‘We want the public to be very aware’: Manitoba RCMP say homicide suspect could be in Winnipeg

Click to play video: 'Search for homicide suspect continues' Search for homicide suspect continues
A search for a missing person has now turned into a homicide investigation with a manhunt underway. Police are warning the suspect is believed to be armed and possibly impersonating a police officer. Joe Scarpelli reports. – Jun 15, 2021

Mounties say they believe homicide suspect Eric Paul Wildman, 34, could be in Winnipeg with a grey SUV and may have other ‘concerning’ items such as firearms and gear resembling that used by police.

RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Paul Manaigre told Global News Wednesday RCMP are working with city police to find Wildman, who may be driving a charcoal grey 2020 Chevy Equinox, with the Manitoba licence plate KGE 368.

Wildman, who is wanted in the disappearance of Clifford Joseph, is described as six-feet-two-inches, weighing 170 pounds with blue eyes. Mounties say he is known to frequent Winnipeg and the RM of St. Clements.

Police are asking Manitobans not to approach Wildman and to call 911 if he’s spotted, or the RCMP tip line at 431-489-8551 with information.

Read more: Suspect in Manitoba homicide is considered armed and may have police gear, RCMP warn

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Mounties are also searching a rural property in southern Manitoba owned by the homicide suspect they say could be armed and dangerous.

RCMP said Tuesday officers are scouring a property in the Rural Municipality of St. Clements, northeast of Winnipeg, next door to where Joseph, 40, was living.

Joseph was last seen leaving his home there on June 7.

Police say the 40-year-old’s disappearance is being investigated as a homicide and a warrant has been issued for Wildman’s arrest.

A photo provided to media by RCMP shows what police say is a property being searched in the RM of St. Clements. RCMP Handout

“This began as a missing person investigation, it evolved into a homicide investigation,” Sgt. Laura Ledrew from the RCMP’s major crimes unit told Global News.

Mounties warn that officers found police tactical equipment, patches and other items resembling officer uniforms when they searched his truck on Sunday.

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They also found a significant number of firearms and ammunition in the truck.

Read more: Missing Manitoba man’s truck found abandoned, RCMP say

“At this time, we consider Eric Wildman to be dangerous and potentially armed,” RCMP Supt. Michael Koppang said in a news release.

Wildman was last seen in Winnipeg’s East Kildonan area, but Mounties said they are searching throughout southern Manitoba.

A charcoal grey 2020 Chevy Equinox that Wildman may be driving according to police. Manitoba RCMP
RCMP say they found police gear in the suspect’s vehicle. RCMP Handout
Weapons and ammunition seized by RCMP are shown in this recent police handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO — RCMP

Soon after Joseph was reported missing, RCMP found his 1997 Ford Ranger abandoned in a rural area. A police search-and-rescue team checked the area, but Joseph was never found.

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RCMP said that by the end of that week the evidence showed that Joseph’s disappearance was suspicious, so the major crimes unit took the lead.

Wildman soon became a suspect and officers searched his vehicle, the police said.

Read more: Manitoba RCMP now say St. Clements man’s disappearance suspicious

Inside, officers found guns and police gear. Images provided by RCMP of seized items show three firearms — one containing a scope — and a lot of ammunition.

There was also a black hat with “police” in bold white letters across the front, a police badge, an armoured vest, a high-visibility vest and what appeared to be police lights.

Ledrew said police don’t know if Wildman has any other police gear on him.

An arrest warrant has been issued for 34-year-old Eric Paul Wildman
An arrest warrant has been issued for 34-year-old Eric Paul Wildman. Manitoba RCMP

“We assume that …  perhaps he was planning on dressing like a police officer or impersonating a police officer,” Ledrew said.

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“It just creates a lot of dynamic and fear … we want the public to be very aware.”

Police haven’t said how they believe Joseph was killed or what exactly led to Wildman becoming a suspect. Ledrew said Joseph’s body has not been found.

Read more: Winnipeg police arrest three after man beaten to death, body hidden in home

Ledrew couldn’t say whether or not Joseph and Wildman were known to each other.

— With files from Joe Scarpelli

Click to play video: 'Body found just north of Selkirk, Manitoba' Body found just north of Selkirk, Manitoba
Body found just north of Selkirk, Manitoba – Jun 8, 2016

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