Skip to content

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

Tiki Laverdiere's murder 'most horrific gang murder in Sask. history': Defence lawyer for one of 10 convicted.

Editor's note: On April 26, the five-year publication ban on the 10 accused in Tiki Laverdiere's murder was lifted. This is a long read taken from evidence heard in court during various proceedings from May 2020 to April 2024 against 10 people convicted in Tiki Laverdiere’s murder.

There are also links to four more stories containing never before published details in Tiki Laverdiere's murder and the convictions of the 10 accused.

“Hostage in the house,” hollered Soaring Eagle Whitstone, alerting fellow Westside Outlawz street gang members as she forced a terrified and bound Tiki Laverdiere, from Alberta, inside a North Battleford, Sask., home at knifepoint.

Kidnapped by people she knew, Laverdiere would endure hours of torture before being murdered and her body dumped.

On April 26, the last of the 10 people charged in 25-year-old Tiki Laverdiere’s death was sentenced to life in prison with no parole eligibility for 10 years.

sangster3
Jesse Sangster arrives at Battleford Court of King's Bench on April 26, 2024, for his sentencing hearing.  Lisa Joy / SaskToday.ca

On Jan. 10, Jesse Sangster, now 28, had pleaded guilty in Battleford Court of King’s Bench to second-degree murder in Laverdiere’s death. He was originally charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, and improperly interfering with a human body.

Laverdiere reported missing

May 1, 2019, was Laverdiere’s last contact with her family, according to RCMP. She posted on Facebook on April 30, 2019, “expressing a desire to come home.”

On May 12, 2019, Laverdiere’s mother Carol Laverdiere reported her missing to Battlefords RCMP.

On July 11, 2019, a police dog found Laverdiere's remains in a rural area outside of North Battleford while RCMP were conducting a ground search.

Edmonton to Saskatchewan

In April 2019, Laverdiere left her home in Edmonton, Alta., with a close-knit group to attend 20-year-old Tristen Cook-Buckle’s funeral on Thunderchild First Nation. Little did she know she would never return home to Alberta and her two young boys.

 

sasktodaylj-tikinicoletristen
Nicole Cook, left, with her son Tristen Cook-Buckle, centre, and Tiki Laverdiere, right. Tiki Laverdiere Facebook

 

Laverdiere travelled to Saskatchewan with Cook-Buckle’s mother Nicole Cook, his grandmother Mavis Takakenew, and several others. They had all piled into Takakenew’s burgundy Dodge van.

Along the way, they stopped in Lloydminster and Laverdiere shopped at the one mall in the small city that straddles Alberta and Saskatchewan.

“Tiki tried to find an outfit for the funeral,” Mavis Takakenew testified during Soaring Eagle Whitstone’s trial in Battleford Court of King’s Bench in September 2022.

“She wanted a red dress. She got a white track suit. Tristen [Cook-Buckle] liked her in white.”

Once they arrived in North Battleford, they went to Mavis Takakenew’s home at 952-105th Street.

Jesse Sangster had stolen a truck in Edmonton and headed to Saskatchewan with his mother to attend the funeral but couldn’t find Thunderchild First Nation so he missed Cook-Buckle’s service. Sangster was supposed to be a pallbearer. Laverdiere was an honorary pallbearer.

sasktodayljtristenfuneral
Tristen Cook-Buckle funeral on Thunderchild First Nation April 2019. Tiki Laverdiere Facebook

Plan to kill Laverdiere put into motion at Cook-Buckle’s funeral

Tristen Cook-Buckle’s murder would set off a chain of events leading to his close friend Tiki Laverdiere’s murder in the coming weeks.

The body of 20-year-old Cook-Buckle was found in a burned-out vehicle near Vegreville, Alta., on April 5, 2019.

Edmonton Police say Cook-Buckle was killed in an inner-city neighbourhood on 92 Street and 110 Avenue. DNA analysis of the blood behind the Edmonton home matched that of Cook-Buckle and an autopsy confirmed his death was a homicide. No one has ever been charged.

To read more about what Tiki Laverdiere knew about Cook-Buckle's murder and how he died, click on The Alta. murder that led to Tiki Laverdiere's murder in Sask.

In memory of Cook-Buckle, Laverdiere had purchased two matching necklaces and gave one to Nicole Cook, court heard.

“For me and for her; two crosses,” testified Nicole Cook during Jesse Sangster’s preliminary hearing in North Battleford Provincial Court in September 2020.

While in North Battleford, the two women also shared the use of a pair of white running shoes.

