Notifications

Foster mom charged in 2016 homicide of teen with autism, family says

Lydia Whitford's foster mother has been charged in connection with the 18-year-old's death in 2016, the teen's family says. Lisa Marie Campbell, 26, was arrested in Winnipeg on Thursday.

Lydia Whitford, 18, was found dead at home in the rural municipality of Springfield, Man.

Lydia Whitford's family says Lisa Campbell, top, was the teen's foster parent. (Submitted by Jessica Whitford)

Lydia Whitford's foster mother has been charged in connection with the 18-year-old's death, the teen's family says.

Lisa Marie Campbell, 26, was arrested in Winnipeg on Thursday and charged with manslaughter in connection with Whitford's death in the rural municipality of Springfield, Man., in July 2016, RCMP said Monday.

Campbell was Whitford's foster mother, her mother and sister said. Whitford, who lived with autism and epilepsy and was non-verbal, lived with Campbell at the Springfield residence where she died, her family said.

"It just hurts to think about what [happened] to my little girl … [who] can't fight back," said Cecilia Sutherland, Whitford's mother.

The 18-year-old was in the care of Sandy Bay Child and Family Services at the time of her death and had been in care for 10 years, her family said.
Lydia Whitford hugs her sister Jessica Whitford during one of the last visits they had before she died. (Submitted by Jessica Whitford)

​Initially Whitford's death was ruled not suspicious, but five months later, RCMP said they were investigating it as a homicide.

"When [the arrest] actually happened, I wasn't as surprised as I thought I would be," said Jessica Whitford, 20, Lydia's older sister. "I didn't even get stunned to find out it was her foster mom — didn't surprise me at all."

The family said the teen had bruises on her wrist during one of the last visits they had with her. Sutherland said she talked to the social worker about it but nothing was done.

"When [Campbell] seen me notice that bruise on Lydia's wrist, she went and sat by the door and kept her distance from us during the last visit," said Sutherland.

Jessica Whitford and Cecilia Sutherland say they are happy to know RCMP made an arrest. (Jeff Stapleton/ CBC)
Jessica Whitford said she only met Campbell a couple of times, despite her sister being in her care for around three years.

"She didn't really want my sister visiting with us because she said it was unhealthy for Lydia to get too excited to see family," she said.

Whitford said Campbell was her sister's special needs worker for three years before becoming her foster parent.

Campbell is in custody and has a court appearance set for early January. 
Lydia Whitford's foster mother has been charged in connection with the 18-year-old's death, the teen's family says. Lisa Marie Campbell was arrested in Winnipeg on Thursday and charged with manslaughter in connection with Whitford's death in the rural municipality of Springfield, Man., in July 2016. 1:44

About the Author

Jillian Taylor

CBC Reporter

Jillian Taylor has been with CBC Manitoba since 2012 and has been reporting for a decade. She was born and raised in Manitoba and is a member of the Fisher River Cree Nation. In 2014, she was awarded the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association's travel bursary, which took her to Australia to work with Indigenous journalists. Find her on Twitter: @JillianLTaylor