This week marks the sixth anniversary of the unsolved murder Nov. 26, 2005 of Thompson cab driver Melissa Chaboyer in the parking lot behind City Centre Mall, near what was then the Vantis (now Assiniboine) Credit Union ATM vestibule and rear entrance beside the south doors of the mall.
Known as Lissa to friends and family, on the night of Friday, Nov. 25 and into the early morning hours of Saturday Nov. 26, Chaboyer, 35, was operating a white cab - North Star Cab 302. Lissa Chaboyer was a single mother and foster parent. She worked as a part-time taxi driver in order to supplement her income.
"Lissa was driving part time to raise extra cash for the upcoming Christmas gifts that she loved buying for family members," her father, Milton Chaboyer, told the Thompson Citizen in 2007 and 2008. "She had a special place in her heart for the countless foster children she had under her care and would carry on helping them even after they were no longer in her care. She fostered one girl for five extra years, housing and supporting this girl like she was her own daughter."
Shortly after midnight, Chaboyer was dispatched to a fare at the arena. The caller and number of passengers are not known. A few minutes later, she called her dispatch to report that she was going to what was then the Ramada, now the Burntwood Hotel.
RCMP say it still not known whether Chaboyer actually went to the arena, picked up any passengers, or stopped at the Ramada.
But police believe that at approximately 12:30 a.m. she had a fare and was transporting two people in her cab and drove into the parking lot behind the City Centre Mall in Thompson and was travelling eastbound and passed the Vantis entrance when she was attacked and killed by her two passengers.
Chaboyer was stabbed to death and left on the ground outside of her vehicle. The two suspects fled on foot from the scene. They traveled across a field east of the mall parking lot, and were last seen heading towards the Eastwood area of Thompson.
Another cab driver, Ken Rhodes, who had driven cab in Thompson since 1988, was in the adjacent North Centre Mall parking lot and noticed Chaboyer's taxi top light in the City Centre Mall parking lot at the time of the murder.
A vigil was held at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2005, only hours after Chaboyer's murder, with a large number of people in attendance. Most of Thompson's cab companies suspended service between 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 26 and 7 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2005 as a sign of respect to Chaboyer.
"Lissa would never hurt anyone and did not deserve what happened to her," her father said. "Nobody deserves to die in the way that Lissa did.
"How can you sleep at night with this on your conscience?" Milton Chaboyer asked the killers in 2007. "Lissa was a special person that deserved to still be here with us. We miss her so much it just can't be put into words the hurt we have. I choke up just thinking that we will never see her again we missed out saying good bye to Lissa as she was taken from us so suddenly and under circumstances that are still hard to believe.
"We go on in life believing these things can't happen to us, but it did and it just isn't fair. A father is supposed to protect his little girl and I feel I'm failing my girl so that is why I'm asking you again please help us.
"We need to put Lissa's soul to rest by closing this tragic chapter of our lives."
As a direct result of Chaboyer's murder, the City of Thompson amended its taxi bylaw in 2006 to require taxicabs to be equipped with cameras.
Manitoba Crime Stoppers has offered a $4,000 cash reward for the arrest and convictions of those responsible for Chaboyer's murder - doubled from the normal $2,000 maximum originally offered - while her father, Milton, has offered his own $10,000 reward, for a total of $14,000 in reward money.
There have been a number of cold case unsolved murders in Thompson since 1986. They include the oldest case, 15-year-old Kerrie Ann Brown, who was killed on Oct. 16, 1986. As the 25th anniversary of her slaying passed last month, the case drew renewed media and public interest, but no new arrest or arrests as of yet.
A 22-year-old Thompson man was charged with first-degree murder in connection with her killing. But he was freed four months later after being discharged by provincial court Judge Charles Newcombe without being committed to trial after a three-day preliminary hearing ended Feb. 20, 1987. Newcombe ruled there wasn't admissible evidence upon which a reasonable jury properly instructed could return a verdict of guilty, which is the legal test in Canadian law for committal to trial. Then NDP Manitoba attorney general Roland Penner did not exercise his discretion to issue a rare preferred indictment, which would have sent the case directly to trial.
The most recent unsolved killing in Thompson is that of Jason Nunn last April. On Easter Sunday, April 24, at approximately 2:30 a.m., Nunn was observed leaving the former Element Restaurant and Lounge on Commercial Place. At approximately 6:15 a.m. his badly beaten body was found in a parking lot behind the Juniper Centre on Nelson Road.
On Oct. 26, 2007 Bernie Carlson, 61, an avid gun collector and retired Vale employee, was murdered in what appears to have been a home invasion on Yale Avenue. The police investigation determined that an intruder, or intruders who had broken into his residence and shot Carlson.
Other cold-case unsolved murders in RCMP files for Thompson include Jacob Stokman, 58, who was killed July 27, 2008 in a Cree Road trailer, and Chantel Rikhiem, who was slain on Feb. 2, 2005.
Anyone who has information on the murder of Lissa Chaboyer or any other local unsolved murder can contact Thompson RCMP detachment at (204) 677-6909, or, if you wish to remain anonymous, Manitoba Crime Stoppers at Crime Stoppers, which can be reached toll-free at (800) 222-8477 (TIPS) or to submit a secure tip online go to www.manitobacrimestoppers.com and text "TIPMAN" plus your message to CRIMES (274637).