EDMONTON - Friends say a woman whose body was found tied up in a shopping cart in an Edmonton alley had struggled with addiction.
Police have ruled the death of Andrea Marie Berg a homicide. An autopsy shows the 42-year-old died of blunt force trauma.
Witnesses who found her body Tuesday said her legs, arms and mouth had been taped and her face was bloody.
Police have not released further details about the case.
Bonnie McLellan, who grew up with Berg in Fort Saskatchewan, near Edmonton, says the woman led a troubled life but loved her family and had a grown son.
"She was a very kind-hearted person ... She was always willing — trying to get back on her feet."
McLellan said she found it difficult to keep in touch with her old friend and learned of her death through a relative.
Berg's friend Shannon Tyler was on of many who expressed condolences on Facebook.
"My heart is so sad. Remembering the years, your giggle and your bright smile," wrote Tyler.
"Rest in love and peace Andrea ... A beautiful sweet soul has left us and will be missed."
Another friend, David Sheffield, had commended Berg on Facebook in May 2014 for fighting to get clean.
"Lookin good today, my girl! 5 months in treatment ... I hope it works for you this time, Andrea, you've tried so hard to fight this disease in the past, that I'm just so glad you haven't given up on yourself! Your a real fighter, thats what I like about you Andrea, my dear, dear, friend."
Berg had listed on her Facebook page that she worked at Hope Mission, a downtown social care agency. She hadn't updated the page since last year.
A spokeswoman with the shelter said that although Berg was not an employee, she was a "beloved member" of the Hope Mission community and served in many areas with the agency's church.
"What she loved most of all was to sing and she sang on our worship team," said Rachael Chan. "She had a loving singing voice."
Chan said Berg was loved by many with the agency and they are all grieving her death.
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The Aug. 9 death of Michael Brown
, an unarmed, black 18-year-old shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, captured headlines around the country. The grand jury's decision in November not to indict Officer Darren Wilson sparked protests in nearly 200 cities, highlighting widespread concerns about police relations with the African-American community.
The exact circumstances of the shooting have been disputed. Police officials said Wilson was first physically assaulted by the teen and then was forced to shoot when Brown rushed him. But some witnesses said Brown had stopped moving and had his hands raised when the final shots came. In total, Wilson fired his service pistol 12 times, with an estimated six bullets hitting Brown.
Concerns about police brutality received new fuel in December when another grand jury chose not to indict after another African-American man died at the hands of a white officer. Back on July 17, Eric Garner
, 43, was allegedly selling illegal cigarettes in Staten Island, New York, when Officer Daniel Pantaleo confronted him and ultimately placed him in what some described as a chokehold. During the incident, which was captured on video, Garner said, "I can’t breathe" 11 times. He finally passed out and was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Though the medical examiner later ruled Garner’s death a homicide, the grand jury still declined to indict Pantaleo. That decision set off major protests in the United States and around the world. Demonstrators called for justice for Garner, Brown and others killed by police officers.
Among those other deaths was that of 12-year-old Tamir Rice
in Cleveland. On Nov. 22, Officer Timothy Loehmann responded to a call about a "young black male" carrying a gun. The person reporting the incident to the 911 dispatcher said the weapon was "probably fake," but it remains unclear if that information was passed on to the police. Upon arrival at the scene, Loehmann, who claims the boy ignored commands to comply and reached for what appeared to be a gun, quickly fired two shots, striking Rice in the torso. The child died the following day.
In the aftermath of the shooting, investigators concluded that the weapon Rice was allegedly holding was actually an Airsoft gun, which shoots nonlethal plastic pellets. On Nov. 24, officials announced that a grand jury would hear the case.
The Dec. 20 deaths of two New York City police officers
, killed by a man who apparently claimed he wanted revenge for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, sent shock waves through the law enforcement community. According to the NYPD, 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley fatally shot officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos "execution style" while they were eating lunch in their marked cruiser in Brooklyn. Liu, a seven-year veteran of the force, and Ramos, who had joined just two years ago, were pronounced dead upon arrival at a local hospital. After killing the officers, Brinsley, who police say had earlier shot his former girlfriend in Baltimore, ran into a subway station and killed himself.
"Quite simply, they were assassinated," NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said at a press conference in the hours following the shooting. "Both officers paid the ultimate sacrifice today while protecting the communities they serve."
Brinsley referenced the deaths of Garner and Brown just hours before he shot the officers, police said. On an account linked to his former girlfriend, he allegedly posted a photo of a silver handgun and wrote: "I'm Putting Wings On Pigs Today. They Take 1 Of Ours...Let’s Take 2 of Theirs."
Handout via Getty Images
For 48 days in 2014, Eric Matthew Frein
managed to evade capture in the Pocono mountain region of Pennsylvania. Authorities were hunting the 31-year-old military enthusiast for the Sept. 12 ambush of two state troopers outside the Blooming Grove barracks. Cpl. Bryon Dickson was killed in the attack. Trooper Alex Douglass, who was seriously wounded, was released from the hospital several weeks later.
