WINNIPEG - Police say the discovery of as many as four dead infants in a storage locker is "tragic beyond belief" but it was not yet clear Tuesday if the deaths were homicides.
Const. Eric Hofley said concerned employees at the storage locker company in northwest Winnipeg called police Monday afternoon. Once inside, he said, officers found what appeared to be the remains of the babies.
"It was the state of the remains that drew the attention of the employees," Hofley told a news conference. "The remains were in a state such as it's not obvious yet exactly whether we are dealing with four separate remains or three. That will be determined at autopsy."
It's not clear how the infants died, how old they were or even if they were full term, he said. But the victims appeared to be "very, very young" and could be newborns.
Autopsies were being conducted.
The discovery is being investigated by the child abuse unit and the homicide detectives are being kept apprised of the investigation, Hofley said.
Police were talking to a few people, but the remains don't appear to be linked to any infants that have been reported missing, he added.
"It's suspicious. Until autopsies have been completed, whether it is found that someone has deliberately caused the death of one or all of these infants, that remains to be seen. It's just too early in the investigation to say exactly what's transpired here."
The U-Haul storage locker facility, which was cordoned off by police tape, was cleared Tuesday. Employees who were on the site declined to comment to reporters and directed inquiries to police.
Razmin Mansoub, president of U-Haul Company of Central Canada, said the remains were found by employees.
"U-Haul team members made a disturbing discovery when taking inventory of a delinquent storage locker on Monday," Mansoub said in an emailed statement. "They immediately contacted law enforcement who believed the locker contained human remains.
"U-Haul is deeply shocked and saddened by this discovery. Out of respect for the ongoing investigation, U-Haul cannot comment with any further details. We will continue to fully co-operate with authorities."
Police are remaining tight-lipped for now because they don't want to do anything to jeopardize an investigation that is not yet 24 hours old, Hofley said.
"This incident (is) tragic beyond belief and leaves many questions unanswered at this time. They're unanswered for our investigators. Once we have those answers, I will be there to provide them to you. At this point, I have no further information."
Even if the deaths were not a result of foul play, charges could still be laid, Hofley said.
"Obviously, you're not allowed to store, to conceal human remains. That, in itself, would be a charge. Until such time that the autopsies have determined what exactly was the cause of this, we won't know what the full extent of the charges may or may not be."
An update on the investigation was expected Wednesday.
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