At Cook-Buckle’s funeral on Thunderchild First Nation, “Tiki was emotional,” testified Nicole Cook. “She wasn’t herself. She was standoffish.”

During the funeral, Nicole Cook hugged her aunt Soaring Eagle Whitstone and apologized for punching her previously in Edmonton, Whitstone testified.

Nicole Cook had punched Whitsone, and banned her from attending Cook-Buckle’s funeral, because she believed Whitstone had alerted Cook-Buckle's murder suspects about an Edmonton police visit, which thwarted the investigation of Edmonton police detectives, court heard.

But Whitstone had ignored Nicole Cook’s wishes and attended the funeral.

“I stole a car from North Battleford,” she laughed on the stand. “White girl [Shayla Orthner] went with me.”

At Cook-Buckle's funeral, Nicole Cook took Whitstone aside.

“If you still want to beat [Laverdiere] up I will be outside,” she told Whitstone.

After the funeral service, Whitstone and Orthner drove to Turtleford, “bought a 2-6 of vodka,” and took it to Nicole Cook at the graveyard, testified Whitstone. 

Nicole Cook was “rank,” said Whitstone. “She was mean. She was aggressive. Nicole wanted me and my girls to give Tiki a minute for not telling what she knew.”

A minute is a street gang term for a one-minute beating, court heard.

“Nicole said [Laverdiere] knew something about Tristen’s death,” and this enraged her, Whitstone told the court.

Sangster and Laverdiere arrested prior to her murder

Cook-Buckle’s funeral was on April 27, 2019, and Laverdiere was murdered days later on May 1, 2019.

Many who came to Saskatchewan for Cook-Buckle’s funeral stayed at Mavis Takakenew’s home, court heard. They spent their days doing crystal meth, smoking weed, and drinking. Upstairs in the bedrooms, several children of the accused played video games. In the backyard there was a shed where the guys congregated and worked on bicycles, drank, and got high.

There were trips to the nearby casino to play the slots, to the liquor store to buy booze, and stops around the small city of approximately 14,000 to sell drugs, court heard.

There was no running water at Mavis Takakenew’s house so they showered at Nikita Cook’s place, across from the North Battleford hospital on 106th Street.

At the casino, Laverdiere bought drugs and alcohol, Christy Robertson testified in October 2020. Robertson, a half-sister to both Nicole Cook and Samuel Takakenew, worked at the casino. Their mother is Mavis Takakenew.

For fun, a group of them had gone “joy riding,” off-roading in Sangster’s stolen truck, testified Nicole Cook.

“We got stuck in a mud puddle,” she said smiling at the memory while sitting in the witness box in September 2020. “It was a pretty deep puddle.

“We sat there a few hours getting high, drinking, just reminiscing,” she added. “Then Jesse and Tiki went off to find a tractor to pull us out. They stole a tractor.”

Sangster and Laverdiere ended up getting arrested by Battlefords RCMP.

“Jesse got a hold of his mom and we found out they were arrested so we were on the hunt to find him,” testified Nicole Cook.

They were released by Battlefords RCMP on April 28, 2019, court heard.

She said they found Sangster in a back-alley and Laverdiere at the 7-Eleven in North Battleford.

sasktodaylj-tikibattlefordrcmp
Tiki Laverdiere and Jesse Sangster were arrested by Battlefords RCMP for stealing a tractor. They were released by police on April 28, 2019. RCMP

Laverdiere seemed off when they picked her up, Nicole Cook told the court, adding that while Laverdiere and Sangster were stealing the tractor, he became aware she knew more details about Cook-Buckle’s murder.

“At this point Jesse knows Tiki knows something?” Senior Crown Prosecutor Chris Browne questioned Nicole Cook on the witness stand.

“Yes,” she replied.

Court heard 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 Sangster was his "right-hand man."

Laverdiere was Cook-Buckle’s “right-hand woman and someone trusted in the gang,” testified Mavis Takakenew during Whitstone’s trial.

Nicole Cook confirmed that her son was a street gang member, Laverdiere was affiliated, and the two were close.

“I knew Tiki from my son,” she testified in September 2022. “She was affiliated with Redd Alert. They had a pretty close relationship. They both dealt drugs, they were business partners.”

After Laverdiere and Sangster were picked up, a group went to Mavis Takakenew’s home and another group, including Laverdiere, went to Gold Eagle Casino to play the slot machines, testified Nicole Cook.

Throughout the evening, everyone discussed Cook-Buckle’s murder. They also discussed Laverdiere.

The tension between Laverdiere and the others intensified, court heard.

