APTN National News
Inuit artist Annie Pootoogook will soon go home to Cape Dorset, Nunavut, one last time.
Pootoogook’s body was set for release Thursday by the Ontario Coroner’s office in Ottawa following a pathologist case conference involving Ottawa police investigators, APTN National News has learned.
Pootoogook’s body could be in Cape Dorset, her home community, as early as Saturday, according to sources with close ties to the family.
This latest development also signals a key milestone of the Ottawa police investigation into Pootoogook’s death. Investigators with the Ottawa police’s major crimes unit were awaiting for the results of this examination by the pathologist to get a clearer picture of the death.
The pathologist’s report would give investigators the most detailed outline to date on Pootoogook’s time of death, how long she was in the water before she was found in the Rideau River on Sept. 19, whether there was trauma on her body and what substances may have been in her system.
The results of the pathologist’s examination will influence whether the investigation into Pootoogook’s death evolves into a full blown murder probe. Investigators have so far been unable to execute warrants as part of the investigation because the death, while deemed suspicious, is not yet considered the result of a crime.
Investigators have already obtained surveillance footage requested from the downtown Ottawa shelter, known as Shepherds of Good Hope, where Pootoogook was believed to have stayed before her death. Investigators interviewed several individuals last week who knew Pootoogook and also stayed at the shelter.
APTN has also been on the streets trying to track down those who knew Pootoogook and spent time with her. Many remember events involving Pootoogook, but have difficulty placing those events into clear timelines. One individual may offer one version of events which can be contradicted entirely by someone else’s recollection.
Police investigators also ran into similar issues in their own interviews.
According to William Watt, Pootoogook’s partner for over eight years, he last saw the artist a little over a week before she was found in the Rideau River. Watt said Pootoogook left without warning one morning and never returned.
Pootoogook is believed to have stayed at the Shepherds of Good Hope at some point after she left her apartment.
APTN could not independently confirm when Pootoogook last checked into the shelter. The shelter would not release that information for privacy reasons.
Pootoogook’s family and friends say Pootoogook went to the shelter to escape an abusive relationship.
Watt denied he was physically abusing Pootoogook, but admitted he was verbally abusive.
Watt admitted to APTN he hit Pootoogook in the head in 2012.
Ottawa police obtained Watt’s DNA that same year, court records show.
“We are working hard on the case,” said a police source with knowledge of the investigation. “We want to solve the mystery surrounding Annie Pootoogook’s death just as much as anyone.”
Pootoogook was 46.