A Winnipeg couple is dead after being viciously assaulted in their winter home in Jamaica in what is being investigated as a robbery gone wrong.
The bodies of Melbourne Flake, 81, and his 70-year-old wife Etta, were discovered inside their St. Thomas home on Tuesday, their daughter confirmed to the Free Press.
Debbie Olfert, the couple's eldest child, said she is still in disbelief.
"I'm still hoping it's a really bad dream," Olfert said on Wednesday, noting she spoke briefly to them by phone on Monday night.
Police reports say workmen went to the couple's house to do some work just before 11 a.m. on Tuesday. After they didn't get a response, they contacted relatives of the couple and soon the bodies were found, according to RJR News, a Jamaican radio station.
The bodies, showing signs of trauma, were found in separate rooms in the house. Police said there was no signs of forced entry into the home.
Another media report said the couple was found with their mouths still gagged and their feet and hands tied up.
"It's unreal. I can't even imagine it. No one can grasp the devastation this has had on our family," Olfert said, who has been getting much of her information from media outlets. "I always think about those people who have had terrible things happen to them and now I'm one."
Olfert said the couple leaves four daughters and a son behind, as well as 14 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
The couple came to Winnipeg from Jamaica 53 years ago with two children. They had three more children while living here.
Melbourne was employed before retiring from the Department of National Defence at the Kapyong Barracks on Kenaston Boulevard and has a work shop named in his honour for him at 17 Wing.
"He was extremely talented in carpentry," Olfert said. "He built all the furniture in the house (in Jamaica)."
Olfert said her mother was a licensed practical nurse who worked at the Victoria General Hospital before the provincial government cut their positions in the 1990s. She said her mother worked in several different personal care homes before retiring.
"She was an excellent nurse," she said.
The two owned the seashore property for 10 years, spending the first five building a home.
Olfert said just a few days ago the entire extended family were down at the St. Thomas home for Christmas.
Emaline Jackson of Winnipeg said she has known the couple for more than 30 years and still can't believe they're gone.
"I can see Mrs. Flake with her big smile and Mr. Flake with his cowboy hat. He like looking like a cowboy. He just loves cowboys," Jackson said.
Jackson said Melbourne "loves Jamaica" but his wife really didn't. She said the couple spent every winter down there in recent years.
"But once she was down there, with the whole extended family, she liked it," she said.
"I can't believe this really happened. I've been crying all night — it's so sad. They were a really great couple and I know them very well."
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.
Updated on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 at 6:38 PM CST: Adds photo
January 11, 2018 at 1:11 PM: Updates headline.