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Rural death called homicide

Victim, 96, was little-known in MacGregor: councillor

RCMP officers at the scene of the killing in MacGregor Monday afternoon.

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RCMP officers at the scene of the killing in MacGregor Monday afternoon. (COLIN CORNEAU / BRANDON SUN)

Niels 'Arne' Nielsen, 96, of MacGregor.

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Niels 'Arne' Nielsen, 96, of MacGregor. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

The death of a 96-year-old MacGregor man described by residents as "a lovely old gentleman" has been ruled a homicide by RCMP.

However, longtime residents of the community, located about 130 kilometres west of Winnipeg, concede they know little about the victim, Niels "Arne" Nielsen, who was found at his home around 5 p.m. on Sunday. Police aren't saying how they learned of the death or what they found at the scene.

Nielsen lived in a small house on the corner of Talbot St. East, just across the back lane from the school. He would often be seen either at the laundromat or grocery store or working outside in his yard.

But according to town councillor Herb Seaver, a friendly "hello" was the length of most conversations. Seaver said Nielsen had only moved to MacGregor in the last "six or seven" years. Locals say Nielsen may have originally been from the area of Sidney, a hamlet on the Trans-Canada Highway between Austin and Carberry.

"I know it sounds odd for a small town, but not many people knew much about him," Seaver said. "He's just an older gentleman who never bothered anybody. Something's not right. He was the kind of man who everybody thinks he's you're grandpa. That's how nice he was."

However, since he only arrived in town with no known family in the area -- and mostly kept to himself -- details on who Nielson may have known or associated with are slim to none.

Although an autopsy has been performed, police haven't released any information about the cause of death or made an arrest. Anyone with information about Nielsen's death is asked to call the Portage RCMP at 204-857-4445 or to contact Crime Stoppers.

Seaver added that while residents have been stunned by the homicide, they said the incident occurred during a weekend where the town was literally swarming with visitors. MacGregor's annual town-wide garage sale was held on the weekend, when bargain-hunters from as far away as Winnipeg converge on the community.

randy.turner@freepress.mb.ca

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