Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Troubled lives, tragic endings

Rooming-house victims known to law

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They had both led troubled lives filled with plenty of loss, despair, neglect and run-ins with the law.

Now Winnipeg police are trying to unravel the mystery of how a city couple met their violent end inside a Wolseley rooming house.

Trevor James Sinclair, 31, and Unice Ophelia Crow, 19, were found dead Wednesday morning by a neighbour investigating a strong smell coming from their suite at 210 Chestnut St. Police say the two had last been seen on Aug. 29 by family members.

"There is some indication they'd been there (deceased) for a period of time," Const. Jason Michalyshen said Thursday.

Police are now looking at a few potential scenarios as they await autopsy and toxicology results, which they hope will confirm the exact date and cause of death. The most likely is a double homicide, but Michalyshen admitted a murder-suicide is still "on the table."

"Anything could change. We're not ruling anything out. There's a lot of information pending," he said.

Crow's family gathered at her parents' home in Pauingassi Thursday and had little to say publicly. A woman who identified herself as Crow's younger sister told the Free Press they are stunned by what happened and are awaiting more answers from police.

Family members also confirmed Crow had moved into the suite earlier this summer with Sinclair, whom police described as her "common-law partner." Crow's Facebook and Instagram pages include numerous smiling pictures of the couple. Her social media were last updated on Aug. 28.

One of her final posted pictures was of her holding a certificate last month, proudly displaying how she'd just completed a youth leadership program from the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.

Crow previously was on the public radar in 2010 when, at the age of 17, she ran away from her home in Hnausa while living in foster care as a permanent ward of Child and Family Services. RCMP issued a public alert at the time out of concern for her well-being. Crow surfaced several days later in Winnipeg.

Court documents show Crow was also facing criminal charges at the time of her death for allegedly breaching several terms of a probation order and failing to appear in court last year. She was set to make her next court appearance Sept. 10.

Sinclair is also no stranger to the justice system, the Free Press has learned. He pleaded guilty in June 2011 to attacking his longtime girlfriend by smashing his head into her mouth. The couple had been together for nine years and have two children, court was told.

Sinclair also admitted to breaching bail conditions by contacting her after his initial release. He was given 18 days in custody and 18 months of supervised probation, which included domestic-violence counselling and anger management.

His lawyer told court at the time how Sinclair had a tragic background, which included being seized as an infant from his alcoholic mother, bouncing around in numerous foster placements and getting involved in numerous crimes over the years.

"He doesn't want his children to grow up in the same conditions he did," his lawyer said during the 2011 sentencing hearing. Sinclair apologized for his violent actions, saying he simply got caught up in emotion out of concern for his children.

"I meant no disrespect to the courts," he said. It's not clear exactly when Sinclair ended that relationship and began dating Crow.

Police confirmed Thursday the rooming house on Chestnut has a notorious past and has been the subject of numerous calls.

Michalyshen couldn't say if any of those involved Sinclair and Crow. Officers spent part of the day searching the neighbourhood and nearby Vimy Ridge Park as part of the ongoing investigation.

Area residents say the 21/2-storey residence has been troubled with late-night noise due to parties and suspected drug dealings.

"There's always stuff going on there," said George Penner. "It's just like a generally sketchy boarding house... someone will get excited and yell at the landlord... that one's a problem house."

"Very few months have gone by when we haven't had to call the police because of drug sales taking place on the porch, drunks fighting and screaming outside the premises," said another longtime neighbour, who requested anonymity out of safety concerns. "It is a wonderful street, marred only by this one house."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 6, 2013 B1


Updated on Friday, September 6, 2013 at 7:34 AM CDT: replaces photo

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