Woman charged with concealing remains of six babies: Winnipeg police
Chinta Puxley and Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, October 22, 2014 10:22AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 22, 2014 5:51PM EDT
WINNIPEG -- Police have charged a woman who was renting a storage locker where the remains of six babies were found, but they say it could be months before they know who the infants were, how they died and how long they had been inside.
Andrea Giesbrecht, 40, was arrested outside her home in north Winnipeg. Const. Eric Hofley said she faces six charges of concealing a body and one charge of breaching probation.
Court records show that Giesbrecht, who has also used the name Andrea Naworynski, is a gambling addict with a low-paying job at a fast-food restaurant and recently admitted to defrauding a senior of several thousand dollars.
Hofley said it will take an extensive forensic investigation to determine if Giesbrecht is related to the dead infants.
The state of the remains discovered Monday was such that police were initially unable to determine how many babies were in the locker. Their ages are still unknown, but they are believed to have been newborns, he said.
"The forensics that are going to be involved in this investigation, they're numerous," Hofley said Wednesday. "It will be a long time before we're able to answer these questions -- if at all."
There are no homicide charges right now and police aren't interviewing any other suspects, he said.
"Nothing is ruled out until all the information has been gathered and processed," Hofley said. "But, at this point, this is what is known and these are the charges that are appropriate at this time."
Greg Brodsky, Giesbrecht's lawyer, said he had seen a preliminary outline of the charges and met with his client.
"She's in bewilderment," he said. "But I can't talk to you about what she said to me because that would be a breach of solicitor-client privilege."
Giesbrecht was initially arrested on murder charges, but those weren't the charges that were filed with the court, Brodsky said. That indicates the autopsy and forensic investigation isn't complete yet, he said.
"The forensic examination is really important," Brodsky said. "There has to be an autopsy conducted and more investigation done in order to determine where this case is going."
The breach of probation charge relates to two charges of fraud over $5,000 that were laid against Giesbrecht in 2012. She was given a suspended sentence and two years of probation at a court hearing three weeks ago after pleading guilty to borrowing money from a 73-year-old neighbour and repaying her with bounced cheques.
Her lawyer at that hearing, Alan Libman, told the court that Giesbrecht's parents were longtime gamblers who had "gambled away all their savings" before they died and left taxes unpaid on the house that Giesbrecht now lives in.
Gambling "was part of the family milieu," Libman is heard to say in a recording of the proceedings.
Records indicate Giesbrecht was also unable to pay taxes and utilities, and borrowed money on more than one occasion from her neighbour. Eventually, she wrote two cheques to repay the woman. But the bank account the cheques were written on had been closed for two years.
Giesbrecht wanted to repay the woman, but was caught up in addiction, Libman told the hearing.
"The focus on this was to always pay it back. 'I was going to get the winnings. I was going to make the slot machine come through for me,"' Libman said in reference to Giesbrecht's thinking.
"All these things she talked about -- her house being in arrears, not being able to pay bills -- that all occurred because she gambled away all her money."
Giesbrecht spoke briefly at her sentencing hearing and apologized to her neighbour for "bringing her into this chaos."
Provincial court Judge Janice leMaistre ordered Giesbrecht to perform 100 hours of community service and to repay her victim $200 a month during her two-year probation. She was also ordered to stay out of casinos and video lottery terminal lounges.
Geisbrecht will be applying for bail on the new charges and a date for that hearing is expected to be set Thursday, Brodsky said.
Workers were taking inventory at a delinquent U-Haul storage locker on Monday when they found the remains of what police believed were three or four infants. The U-Haul employees immediately called police.
Even with an arrest, there are few answers to explain what may have happened.
Hofley wouldn't say how long the remains were in the locker or how police believe they came to be there.
"So many of the questions I expect you have will be answered forensically, hopefully," Hofley said. "DNA analysis will take place. My understanding is that, in and of itself, is a lengthy investigation and we won't have results for months."
Anyone with any information that could help the ongoing investigation is asked to call police or Crime Stoppers.