Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/2/2017 (1188 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
For several weeks, Winnipeg police believed they were investigating a domestic violence case.
Two months after the case began — more than a month after the alleged domestic assault victim took out a protection order against her former common-law spouse — a tip turned it into a homicide investigation involving another woman who lived at the same residence.
Winnipeg police spokesman Const. Rob Carver confirmed the initial investigation focused on Jessica Reid as the alleged victim of domestic violence.
On Oct. 18, Reid applied for a protection order against Perez Adaryll Cleveland, arguing she and her 11-year-old son needed to be protected from him. Reid alleged Cleveland had threatened "to kill me and beat me."
"He had a homemade weapon in his hand and was swinging it towards me. I ran out of the house because he has really hurt me before and I was scared... I called the police with neighbours that help me."
Carver said when a news release was sent out in September, asking for the public’s help in locating Cleveland, he was a suspect in a domestic violence case.
"Our (homicide) victim was not on our radar at this point," he said.
As for what caused police to apply for and execute a search warrant in early December at a Waverley Heights residence, all Carver would say is, "We received information that initiated our investigation."
The decomposing body of 42-year-old Jennifer Barrett was found in a barrel filled "with several chemical agents."
Cleveland, 43, a Canadian citizen who was born in the U.S., is charged with first-degree murder. Reid, 34, and Holley Alyssa Sullivan, 28, of Calgary, have been charged with being accessories after the fact to murder. All three, as well as the victim, shared a Waverley Heights home where police were collecting evidence Friday.
Barrett was beaten to death over several days in August, and her body was put into a 45-gallon drum barrel along with "several chemical agents which hastened the decomposition," police said about the homicide, which was not made public until Friday.
Police know little about Barrett, who arrived in Winnipeg from Ontario.
"She was not known to police prior to this," Carver said, adding it’s not clear how long she had been in Winnipeg.
She was not reported as a missing person, he said.
Police executed a search warrant on Dec. 1 after being tipped off about human remains in the backyard of the house at 38 Forest Lake Dr., which has been vacant since the end of November, he said.
The victim and three accused lived there together for a time in 2016. Carver said police are not certain about the relationships between the others involved.
"This was a difficult and complex investigation," he said, adding police chose not to report the homicide publicly until after Thursday’s arrests. As well, they were waiting for the results of forensic tests that identified Barrett’s remains.
Police said Cleveland was charged while in custody at Headingley Correctional Institution. He is accused of committing violent assaults from Aug. 14 to Sept. 27 and was arrested in the North End in December. He’s charged with numerous offences, including assault causing bodily harm, assault with a weapon and possession of a weapon.
Reid was arrested at a Winnipeg residence, and Sullivan was arrested by Calgary police. They face charges of being accessories after the fact to the murder because police believe they were both involved at the time of the murder or immediately afterward.
In a 2012 Canadian Press article, Reid said she went from foster care to drug addiction, to having her son cared for by others. Reid, who at the time was studying child and youth care at Red River College while raising her six-year-old son, credited a respite worker she met when she was 13 for helping to turn her life around.
She gave up drugs while she was pregnant, but lost custody of her son when he was 18 months old. After battling addiction for two more years, she was able to get him back.
— with files from Alexandra Paul
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.