Seven years later: Murder of 16-year-old Chantelle Rikheim remains unsolved

Trailer was burned in arson fire to try and conceal beating death

Chantelle Rikheim's name usually appears in print these days only briefly as one in connection with a list of names, which usually include Jason Nunn, Jacob Stokman, Bernie Carlson, Lissa Chaboyer and Kerrie Ann Brown - Thompson's unsolved murder cases between October 1986 and April 2011.

In the case of Rikheim, seldom more is usually written, little is found in newspaper files, and even her first and last names are often spelled incorrectly.

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Chantelle Litecha Irene Wright-Rikheim, the 16-year-old daughter of Carl and Laura, was murdered seven yeas ago on Feb. 2, 2005. Laura Wright-Rikheim, originally from Dryden, Ont., lives in Stonewall today.

In some important ways Chantelle Rikheim's unsolved murder perhaps resembles that of 14-year-old Kerrie Ann Brown in several ways. They were similar in age, both teenage girls, and the two youngest of the six unsolved Thompson murder cases. And in both cases the police had suspects but not enough evidence.

At the time of her beating death, Rikheim was living with her dad, Carl Rikheim, in the old Burntwood Trailer Court. He was at work when she was killed. The fire was so intense it took RCMP forensic investigators almost a week to positively confirm Chantelle's identity through dental records.

About 30 people attended a noon-hour vigil in Chantelle's memory on Feb. 17, 2005 in the parking lot of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church. And then, after the usual things were said by the usual well-meaning people that day, denouncing such unfathomable violence, the case largely faded from view.

Carl now lives in Ashern but still occasionally gets back to Thompson and likes to visit with old friends for an evening at Trappers.

"My daughter Chantelle Rikheim was at a point in her life where she was on the verge of becoming a responsible adult," Carl told the Thompson Citizen Jan. 31.

"She was doing very well at her job at Santa Maria Pizza and she had lots of friends. I will never stop missing her. The only thing that has kept me going this long is finding the person responsible and getting justice as well as closure. All I can tell you is Chantelle was murdered and the trailer, our home, was set on fire to cover the murder. Chantelle was a very beautiful young lady with her very own personality. I know I am not the only one who misses her. My heart also goes out to Mr. Jim Brown and the Chaboyer family."

Chantelle was also involved with the Futures Family Resource Program at 125 Commercial Place. Futures is sponsored by Marymound North and provides a safe place and other services to at-risk children and youth in the Thompson area. The project is a collaboration between Marymound North, the School District of Mystery Lake and the Burntwood Regional Health Authority (BRHA).

Futures serves youth and young adults who are at risk of becoming pregnant, those who are pregnant and those who are parenting children up to six years of age. Futures opened in August 1994. Marymound, a member of the Catholic Health Corporation of Manitoba, is a social services agency in Winnipeg and Thompson that works with over 3,000 children, youth and families annually that need support as they face the challenges of growing, learning and parenting.

"I want to thank you all at the Thompson Citizen for keeping the ongoing publicity up in all of these unsolved cases," Carl said Feb. 1. "Just letting the public know these cases are remembered might help to jog somebody's memory or maybe even get these guilty people to come forward and show some guts."

Julie Vincent, who now lives in Kenora, Ont., wrote a letter to the editor of the Thompson Citizen, published Feb. 9, 2005, a week after Chantelle's murder: "My girl, I can't believe you are gone," she wrote. "I've watched you grow into such a beautiful young woman through the good and bad times. I've never stopped loving you nor will I ever. Watching you grow up, I saw myself all over again - a sweet girl struggling with life's challenges, wanting so bad to belong and feel loved, and having the potential and love in your heart to become someone that everyone wouldn't help but love.

"So many memories I will never let go. You were the sister I never had but always wanted.

"I hope you are in a better place now and took all of our love with you."

Vincent said Jan. 28 that Chantelle had lived for a time with her and her daughter. Vincent, who is originally from Montreal, was just 20 herself and four years older than Rikheim when Chantelle was murdered. "She was an amazing loving sweet kind person," Vincent recalled. She still keeps in touch and visits with Carl.

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