Taken: Cherisse Houle

This week’s episode of Taken focused on the specialized investigation unit known as Project Devote. Officers from the Winnipeg Police and the RCMP deal specifically with cases categorized under “murdered and missing  exploited persons.” The active case of Cherisse Houle, a smart and playful youngster, who loved being active, exemplifies the class of casework this unit was established for. Officers believe any seemingly insignificant detail could prove the key to solving Cherisse’s murder and people are strongly urged to call 1 888 673-3316 to share any information about Cherisse.

Cherisse’s older sister, Jessica, was her best friend; they were inseparable. Bowling, movies and rollerskating were some of their favoured activities as young children, and as a child Cherisse was eager to meet the challenge of school. However, during grade school this all changed and her life turned to a pinball of group homes and foster care. It is Jessica’s belief that had the two sisters never been placed with CFS, Cherisse would still be alive. It was here that they were first exposed to illegal drugs and sex work.

A 17-year-old  mother of an 18-month-old boy, Cherisse was a vulnerable teen who had fallen victim to the sex trade and whose life was plagued with drug use. By all accounts, though she had been making efforts to turn her life around. Cherisse had been reaching out to family members for assistance and had made efforts to get treatment. These requests proved futile. Sadly, due to lack of space, she was turned away from several treatment facilities in the region. Days later, Cherisse vanished.

Last seen on June 26, 2009 in Winnipeg, her body was found on July 1, 2009 by a construction worker near Rosser, Manitoba, adjacent to Sturgeon Creek.

If you have any information about this case or any other active cases you are asked to contact Taken.

Taken airs a new episode Fridays at 7:30 p.m. ET on APTN.