A Winnipeg man arrested over the weekend in connection with a 16-year-old homicide cold case has since been released from jail, though police say they’re still talking to prosecutors about potential charges.
The man was arrested Saturday after an 18-month Project Devote investigation into the stabbing death of 32-year-old Nicolle Hands in October 2003.
On Monday Manitoba’s top RCMP officer said the man — who wasn’t named over the weekend because charges hadn’t been laid — has since been released from custody.
But Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy, commanding officer of Manitoba RCMP, said the force is currently working with Crown prosecutors on potential charges.
“Project Devote has been working tirelessly on this (and) it’s a very good news story to subject an arrest,” she said at an unrelated Monday press conference.
“That individual was arrested, interviewed, has been released now, but we’re consulting with the Crown on potential charges and the investigation continues.
“I think it’s a good step in resolving that homicide.”
In a release later in the day Monday RCMP said more information would be released as it becomes available.
“This investigation remains very active and the family of Nicolle Hands continues to be updated on its progress,” the release reads.
Hands was stabbed during the early hours of Oct. 2, 2003, in her Mountain Avenue apartment while her three children and a babysitter slept in the next room.
The babysitter told police she was awakened by a noise around 3:30 a.m. when she saw a man standing over Hands. The man fled the scene, and Hands was left on the floor with life-threatening injuries. She died three days later in hospital.
Hand’s death has been investigated by Project Devote, a task force between the Winnipeg Police Service and the RCMP focused on Missing and Murdered Indigenous women.
Winnipeg Police announced Friday it will no longer have dedicated investigators on the project, instead consolidating resources from various units to liaise with RCMP investigators working on Project Devote cases.
On Monday, MacLatchy said RCMP will continue to work closely with Winnipeg police despite the changes.
“The fact that they’ve moved their folks out of RCMP headquarters, where Project Devote was centred, doesn’t mean that we’re going to stop working on these files together,” she said.
“The primary investigator on the Nicolle Hands homicide is a WPS officer, and that’s continuing — that investigation is ongoing.”
Global News has reached out to RCMP for additional information about the man’s release.
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