Family of Manitoba murder victim believes Fentanyl was motive in homicide

The family of a Manitoba murder victim is confident a deadly drug responsible for killing and hospitalizing hundreds across Canada was the motive behind their father’s death.

Rene Di Stefano, 64, was found dead in the burned remains of his mobile home in August 2015

Rene Di Stefano, 64, was found dead following a fire at his mobile home in Swan River in August 2015. His death was later ruled a homicide. (Submitted )

The daughters of a Manitoba murder victim are confident Fentanyl, a powerful opioid, was the motive behind their father's death.

Rene Di Stefano, known to many as Rambler, was killed in a fire in Swan River in August 2015. His body was discovered inside the burned-out remains of his mobile home. The fire was ruled suspicious by investigators and Di Stefano's death a homicide.

Di Stefano's daughters, Darlyn Hunt and Jenni Sandilands, said they are concerned his killer or killers haven't been caught.

"It's a bit unnerving," Hunt said in an interview with CBC News. "It makes me worry a bit for the community just knowing that there's those people still out there that could possibly do something like that again."

They believe whoever killed their father was after his Fentanyl, a drug more potent than heroin which is abused by recreational users. Di Stefano had a prescription for the drug to ease the pain caused by cancer. He kept the drug in his home.

"I with my whole heart believe that is exactly what this whole thing was over," said Hunt. "Somebody wanted that and somebody took it."

"Not only are people dying from using it but to me people are dying from having it," said Hunt 

Not only are people dying from using it but to me people are dying from having it.- Darlyn Hunt 

Hunt said major crimes investigators have been back in the community several times since the fire and she's confident that they will eventually make an arrest in the case.

"There has been lots of speculation," she added when asked about rumours about who may be responsible. "I do think that somebody knows what happened."

Hunt and Sandilands have been pleading with anyone who knows anything about their father's death or the fire to divulge what they know to investigators.

RCMP say the investigation remains active and no arrests have yet been made. A media spokesperson wouldn't comment when asked if Fentanyl was possibly a motive in the homicide.

"We don't want anyone else to ever ever experience what we went through or our dad… no one should die like that," said Hunt. 

First holiday season

Meanwhile, the family is now preparing for the first Christmas since Di Stefano's death.

"It hurts knowing that he won't be there for the kids," Sandilands said, choking up. "Just knowing that someone took him from us from us over an extremely stupid reason I think. Obviously not to them but they took somebody that we loved and they didn't care."

It hurts knowing that he won't be there for the kids- Jenni Sandilands 

"I feel like I am fine with those people living their drug addicted lives every day, suffering," said Hunt of those she believes responsible for the murder.

She said the death has also had an impact on the young kids in the family.

"It's changed their perspective on death," Hunt said. "This affected our family in ways that we never imagined it would and with the fire it made it so much worse."

"Closure would be nice," she added. "When it's not solved it's feels like it's forever there. We can't completely lay him to rest in our hearts."

However Hunt said the family is at peace knowing that their father is now at home with their mother, who passed away when she and her siblings were young.