Carman ‘in shock and in mourning’ after 5 deaths, including 3 children

People in the small southern Manitoba town of Carman are in disbelief after five people — including three children — were found dead on Sunday.

“One step at a time, I guess. I’m sure we’ll all find out more, but the whole incident of how it happened and why … it’s just all very odd,” said Susie Stewart, who has lived in Carman, 60 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg, for 25 years.

“I think the whole town is in shock and in mourning. It’s very shocking [but] people need to realize that things can happen anywhere — in a small town, in the cities, wherever,” she said. She didn’t know any of the people who died.

A 29-year-old man was taken into custody on Sunday but charges were not laid at that time.

RCMP are holding a news conference at 2 p.m. Monday to provide an update on the investigation. CBC will livestream it here on the website and on Gem. 

RCMP found the body of a woman after responding to a report of a hit and run on Highway 3 between Carman and Winkler at 7:30 a.m. The woman’s body was in a ditch just off the highway.

About 2½ hours later and 70 kilometres north of Carman, officers were called to a report of a burning vehicle and learned a witness had pulled three children from it.

The kids were pronounced dead and police took the man into custody there.

Two men near a truck
Two men stand at a section of Highway 248 that was blocked off as emergency crews respond to a crime scene on Sunday. (CBC)

Further investigation led officers to a home in Carman, where they found the body of a woman inside. The deaths are connected events, police said.

Terry Osiowy, superintendent of the Prairie Rose School Division, issued a statement on Monday offering thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the victims.

“Our school division is committed to supporting our students, staff and community through the many challenging times that this tragedy will bring to us,” the statement said. Crisis response teams are in place at Carman Collegiate and Carman Elementary School, where the children were students, the statement said.

A map of southwestern Manitoba shows the locations of Winnipeg, Carman, Winkler and St. Eustache with red dots for locations nearby.
The approximate locations where the five people were found dead Sunday are marked here by red dots. Police were called to a hit and run involving a woman on Highway 3 between Carman and Winkler. Then they responded to a vehicle on fire that involved three children on Highway 248 just east of St. Eustache. The third crime scene was a home in Carman where the body of another woman was found. (CBC Graphics)

In an interview with CBC News, Osiowy said school divisions from across the province have reached out to offer any supports Prairie Rose might need but “so far we’re handling it within our system.”

“Both buildings are relatively quiet right now. What we’re feeling is probably everybody’s just in a state of shock and disbelief that a tragedy like this could hit our community and the complexity of it.”

There are some student absences, which Osiowy believes could be due to those kids being more distraught.

His advice to parents helping their children cope with understanding what happened “is just to be open and honest and hear them. They need to feel safe.”

If parents are struggling, they are urged to reach out to either of the schools.

“We will do whatever we can,” Osiowy said. “We’ll be debriefing with both schools at 4 p.m. today and to find out if there’s other supports we have to put in place.”

A man in grey hair and a blue sweater stands to the right of centre, looking to the left. He is in a boardroom with two flags hanging limp on stands in the background.
Terry Osiowy, superintendent of the Prairie Rose School Division, says his advice to parents helping their children to cope with the tragedy ‘is just to be open and honest and hear them. They need to feel safe.’ (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)