Victim of 2015 homicide in Gods Lake Narrows died from a blunt force injury caused by a hard object

Crystal Andrews died as result of extensive blunt force trauma to her head, the doctor who performed the autopsy said at the trial of her accused killer Michal Okemow in Thompson Jan. 14.

Andrews was found dead in Gods Lake Narrows in November 2015, a little more than a day after she went missing while walking home after a social and an after party.

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Dr. John Younes, Manitoba’s chief medical examiner, said Andrews had multiple injuries, including many defensive wounds on her right arm, but that only one of these injuries, a skull fracture on the back of her head, would have been fatal by itself. He said the injury could not have been caused by a hand or foot by itself, but only by a heavy, hard object similar to a rock, a cinder block, or a weapon that could swung like a baseball bat.

Cpl. Maria Forrester of the RCMP Forensic Identification Section, who was stationed in Winnipeg at the time of Andrews’s death, travelled to Gods Lake Narrows Nov. 9, 2015 to document the scene where her body was found. Andrews was found in the woods a few metres away from an ATV trail close to where the winter road enters the community. She was clothed when she was found, though she was not wearing shoes. One shoe was found about 45 metres away from Andrews’s body, which was about 285 metres from the SUV belonging to Michael Okemow’s father that had been found stuck in the mud on the morning of Nov. 8, 2015, the same day Andrews was last seen alive.

A search of the SUV conducted by Forrester only turned up DNA belonging to Michael Okemow and his father.

Forrester said that when she compared the treads of shoes seized during a search of Okemow’s parents' house in December 2015 to autopsy photos, she initially said that the patterns did not match. She later changed her opinion about that when she learned that bruising happens in the spaces between where items like shoe treads contact the skin, rather than where the treads themselves contact it.

RCMP reserve Const. Shelly Massey testified that her comparison of Okemow’s shoes and bruising on Andrews’s face that appeared to have been caused by being stomped or kicked showed similarities.

“It  could have been made by this pair of DC shoes,” she said, though it could also have been made by other DC shoes with the same general characteristics.

Massey also testified that two other officers who examined the shoes independently found that the comparison was inconclusive, but that the three of them together settled on a collective conclusion that the bruising and the shoes showed similar characteristics. The size of the shoe that caused the bruising could not be determined, Massey said.

Court also heard a statement of facts agreed upon by the Crown and the defence. This statement included the fact that a vaginal swab taken from Andrews during the autopsy was found to contain DNA contributions from two people and that one of those DNA samples matched Michael Okemow’s.

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