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Winnipeg police arrested Raymond Joseph Cormier, 53 Dec 11, 2015 in connection with the high-profile killing of Tina Fontaine.

Winnipeg police

Winnipeg police had been on the hunt for Raymond Joseph Cormier since September of last year.

Looking dishevelled in a mugshot, with frizzy, shoulder-length hair, the middle-aged unemployed man was on the city's Crime Stoppers wanted list for a seemingly petty crime. Police were looking for Mr. Cormier because he had allegedly breached recognizance conditions related to a drug-possession charge.

Unbeknownst to the media and public then, Mr. Cormier was among several suspects identified early on in the high-profile investigation into the killing of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine. He eventually became the police's only suspect.

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On Friday, Winnipeg police revealed that Mr. Cormier, 53, was arrested in Vancouver on Wednesday and has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Ms. Fontaine, whose body was found in a bag on the banks of the Red River on Aug. 17, 2014.

Deputy police chief Danny Smyth said Mr. Cormier has a long criminal history and has been in and out of jail throughout his life. It's believed he began living in Winnipeg in 2012 or 2013.

"He has numerous convictions from across Canada and these convictions have ranged from simple breaches to serious violent offences," the deputy chief said.

A review of court records and media reports offers a glimpse into a violent and troubled past, chronicling numerous run-ins with the law of a Raymond Cormier of the same age.

Mr. Cormier grew up in New Brunswick. By the time he turned 18 in 1980, he'd already rung up four convictions, according to court records.

He drifted across Canada, committing robberies and acts of violence in several places. In 1991, he was in Kitchener, Ont., where he and another man were convicted of robbing the Dutch Girl Shopette of cash and cigarettes.

The local newspaper reported that Mr. Cormier was caught only after being nabbed for a mugging in a park that netted him $5. He also tried to escape custody by climbing into the ceiling of the court house, but was stopped by court security officers, the paper said.

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Five years later, in 1996, Mr. Cormier was accused of passing counterfeit currency and fraud, stemming from an allegation that he withdrew nearly $50,000 in funds he didn't possess through automated tellers.

In Ottawa in 1998, Mr. Cormier was accused of threatening a man at knife-point during a car-jacking that was described in harrowing detail by the Ottawa Citizen. The victim managed to escape, despite having his hands and feet tied and a strip of tape placed over his mouth.

By February, 2010, Mr. Cormier stood accused of another violent robbery in Medicine Hat, Alta. He held up a 72-year-old man at knife-point in a parking garage. A police chase through a busy area ensued. It ended with an accident and police making an arrest with their guns drawn.

In court, Alberta Crown lawyer Andrea Dolan detailed his criminal past. At this point, Mr. Cormier had five convictions for robbery, nine for assault, three for violating the terms of his statutory release, 11 for theft and two for dangerous driving.

"From the age of 18, Mr. Cormier has consistently added to his criminal record in very significant ways," said Ms. Dolan, according to the transcript. "The position of the Crown is we undoubtedly have a career criminal here before the court."

Mr. Cormier was sentenced to seven years in prison. He appealed, saying he was not given the opportunity to explain that he was high on crack cocaine at the time, and the sentence was reduced to 5-1/2 years.

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Winnipeg police said Mr. Cormier and Tina knew each other, but would not disclose additional details about the nature of their relationship. Information from witnesses, forensic examinations and covert operations helped in the case, police said.

Lead investigator Sergeant John O'Donovan noted that Tina called 911 on July 6, 2014, to report that someone was in possession of a stolen truck. Sgt. O'Donovan said the call was "extremely important" and provided police with a time stamp for their investigation. He didn't elaborate further.

The Crime Stoppers notice about Mr. Cormier also makes note of an incident in July, 2014. On July 5, Mr. Cormier "was involved in an incident where he failed to keep the peace." More details are unknown at this point, including whether the incident relates to Tina.

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