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Tiki Laverdiere murder: Who are the 10 people convicted?

Tiki Laverdiere of Edmonton, Alta, was killed in North Battleford, Sask., by Westside Outlawz street gang members.

From July 2019 to August 2020, police arrested 10 people in Saskatchewan and Alberta and charged them in Laverdiere’s murder. The 10th person to be convicted and sentenced was Jesse Sangster on April 26, 2024.

Who are the 10 that were convicted?

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Soaring Eagle Whitstone, from Onion Lake Cree Nation, leaves Battleford Court of King’s Bench in September 2022 during her trial. Whitstone was the “Queen” of Westside Outlawz and ordered the brutal attack and murder of Tiki Laverdiere in North Battleford in April and May 2019. Photo by Lisa Joy / SaskToday.ca

Soaring Eagle Whitstone ‘the devil’s spawn’

Soaring Eagle Whitstone, as "Queen" of Westside Outlawz street gang, ordered the murder of Tiki Laverdiere, court heard.

“Red is the devil’s spawn,” Mavis Takakenew testified at Battleford Court of King’s Bench in September 2022 about her sister Soaring Eagle Whitstone. “She is soulless.”

Whitstone, now 38, is from Onion Lake Cree Nation and was Tristen Cook-Buckle’s great aunt.

She was the “Queen” of the Westside Outlawz street gang and went by the name Red.

She is the mother to eight children who all have different fathers, court heard during her trial in Battleford Court of King’s Bench in October 2022.

During Sangster’s preliminary hearing in September and October 2020, Soaring Eagle Whitstone testified that she was a gang member for about 20 years and she went by the name Red the last five years. She said she had about six “underlings,” “girls,” under her. They included Shayla Orthner, Danita Thomas, and Nikita Cook. She also called them her “soldiers.”

Soaring Eagle Whitstone lived at 1412-101st Street in North Battleford with Valene McCallum, who is now deceased. According to her obituary, McCallum, 36, died suddenly on Feb. 25, 2020.

A video recording taken of McCallum in the back of an unmarked police vehicle shortly after Laverdiere’s disappearance and death was played in court. It showed her sitting in the back and talking with two RCMP Major Crimes investigators who were seated in the front. McCallum told the officers that Soaring Eagle Whitstone came to her house with Laverdiere tied up.

“She said 'hostage in the house.' I didn’t understand. I was shocked.”

“They are awful, awful people,” added McCallum about the Westside Outlawz street gang members. “I’m so scared to stay home. I can’t sleep. [Laverdiere] was covered head-to-toe with blood. Blood. That’s all.”

Seeing this pleased Soaring Eagle Whitstone, McCalllum told the officers.

“She was satisfied. She was happy.”

“It was just pure evil. She [Soaring Eagle Whitstone] had a smile on her face. Satisfied. There’s nothing to say about it except evil.”

McCallum told them she was tormented by what had happened to Laverdiere.

“I can’t sleep. I can’t take a nap. I close my eyes … I couldn’t help her. I was so [expletive] scared. I can’t think straight.

"I stay drunk. I stay high. Being sober is just too hard to deal with this. It is awful. I had to act like I didn’t care what they did.”

Laverdiere’s eyes still haunted her, she told the officers.

“I close my eyes and all I can see is her eyes looking at me. I try not to think about it. I feel bad. I put it in the back of my head.”

She said that Soaring Eagle Whitstone was with both Terror Squad and Westside Outlawz street gangs.

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Jesse Sangster leaves Battleford Court of King's Bench after testifying against Soaring Eagle Whitstone in September 2022. Photo by Lisa Joy / SaskToday.ca

Jesse Sangster in Redd Alert gang

Tristen Cook-Buckle was a “commander” for the street gang Redd Alert in Edmonton, which has ties to Westside Outlawz out of Onion Lake Cree Nation, and Jesse Sangster was his right-hand man and best friend.

Sangster, now 28, was also having sex with Cook-Buckle’s mother Nicole Cook, court heard.

After Cook-Buckle was murdered, Sangster would stop at nothing to find out who killed him.

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Nicole Cook, the mother of Tristen Cook-Buckle, leaves Battleford Court of King's Bench in September 2022 after testifying against her aunt, Soaring Eagle Whitstone. Cook wasn’t a part of a street gang but had asked her aunt to attack Laverdiere. Photo by Lisa Joy / SaskToday.ca

Nicole Quinn Cook ‘hysterical’

Nicole Cook, now 41, is from Edmonton and is Tristen Cook-Buckle’s mother. She was close friends with her son’s friend Tiki Laverdiere.

Nicole Cook and Jesse Sangster [her son’s best friend] were having sex, Soaring Eagle Whitstone told the court during Sangster’s preliminary hearing in 2020.

“She [Nicole Cook] opened up and told me what happened,” testified Whitstone.

