Sunday, February 1, 2009

Slain woman hoped to become Mountie: Called family in tears two days before fall

By: Bill Redekop: The Winnipeg Free Press

The 23-year-old woman killed in a fall from an 11th-storey window Friday telephoned family two days earlier crying and saying she wanted to come home.

"She said, 'Grandma, forgive me for what I did,' " said Alice Moar, the woman's grandmother who lives in Thunder Bay. "She said, 'It's no good where I am.' "

Alinda Lahteenmaki plummeted from a window of a suite in a Manitoba Housing Authority highrise at 375 Assiniboine Avenue.

A man has been charged with second-degree murder.

Alinda was apologizing for having become mixed up with crack cocaine, said her grandmother. Moar and other family members claimed Alinda's boyfriend was cruel to her.

"I just said, 'Come home.' That made her happy," Moar said.

"She was a good girl but she met the person she wasn't supposed to meet."

Alinda was born and raised in Thunder Bay. She moved to British Columbia about three years ago with her mother, then moved to Winnipeg 18 months ago where she has other family, including two half-sisters.

Her father, who immigrated from Finland, died of a heart attack in 1995. Her mother is originally from Berens River First Nation on the eastern shore of Lake Winnipeg.

Her boyfriend had threatened Alinda's life shortly after Christmas, her mother, Darlina Lahteenmaki, said.

Darlina, living in Vernon, B.C., visited her children in Winnipeg over the first three weeks of January, before returning to B.C. on Jan. 21. "When I was there, I noticed (her boyfriend) was very, very controlling, and I overheard him once threatening her," said Darlina.

She asked Alinda to move in with either of her sisters. "I told her to leave him but she wouldn't."

Alinda and her boyfriend lived at her boyfriend's parents' house.

Alinda had done some modelling in Thunder Bay. She never finished high school but was planning to get her Grade 12 and wanted to become a Mountie, her mother said.

"She was a beautiful girl. She had a big heart. She was sensitive," said Darlina.

A man hovering over Alinda's motionless body at about 4 a.m. Friday was overheard telling a passerby: "She fell from the 11th floor--I was holding her by her hood and I couldn't hold her."

The witness said the man kept repeating Alinda's name and was slurring his words. She died shortly after in hospital.

Charged with seconddegree murder is Mario Trunzo, 41.