Guilty after 29 years
Five year sentence for manslaughter in 1971 death

Dawn Ostrem
Northern News Services

Hay River ( Jun 12/00) - A former Wrigley resident has been convicted of manslaughter in the 1971 death of his girlfriend, 19-year-old Elizabeth Rose Yendo.

A jury in Hay River Supreme Court found Angus John Ekenale, 54, guilty after deliberating for several hours on Thursday.

On Friday, Ekenale was sentenced to five years in prison.

Ekenale was 25 in 1971, when the crime took place in Wrigley. Afterward, rumours about the death continued to circulate through the town of about 100 people. Ekenale moved to Fort Simpson after a coroner's inquest.

On the night of July 14, 1971, Ekenale and Yendo fought, as witnessed by many members of the community. Many of those called to testify at the trial were children at the time. Now in their 30s, they were asked to remember the events they witnessed that night.

One witness recounted how she had seen Ekenale and Yendo fighting just outside her home the night Yendo went missing.

"He was holding her with his right hand and as she was trying to get away he was pulling her hair," the woman, now 38-years-old, remembered.

Another witness recounted how he saw Ekenale and Yendo on the shore of the Mackenzie River fighting and that Yendo fell into the water.

Yendo's body was found the next day in the river.

The investigation into Yendo's death was re-opened in 1991 after members of the community of Wrigley came forward to RCMP with evidence. A preliminary inquiry was held after he was charged but the Crown did not proceed to trial due to insufficient evidence.

More people came forward in 1997 to talk about what they saw that night and that new evidence led to another preliminary inquiry, held in 1999.