William Nickaboine's murder: More than a year later, still no conviction

Mille Lacs Band.
William Nickaboine's remains were found by a search party in July 2010.
Last week's feature, "The Banishing," begins with the story of a civilian search party finding the mangled remains of William Nickaboine, a 19-year-old who went missing on the Mille Lacs Ojibwe reservation in summer 2010.

An autopsy later showed that Nickaboine had been beaten, cut, and eventually burned before his body was dumped behind the reservation's wastewater treatment plant.

Tribal police arrested Aaron Beaulieu, 20, and Joshua Boyd, 22, for the murder shortly after finding the body. But more than a year later, no one has been convicted, and many tribe members still have not recovered.

"He was burned," says Sarah Day, a relative of Nickaboine, in an interview with City Pages. "That hit everybody really hard because of how he died."

Here's how the investigation led police to Beaulieu and Boyd, according to records:

On July 22, 2010, after receiving the missing person report, police heard about a fight between Nickaboine, Beaulieu, and Boyd in a garage belonging to a woman named Cari Lynn Mitchell. When an officer went to the house to investigate the next day, he was greeted by Nathan Rory Bugg, another tribe member, who denied that there was any fight. But the blood stain on the garage floor said otherwise.

Photo by Andy Mannix.
Sarah Day, a relative of Nickaboine's: "That hit everybody really hard because of how he died."
Meanwhile, another officer was visiting Boyd. Boyd admitted stopping by Mitchell's garage, but said nothing about a fight. As Boyd told it, he had left Mitchell's that night for his grandmother's house. Somewhere along the way his truck ran out of gas, so he went the rest of the distance on foot.

That evening, police got word that a citizen search party had found something near the wastewater treatment plant. It was a bloody knife that had been stashed in a ditch. Shortly after they were called to a wooded area behind the treatment facility. This time, someone had found Nickaboine's body.

Now that the case had turned from a missing person to a homicide, investigators returned to interview Bugg. Bugg's story had changed. He admitted to watching Beaulieu punch Nickaboine several times in the garage that night. He saw him stomp Nickaboine on the ground and drag him around by his shirt. Somewhere along the way, a knife fell out of Nickaboine's pocket matching the description of the one found in the ditch. He also saw Boyd forcing Nickaboine into a Suburban.

That was the last time anyone saw him.

The Mille Lacs Messenger recently published an emotional story on how Nickaboine's mother, Arlene, has coped with the loss of her son. According to the Messenger, Beaulieu and Boyd were Nickaboine's cousins. From the article (read it in full here):

"The thing I don't understand and never will is how can you kill your brother -- your cousin?" Arlene said. "What my family has lost -- all the families are intertwined. I don't blame the parents, or anyone else. It's the two boys' actions. No one else. I don't understand it. Never will."

Beaulieu and Boyd were each charged with two counts of second-degree murder. Each count carries a maximum of 40 years in prison. But so far, neither has even been to trial.

Previous Coverage:

  • The Banishing: Mille Lacs Ojibwe fighting violent offenders with banishment
  • Cody St. John's case against attackers still ongoing
  • The Banishing: Reporter's Notebook

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    It all stems from the Violence against our women, Child molestation and In breeding that goes on and everyone tries hiding. Its just Karma Slapping our people in the Face saying, "Hello, wake up this is a war zone". We all know someone that has done it, our Grandfathers have done it and it keeps going on and on. Then give us hand outs to reward us for bad behavior, we just start expecting everything handed to us. The white man was wrong by taking our land, But that's how it was centuries ago. Now big government has stepped in and really made a mess out of things once again. Inbreeding is the reproduction from the mating of two genetically related parents. Inbreeding results in increased homozygosity, which can increase the chances of offspring being affected by recessive or deleterious traits. This generally leads to a decreased fitness of a population, which is called inbreeding "depression". Its not my place to judge, but our actions have compelled a higher power to judge and its sad to see that everyone keeps acting like nothing is going on. The "Per Capita" we receive is "Dirty" money that is generated from a gambling demon that has corrupted many people and takes advantage of this sin, but no one cares as long as we get our money. We all get this money handed to us and continue to rip people off, which is a greed demon that has spread nationwide. So now there are about a dozen Demons running wild and free to do whatever they want. Now the Gangs / Terrorists!!! are the repercussion from our children that were taught to keep their mouths shut and shown no love unless daddy was drunk and horny, So who stood up for these children, Gitchi Manidoo and he can only let so much of this go on before he releases his wrath and we're seeing it first hand. So this is only going to get worse since everyone is concerned about per cap and not the future of our people. We have no motivation to better ourselves, we get jobs handed to us and think we wont be fired cause we're Native, which is true but that's what we're taught. So here you go all you elders, you just reaped what you sowed. How many more are we going to lose before we realize the cycle isn't working. Show this to all the elected officials and see if they continue the *hush-hush* don't talk to the media or actually care about our people or just their beloved dollar that continues to bring our people down. Cut our Per Cap and invest it in creating Jobs, Awareness, Hope, Education and Religion as this is the only way to break the vicious cycle that we have created for ourselves.


    I have to agree with you on everything. I grew up watching my dad beat on my mom, watched my dad drink, and all that horrible shit he did. I started to drink after he died and my mom got sick and then I realized I don't want to live like this anymore, I don't want to be another piece of garbage floating around on the reservation. I am putting my foot down and raising my children differently from the way I was raised. Education first, before anything. Make something of themselves so that they can get themselves off this reservation. I don't want my children growing up thinking this violence is ok, I am trying to break the cycle! I wish these other parents around here would do the same thing!

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