Manitoba

RCMP arrest victim's daughter in 2007 Portage la Prairie homicide

The woman police arrested Wednesday morning in connection with the killing of Portage la Prairie grandmother Charlene Ward nearly 10 years ago is her daughter, a family member says.

Britney Lake, 30, accused in the death of her mother, Charlene Ward, says family

Charlene Ward, 46, was found stabbed to death on Nov. 1, 2007. RCMP recently arrested her daughter, Britney Lake, and have yet to lay charges. (RCMP)

The woman police arrested Wednesday morning in connection with the killing of a Portage la Prairie grandmother nearly 10 years ago is her daughter, family members say.

Charlene Ward, 46, was found dead in the home she shared with her daughter on the morning of Nov. 1, 2007.

Ward's father, Wilfred Lake, used to visit the Portage la Prairie RCMP detachment on her birthday every year to ask if there were any leads in the homicide investigation. He died in April 2016. (Submitted)
Her daughter Britney Lake, 30, from MacGregor, Man., is in custody in connection with the homicide, said Donna Wettlaufer, Ward's sister.

RCMP spokesperson Tara Seel said no charges have yet been laid.  

​"It kind of broke my heart to tell everybody," Wettlaufer said.

She learned about Lake's arrest from Ward's other daughter on Wednesday afternoon.

"All I want is justice for her [Ward's other] daughter and her grandkids."

Before she was killed, Ward had been living at Lake's house in Portage la Prairie. For the most part, the mother and daughter got along, Wettlaufer said.

"So that's why it's extra hard for us today, because it's like you don't want to ever believe a family member could do that to another family member," she said.

After nine years without any information, RCMP told her in November that Lake was a lead suspect, she said.

"She hasn't been charged yet so … it's really difficult right now. My mind's going in 100 directions." 

Last year, RCMP asked the public for tips about Ward's death. Information recently came in that led to the arrest, Seel said.

Loved her grandchildren

Ward died shortly after she'd been given a second chance at life, her sister said — after battling breast cancer, she was cleared of it in May 2007.

"She was living life to the fullest after that, only for someone to murder her," said Wettlaufer.

The last time she saw her sister was the day before she was found dead.

Ward had just finished an evening shift at Tim Hortons before heading out with friends on Oct. 31, Wettlaufer said.

They spent the night at Cat and Fiddle Nite Club in Portage la Prairie. After, a group of friends returned to Ward's home on Fifth Avenue N.E. to continue to socialize.

The party ended around 8 a.m. on Nov. 1. Ward's body was found in her home about 45 minutes later.

"Charlene was very spunky and outgoing; she always had a smile on her face," Wettflauer said. She said she and all of her siblings inherited their social personalities from their father.

"[She] loved her grandchildren to death. That was her life, was her grandchildren," she said.

When she died, Ward had five grandchildren, and three more have been born since her death.

Too late for father

Every year after the death, Wettlaufer and her father, Wilfred Lake, went to the RCMP station in Portage la Prairie on Ward's birthday, July 1, to ask if there were any leads in the investigation. Every year, they would return home with nothing, Wettlaufer said.

The arrest is a breakthrough they'd been longing for, but they had all but given up on the RCMP investigation, she said.

"I didn't believe they were even working on the case."

News of the arrest came too late for Ward's father.

"Dad passed away last year in April, and that's all he ever wanted. We were hoping that he could get closure before he passed away but that didn't happen," she said.

"I think he died with a broken heart, so I hope whoever did this pays."

RCMP and Wettlaufer ask anyone with information about Ward's death to call RCMP at 204-984-6447 or Manitoba Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477.