Florence Acoby's grief was raw and her disbelief unmistakable, as questions linger about the deaths of her daughter and granddaughter
The bodies of Denise Acoby, 33, and her eight-month-old daughter, London, were found in a suite on Tecumseh Street near Logan Avenue, following a fire before noon Tuesday in central Winnipeg.
The deaths are considered suspicious by investigators with the Winnipeg Police Service major crimes unit.
"I'm so upset, still in shock. We're still trying to figure this all out. The police haven't told us anything," Florence said Thursday, as she visited the scene with her daughter, Michelle, and family member Lorraine Acoby.
"She loved her baby. She loved her children. I don't want to say much more because of my loss."
Emergency crews were called to the duplex around 11:40 a.m. for a report of a water leak and the smell of gas coming from the building. Inside, a fire was burning. The bodies of Denise and her daughter were later found by first responders.
"It doesn't make sense to me at all," said Michelle Acoby, Denise's sister. "I'm not going to believe it until they let me see her."
A Winnipeg police spokesperson said a detailed probe of a blaze involving a fatality is not unusual, however, "there are some factors in this incident that have caused us to label these deaths as suspicious."
Michelle said she was told of her sister's death by officers in Brandon on Wednesday morning. She delivered the bad news to her mother, and they immediately made the two-hour drive to Winnipeg.
Fortunately, Denise's other children were at their father's home at the time of the fire, Michelle said.
The mother of five had strong family ties to Swan Lake First Nation in southwestern Manitoba, was a high school graduate, and took community college courses in child care before getting busy with her own family, her sister said.
In recent years, the sisters were not close. "I barely saw her because I was into stuff she didn't like. She didn't want that around her kids, and I don't blame her," Michelle said.
"She was a good mom," added Lorraine Acoby. "She wouldn't let anyone do anything to them. She loved her children."
Denise and her children were frequent customers of Magic Thailand restaurant on Logan Avenue. The owner, Noy Vilaykeo, said she was crushed when she found out about the tragedy just around the corner.
"I knew my customer, she ordered from me a lot. She was a very nice lady, waved to me outside. I always asked about her baby. She was so cute," Vilaykeo said.
"I saw the police and ambulance here and called to them, 'What happened?' They broke into the house because of a fire or something. Two girls told me (Wednesday) the mother and baby died. Oh my God, oh my God, not her. Why?"
Police are asking anyone with information that might aid the investigation to call 204-986-6219 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477).
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