Nicole Cook testified that Whitstone also “got information from Laverdiere” about where and how Cook-Buckle died.

Checkosis said that Laverdiere had set up Cook-Buckle.

Laverdiere tries to leave North Battleford

At some point during the four to five days that Laverdiere spent in North Battleford, she must have sensed it was no longer safe to be with her travel companions, and Cook-Buckle’s family.

On April 30, 2019, in a desperate plea, Laverdiere posted on her Facebook page: “Anyone going to Edmonton from north battleford? Inbox me plz!”

sasktodaylj-tikifbpostapril30
Tiki Laverdiere's Facebook post on April 30, 2019.

In an attempt to get away, court heard that Laverdiere left Mavis Takakenew’s house alone but didn’t get far because she passed out in someone’s yard in North Battleford.

“She had left,” testified Nicole Cook. “Soaring Eagle, Charles [St. Savard], my bro [Samuel Takakenew], Danita [Thomas], and Shayla [Orthner] searched for her and found her passed out in someone’s yard.

Warning: Readers may find graphic and extremely violent details disturbing

sasktodaylj-105stno953
The attack started at Mavis Takakenew's home in North Battleford located at 952 – 105th Street. Photo By Lisa Joy / SaskToday.ca

Fuelled by drugs, alcohol, and rage, Nicole Cook accused Laverdiere of knowing details about her son’s murder and tried hitting her, court heard.

Robertson testified that she tried to stop Nicole Cook from harming Laverdiere.

“She was mad at her, yelling at her, ‘you know too much about Tristen’s death,’ and Tiki said ‘no, I don’t know what you’re talking about,’” testified Robertson by CCTV from Halifax, Nova Scotia, with an RCMP officer seated beside her. She paused, put her hands over her face and sobbed.

“Take your time,” Judge Kevin Hill told Robertson during Sangster’s preliminary hearing in North Battleford Provincial Court in October 2020. “We are not in a rush. We are not going anywhere. I appreciate how you are telling it so just take your time and we will get through it.”

Robertson wiped her eyes with a tissue and continued, “I tried to stop [Nicole Cook]. Tiki was sitting in a chair. Nicole was going right around the chair and I grabbed her and got a hold of her.

“I bear hugged her and said ‘stop, what are you doing?’ I looked at Tiki and said ‘get out of here,’ and she did get up and she was going but Nicole said ‘sit down’ and she sat down. Jesse was there and I looked at him and said ‘please help me stop this,’ and he just said ‘let her go, it’s a mother’s intuition.’

Robertson said she sat on Nicole Cook and tried to keep her from Laverdiere.

“I thought it was over with,” Robertson testified. “I got Nicole away from her. When Tiki stood up Nicole had her by the hair and I was hanging onto Nicole and I got her off her. She was freaking out. I was scared at that point. I was trying to calm her down. She was screaming at me to let her go and said don’t touch her. I asked Jesse ‘where is her stuff?’ so I can get her out of here and he pointed on the floor and I said ‘Nicole let’s get out of here.’ We grabbed her stuff and I thought ‘good this is over.’

“But then a van pulled up and the side door opened and all I see is Soaring Eagle hopping out and three other girls and they are all dressed in red. I knew at that point this is bad. I heard Soaring Eagle say ‘she [expletive] with the wrong family, let’s do this and let’s handle this now.’”

Back inside the house, Robertson again tried to keep Nicole Cook away from Laverdiere, court heard.

“I remember Soaring Eagle go and push the coffee table away where Tiki was sitting and Soaring Eagle said ‘you know too much, tell us what happened with Tristen,’ and I’m looking at a room full of people and nobody doing anything, and at this point, I was too scared.”

In the gallery, Laverdiere’s mother, Carol Laverdiere from Edmonton, got up and walked out of the courtroom when she heard that.

To read more about how Tiki Laverdiere mattered click on story: Tiki Laverdiere’s life mattered: Justice Zerr

“I didn’t know what to do and it happened so quickly,” continued Robertson. “Soaring Eagle said ‘all right my soldiers’ to three other girls and they were all standing there in the living room.

“A man was sitting on the right-hand side of the room, apparently my uncle [Cody Whitstone]. I don’t know him. I remember him well because he was the only other person to make some slight movement to stop what was happening. He put a hand on Tiki’s leg before Soaring Eagle got to her and she said to him ‘get out of here’ and he stopped.”

Cody Whitstone tries to stop the attack

Cody Whitstone, who is Mavis Takakenew’s brother from Thunderchild First Nation, testified during Soaring Eagle Whitstone’s trial in September 2022 that he tried stopping everyone from attacking Laverdiere.

