Jeanenne Fontaine, the cousin of Tina Fontaine, was trying to beat addiction for the sake of her children before she was shot to death and her home set on fire earlier this week, her mother says.
"She was trying to straighten out her life for her kids. She wanted her kids home," said Lana Fontaine. "She was trying really hard, and that's why we were trying to clean that home. We wanted it to be our home."
Jeanenne Fontaine, 29, was found at her home on Aberdeen Avenue on Tuesday. Her family says the mother of three was shot in the back of the head before the building was set on fire.
Winnipeg police have been called many times to the North End home.
Const. Jason Michalyshen declined to provide a time frame or specifics but said the house was visited "numerous times for a variety of matters."
"I'm going to just leave it generic like that. It is a residence familiar to us," he said. "Does that have any bearing on what we're currently dealing with? Maybe, maybe not."
Just three months ago, a 22-year-old man was shot in the lower body during a party at that house. He recovered from the injury, which initially sent him to hospital in unstable condition.
Police wouldn't say whether they believe Fontaine's slaying was targeted or a random attack but did say they would be looking into connections to drugs and gangs and the woman's associates.
Lana Fontaine doesn't believe her daughter was targeted. She believes the killer came to the house looking for somebody else.
A neighbour, who CBC News will not identify for safety reasons, said she had concerns about the home.
"In the morning, the door would open and, you know, a bunch of young men would roll out, bringing bicycles out and backpacks and … ride away for the day, and then come back at night," the neighbour said.
"It's disturbing. There's children in the neighbourhood. These things, you assume that these things happen, like, in the middle of the night. But it happened, from what I can tell, in the morning," she added.
"[A] shooting in May last year happened on a Saturday afternoon. It makes you wonder, like, is it safe to go out in your yard?"
Second death this week
Police would not confirm the exact cause of Fontaine's death, only saying she was shot in the upper body. Autopsy results are still pending though the cause of death has been attributed to the shooting and injuries from the fire, Michalyshen said.
"There's a lot going on here — a very complex investigation," he said.
Fontaine's death came two days after another young Indigenous woman was shot dead in the city, but police are not linking the two homicides at this point.
"This is an investigation unto its own. But certainly, as investigations unfold, if anything should change, by all means [we would look at that]," Michalyshen said.
"The grim reality of violence in our community is drugs and is gangs … and different relationships with individuals. Those are all areas that we're going to be exploring."
Jeanenne Fontaine was a cousin to Tina Fontaine, the 15-year-old girl whose death helped prompt the public inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women. The teen's body was recovered from the Red River near the Alexander Docks on Aug. 17, 2014, eight days after she was reported missing. A man has been charged in the case but has yet to stand trial.
In a 2015 interview with CBC News, Jeanenne Fontaine talked about her struggles with drug use and prostitution.
"I'm not getting into the specifics of Ms. Fontaine's background right now. Investigators certainly will look at an individual's background to see if that plays a part or a role into who they associate with," Michalyshen said.
"Am I in a position to say her past has a direct correlation to her death? No, I can't say that at this point. We have to allow investigators to really dissect every component of this investigation.
"Clearly, we're dealing with a very sad situation here, and we're doing our best to piece it all together and determine what took place."