The fire that claimed the life of a 26-year-old Hamilton woman has been ruled a homicide, and now the man she lived with is facing second degree murder charges, police announced Thursday afternoon.
Police have identified the victim as 26-year-old Renee Neganiwina. Joseph Snelgrove, 38, who police say was in a relationship with Neganiwina, is now in police custody. Police say the two lived together in the home.
Hamilton Police forensic investigators will be working with the Ontario Fire Marsal to photograph and evaluate the scene over the next few days. They've taped off the property, which is littered with shopping carts and wooden pallets. The house is next door to Garden of Eden erotic massage parlour.
Det.-Sgt. Paul Hamilton told reporters at the scene Thursday that police are investigating a history of conflicts between the couple, but there was no history of domestic disputes reported to the police.
"Anytime we have circumstances like this where we have a domestic relationship, a female found in a home like this, it's always treated as suspicious," Hamilton said.
Firefighters were first called to a raging fire at a one-and-half-storey home at 561 Kenilworth Ave. N., near Burlington Street, around 6:20 p.m. Wednesday.
Crews got there to find the north Hamilton home engulfed in flames.
Firefighters were initially forced back by the extreme heat, but it was later extinguished by "an aggressive interior attack," the fire department said.
They found Neganiwina, the only person in the home at the time, in an upstairs bedroom. She was pulled from the fire, responders began lifesaving measures and rushed her to Hamilton General Hospital, police say. She was later pronounced dead.
Around 4 a.m. on Thursday, Snelgrove turned himself in to Toronto Police. He was transported back to Hamilton where he was interviewed by detectives from the local homicide unit. Police have now charged him with second degree murder.
A cause of the fire has not yet been revealed.
Hamilton said Snelgrove was known to police, but didn't disclose any of his previous charges. Police did not release any details about whether or not Neganiwina was hurt before the fire broke out.
Neighbour Colin Lemoyre told CBC Hamilton that the couple "had their arguments."
"But I have no clue at this point [what happened]," he said.
Lemoyre first saw the fire on the news Wednesday night while staying at his mother's house. "It was quite shocking," he said.
The house suffered extensive damage, estimated at about $100,000, according to the fire department.