Selma Alem and Julie Tran identified as Coventry Hills homicide victims

Calgary police have identified the two people stabbed to death in Coventry Hills earlier this week as 54-year-old Selmawit Alem and 25-year-old Julie Tran.

Person of interest in custody

Calgary police say two bodies found in a home in Coventry Hills are now being investigated as homicides. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Calgary police have identified the two women who were stabbed to death in Coventry Hills earlier this week.

The deceased are 54-year-old Selmawit Alem and 25-year-old Julie Tran, both Calgary residents.

Police are investigating both deaths as homicides, and Staff Sgt. Doug Andrus said a person of interest is in custody on unrelated matters.

Officers discovered the women's bodies Monday morning at a home in the 200 block of Coventry Close N.E. after Alem's friend was unable to contact her, and asked police to check on her welfare.

Police say there is nothing to indicate the attack was random.

"We believe, based on our investigation, that one of the victims and the offender knew each other," Andrus said.

Alem worked as a caregiver for Tran and a second person who lived at the home, Andrus added.

"He has been interviewed," Andrus said. "Obviously he is quite distraught over what's happened and he is in a safe location."

Andrus said there is "nothing to indicate" that person was involved in the homicides.

Police believe the women were killed up to 48 hours before their bodies being discovered.

Alem's son also a homicide victim

As CBC News previously reported, it's not the first homicide to strike Alem's family.

In 2005, her 18-year-old son Michael Tsehaie Kahsai was found dead in a Forest Lawn home, having been repeatedly struck with a meat cleaver. A 19-year-old offender was later convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to seven years in prison.

Friends said Alem was a single mother who overcame two bouts with cancer and was active in Calgary's Eritrean community for the past three decades.

"Selma is a very strong person," said Samuel Tedros. "This woman [was] very caring, very helpful, strong woman, always positive thinking."

Alem worked at the home as a caregiver for people with disabilities, according to her friends.

Anyone with information about the women's deaths is asked to call police at 403-266-1234 or the homicide unit tip line at 403-428-8877, or to contact Crime Stoppers anonymously.