The first break in the case came in the hours after the shooting, when Frein's Jeep was discovered partially submerged in a wooded area not far from the police barracks. Ammunition casings found inside the vehicle matched casings found at the scene of the shooting, police said. Investigators said Frein likely fled on foot.
During the nearly seven-week search, there were numerous reported sightings of Frein in the wooded mountain areas, and he was added to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. Frein was ultimately captured by authorities at an abandoned airport hangar near Tannersville on Oct. 30. He was arrested using the handcuffs of the trooper he had allegedly killed.
Police have not confirmed a possible motive for the shooting but have said Frein previously wrote about his hatred for police and had been planning an attack for several years. Frein is incarcerated, awaiting trial on a number of charges, including first-degree murder.
Authorities in California said that 22-year-old Elliot Rodger
was the man responsible for a deadly killing spree that left six people dead and more than a dozen injured. According to police, the killings began on May 23, when Rodger, a former student at Santa Barbara City College, stabbed three men to death in his apartment. Rodger then allegedly drove to the Alpha Phi sorority house and began shooting people in the area, including three Delta Delta Delta sorority sisters; two were killed and a third was injured. Police said Rodger also shot at a couple walking nearby, injuring both of them. He drove to the Isla Vista Deli Mart, where he fatally shot another student, and then continued driving, randomly shooting at strangers and striking two bicyclists and two skateboarders with his vehicle.
When police finally caught up to Rodger, they found him dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound. Afterward, authorities announced that Rodger had written a manifesto and posted a video to YouTube titled "Elliot Rodger's Retribution." In the video and manifesto, Rodger reportedly said he was motivated to shoot people by "loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desires."
Handout via Getty Images
Authorities in Indiana arrested 43-year-old registered sex offender Darren Deon Vann
in October for the killing of a 19-year-old woman at a motel in Hammond. Following his arrest, police said, Vann confessed to the murders of six other women in Indiana and led investigators to each of their bodies, which were hidden in abandoned structures in Gary. Vann, who has been charged in connection with only two of the deaths, has entered pleas of not guilty. Authorities said they expected to file additional charges soon.
captured headlines again in 2014 after her short-lived reprieve from the Italian courts was yanked back. The case against Knox had begun on Nov. 2, 2007, when 21-year-old British exchange student Meredith Kercher was found dead in the bedroom of her Perugia apartment. From the start of the investigation, Italian authorities focused their attention on Knox, then a 20-year-old U.S. exchange student who was living with Kercher, and Knox's boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito.
Authorities claimed to have found a knife with DNA from both Knox and Kercher at Sollecito's residence. DNA from Rudy Hermann Guede, an acquaintance of Knox and Kercher, was also found on the victim, according to police. Knox, Sollecito and Guede all pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, sexual violence and robbery.
In October 2008, Guede was found guilty of assaulting and murdering Kercher. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison. Knox and Sollecito were found guilty in December 2009. Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison while Sollecito received 25 years. The latter two remained behind bars until October 2011, when their verdicts were overturned at a second-level or appeal trial.
But that reprieve was only temporary. In Italy, a defendant who has been so acquitted can be retried. In March 2013, the Italian Supreme Court set aside the judgment of the appellate court and granted the prosecution another chance.
The retrial began, with Knox in absentia, in September of last year. Four months later, in January 2014, Knox and Sollecito were again found guilty. Knox was sentenced to 28 years in prison, and Sollecito received 25 years. Knox's lawyer is appealing the decision to the Italian Supreme Court.
One of the more shocking crimes of 2014 involving children occurred on May 31, when two 12-year-old girls in Waukesha, Wisconsin, allegedly stabbed a 12-year-old classmate 19 times in the torso, legs and arms. Despite the severity of her injuries, the young victim managed to survive. A police criminal complaint filed against the girls said that their motive was to prove the existence of a fictional creature named Slenderman
. "Many people do not believe Slenderman is real [and we] wanted to prove the skeptics wrong," one of the girls said, according to the complaint filed by the Waukesha Police Department.
Both girls have been charged as adults and face up to 65 years in prison. "The bad part of me wanted her to die, the good part of me wanted her to live," one of them allegedly told police.
The September disappearance of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham
launched a month-long search, which ended with the discovery of her body at an abandoned property in Albemarle County, Virginia, on Oct. 18, 2014. Authorities charged 32-year-old Jesse L. Matthew Jr. in connection with the case.
Investigators said they also suspect Matthew might have been involved in the 2009 death of 20-year-old Virginia Tech student Morgan Dana Harrington, whose remains were found roughly six miles from Graham's. Matthew has pleaded not guilty in connection with Graham's case. He has not been charged in connection with Harrington's case.
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