News / Winnipeg

Family wants answers in homicide of teen living in licensed foster home

SPRINGFIELD, Man. — Relatives are looking for answers after police this week characterized the death of a young woman with autism and epilepsy as a homicide.

Lydia Whitford, 18, was found dead in a licensed foster home in the Rural Municipality of Springfield back in July, but RCMP only announced the results of their investigation on Tuesday.

Sandy Bay Child and Family Services told CTV Winnipeg that Whitford was under their care at the time, and that it was considered an extension of care because she was legally an adult.

Her sister, Jessica Whitford, wants to know why RCMP and CFS weren't more up front with her family about the circumstances surrounding Lydia's death.

She says they were initially told by Sandy Bay CFS that Lydia died of natural causes.

Jessica also can't understand why anyone would want to hurt Lydia.

"How could somebody do that to somebody innocent like that, somebody who's really gentle?” Jessica says. "She didn't verbally speak so she didn't really have a voice."

RCMP aren't elaborating on the details of the case.

Richard De La Ronde, executive director of Sandy Bay CFS, says the foster home Lydia lived in was shut down after her death.

"It's an automatic response when there's any kind of critical incident," he says.

De La Ronde says it was RCMP who initially told CFS Lydia died of natural causes and that's the information they gave her family.

"(The RCMP) said they were changing it to a homicide without providing any reason."

De La Ronde says the agency has requested the Children's Advocate do a review of the case.

"You never want to lose a child, or anyone in care, for that matter," De La Ronde says.  "We want to make sure checks and balances are in place."

The Office of the Children's Advocate says it's aware of Lydia's death. A spokesperson says because she was 18 a review can't be automatically initiated, but an investigation will likely be launched once the police wrap up their case.

(CTV Winnipeg)


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