James Edwin Wood, Ian Wood and Greg Wood, all of Leaf Rapids, have been charged with second-degree murder in the Leaf Rapids killing May 19 of 39-year-old Garfield Baker, also of Leaf Rapids, who was reportedly stabbed and died later Saturday at Thompson General Hospital.
James Wood, 24, was arrested first and on May 21 Ian Wood, 30, was arrested and charged in the murder. Greg Wood, 33, was located in The Pas May 22 and also charged for the murder of Baker. James and Ian Wood appeared in Thompson provincial court May 22 and were remanded in custody. Greg Wood is to appear in court here later this week.
While police did not identify the murder weapon, the Winnipeg Free Press identified it as a broken golf club, while CBC News said sources told them it was a screwdriver and the stabbing took place around 4 a.m. Saturday. On May 21, an autopsy was completed in Winnipeg on Baker and "the cause of death was attributed to the injuries he sustained during the assault," said Sgt. Line Karpish, media relations spokesperson for RCMP "D" Division in Winnipeg, said May 22.
At about 6:15 a.m., Leaf Rapids RCMP responded to a complaint of three males "who had been seriously assaulted in Leaf Rapids," Karpish said.
Leaf Rapids is located 212 kilometres northeast of Thompson and 106 kilometres south of Lynn Lake. It has a population of 453.
Aside from Baker, "one adult male, age 22 of Leaf Rapids, was treated for his injuries and released from the Leaf Rapids Health Centre. The third adult male, age 37 also of Leaf Rapids was airlifted to Winnipeg and remains in stable condition," Karpish said. The other two injured men are believed to be cousins of Baker.
Along with being charged with second-degree murder in Baker's killing, James, Ian and Greg Wood are also charged with aggravated assault in connection with the two other victims.
"Police continue to investigate the murder of Garfield Baker and the assaults of the other victims. The victims and the individuals involved in this incident know each other."
The stabbing incident reportedly took place outside a party. Along with the Leaf Rapids RCMP detachment, which has a complement of one sergeant and five constables, the Winnipeg serious crime unit, Thompson major crime unit and Thompson forensic identification section are investigating Baker's murder. Baker was the father of four children, including a one-year-old boy and three girls, aged three, four and six.
In 1969 Sherritt Gordon Mines discovered a vast copper and zinc ore body at Ruttan Lake, 25 kilometres away from what would become the Leaf Rapids townsite. In July 1970 the newly-created Leaf Rapids Development Corporation Ltd. was given responsibility by the province for building the Town of Leaf Rapids, which was created as an experimental town carved out of wilderness between 1971 and 1974.
The town centre was opened in 1974 and won the prestigious Vincent Massey Award for Excellence in the Urban Environment the following year. The copper and zinc-producing Ruttan Mine was originally owned by Sherritt Gordon Mines, but was sold to what is now Hudbay Minerals Inc. in 1987.
The company ceased operations of the Ruttan Mine on June 28, 2002 and Leaf Rapids population dropped from 1,309 residents in 2001, the year before the mine closure, to 453 residents last year, a 65.4 per cent population decrease.
Today, almost exactly 10 years after Ruttan Mine closed, around 57 homes built between 1971 and 1974 on Keyask Bay, Mikinak Bay, Nepin Bay, Mukasew Bay, Utik Bay and Wapoos Bay in Leaf Rapids, are for sale at prices ranging from $20,000 to $40,000.