The operator of a short term rental in Fort Erie, Ont., where two women were killed last week, has been charged with not following Ontario’s COVID-19 orders.
In a release on Monday, the town’s bylaw enforcement coordinator said the transaction violated a recently updated section of the Provincial Offences Act (POA) which only allows short-term rental accommodation to individuals in need of housing.
“Due to the severity of the situation, we wanted to act quickly while respecting the boundaries of an open police investigation for a very serious crime, ” law enforcement coordinator Paul Chudoba said in a statement.
Chudoba offered no further information on the incident as an active homicide investigation continues at the residence on the Niagara Parkway.
Niagara Regional Police (NRPS) believe the victims, 20-year-old Juliana Pannunzio of Windsor and 18-year-old Christina Crooks of Toronto, may have been a part of a larger group from outside of the Niagara Region that occupied the short-term rental on Jan. 18.
Investigators say a firearm was discharged at the scene and the two women were found later with “obvious signs of trauma” at the residence.
Detectives have now determined where a takeout food order, found at the scene in white Styrofoam containers, came from.
However, the location is being withheld “to preserve the integrity of the investigation,” NRPS Const. Phil Gavin told Global News.
A GoFundMe campaign for one of the victims, Juliana Pannunzio, has surpassed its goal and raised $12,000 for the young woman’s family as of Tuesday.
“Juliana was a sweet angel and a kind soul,” close friend Kelly Gallacher said in her fundraising post.
“She loved everyone and she always wanted everyone to be happy.”
Anyone with information on the case can reach out to detectives at (905) 688-4111 ext. 1009134. Anonymous tips can be left with Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online.