Watching her boys play hockey, working nights at Tim Hortons and enjoying movies and walks in the park — it all sounds like a typical mom.
But 40-year-old Andrea Giesbrecht stands accused of concealing the bodies of six infants after their remains were found in a U-Haul storage locker earlier this week.
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New details about Giesbrecht, also known as Andrea Naworynski, emerged from documents and a court hearing last month, in which she pleaded guilty to fraud over $5,000.
Court heard that Giesbrecht has struggled with a gambling addiction for at least 14 years.
"I feel distraught and severely taken advantage of," the woman wrote in a victim impact statement.
A friend of Giesbrecht took a different view, in a letter to court that she wrote before the sentencing.
"In the five years I have known Andrea I have come to love her as a friend and person," wrote the friend. "She is a loving, considerate person and I have seen her drop everything to be there."
The two met through their boys' mutual hockey team. Giesbrecht has two teenage sons who are involved in hockey and soccer.
Started gambling in her teens
Giesbrecht, an only child, was born in York, Ont., but lived for most of her life in Winnipeg's Garden City and Maples neighbourhoods.
In the pre-sentence report, Giesbrecht was described as having a happy childhood, full of trips to the beach, Ukrainian dance, swimming lessons and church activities.
She met her husband at the age of 16. That's also about the time she began gambling, something that she watched her parents do while she was growing up.
Giesbrecht's gambling began with VLTs, and then card games.
According to the report, Giesbrecht first believed she had a gambling problem 14 years ago, when she could not pay rent.
During the worst of it, she said she could bet $500 at a time, many times over the course of a single evening, and would do this several times a week.
She would borrow thousands of dollars from her parents to feed the habit — money she never repaid, and money they never asked her for, according to documents.
Giesbrecht's parents have since died.
Caused tension with husband
Giesbrecht said this addiction caused tension with her husband and described gambling as the "number one problem" between them.
As for her husband, Giesbrecht said he could easily become agitated. A probation officer once had to ask him to leave a meeting after he "chastised" his wife and "refused to calm down."
The same officer described Giesbrecht as polite and respectful, but noted that she could be "highly excitable, easily distracted and unorganized."
The pre-sentence report concluded that she posed a low risk of re-offending for fraud.
Giesbrecht graduated from Red River College with a business administration diploma. In the past 10 years, she has worked for local organizations DASCH and St. Amant (which support people with disabilities), as well as a cleaning company. This spring, she began working at Tim Hortons. She also volunteers at Siloam Mission.
Giesbrecht is now charged with six counts of concealing bodies of infants after the remains were found in a U-Haul storage locker in Winnipeg's West Alexander neighbourhood on Monday.
U-Haul employees made the grim discovery when they went in to clear out the locker because rental payments had not been made.
Winnipeg police initially said they believed there were three or four bodies found in various states of decomposition, but they later raised the total to six.
Giesbrecht's next court date on the charges is Nov. 12.