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Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Two young children dead, police searching for mother

Search continues for missing mom

Posted: 07/24/2013 10:26 AM

Last Modified: 07/24/2013 10:38 PM | Updates

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Two young children are dead after an incident in a home on Coleridge Park Drive this morning, Winnipeg police confirmed.

Now, a massive, city-wide search is underway for their mother, Lisa Gibson.

She is 32, described as 5'5, having a slim build with short strawberry blonde hair. There are few details on where specifically she was last seen, police say.

She was believed to be on foot, wearing pyjamas. Sources also say police are paying special attention to bodies of water in the city as they search for the woman.

A woman who works at Fly Salon in the 3300 block of Portage Avenue said she’s now certain she saw Gibson walk past the business between 8:30 and 9 a.m., pushing a baby stroller.

But Raisal Maxwell didn’t immediately recall the woman when police stopped by around 10:30 a.m. asking people in the salon if they’d seen a woman matching Lisa Gibson’s description.

It was only about 30 minutes later, during a conversation with her sister and a discussion about the tragic event they had read about online did the light go on for Maxwell. 

"It just dawned on me that I had seen her… I put two and two together," she said. "I didn’t know who to call, so I called 911. I knew it was a pretty heinous thing.

"The dispatcher said someone would come by."

But Maxwell said she had not been interviewed by officers, as of 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Police rushed to a residence on Coleridge Park in the St. James community of Westwood for what they have only confirmed was a "well-being" call. Multiple sources told the Free Press a 911 hang-up call alerted them to a potential problem after 8 a.m.

Two children – one about three months old, one about two years old – were found not breathing in the bathroom tub.

Const. Eric Hofley, spokesman for the Winnipeg Police Service, said they were initially taken to hospital in critical condition but did not survive.

He wouldn’t confirm how the children died.

"This is a tragic, tragic incident," said Hofley. "Our thoughts are with the family... for friends, for emergency personnel that deal with these sorts of things. All these people will have to move on and our thoughts are with those people."

Gibson’s Facebook page had pictures of her two children, Anna and little brother Nicholas. Much of the information on the page was taken down by mid-afternoon.

The father of the children, Brian, was at work but was notified of the situation by police. His wife is now the subject of a major search involving up to 20 police units from both city police and the RCMP, sources say. A police K-9 unit is also on the scene.

A property search indicates the couple has lived there since 2011, which supports information from a neighbour suggesting the couple moved in 18 months ago.

The home is near the corner of Coleridge and Assiniboine Avenue, and yellow police tape is up near that intersection.

Neighbours had set up a memorial for the children Wednesday evening.

While police continued their massive search for the children's missing mother, the corner next to the home became an altar for flowers, stuffed animals and lit candles.

History

Updated on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 10:29 AM CDT: adds missing word

10:46 AM: adds new photo

12:04 PM: updates with full writethru

12:08 PM: Adds that K-9 unit is on scene

12:16 PM: Changes headline

12:41 PM: Updates with police information following press conference.

1:07 PM: Adds picture of Lisa Gibson.

1:34 PM: adds detail on mother's description, adds info about Facebook page

3:40 PM: updates with more information

4:17 PM: Adds Gibson may have been seen in the 3300 block of Portage Avenue.

9:39 PM: edits info re: workplace.

10:38 PM: Adds info re: memorial.

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