Born in Bolivia, Gerhard Reimer-Wiebe and his young wife moved to Canada in hopes of building a better life, only to have their dreams dashed in the most horrifying way.
After settling in the Steinbach area, Reimer-Wiebe, struggling with life in a new country and raising a young family, turned to alcohol and drugs.
"I was completely at rock bottom," Reimer-Wiebe said in a 2018 video recorded for Teen Challenge, a faith-based counselling service he leaned on for help with his addictions.
Reimer-Wiebe rebounded for a time, but relapsed, and by June 2020, the 27-year-old man was staying in a Winnipeg home.
There, he was tortured for three days and killed. His body was taken to Portage la Prairie, where it was burned and buried on the edge of a field.
"I was holding onto hope he would get better," Reimer-Wiebe’s wife Anna said through an interpreter in a pre-recorded video statement played at a sentencing hearing for one of his killers, Kyle Evan Sinkovits.
"When he died, all the hope was taken away, there was no more hope for a better life," she said. "The hardest thing is trying to explain to (our two children) that their dad isn’t coming back."
Sinkovits, 31, pleaded guilty earlier this year to second-degree murder and was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison with no chance of parole for 20 years.
"A particularly heinous, and, yes, cowardly crime was committed by you… A crime that can be fairly described as one that represents ultra-vigilantism," Queen’s Bench Justice Rick Saull said. "Indeed, the accused bragged about committing this murder."
"When he died, all the hope was taken away, there was no more hope for a better life." –Anna Reimer–Wiebe
Police arrested four people in Reimer-Wiebe’s killing.
Jonathan Narvey, 27, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is set to be sentenced next week.
Bobbi-Lynn Hall, 28, pleaded guilty to accessory to murder after the fact and was sentenced to four years in prison.
Chelsea O’Hanley, 26, stood trial in May on charges of first-degree murder, indignity to human remains, and accessory to murder after the fact. Justice Ken Champagne has not yet rendered his verdict.
Circumstances of the grisly killing were set out in a detailed agreed statement of fact provided to court.
All four accused were living or staying at an Alfred Avenue home in mid-June 2020, when Hall told Sinkovits (her boyfriend) and Narvey (a close friend) she had awakened in bed with Reimer-Wiebe and believed he had sexually assaulted her.
Sinkovits and Narvey held Reimer-Wiebe captive for at least three days, placing a dog collar and leash around his neck and tying him to a chair in the basement. The pair brought Reimer-Wiebe upstairs for food and water and returned him to the basement, where they repeatedly assaulted him before ultimately killing him.
Reimer-Wiebe suffered an array of violent injuries, including a fractured tibia, lacerations to his back, broken hand and major skull trauma. Three of his fingers had been cut off.
"The fingers that were removed were cut in several different places, indicating they were removed in pieces and cut off at each knuckle," Crown attorney Melissa Hazelton told court, reading from the agreed statement of facts.
Photos later found on a cellphone shared by Narvey and O’Hanley (Narvey’s girlfriend) showed Narvey standing on Reimer-Wiebe’s body as it lay on tarps in the house’s kitchen.
Saull called the pictures "horrifying."
"A particularly heinous, and, yes, cowardly crime was committed by you… A crime that can be fairly described as one that represents ultra–vigilantism." –Queen’s Bench Justice Rick Saull
Sometime on June 19 or June 20, Reimer-Wiebe’s body was wrapped in a tarp and placed in the trunk of O’Hanley’s Chevrolet Equinox. With O’Hanley behind the wheel, the four accused drove 70 kilometres west to Portage la Prairie to dispose of Reimer-Wiebe’s body.
The group stopped at a gas bar, where they stocked up on snacks and filled a jerry can with gas, before heading to the home of one of Hall’s ex-boyfriends.
Once there, they drove onto an adjacent field, unloaded Reimer-Wiebe’s body and used the gas to set it on fire. After some time, the group moved the body to a treed area on the edge of the field and covered it with dirt from a nearby garden.
Later that day, Narvey sent Hall’s ex-boyfriend a message over Facebook saying: "Yo did you get told about the bbq chicken at your place in the back… Is it being dealt with or do I need to come and finish the job?"
Four days later, Hall’s ex-boyfriend’s father called RCMP to report he had found human remains on his property. It took police two weeks to identify Reimer-Wiebe.
"There were not much left of (his) remains and they were maggot-infested," Hazelton said.
A month later, Narvey and Sinkovits were arrested for an unrelated break and enter. While in custody, Sinkovits, in telephone calls to his mother and grandmother, confessed he had killed Reimer-Wiebe because he was an alleged sex assailant. Sinkovits provided a similar confession to a corrections officer at Milner Ridge Correctional Centre.
Defence lawyer Andrew McKelvey-Gunson said there was an "element of bravado" to Sinkovits’s disclosures and he did not expect the attack on Reimer-Wiebe to "escalate" the way it did.
"He fully accepts the facts as they are outlined," McKelvey-Gunson said. "He does feel bad for the victim’s family."
Sinkovits, whose criminal record includes convictions for assault, theft, and weapons offences, has struggled with his own addictions to cocaine and methamphetamine, McKelvey-Gunson said.
"They are the main driving forces of his offending behaviour," he said.
Sinkovits will be eligible for parole July 29, 2040.
Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.