NEWS
03/18/2016 11:11 EDT | Updated 03/19/2017 01:12 EDT

Teresa Robinson homicide: 15-year-old boy charged with 1st-degree murder

A 15-year-old boy has been charged with first-degree murder for the death of Teresa Robinson.

The 11-year-old girl's body was found last May in Garden Hill First Nation, a fly-in community on the edge of Island Lake, about 475 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.

"As a parent and as a mom, I can only imagine how incredibly difficult the past 10 months have been for this family," Supt. Paulette Freill said just after 1 p.m. CT Friday at a news conference in Winnipeg.

"Teresa's murder was an absolutely senseless and horrific crime. It shook the community of Garden Hill."

The boy, who is from the community, was arrested on Thursday and the charges were laid on Friday. He cannot be named under provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Robinson had last been reported alive leaving a birthday party in the community around 9 p.m. on May 5. Her body was found in a wooded area on May 11. 

The condition of her remains first led people to believe she had been killed by a wild animal. Her death was later determined to be a homicide.

Last month, RCMP took the unusual step of asking all males in the community age 15 to 66 to give DNA samples as part of the investigation.

"The scope of the collection is something that was new in Manitoba. It had the full support of the community and leadership," Staff Sgt. Jared Hall said.

"Our investigators have spent tens of thousands of hours on this case and not a single day has passed where it hasn't been worked on, thought of … toiled over."

Hall said no amount of training can prepare officers to deliver information to a family about the death of an 11-year-old girl.

"It takes an emotional toll on our members," he said. "I can't explain what it's like to deliver news like this to a family member.

"To sit down at a person's kitchen table and not only break the news but then to have to come back and talk to them later, something like this, over a 10 month period. If I was a family member — I'm a parent, heaven forbid something like this happen to me — I just want to know what happened. To sit down with family, ask them for their trust and faith when they don't know us before we show up in their lives — we become a fixture and person in their life, unfortunately, they're not going to forget."

Hall would not confirm whether the 15-year-old provided DNA to investigators, adding all samples have now been destroyed.

Hundreds of people volunteered their time and efforts to find Robinson and help with the subsequent investigation.

"The tragedy of Teresa's death will never, ever be forgotten and there will always be a deep sense of loss for the family and in that community," Freill said.

"It's our hope however that the charge of first-degree murder laid today can begin the healing process and help bring some closure to the family."

Roughly 600 tasks were carried out by about 80 officers as part of the investigation, including 400 interviews with people in the community, RCMP said.

​Sheila North Wilson, grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, which represents the province's northern First Nations, said she hopes the arrest will bring some closure to the family and the community in Garden Hill.

RCMP said the investigation is ongoing.