A man is charged with first-degree murder and two others have been arrested as accessories to the killing of a woman whose body was found decomposing in a barrel behind a home in Winnipeg's Waverley Heights neighbourhood, police said Friday.

Rob Carver

Const. Rob Carver, public information officer with Winnipeg police, says the assault on Jennifer Barrett lasted days. A tip led police to the backyard of the home where she had lived and her body was found decomposing in a barrel. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Jennifer Barrett, originally from Ontario, died in August after she was assaulted for several days, police said. The 42-year-old's body was placed in a 170-litre drum along with chemicals to speed up decomposition, police said.

DNA tests were required to identify her remains.

Perez Adaryll Cleveland, 43, was charged with first-degree murder in Barrett's death. Jessica Elizabeth Reid, 34, of Winnipeg, and Holley Alyssa Sullivan, 28, of Calgary are charged with accessory after the fact to murder.

"They were directly involved in elements … either at the time or directly after the homicide," police spokesperson Const. Rob Carver said about Reid and Sullivan.

Home

The Waverley Heights home where Barrett and the three accused lived was vacated sometime in November, police say. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Barrett and the three accused lived together in the Waverley Heights home, police said.

Carver said the incident is "hugely traumatic" for the community and to protect the neighbours, he is not providing a street address.

Police believe the assault on Barrett lasted several days and it's unclear whether she was confined during that time.

The barrel containing her body was left in the home's backyard. A tip to police led investigators to the remains on Dec. 1, Carver said.

CBC has learned the four moved in together last summer. Neighbours said not long after, they noticed police making stops at their door. Then in November, shortly after officers were notified about an alleged fraud involving pugs, everyone moved out.

It's unclear at this point what the relationship was between the three accused and the victim aside from the fact they shared a home.

Carver said "drug elements" are part of the investigation into Barrett's killing and investigators do not believe there is a connection to gangs.

Cleveland was arrested while in custody at Headlingley Correctional Institution, where he was being held on other charges.

Cleveland, a Canadian citizen who was born in the U.S., was held in custody after he was arrested on Dec. 13 and charged with 55 offences, including assault with a weapon, parole violations, possession of a weapon and uttering threats. A warrant for his arrest on those charges, related to crimes committed from Aug. 14 to Sept. 27, was issued on Sept. 29.

Police give details on discovery of body found in barrel1:47

with files from CBC's Caroline Barghout