“I didn’t know what was going on,” the thin, five-foot-four man told the court. “Nicole started arguing with Tiki. I was trying to stop the fight and then more [people] came in. I tried to stop them. Nicole, I tried to block her. I tried to block them. I saw four to five trying to hit Tiki. I told Mavis ‘I don’t want to be here’ and she took me to the casino. I got scared. I didn’t want to be there. I don’t have no gang affiliation.

“I just stayed out of it,” added Cody Whitstone. “I keep to myself. I don’t ask questions, I was just drinking Bud beer that night, five to six that night, and smoking marijuana and meth.”

Soaring Eagle Whitstone orders her ‘soldiers’ to attack

At Sangster’s preliminary hearing in October 2020, Robertson testified that after Cody Whitstone left, “Soaring Eagle pointed to Danita [Thomas] who was standing in the entrance.”

The soldier knew what her higher-up expected, court heard.

Thomas walked towards Laverdiere and punched her full force in the face. Laverdiere’s nose split wide open and blood splattered everywhere.

Thomas continued to strike Laverdiere. Orthner and Nikita Cook joined in, all of them hitting and kicking her.

Nicole Cook kept saying, “why didn’t you tell me, you knew the whole time,” testified Thomas in North Battleford Provincial Court in September 2020.

“Soaring Eagle was yelling ‘you [expletive] knew the whole time. Why didn’t you tell us?”

Cook-Buckle was last seen on April 4, 2019, in Edmonton and Nicole Cook had organized search parties to look for her son, which Laverdiere joined.

During the attack on Laverdiere, Thomas testified that Laverdiere wasn’t initially saying anything, wasn’t trying to yell for help or run away.

“She just took a minute, what a normal gang member would do,” testified Thomas.

The violent assault, however, escalated and went beyond a minute.

“Almost everybody was beating her,” Brent Checkosis testified by CCTV from prison during Soaring Eagle Whitstone’s trial in Battleford Court of King’s Bench in September 2022.

“They were talking down to her. She was begging them to stop. She was crying. She was screaming. She was freaking out.”

Laverdiere knew she was going to die: Danita Thomas

Thomas testified that Laverdiere kept repeating she didn’t know anything.

“She was sitting by herself on a chair. She looked up at me. She stopped bleeding. Her hair was down. She just looked at me, gave me a look, I don’t know, a look that said she f up or something, I don’t know.

“She looked up at me from the corner of her eye, like she knew she was going to die,” testified Thomas. “Knew that she was involved” with Cook-Buckle’s death.  

Crown Prosecutor Chris Browne questioned Thomas, “You never met Tiki before, how can you say the look was she knew she was going to die?”

“Because you can read a person through body language,” testified Thomas.

“Is it fair to say she was scared,” asked Browne.

“She was scared, yes.”

Others too terrified to help

Robertson testified that she was too afraid to do anything once the attack had begun.

“I knew at that point that I couldn’t do anything. Through this, they are all laughing and joking saying ‘you are not going to the hospital Tiki, you are going to need some crazy glue for that nose.’ Soaring Eagle said ‘take her to my house and tie her up and we will figure out what she knows.’

“The last thing I remember was a big long screw on the floor and I saw Nicole pick it up and put it in her knuckle,” testified Robertson.

“I looked at Tiki. She just nodded at me like she knew I had to go. When I was driving away Danita came out and was unscrewing the light on the front porch because they said they were taking her out of there to a different location.”

Whitstone “was running the whole thing,” Robertson testified. “They did whatever she said.”

Before leaving Mavis Takakenew’s house where the assault had started, Robertson’s aunt Soaring Eagle Whitstone said to her, “Sorry, my niece, you had to see this. RA’s [Redd Alert] got you.”

1412-101-street
The second house Tiki Laverdiere was taken to was 1412 – 101st Street. Google Earth photo

Laverdiere taken to second house

Whitstone put Laverdiere in a headlock, held a knife to Laverdiere’s back, and forced her out of Mavis Takakenew’s house, court heard.

Patches of snow remained on the cold pavement and Whitstone forced Laverdiere to walk in sock feet blocks across North Battleford to 1412 – 101st Street where Whitstone lived with Valene McCallum, who is now deceased. According to her obituary, McCallum, 36, died suddenly on Feb. 25, 2020.

To read more about  what Valene McCallum told RCMP Major Crimes officers click Tiki Laverdiere murder: Who are the 10 people convicted?

sasktodaylj-valmccallum
Valene McCallum. Eternal Memories

Behind them, Orthner, Sangster and St. Savard followed to prevent Laverdiere from escaping.

