Vigil held for murdered Winnipeg teen Cooper Nemeth

An estimated 1,000 people gathered at an Indigenous smudging ceremony in Winnipeg Monday night in memory of 17-year-old Cooper Nemeth, whose murder has shocked his family and friends.

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High school classmate David Arts told CTV News he was shocked and saddened. “He was a good guy,” Arts said. “I didn’t think any of this would ever happen to him.”

Nemeth’s teammates were also struggling to deal with the loss. They hung his #7 jersey above the ice, with a “C” affixed to represent that Nemeth was their honourary captain.

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

On Sunday, police said they received a call from a person who heard strange noises, and then police found a body in a bin on that person’s property.

Roshan Pothumulla said the bin was in his yard. “I saw the bin laying on the floor and a leg sticking out,” he told CTV Winnipeg. Pothumulla’s wife said she couldn’t sleep after what she saw.

Winnipeg Police Deputy Chief Danny Smyth said he doesn’t know exactly what happened to Nemeth, “but I think it’s fair to say this was drug-related.”

Sources said the drug in question was the prescription medication alprazolam, sometimes sold under the brand name Xanax. The drug is used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders.

Regardless of the circumstances, high school guidance counsellor Paul Anderson said Nemeth is being remembered as a “quiet young man.”

Nicholas Bell-Wright, 22, was arrested and charged with second-degree homicide on Sunday.

With a report from CTV Manitoba Bureau Chief Jill Macyshon


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