Family of Edmonton toddler found dead outside church mourns 'a special baby'

An Edmonton family has been going through "a lot of heartache" since learning that a body found Friday outside a church was 17-month-old Anthony Joseph Raine. "I never thought I'd have to bury my own son," says the toddler's mother, Dalyce Raine, 19.

2 arrested after body of 17-month-old Anthony Joseph Raine was found Friday

Mom: 'I never thought I'd have to bury my own son'

6 years ago
Duration 0:30
Family of toddler found dead speaks out

His name was Anthony Joseph Gordon Raine. He loved superheroes. His aunts and uncles called him Mowgli. He was just 17 months old.

"I never thought I'd have to bury my own son," Anthony's mother, Dalyce Raine, 19, told CBC News on Sunday night, a day after the family learned the identity of the toddler found dead outside an Edmonton church.

Police said Anthony's body was outside Good Shepherd Anglican Church near 155th Avenue and Castledowns Road for three days before it was discovered Friday afternoon. 

A man, 26, and woman, 25, have been arrested and charges are pending. Sources told CBC News that they were in transit to the justice of the peace at 7 p.m. Sunday.

The body of 17-month-old Anthony Joseph Raine was found in Edmonton on Friday. Two people have been arrested. (Facebook)

Never thought it was her son

Anthony's family couldn't have imagined that their son, or nephew, was the young child found dead, news that was all over social media.

"It's weird, because we seen these posts on Facebook about him, but we never thought it'd be the way it is now," Anthony's aunt, Ashley Raine, said Sunday night.

Edmonton police issued this photo of two "people of interest," a man and a woman, who were seen walking into a grocery store in the immediate area. (Edmonton Police Service/Supplied)

Anthony was staying with his father while his mother went to nursing school.

Police came to Dalyce Raine's door late Saturday night to tell her her son was the toddler who was found dead.

"For them to come say that they found him and that it was him in Edmonton, that brought a lot of heartache down on my sister," Ashley Raine said.

Dalyce Raine and her older sisters, Ashley and Brandi Raine, were at the Louis Bull Recreation Centre Sunday in Maskwacis, where members of the community went to support Dalyce Raine.

'I just don't understand why anyone would want to do this'

Anthony's family said the room lit up whenever the toddler was around.

"He was a happy baby," Ashley said. "He was a special baby. I just don't understand why anyone would want to do this."

Anthony was found wearing a Batman onesie that his mother remembers buying him.

"He was happy, he was showing everybody," said Dalyce Raine, who was wearing a Batman T-shirt Sunday night.

She said Anthony loved superheroes, including Superman. When his mother and Ashley Raine took him shopping a couple months ago, he picked out a sign for his room that read, "A superhero sleeps here." The family said it will be placed on his grave. 

Dalyce Raine said her son was like a superhero. "When I was with him, he just made me feel like I was safe."

The sign, 'Superhero sleeps here,' was picked out by Anthony, and his family said it will be placed at his grave. (Zoe Todd/CBC)

'He was our angel'

The family started a GoFundMe page to raise money for a memorial service, and it had raised more than $4,000 as of late Sunday, but the money has been frozen because someone reported the campaign as a scam. The family says the money will go toward a proper funeral service for Anthony.

This is Dalyce Raines's favourite photo with her son, Anthony. (Dalyce Raine/Facebook)

"We're being called scams and it hurts so much," said Brandi Raine.

"We just need people to know that this is real. This is a true event and it's happening to us when it shouldn't be," Ashley Raine said. "This is not a scam."

Ashley Raine said people from across Alberta plan to be at Anthony's funeral, although the date has not yet been set. An autopsy is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. MT today.

"He was our angel," Ashley Raine said. "He never deserved what happened to him, but he does deserve this memorial service."

Everyone is welcome at Anthony's memorial, whenever it is set, the family said. (Facebook)

With files from Zoe Todd and Scott Stevenson