An RCMP officer cordons off an area near Sheshatshiu Friday during a search for a missing woman. — Photo by Derek Montague/The Labradorian
Gordon Milley, the 30-year-old man from Sheshatshiu, charged with first-degree murder, will appear in court in Happy Valley-Goose Bay this afternoon at 1:30 p.m. Labrador time.
Milley is charged in connection with the death of 21-year-old Bernice Rich.
The Telegram will have more coverage later today from The Labradorian's Derek Montague.
A 30-year-old man from Sheshatshiu has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the death of a young woman in the Labrador Innu community.
Gordon Milley is scheduled to appear in provincial court in Happy Valley-Goose Bay today. RCMP officers arrested the man Friday afternoon, one day after police were advised of a possible assault in Sheshatshiu.
Police identified the victim as 21-year-old Bernice Rich. A news release issued on Saturday said she was originally from Natuashish.
News of the victim’s violent death shocked Sandy Kershaw, program director for the Mokami Status of Women Council in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. She said sad events like this will not cease until society finds a way to deal with the issue of violence against women.
“The end result of this particular horrific violence is a suspected murder,” she said. “Until we as a society determine that committing violent acts on one another is totally unacceptable, things like this will continue to happen, and I hope never to hear of anything like this again, because a family lost a daughter, and a friend, and it’s just a tragedy. It’s heartbreaking.”
News of a suspicious death was first acknowledged Friday evening by the RCMP. Police did not publicly confirm Milley’s arrest until early Saturday evening.
Sheshatshiu is about 40 kilometres northeast of Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Kershaw said her organization regularly deals with women who have experienced physical and emotional violence.
“We work really hard to empower women to move beyond, escape, and live in violence-free (environments), and when we found out that a women had been suspected of being murdered, we were shocked and in disbelief,” she said. “This is Labrador, and for something like that to happen, it really shook us to our core.”
The majority of the centre’s drop-in clients are experiencing “a tremendous amount of violence
in their lives,” according to Kershaw.
When a client informs staff at the centre they are experiencing a crisis situation involving physical or emotional violence, the centre immediately contacts Libra House, a local women’s shelter.
“Our organizations both help support women who have experienced violence,” she said.
The victim’s body was transported from Labrador to St. John’s on Saturday and will be examined by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
The RCMP’s major crime section is investigating the incident. It has thus far been assisted by the RCMP’s forensic identification section, police dog services, the Labrador general investigation section, air services and Labrador traffic services.