Nicole Cook had removed Laverdiere’s shoes at Mavis Takakenew’s house when they started beating her.

“Me and her were sharing the same shoes,” testified Nicole Cook.

With the knife against Laverdiere’s back, Soaring Eagle Whitstone walked her down 105 Street, past the church, and then up 101st Street, court heard.

“[Laverdiere] was bleeding and she was crying,” Whitstone said when she testified against one of her co-accused. “[Tiki and I] had our arms looped together. She kept telling me she didn’t know anything.”

Court heard that Thomas, and her underage niece, remained at Mavis Takakenew’s house to clean up Laverdiere’s blood; it was everywhere, the walls, the floors.

‘Hostage in the house’

There was loud banging on the door before Whitstone burst into Val McCallum’s apartment, with Laverdiere and hollered, “Hostage in the house.”

Whitstone had a bedroom at McCallum’s home in North Battleford where she stayed and sold drugs, court heard.

Brent Checkosis, a Westside Outlawz street gang member who went by the street name BK, told the court during Sangster’s preliminary hearing in 2020, that at the time he was “chilling out with his sisters” in Whitstone’s bedroom at McCallum’s place.

He testified that Laverdiere looked beaten up and they tied her to a chair in Whitstone’s bedroom.

Nicole Cook and Sangster were already in the bedroom. Soon afterwards, Thomas, Orthner, and Nikita Cook arrived.

In the bedroom, Nicole Cook hollered at Laverdiere, “You know more, write it down,” court heard.

Laverdiere was given a red pen and paper and told to write what she knew. Whitstone, who went by the street name Red, always used a red pen, court heard.

Laverdiere held the paper in her hands and her head was down, testified Thomas.

“Nicole said ‘write something down,’” Orthner testified during Sangster’s preliminary hearing. “Nicole was pacing back and forth with a bat.”

‘Worst bat’ used on Laverdiere

A hole had been drilled into a wooden bat and a nail was inserted in the hole. It was called “worst bat,” court heard.

Nicole Cook yelled and walked back and forth. She slapped the bat repeatedly against her hand and hollered, “I know you know more.”

“Soaring Eagle said just [expletive] write it down,” testified Thomas. “Tiki never said nothing. She looked scared.”

Nicole Cook kept punching Laverdiere, court heard.

“She kept saying she knew something about [Cook-Buckle’s] death.  Tiki’s face was all beat up,” testified Whitstone. “Her nose was split and it looked like she was getting black eyes. She had goose bumps all over her head.”

Court heard that Nicole Cook ordered Laverdiere to write how Cook-Buckle was murdered, and why. Laverdiere wrote four pages. Nicole Cook was the only one to read the four pages, court heard.

Whitstone then ordered her soldiers to cut Laverdiere’s hair and they continued to beat her.

Neighbour hears torture

Leroy Martell knocked on McCallum’s door demanding to know if she was OK. He had heard screaming and thought it was McCallum, court heard. One of the gang members went with McCallum to the door and she told Martell she wasn’t hurt.

That seemed to convince him.

“If the noise doesn’t stop, I’m going to call the police,” Martell told them before he left.

“There was a lot of moving around, a lot of banging and one person moaning and groaning, and just groaning and moaning,” testified Martell. “She wasn’t hollering and screaming. It was painful moaning and painful groaning.”

“How long did you hear those noises?” Crown Prosecutor Charlotte Morden questioned Martell on the witness stand in September 2020.

“A good hour,” he said.

“Did the noises change?”

“No, same noises. Sounded like someone was really in pain.”

Hearing that, Laverdiere’s mother, Carol Laverdiere who was sitting in the gallery, dropped her head and held it down. 

Court heard that Whitstone then realized she needed a better location - somewhere Laverdiere’s screams wouldn’t be heard - so she told Orthner to run two doors down the alley and tell Robert Morrison that ‘Red’ was coming over and he would know what she was talking about.

Laverdiere’s hands were still tied behind her back with yellow rope as they moved her to the third house.

“Shut up, don’t scream or talk,” Whitstone yelled at Laverdiere as she forced her to walk to Morrison’s house, court heard.

She ordered Orthner to walk in front of them to ensure no one was around and they wouldn’t be seen.

“Don’t try and run away,” Whitstone warned Laverdiere.

“She was all bloody, her hair was shorter, she was crying and had no shoes on,” Orthner testified at Sangster’s preliminary hearing. “Red is holding her hand and pushing her forward to walk.”

