Winnipeg man faces 2nd-degree murder charges in death of teen

Winnipeg Police say they have arrested and charged a man with second-degree murder in connection with the death of 17-year-old Cooper Nemeth.

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Nemeth went missing in the early-morning hours of Feb. 14, after he left a party in Winnipeg's Valley Gardens neighbourhood. Police say witnesses saw Nemeth climb into a vehicle with another male before disappearing.

On Sunday, police told reporters they believed they had located Nemeth's body in a bin on a property in the same area.

"It is with sadness that I'm here to report that a body was discovered on a property on Bayne Crescent, not far from the party where Cooper was last seen," Winnipeg Police Deputy Chief of Investigations Danny Smyth said at a news conference on Sunday.

"Investigators believe this is Cooper's body, although this still needs to be confirmed by medical examiners later in the week," Smyth said.

According to the preliminary investigation, Smyth said, investigators believe Nemeth was murdered and his body purposefully concealed in a sheltered area of the property on Bayne Crescent.

Smyth said the property owner contacted police after hearing unusual noises at the rear of the property, and that the owner is not believed to be connected to the case.

Police responded to the call and discovered the bin, which they say does not belong to the property owner.

On Sunday morning, officials arrested 22-year-old Nicholas Bell-Wright and charged him with second-degree homicide.

Police now allege that Bell-Wright killed Nemeth sometime after leaving the party, and later moved the body onto the property in the Valley Gardens neighbourhood.

"I don't believe the murder was on Bayne Crescent," Smyth said. "We think the body was moved there."

Smyth said the details of the case remain unclear, but that police believe the killing was "drug-related" and that Bell-Wright acted alone.

Smyth said police arrested Bell-Wright without incident in the city's Maples area, where officers found him in a vehicle that had been reported stolen on Saturday. Smyth also said officers searched Bell-Wright's residence earlier in the week and found forensic evidence and a vehicle that is believed to be linked to the case.

Bell-Wright has one previous assault conviction, Smyth said, but no "extensive" criminal record.

The suspect is currently in police custody.

Nemeth's disappearance prompted a massive outpouring of support and a search effort that involved hundreds of people across the city.

On Sunday, the teen's aunt and uncle called off the search on Twitter and said the family would release a statement in the upcoming days.

Smyth thanked the community for their "support throughout this ordeal," and expressed his condolences for the teen's family.

"This is not the outcome that anyone wanted, and our hearts go out to the Nemeth family while they deal with the loss of their son," he said. "I can only imagine the pain that they're going through, but I also believe that the remarkable and continued support of the community will help them get through this tragedy."

Smyth said the investigation is ongoing and that an autopsy is expected to be performed early this week.

With files from CTV Winnipeg


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