When Nicole Cook entered the North Battleford Provincial Court in ankle and wrist shackles to testify during Sangster’s preliminary hearing in September 2020, she blew him a kiss as he was seated in the prisoner box.

Nicole Cook’s mother is Mavis Takakenew and her brother is Samuel Takakenew.

Nicole Cook tried to derail the police investigation when Tiki Laverdiere went missing. She told police that Laverdiere was last seen hitch-hiking back to Edmonton. She also posted on social media, "I'm still holding on to hope your coming through the door this is tragicallly [expletive] up !"

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During the preliminary hearings and trials of the accused, her co-accused testified that Nicole Cook was “hysterical” over her son’s death.

Nicole Cook admitted it herself.

“I was angry at Tiki. I was hysterical.

“She had been at the place where he was murdered,” testified Nicole Cook. “She overheard what happened to my son.”

Nicole Cook was angry at everyone, court heard.

“She was acting distraught, crying, angry,” testified Danita Thomas in September 2020.

“Her own family didn’t even want to be around her. She was angry and upset. She was crying. She was telling me about her son. He died. Closed casket. Couldn’t see body. She wanted to die too. She was screaming, yelling just up in the sky, just yelling around.  She was yelling at everybody. She yelled at Tiki to ‘write everything you remember down,’” said Thomas.

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Danita Thomas was a Westside Outlawz street gang member and a “soldier” for Soaring Eagle Whitstone. Photo by Lisa Joy / SaskToday.ca

Danita Thomas: Soaring Eagle Whitstone’s ‘right hand’

Danita Thomas was Soaring Eagle Whitstone’s ‘right hand’ court heard.

She testified that as a soldier of Westside Outlawz she did whatever she was ordered.

“Soaring Eagle asked if I would kill for her, do anything for her. I said ‘yes, I would do anything for her.’”

She said her days consisted of “smoking meth, drinking, smoking pot, and going to the bar to play the slots.

“That was my everyday life,” testified Thomas.

While on the witness stand, Thomas and Soaring Eagle Whitstone didn’t look at each other. They didn’t look at each other as Thomas entered and exited the courtroom or throughout her testimony. When Thomas, however, commented that meth stays in your system a long time, the two glanced at each other and nodded in agreement.

After being arrested, Thomas is the one who showed police where to find Laverdiere’s remains, court heard.

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Nikita Sandra Cook was a Westside Outlawz street gang member and a “soldier” for Soaring Eagle Whitstone. Photo by Averil Hall

Nikita Cook’s family lifelong Westside Outlaws

Nikita Sandra Cook, now 35, comes from a family of lifelong Westside Outlawz. Her brother, Brydon Whitstone of Onion Lake Cree Nation, was shot and killed by RCMP following a short police pursuit in North Battleford on Oct. 21, 2017.

Nikita Cook and Brydon Whitstone’s mother, Dorothy Laboucane, had called for a second investigation into his shooting death after the jury of an inquest into his death was unable to determine if the fatal shooting was a homicide or a suicide.

Nikita Cook’s other brother, Dakota Whitstone, was in jail for attempted murder.

At the time of Laverdiere’s murder, Nikita Cook lived on 106th Street in North Battleford, across from the hospital, and admitted to being a daily meth user.

Nikita Cook and Samuel Takakenew had four children together. She also raised Tristen Cook-Buckle from the age of five to 10 in Hobbema, Alta., court heard.

Before Nikita Cook was arrested and charged in Laverdiere’s murder, she was on house arrest but cut off her ankle monitor on June 17, 2019, and fled North Battleford. She was arrested in Edmonton on Aug. 16, 2019.

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After Tiki Laverdiere's murder, and before she was arrested and charged in her murder, Nikita Cook cut off her ankle bracelet that she was wearing for charges in another incident, and fled to Edmonton, Alta.

Nikita Cook testified in September 2022 that she was afraid of Soaring Eagle Whitstone.

“She has a lot of ties in the gang world. She can get a lot done to me.”

When Soaring Eagle Whitstone put on her persona of Queen of Westside Outlawz she was “very mean, bossy,” Nikita Cook told the court.

She also testified that Soaring Eagle Whitstone was a caring friend and mother.

“She was always there for her family,” said Nikita Cook as she broke down and sobbed on the witness stand.

Nikita Cook was Soaring Eagle Whitstone’s “first soldier” and “right hand” for about five years, court heard.

“Danita and Soaring Eagle got close and Danita took my place.”

She testified that she did whatever Soaring Eagle Whitstone ordered and her “missions” included everything from “jumping people” to stealing vehicles.

Nikita Cook was trying to leave the gang lifestyle but was blocked by Soaring Eagle Whitstone, court heard.  The night of Laverdiere’s murder, Soaring Eagle Whitstone punched Nikita Cook several times in the face.

“I didn’t fight back. She was my higher up. She kept asking if I still wanted to drop. I said ‘no.’ She took me to the basement [where Laverdiere was].”