Nicole Cook, Sangster, St. Savard, and Checkosis dutifully followed Whitstone and Laverdiere to Morrison’s house, court heard.

sasktodaylj-101-streetno1432
The third house Tiki Laverdiere was taken to was 1432 – 101st Street in North Battleford. It was a known trap house. Photo by Lisa Joy / SaskToday.ca

Laverdiere taken to third house

Rob Morrison and his girlfriend Shanice Morin lived at 1432 – 101st Street. Another couple, Jason Peters and Erica (Tracey) Opwam, also lived there, court heard.

The door was “kicked in” and a group of people stood there “all masked up,” testified Morrison in Battleford Court of King’s Bench in September 2022.

Morrison told the intruders they couldn’t use his home.

 “Do you want to be next?” he heard someone say.

“It sounded like Soaring Eagle,” testified Morrison.

He said he was startled at the sight of all the weapons; guns and knives.

“I turned around and left. They were all holding a gun or [a weapon]. I heard screaming or arguing, both female and male voices.”

‘Gangster’ music muffles screams

Nicole Cook testified that they played loud “gangster music” to muffle Laverdiere’s screams and cries as they beat and tortured her.

Checkosis said that after the music was turned up, “the torture got more harsh,” and Laverdiere was “pleading and begging” for them to stop.

Nikita Cook said there was a table full of tools in the basement. They were used on Laverdiere.

Others hear ‘horrible primal scream’ but don’t help

When a “song faded out,” you could hear screams coming from the basement, testified Trenton Favel who was at the house around 9 p.m. drinking and doing crystal meth with Morrison.

“It was horrible, female, it sounded like a primal scream. I left and went to the bar.”

Shanice Morin had told Morrison not to let them in the house when they first came over, court heard.

“Rob tried to get the people out of the house,” Morin testified in September 2022. “A bunch of people just suddenly came. All I could think was ‘how the [expletive] do we get out of this?’ I stayed in my room and people were rushing into my house. Robert said ‘this isn’t right is it?’ and I said ‘no it isn’t.’ He fell at his knees and was crying.

“I’m not with no gang,” added Morin. “I’m not affiliated with any of them. That’s what people are in this town. I knew they were gang members. That’s how this town is. They were all wearing red, a lot of red.”

Morrison and Morin fled their home and went to a friend’s house down the street, and cried, court heard. But they didn’t call the police.

More people hear screams and smell burning flesh but don’t help

Jason Peters testified that after the group of masked people broke down the door, they locked him and Tracey in their bedroom by putting a padlock on the outside of the door. He said he didn’t recognize any of the intruders.

“Some male said not to leave and said you are better off not asking questions. The music got turned up. It got loud.

“I was in the room for a couple of hours,” testified Peters.

At one point he said he could smell burning flesh.

“Smoke was rising from the [heat] vent, the music was still playing.

“I banged on the door and kicked on the door. The window wouldn’t open. I was told to shut up and be quiet.”

He said he knew the smoke was coming from the basement.

“There was heavy smoke in the room and it smelled like burning hair and burning flesh,” he testified.

Before he was locked in the bedroom, court heard that he was asked for his bottles of propane and torch. At the time he had four full bottles and later, two and half bottles were empty, court heard.

“I told Tracey I knew what was going on. When I smelt burning hair, I knew what was going on. I banged on the bedroom door.”

Hours later someone let them out, said Peters.

“Tracey and I grabbed our stuff and left.”

They went down the street to a friend’s house who asked, “why are you so freaked out,” said Peters.

“I told her from the smoke and the smell I pieced together what was going on.”

Still, no one called the police.

Nicole Cook testified in September 2020 that the smell was “10 times worse” than a hot curling iron smell.

Peters said after Laverdiere’s murder he couldn’t live in the house anymore and didn’t even bother getting the rest of his belongings. He said he went back but couldn’t stay. The house was a dirty mess with things tossed everywhere.

“The basement smelled like flesh and hair,” said Peters.” I saw blood in the kitchen.”

Laverdiere tries to escape

Once taking over Morin and Morrison’s house, Whitstone ordered Orthner and St. Savard to guard the door and forced Laverdiere into the basement. Sangster, Nicole Cook, and Whitstone tied her to a chair, court heard.

Whitstone sent Checkosis back to her place several times to get rope, duct tape and other items.

Whitstone punched, kicked and yelled at Laverdiere. Thomas kicked her repeatedly in the side.

Laverdiere broke free from the rope and tried to run but didn’t get far. Nicole Cook kicked her, jumped on her, and repeatedly stomped her face and chest, Nikita Cook testified.

