2014.

Initially called a sudden death, police said after an autopsy that his death was a homicide, although they have not said what caused that determination or revealed how Cholo died.

Late last year, after police appealed to the public for information about the case, Cholo's uncle Edward Cholo said there are people in the community who know what happened.

"Following our last public appeal we received very helpful information," stated RCMP Cpl. Jason Hurley of the major crimes unit in a news release.

"That being said, we remain confident that there are other witnesses with information who can still come forward. We are here in the community this week and encourage those people to speak with us."

While police flew the drone, they closed the area off to most traffic and sealed the property around the gazebo with yellow police tape.

Sgt. Chris Self, who was controlling the drone, said it is common to take aerial video or photos of a scene for use later in court.

Instead of just describing a scene to a judge or potential jury, the video would give them a bird's eye view of the area.

He said they chose to take the video now because conditions are similar to when Cholo's remains were found a year ago.

Drone crashes

After a first flight that lasted a few minutes behind the health centre, RCMP moved closer to the Parks Canada office to start a second flight.

Shortly after taking off, with wind buffeting the drone, it flipped upside down in mid air and slammed into the street.

Officers collected plastic parts off the street and took the drone back to the detachment. It wasn't clear whether the video taken earlier was salvaged.

The drone is expected to be sent back to its manufacturer.

This is the second drone G Division has crashed in three years -the unit crashed a similar Draganflyer drone, which costs about $25,000, near Yellowknife two years ago.

The same day they used the drone, police set up a tent near the health centre and painted marks in the snow near the gazebo.

The investigators have since returned to Yellowknife.

Anyone with information about Cholo's death is being asked to contact the Fort Simpson RCMP detachment or Crime Stoppers.

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