‘He took the truth with him’: Man acquitted in Tina Fontaine’s death found dead in Ontario

Raymond Cormier was found dead in Ottawa on April 3, police confirm.

Tina Fontaine

Tina Fontaine was 15 when she was murdered in Winnipeg. The case remains unsolved. Photo: APTN file

The man acquitted of murdering 15-year-old Tina Fontaine has been found dead in Ottawa, APTN News has learned.

Thelma Favel, the great-aunt of Tina Fontaine, said homicide detectives with the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) broke the news about Raymond Cormier to her in person last week.

“He took the truth with him,” Favel told APTN News Monday. “In my heart, I know he did that – he killed Tina.

“But I have so many unanswered questions why? Why would he do that to a little girl?”

Cormier, a petty thief and drug dealer, was found not guilty of second-degree murder by a Winnipeg jury in 2018. He was accused of drugging and killing the Anicinabe teen from Sagkeeng First Nation he met on the streets of Winnipeg and dumping her body in the Red River.

Open case

Favel, who still lives in Sagkeeng about an hour north of Winnipeg, said detectives told her Cormier died in Kenora, Ont., a summer resort community two hours east of Winnipeg.

But APTN has since confirmed that Cormier died in Ottawa on April 3.

“His death has been investigated by the Ottawa Police Service, and the cause of death has been determined as non-suspicious,” said Const. Cailey Walker in an email to APTN Friday.

No further details were provided.

Favel said Tina’s murder remains an open case.


“They still get tips,” Favel said in the interview.

The WPS referred questions from APTN to the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).

OPP Staff-Sgt. Grant Cowles in Kenora wouldn’t confirm Cormier had been found dead in his community.

“I understand why there would be interest but we don’t comment on non-criminal deaths out of respect for the family,” he said.

Tina Fontaine
Raymond Cormier, who was suspected of killing Tina Fontaine, has reportedly been found dead in Kenora, Ont. Photo: APTN file

Cormier, of New Brunswick, was 56 when he stood trial.

He admitted to the murder on secret police recordings, but it wasn’t enough to convict him.

Tina’s body, which was wrapped in a duvet cover and weighed down with rocks, was pulled from the Red River in Winnipeg eight days after she was reported missing in August 2014. Cormier was charged more than a year later.

However, there was no DNA evidence linking him to Tina. Doctors who were called to testify said they could not definitively say how the teen died.

“I kept praying, hoping he would get a guilty conscience,” Favel told APTN. “He knew he couldn’t get charged because of that double jeopardy thing.

“But why not come clean before this thing (his death) happened to him?”

In Canada, murder suspects cannot be prosecuted twice for the same crime.

Tina Fontaine
Tina Fontaine’s killing inspired marches and a national inquiry into the causes of violence against Indigenous women and girls. Photo: APTN file

Over three weeks of testimony in 2018, the jury heard how Tina’s relatively stable upbringing spiralled out of control when her father was murdered.

“That’s when I noticed a really big change in Tina,” Favel said Monday. “She seemed lost.”

Tina had left Sagkeeng to visit her mother in Winnipeg.

In the city, she spent time on the streets and was being sexually exploited. She had been placed in a hotel by social workers when she disappeared.

She and her boyfriend met the much-older Cormier in the summer of 2014. The jury heard Cormier gave the couple a place to stay, supplied Tina with drugs and had sex with her.

Stolen truck

Witnesses remember Tina and Cormier fighting in the street over a stolen truck and Tina accusing him of selling her bike for drugs. Tina even reported a stolen truck to police.

Favel said news of Cormier’s death sent her to visit Tina’s grave in the Sagkeeng cemetery.

“I know where she is and that she’s safe now, but I just want to know why he took her from us,” she said. “Those unanswered questions eat at me.”

Favel said police told her Cormier was on his way to Winnipeg.

“All they said was that he was found. They didn’t tell me how he died or what happened to him.”

The headstone at Tina Fontaine’s grave in Sagkeeng First Nation. Photo: APTN file

Favel said she takes some comfort from Cormier’s death knowing he won’t be able to hurt another person.

“He used to just smirk at me when I walked into the courtroom,” she added, noting Cormier tried to give her a letter he wrote but she refused to accept it.

His sister also wrote to her, Favel said Monday. “She said, ‘I know he did it, he told me.’”

Read More: 

Man acquitted of killing Tina Fontaine arrested in Ottawa 

‘Children are going to die’: Manitoba Child Advocate calls for change 

Favel said she gave the letter to the RCMP.

Tina’s death prompted an outpouring of emotion across Canada and helped push politicians to hold a national inquiry into the root causes of violence against Indigenous women and girls.

It also put the actions of Winnipeg police and child social workers under the microscope.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated on April 26, 2024 to correct information about where Cormier died. 

Contribute Button