Whitstone told Nikita Cook to tie Laverdiere back up with duct tape, court heard.

Bound and held captive, she had no way of going to the bathroom all day and night.

“Me, Jesse and Nicole were in the basement and discussed that she stunk,” testified Nicole Cook. “She peed herself. Soaring Eagle said she can [expletive] shit herself too I don’t care.”

Whitstone kicked Laverdiere in the face over and over, and smashed the butt of a gun into her face, court heard.

“Soaring Eagle busted her head open with the butt end of her sawed-off [shotgun],” testified Nikita Cook. “She was in a lot of pain, she was asking [Soaring Eagle] to stop.”

Throughout, Laverdiere – whose face was swollen beyond recognition – was crying, said Nikita Cook.

“She was trying to say ‘help.’”

Sangster then hit Laverdiere with a metal pipe and something cracked in her mouth, court heard.

Nicole Cook stabbed Laverdiere’s abdomen area with a knife several times.

The torture continued through the night and into the early morning.

Orthner wanted to leave during the torture but Whitstone told her she couldn’t and said she knows where her son lives, court heard.

Nicole Cook poured a flammable fluid on Laverdiere’s head. Sangster placed a red bandana over the fluid and then lit the bandana and Laverdiere’s head on fire, court heard.

“She was screaming and trying to put it out but her head was burning,” testified Nikita Cook. “She was already suffering. She was gurgling on her own blood and you could hear it. Jesse and Nicole went upstairs and I tried to walk away from it but I couldn’t leave her like that, suffering like that. I turned around and slit her throat.”

Afterwards, Nikita Cook gave the bloody knife to her young son, court heard.

Which gang member taking the blame?

With Whitstone’s goal of killing Laverdiere accomplished, it was time to get their stories straight and figure out who would take the fall, court heard.

“Who is taking the blame?” asked Whitstone.

Nikita Cook replied that she would, court heard.

Cause of death not determined

An autopsy report stated that Laverdiere’s cause of death couldn’t be determined because of advanced decomposition of her body. The report said that blunt force trauma of the head including fracture of the nasal skeleton, blunt force trauma of the trunk with multiple and bilateral rib fractures, 14 in total, metal fragments embedded in the lateral left skull and wounds in her anterior left thigh consistent with stabbing, contributed.

Justice Brian Scherman, at Whitstone’s trial, said he found that the beatings in the basement at the third house, the cut to the throat, and possibly the lighting of Laverdiere on fire all contributed to her death.

Disposing of the body

The sun was coming up when Sangster, Checkosis and Nicole Cook pulled Laverdiere’s body up from the basement on a dolly.

After her body was brought up, Checkosis “immediately ran to the bathroom and puked,” and Orthner was outside hyperventilating, court heard.

Whitstone ordered Sangster to steal a truck to dispose of the body, so he, along with Thomas, stole an older truck they found that had keys in the ignition on Trudeau Street in North Battleford. Sangster smashed the passenger window to gain access.

They backed the truck up to the house and Whitstone ordered Orthner, Checkosis, and Sangster to put Laverdiere’s body in the back of the truck.

They grabbed bags of garbage and a mattress and threw it on top of Laverdiere’s body.

Morrison testified that when he had returned to the house days later, he noticed that all the garbage in the yard was gone.

“I thought ‘what the [expletive], everything is gone.’”

Thomas went in the truck with Orthner and Checkosis to dispose of Laverdiere’s body. Whitstone instructed them to burn the truck and body and then go to a certain location where they would be picked up.

But Thomas got lost and it was light so they got rid of the body in a slough near the road.

Thomas testified that she had driven the truck out of North Battleford on Scott Drive and Territorial Drive before driving on back roads towards Moosomin First Nation to make it look like someone from that reserve had committed the murder.

“I got lost. We were supposed to go towards Moosomin and dump the body. I didn’t know where Moosomin was. I’m from Saulteaux. I got lost and drove down near Spiritwood.”

They put Laverdiere’s body, still wrapped in a beige and burgundy rug, in the slough and piled rocks and pieces of trees on top to weigh it down.

Laverdiere was deceased but Checkosis shot her lifeless body in the head with a sawed-off shotgun he always carried for "protection," court heard.

Witnesses too terrified to testify against Whitstone

Robert Morrison didn’t show up in court the day he was scheduled to testify against Soaring Eagle Whitstone. RCMP Major Crimes officers located and arrested him and kept him in custody until they escorted him to the courthouse in handcuffs.

