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Second body found; small town on edge

THE discovery of a second body on an Ethelbert property has left the tiny community of 300 fearing for their safety, Mayor Mitch Michaluk said Monday night.

"People are uncertain, shocked.They just don't know how it happened. We're not immune -- why us?" Michaluk said.

There is widespread speculation on the identities of the two deceased, but the RCMP have not publicly named the woman in her 70s who was found dead in a house Saturday, or a man found dead on the property Monday.

"Her identity, while suspected, has not been confirmed," RCMP Sgt. Line Karpish said Monday. "During the course of the investigation, a search of the property grounds resulted in officers discovering the deceased body of an adult male individual. His identity has yet to be confirmed.

"The cause of his death remains unknown until autopsy results are obtained," Karpish said. "However, the death is being treated as suspicious at the present time."

Karpish said autopsies were to be done in Winnipeg, but the results were not yet available.

Michaluk said he only heard around 6 p.m. Monday that police found a second body.

The house backs onto the Fork River, the mayor said. "It's not a large property. There's a river that runs behind it, the Fork River. There's bush there."

Michaluk said police have not told residents anything about their investigation, and until people hear more, they fear for their safety.

"Citizens are phoning me and expecting me to have the answers, and I don't. They're concerned, they're worried," he said.

The mayor could not recall anything similar happening in the community north of Dauphin.

Neighbours of the dead woman said she is Elsie Steppa, and she moved from Toronto in the mid-1990s.

They said Steppa lived with her nephew, Harry Jones, who is in his mid-40s, and several dogs and cats. They said 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 Michaluk, who called police.

"It makes me very scared, because this is a small town and there is never crime here," Pelechaty said.

Residents said Sunday that Jones' whereabouts were unknown.



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