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Friday, June 5, 2015
News Release - Winnipeg Police Service
Friday, June 5, 2015
Positive Identification made in Long-Term Missing Person Investigation C12-114018 As previously released, on Friday, June 15, 2012, police and other emergency responders recovered the body of a female from the Red River. The body was badly decomposed, and investigators and authorities from the Medical Examiner's office were unable to identify the female. The Missing Persons Unit was assigned to investigate.
This past week the female was positively identified as Audrey Desjarlais, who was 52-years-old. Ms. Desjarlais was originally from the Saddle Lake community, but was believed to be living in Winnipeg prior to her death.
The Winnipeg Police Service would like to acknowledge Ms. Desjarlais' daughter, Barb Desjarlais, and Donna Carreiro of the CBC, who were instrumental in the eventual identification of Audrey Desjarlais through a DNA match. Members of our Executive, along with the Missing Person's Unit were able to travel to Regina to spend time with Ms. Desjarlais' daughter and provide her with more information about the investigation.
This has been a long, complex investigation. Based on the autopsy report, it is believed that Ms. Desjarlais (who was referred to as "Jane Doe") had been in the Red River for weeks, and possibly months before being discovered. The Medical Examiner was unable to determine the cause of death; however, there were no obvious signs of injury or trauma to her body.
Early on, investigators facilitated several media releases asking for the public's assistance in identifying Ms. Desjarlais. This included a composite sketch, and the release of some unique jewellery that Ms. Desjarlais was wearing when she was discovered.
The Missing Persons Unit received over 20 tips that required follow-up investigation. In addition, they compared over 300 profiles of women that Winnipeg Police Service had previous contact with.
Ms. Desjarlais first came to the attention of investigators in September of 2012 as a result of a public tip. It was during this time that investigators made contact with Barb Desjarlais in Regina, and began to explore the possibility that the female discovered was her mother. Barb Desjarlais was open to the possibility. In early October, investigators also received information from two witnesses who indicated they had seen Audrey Desjarlais in late September. Both witnesses had indicated they had seen Ms. Desjarlais; in late September shopping in Steinbach, and in early October shopping in Grunthal. These sightings of Ms. Desjarlais were believed to be credible; as a result, investigators shifted their focus away from Ms. Desjarlais, assuming that she was still alive. We now know those witnesses were mistaken.
The missing person investigation remained open throughout 2013 and 2014 but there was little information to further advance the case. The published interview of Barb Desjarlais by Donna Carreiro in April of this year renewed the interest in Audrey Desjarlais. In a follow-up, Barb Desjarlais provided investigators with a DNA sample that matched our "Jane Doe" and identified her as Audrey Desjarlais.
As stated earlier, the Medical Examiner was unable to ascertain the cause of death. Police once again ask the public for assistance. We know that Audrey Desjarlais was never reported missing to the RCMP or the Winnipeg Police Service. Still, we believe someone has knowledge of Audrey Desjarlais in the final days of her life believed to be sometime around January, 2012.
Anyone with further information is encouraged to contact members of the Missing Persons Unit at 204-986-6250.
For further information contact either: Constable Jason Michalyshen, Public Information Officer Constable Eric Hofley, Public Information Officer