Charlene Ward, 46, was found dead in her home on 5th Avenue NE in Portage la Prairie on the morning of Nov. 1, 2007.
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Ward had been out with friends at a local bar the previous night, returning home for a party that ended at 8 a.m. the next morning — roughly 45 minutes before the mother and grandmother was found dead, police have previously said.
Although a 30-year-old woman identified by family as one of Ward’s daughters was arrested in connection with the case in May 2017, she was released without charges the following day.
Since then no other suspects have been publicly announced, and no arrests have been made in the case.
The lack of progress has left Ward’s daughter — and the previously arrested suspect’s sister — “beyond frustrated and disappointed.”
“There’s no healing and there’s no answers,” Cherie Barrault told 680 CJOB’s The News this week.
Police have never said why the woman they arrested in 2017 was released without charges.
In an interview this week, Sgt. Janna Amirault from the RCMP’s major crime services said Ward’s killing remains an open homicide case with the force’s historical case unit.
“I can’t imagine to be in her shoes and not having a conclusion to what happened to her mother,” she said of Barrault’s frustration.
While Amirault couldn’t speak to specifics of the ongoing case — including why the woman wasn’t charged — she said just because a person is released from custody doesn’t mean they’re no longer considered a suspect.
“Is she no longer a suspect? No, that doesn’t mean that at all,” Amirault said.
“Lots of times we can have enough information to proceed with an arrest and be able to speak to somebody in relation to an investigation, but we won’t necessarily have enough evidence to proceed with charges.
“That’s sometimes what we have to do in order to further try and further an investigation.”
Barrault said the arrest of her sister and what she describes as poor communication from investigators about the case has left her family divided.
She says she hasn’t spoken to her sister since the arrest.
“It’s beyond frustrating. Like, I lost my mom, I lost my sister, I lost other people on, like, my mom’s husband’s side of the family,” she said. “We just don’t talk anymore.”
After 15 years of waiting for answers, Barrault said she’s starting to doubt the family will ever get closure.
“Every minute, every hour, every day, week, year that goes by, it’s just getting harder and harder to solve,” she said.
“I’m almost at the point where I don’t think it’s going to be solved just because it’s gone on so long. It’s frustrating.”
Anyone with information about Ward’s death can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. Tips can also be made online at Crime Stoppers’ website.