This month’s news that a first-degree murder charge has been laid in the October 2019 killing of Bobbie Lynn Moose, who was found dead in a grassy lot on Nelson Road in Thompson more than a year-and-a-half ago, is good news not only for her friends and family and residents of both Thompson, where she spent a lot of time, and Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation, where she was from. It also bodes well for the hope of a future in which far fewer Indigenous women are murdered or go missing without any answers ever being provided to those who knew them.
Moose’s murder was the type of crime that often fades quickly from public consciousness and, in the past, may have been under-investigated. She spent much of her time in Thompson but she didn’t have a home here. The people she hung out with don’t necessarily read newspapers, either in print or online, watch TV news or listen to the radio. There was a 16-day gap between the time she arrived in Thompson and the day her body was found. Solving her murder was not easy.
To their credit, the RCMP didn’t look at these obstacles, conclude that a resolution would be almost impossible and just go through the motions of trying to find a suspect. They pulled out all the stops. They did interviews, they purchased billboards, they printed and distributed thousands of pamphlets and they sent officers door-to-door in Thompson trying to find information about Moose’s final days. Despite these extensive efforts, it still took nearly two years to identify and arrest a suspect and lay a charge against them. But it was welcome news when they did.
Although some homicides in Thompson over the last decade have been solved and the people who committed them sentenced to prison, there are still several unsolved cases, including the deaths of Solomon McDonald, killed in a suspected hit and run in March 2019, of Jacob Stokman, of Bernie Carlson, of Lissa Chaboyer, of Christopher Ponask, of Jason Nunn and, perhaps most infamously, of Kerrie Ann Brown all the way back in 1986. Although there’s no reason to believe that police didn’t investigate any or all of these killings thoroughly, the fact remains that they are still unsolved and it seems like a high number of unsolved homicides for a community the size of Thompson. On the other hand, the fact that Moose’s killing has now been cleared, at least from the police’s view of things, though Jack Flett still has to face trial on the first-degree murder charge, when many people may have believed it was destined to become another unsolved cold case, could be a hopeful sign for the friends and family of those whose killings have yet to be explained. Rarely does someone commit a so-called perfect crime with zero witnesses and no one who knows anything except the perpetrator. As the title of a CBC podcast that featured the case of Kerrie Ann Brown attests, usually someone know something. Getting that information into the hands of investigators can be the crucial piece of evidence that pushes a homicide’s status from unsolved to cleared and perhaps gives those who knew the victims the closure they have been denied since their loved ones were suddenly removed from their lives with little or no explanation or justice.