Court heard that the day Morrison was to testify he had his ribs broken.

“I fell,” was his only explanation.

He told the court that when he returned to his house after Laverdiere’s murder, he “got jumped,” and hit on the head with a pipe.

“I didn’t see who it was. It crushed the side of my face. I was in a coma for four days. I have no idea who it was; two males maybe.”

Morin told the court she didn’t want to testify against Whitstone and said she felt threatened by the prosecutor’s questions.

She pointed to her eye, looked at the prosecutor and said, “Can’t you see that I have a black eye. I got punched out for nothing.”

Prosecutor Chris Browne asked the court that the witness statement Morin gave to RCMP in May 2019, as well as her testimony at Danita Thomas's and Nikita Cook’s trials be entered as evidence instead. Justice Scherman granted the request.

Crown witness Christy Robertson – who has moved out of North Battleford and Saskatchewan - also refused to testify against Whitstone. Court heard that she had provided the RCMP with a statement in 2019. She also testified under oath previously at Sangster’s preliminary hearing in 2020 and at both Orthner's and Thomas’ trials.

Gang members feared Whitstone

Shayla Orthner refused to testify against Soaring Eagle Whitstone in September 2022.

“I have nothing to say,” Orthner said in defiance to the court as she sat in the witness box. “I already said I’m not testifying.”

Justice Brian Scherman declared Orthner a hostile witness after he had warned her several times that she could be charged with contempt of court and more jail time added to her sentence. Orthner still refused to testify against Whitstone.  

“I told you time and time again I’m not testifying.”

Crown Prosecutor Morden asked Orthner if threats had been made against her young son.

Orthner refused to answer the question. She sat with her arms crossed.

At the Crown’s request, Orthner was charged with contempt of court.

A contempt of court hearing was to be held in Battleford Court of King’s Bench. After Orthner’s defence counsel Patrick McDougall presented a significant amount of information and evidence to the Crown and court about why Orthner refused to testify, the Crown withdrew the contempt of court charge.

During one of the accused’s hearings, the prosecutor told the court that the torture and murder of Tiki Laverdiere was a real life “horror movie.”

In addition, defence counsel Patrick McDougall told the court that Laverdiere’s murder was the “most horrific gang murder in Sask. history.”

Sentences of the other nine accused

From July 2019 to August 2020, police arrested 10 people in Saskatchewan and Alberta and charged them in Laverdiere’s murder.

To read more about the 10 people convicted click on: Tiki Laverdiere murder: Who are the 10 people convicted?

In November 2022, 36-year-old Soaring Eagle Whitstone was found guilty of first-degree murder for the benefit of a criminal organization. She was handed a life sentence with no parole for 25 years.

In October 2021, 32-year-old Nikita Sandra Cook was found guilty of first-degree murder for the benefit of a criminal organization. She was sentenced to life with no parole for 25 years.

In January 2023, 40-year-old Nicole Cook pleaded guilty to manslaughter. She was sentenced to life with no parole for 10 years.

In June 2022, 34-year-old Danita Thomas, was found guilty of manslaughter and improperly interfering with human remains. She was sentenced to 12.5 years in prison.

In August 2022, 29-year-old Shayla-Ann Victoria Orthner was sentenced to 10.5 years in prison for manslaughter.

In May 2020, 19-year-old Brent Firel Checkosis was sentenced to seven years in prison for accessory to murder.

In May 2020, 55-year-old Mavis Takakenew was sentenced to 18 months in jail for accessory to murder.

In December 2021, 36-year-old Samuel Takakenew was sentenced to 365 days in jail for accessory to murder.

In January 2021, 34-year-old Charles St. Savard was sentenced to two years for unlawful confinement.

ashleymorin
Ashley Morin

Ashley Morin’s name surfaces

Ashley Morin’s name was mentioned by some witnesses during the preliminary hearing and trials of the 10 convicted in Tiki Laverdiere’s murder.

 “My friend Ashley Morin went missing,” said Robertson at Sangster’s preliminary hearing in September 2020. “I actually, I had thought (Soaring Eagle) had something to do with my missing friend Ashley Morin, when Ashley went missing."

Morin was last seen at the corner of 96th Street and 16th Avenue in North Battleford at about 9:30 p.m., July 10, 2018.

 “Soaring Eagle and Danita were hanging out with Ashley up until the day that she went missing,” testified Robertson.

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

-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

-Tiki Laverdiere murder: Who are the 10 people convicted?

[email protected]

 Click for more from Crime, Cops and Court. 

#CrimeCopsCourt_SKTODAY