Jamaican police arrest suspect in killing of Winnipeg seniors

Police in St. Thomas, Jamaica, have arrested a male suspect in connection with the killing of two Winnipeg seniors in their vacation home last month.

Melbourne Flake, 81, and Etta Flake, 70, were found dead on Jan. 9 in their Jamaica vacation home

Winnipeggers Melbourne and Etta Flake were found dead in their vacation home in St. Thomas, Jamaica, in January of 2018. (Submitted by Debbie Olfert)

Police in St. Thomas, Jamaica, have arrested a male suspect in connection with the death of two Winnipeg seniors in their vacation home last month.

The bodies of Melbourne Flake, 81, and Etta Flake, 70, were discovered the Retreat, St. Thomas, home on the morning of Jan. 9. The couple's hands and feet were bound and their bodies showed signs of assault, police said.

On Wednesday, police arrested the suspect in Seaforth district, St. Thomas, according to a news release from the Jamaica Constabulary Force. His identity is being withheld pending further investigations.

"To know that they caught somebody who could potentially be the one responsible is so — I don't even know what to say. It's such a relief," said Debbie Olfert, daughter of the Flakes.

"But it's a suspect. They're not saying they have charged anybody. So you kind of have to hold off on the celebration in a way."

The Flakes, who retired several years ago, had five children and 14 grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Olfert said.

The couple immigrated to Canada 53 years ago from Jamaica in search of work: Melbourne was a carpenter and Etta worked as a nurse, she added.

Since their deaths, Olfert said she and her siblings have simply been "doing the motions": working through obstacles to get their bodies back to Canada and preparing for the funeral, which will take place on Saturday.

"We're so busy trying to get things ready for the celebration of life, the funeral. There's so much to plan, there's so many fine details to do," Olfert said.

Her parents' bodies arrived in Canada on Thursday.

"They're both here, and we can get on with planning the rest of the funeral, celebration of life, and … and then perhaps we can exhale and start our own individual recoveries," she said. "And it's going to take a while, it's going to take a long while for some of us, longer than others.

"I lost both my parents in one fell swoop — wasn't an accident, it wasn't natural death."

After the Flakes' death, the Canadian government issued a warning advising travellers going to Montego Bay to avoid leaving secure resort areas because of high crime rates in Jamaica.

With files from Austin Grabish, Teghan Beaudette, Laura Glowacki and Aidan Geary