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Homicide probe has town stunned

Senior found dead in home

A homicide investigation is underway after a woman in her 70s was found dead in her home in Ethelbert.

RCMP officers were dispatched to the scene on Saturday where they found the body. An investigation is ongoing by the Parkland RCMP with assistance from the RCMP Dauphin major crimes unit.

Neighbours of the victim said the deceased is Elsie Steppa, and she moved from Toronto in the mid 1990s to this village of about 320 people, about 60 kilometres north of Dauphin.

They said Steppa lived with her nephew, Harry Jones, who is in his mid-40s, and multiple dogs and cats. Neighbours say she kept to herself. Nadia Pelechaty, a neighbour who lives two doors down from Steppa, said she and a friend grew suspicious when they noticed smoke was no longer coming from Steppa's chimney. Pelechaty said they checked with a local store and an employee there confirmed they hadn't seen Steppa in "a long time."

Pelechaty said they informed Ethelbert's mayor, Mitch Michaluk, about their concerns.

"It makes me very scared because this is a small town and there is never crime here. I keep watching police come and go from her house. I'm very upset by this," Pelechaty said.

The mayor told the Free Press he went to Steppa's home on Friday evening and found the side door unlocked. There were no footprints in the snow, either coming or going.

"Something was just off," Michaluk said.

He said he could hear Steppa's dogs inside and worried they weren't trained and might bite him, so he left the home and contacted RCMP that evening.

The mayor said he hasn't heard anything more of the investigation, except that Steppa's nephew cannot be located.

"Of course, the citizens are quite curious as to what's going on. I've had a few phone calls asking me, and of course, I don't know much of the details besides the part that I played in it. People are concerned," Michaluk said.

Most of all, the mayor said he is concerned for the town.

"Really so much is still unknown. I just hope that the citizens, if they happen to know more, they come forward."

 

katherine.dow@freepress.mb.ca

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