Police plead for info on 1998 murder of Evelyn Stewart in Winnipeg
Case is part of Project Devote, which is focused on missing and murdered persons
CBC News Posted: Feb 23, 2015 9:23 AM CT Last Updated: Feb 25, 2015 4:22 PM CT
The police task force behind Project Devote — an investigation into missing and murdered persons in Manitoba — is asking the public for information on the 17-year-old murder of Evelyn Stewart.
The task force has conducted more than 130 interviews in the case but believe there are more people out there who can help them.
"I have to admit some of those people have been interviewed not once, not twice, [but] some three times and we'll talk to them four or five or six, seven times," said Winnipeg police Detective-Sergeant Randy Levasseur, the lead investigator on the case.
Stewart, 25, was found just after 5 a.m. on the morning of March 20, 1998, in the parking lot of Gateway Industries on Point Douglas Avenue, by employees of the company. She was still alive but was suffering from massive trauma to the head.
The trauma was so severe that the first officers on the scene couldn't determine whether the victim was a man or a woman.
Stewart was pronounced dead 45 minutes later in hospital.
Stewart was a sex trade worker in the area and last seen alive at 3 a.m. that same morning in the area of the Mount Royal Hotel, a few blocks from Gateway Industries, police said, adding that the level of violence in her death strongly suggests the person or persons responsible were known to her and that she was likely targeted.
"We believe her killer was known to her and that this was not a random attack. Someone needs to step forward and help solve the murder of Evelyn Stewart," said Levasseur.
Stewart had an addiction to street drugs and supported the habit through the sex trade, police said. She was known to frequent the hotels and bars on the Main Street strip, including the Northern, Sutherland and Mount Royal hotels, as well as the area of Higgins Avenue just east of Main Street.
Investigations involving sex trade workers are often challenging because "their activities immediately prior to their death are hard to establish and previous customers are not likely or willing to step forward with information," police said.
Anyone with information is urged to call the Project Devote tipline at 1-888-673-3316, or anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477).