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Winnipeg home razed by fire may be linked to Portage la Prairie homicide: RCMP

Manitoba RCMP ‘quite confident’ there’s evidence that may link home razed by fire to Portage la Prairie homicide
Michael Koppang, head of the Manitoba RCMP's major crimes division, said on Tuesday that police are “working non-stop” after the body of 27-year-old Gerhard Reimer-Wiebe was found in Portage la Prairie, and that they are “quite confident” there is evidence within a home that burned down in Winnipeg’s North End just days before Reimer-Wiebe’s body was found last month that could assist them in the investigation.

The death of a man whose body was found dumped in Portage la Prairie may be connected to a home that burned down in Winnipeg’s North End just days before the grisly find last month, RCMP now say.

Police began investigating after the man’s body was found on Baker Street in Portage la Prairie June 24.

Read more: Unidentified body found in Portage la Prairie was a victim of homicide: RCMP

After working for weeks to identify the man, police said Monday they had positively identified him as Gerhard Reimer-Wiebe, 27, a man from Steinbach who had been living in Winnipeg when he died.

Police have not said how Reimer-Wiebe was killed.

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On Tuesday police said investigators now believe a home at 381 Alfred Ave. in Winnipeg may be connected to their homicide investigation into Reimber-Weibe’s death.

Read more: Winnipeg home a ‘total loss’ after house fire

The home was destroyed by fire on June 20.

Crews reported heavy flames and smoke when they were called to the house fire just after 6 a.m.

Fire crews on site of the house fire.
Fire crews on site of the house fire. Michael Draven/Global News

No injuries were reported in the fire, which left the home a total loss, officials said at the time. The home was later destroyed for safety reasons, RCMP say.

The cause of the fire was under investigation and an estimate on damage wasn’t immediately available.

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Fire an arson, police now believe

On Tuesday police said the RCMP’s major crime services would be at the scene on Alfred Avenue over the next three days investigating in connection with the ongoing homicide case.

At a press conference Supt. Michael Koppang, the officer in charge of major crime services for the Manitoba RCMP, said investigators believe the fire at the home was an arson, and the fire is linked to Reimber-Weibe’s death.

He said police believe evidence will be found in the debris left over when the home was destroyed.

Gerhard Reimer-Wiebe
Gerhard Reimer-Wiebe. Manitoba RCMP

Construction equipment could be seen digging at the site Tuesday and Koppang said everything that’s collected will be sent to warehouse where it will be sifted through by forensic investigators.

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“We’re looking for any evidence, any trace evidence,” he said.

“There’s very little that we won’t do to get to the truth.”

He said police are still working to determine where Reimber-Weibe was killed, and didn’t say how police believe he’s connected to the home.

Read more: Portage la Prairie homicide victim identified as Gerhard Reimer-Wiebe, 27

Alfred Avenue between Salter Street and Aikins Street will be closed to local traffic only during the investigation, RCMP said.

Koppang said officers will also be going door-to-door in the neighbourhood asking for information on the fire and Reimer-Wiebe.

Last week, before RCMP had identified Reimer-Wiebe, police released photos and surveillance video of four people — two men and two women — they say were seen travelling together through Portage in a dark-coloured SUV on June 20.

RCMP say unidentified man in Portage la Prairie homicide may have been from Winnipeg
RCMP say unidentified man in Portage la Prairie homicide may have been from Winnipeg

At the time they asked for the public’s help notifying the four, who stopped at the Shell/Circle K on Saskatchewan Avenue around 4 a.m., telling media they may have information that is useful to investigators.

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After receiving more than 250 tips in less than 48 hours, police later said Friday they no longer needed the public’s help identifying the four individuals who were seen in the surveillance video.

Read more: RCMP say unidentified man in Portage la Prairie homicide may have been from Winnipeg

On Monday police said Reimer-Wiebe, who also went by the first name “George,” had been known to frequent Winnipeg homeless shelters, and they’re reaching out to anyone who may know about his activities between May 15 and June 20 of this year.

Anyone with information is asked to call the RCMP Major Crime Services tip line at 431-489-8551.

RCMP look for answers in Portage la Prairie homicide case
RCMP look for answers in Portage la Prairie homicide case