Family plans birthday vigil for Manitoba teen with autism killed in foster care

Lydia Whitford's sister Jessica is inviting the public to light a candle for her on her birthday as her family continues to search for answers.

'I want people to know what happened to her,' Lydia Whitford's sister says

Jessica Whitford holds a picture of her sister, Lydia. She is searching for answers after Manitoba RCMP said her sister's death was a homicide. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Lydia Whitford would have turned 19 today.

The teen with autism and epilepsy died last summer in foster care. Six months later, RCMP said her death was homicide.

Lydia's sister Jessica is inviting the public to light a candle for her on her birthday as the family continues to search for answers.

A vigil will be held at 7 p.m. Friday at Ndinawe Youth Resource Centre on Selkirk Avenue. 

"It's not going to be right without her," said Jessica Whitford, 19. "I want people to know what happened to her and I don't want it to happen to other people."

Homicide still a mystery

Lydia was found dead on July 14, 2016, at a home in Springfield, Man., which is where her foster home was located. Her death was not called suspicious at the time but in December 2016, police said it was homicide.

Lydia's biological family said they have not had access to the autopsy results and still have no answers from police as to why her death was ruled a homicide.

Lydia Whitford, 18, died on July 14, 2016. (Family/Submitted to CBC)

In an email to CBC News, a spokesperson for the RCMP said the investigation continues and no charges have been laid.

"At this point there is nothing that we can share. We need to maintain the integrity of the investigation," the spokesperson said.

Sandy Bay Child and Family Services, which was responsible for Lydia's care, is also conducting an internal review of her case. Child and Family Services had been involved in her care since 2002.

A lack of information from police about the teen's death is making the review difficult, the agency's director said. 

"Without the information you sit and wonder, 'What did we miss? Is there something that we missed that [contributed] to that?'" Richard De La Ronde said in December.

He confirmed they still have no information.

The Manitoba Office of the Children's Advocate has been asked to conduct a review that will start when the RCMP investigation is complete.

Jessica said she misses her sister dearly, especially on her birthday.

"I always considered her my little twin for a month," said Jessica, who turns 20 next month.