But she did want to drop the gang lifestyle, she testified.

“I wanted to be a mother. I was tired of the whole scene.”

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Shayla Orthner was a Westside Outlawz street gang member and a “soldier” for Soaring Eagle Whitstone. Photo by Lisa Joy / SaskToday.ca

Shayla Orthner: ‘White girl’ just there

Court heard that Shayla Orthner was the only white person in the street gang and was called White girl.

“Shayla was just there, she was just there,” testified Nikita Cook.

Orthner joined Westside Outlawz in 2018.

“It just kind of felt like it was family,” testified Orthner. “I had just moved to North Battleford.”

Orthner, now 32, had lived with Mavis Takakenew for a year prior to Laverdiere’s murder.

Before Orthner was sentenced in August 2022, Justice Richard Danyliuk asked her if there was anything she wanted to say to the court. Orthner stood up in the prisoner’s box and read a statement she had prepared. As Orthner apologized to the court and Laverdiere’s family for her part in Laverdiere’s death, several of the half dozen members of her family and friends sat in the gallery crying.

 Outside of the courthouse, Orthner’s friends and family spoke out.

"We stand behind Shayla and we will support her with whatever decision is made and we will be here for her when she gets out,” said Desire Hamilton.

Likewise, Denise Chauvin, who was Orthner’s foster mother, said she will continue to support Orthner.

“She can come to my house tomorrow and I wouldn’t even hesitate to give her a key and let her in. She babysat my children, my grandchildren. She has never been violent.

“Basically, who should be on trial, as far as I’m concerned, is the Government of Saskatchewan, the child welfare system,” said Chauvin, adding that when Orthner was a young child she found her mother deceased.

“She has been in the child welfare system on and off since she was a baby. She found her mother dead. Really it’s the system that should be on trial because Shayla is a failure of the system.”

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Brent Checkosis, of North Battleford, was the youngest person involved in Tiki Laverdiere’s murder. He was 18 at the time and part of the street gang Westside Outlawz. He testified he always carried around a sawed-off shotgun for his protection. Photo by Averil Hall

Brent Checkosis the youngest charged

Brent Checkosis, from North Battleford, was the youngest of the 10 convicted in Tiki Laverdiere’s murder. He was 18 at the time and a member of Westside Outlaws.

After Checkosis was arrested, he was stabbed in a high-security gang range of the Saskatoon Correctional Centre on Aug. 23, 2019. Jesse Edward Philip McKenzie and Kihiw Jason George Fourstar pleaded guilty in Saskatoon court to aggravated assault and possession of a homemade knife for a dangerous purpose.

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Mavis Takakenew during Soaring Eagle Whitstone's trial in September 2022. Photo by Lisa Joy / SaskToday.ca

Mavis Takakenew ‘sick and tired of drugs and alcohol’

Mavis Takakenew let a lot of people stay at her house, Samuel Takakenew told the court.

She fought with her daughter Nicole Cook at her house before Laverdiere was assaulted.

“I was sick and tired of all the drugs and alcohol,” she told the court in September 2022.

After she got out of jail in relation to Laverdiere’s murder, she was charged with stealing a 2019 Hyundai in the RM of Cut Knife in July 2023. The charge was stayed in April.

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Samuel Takakenew walks into Battleford Court of King’s Bench in September 2022 to testify against his aunt, Soaring Eagle Whitstone. Photo by Lisa Joy / SaskToday.ca

Samuel Takakenew

Samuel Takakenew is Mavis Takakenew’s son and brother to Nicole Cook and Christy Robertson.

He was close friends with Charles St. Savard and told the court St. Savard was his “street brother” and that he had asked him to go to Saskatchewan to attend Cook-Buckle’s funeral.

“I asked him to be there to support me.”

Samuel Takakenew testified in court that he wasn’t part of Westside Outlawz but a photo of him on social media showed him wearing red gang colours as he posed with gang members.

After he was released from jail in relation to Laverdiere’s death, he was arrested and charged with break and enter to a home in North Battleford with intent to commit an indictable offence. He was given a conditional sentence.

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Charles St. Savard from Edmonton, Alta., was a close family friend of Nicole Cook and Cook’s mother Mavis Takakenew. Charles St. Savard / Facebook

Charles St Savard: A ‘family friend’

Charles St. Savard from Edmonton, Alta., was a family friend of Nicole Cook and Mavis Takakenew for more than 25 years.

He was just there and “didn’t really do anything,” court heard.

This report by SaskToday.ca first published on April 26, 2024.

Read related stories containing never before published details in Tiki Laverdiere's murder and the convictions of the 10 accused.

-Torture, murder of Tiki Laverdiere a real life 'horror movie': Prosecutor

-The Alta. murder that led to Tiki Laverdiere's murder in Sask.

-Tiki Laverdiere’s life mattered: Justice Zerr

-Prosecution of 10 people in Tiki Laverdiere's murder lasted 5 years

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