'I felt like I was going to vomit,' says woman who visited home where body was found in barrel

A Winnipeg woman says she's shocked to learn a home she visited may have had a body hidden in a barrel on the property.

People who tried to buy pug puppies were shocked to learn woman charged as accessory

The Waverley Heights home where Barrett and the three accused lived was vacated sometime in November, police say. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

A Winnipeg woman was shocked to learn that the Waverley Heights home she visited last fall to buy a puppy is the same place a body was found decomposing in a barrel in December. 

Vanessa Giesbrecht told CBC News she went to the house in November to pick up a pug she had arranged to buy through a Kijiji sale. 

Police believe Jennifer Barrett, 42, was killed in August and placed in a 170-litre drum — along with chemicals to speed up decomposition — and left in the backyard of that Waverley Heights home. 

On Friday, Holley Alyssa Sullivan, 28, was charged with accessory after the fact to murder. 

After the charge was laid, Giesbrecht recognized Sullivan as the woman who was selling the dog and said she felt disturbed to learn about Sullivan's arrest.

"I felt like I was going to vomit," Giesbrecht said. "I was probably at the house with the body there."

She said she showed up at the same time as several other people looking for puppies one November day, and was let in to the home by the landlord. 

"It looked like they had just [taken] off," she said, describing a mess of clothes strewn about and food left in the oven. She also said animals, including a black lab, were alone in the home. 

Along with Sullivan, Jessica Elizabeth Reid, 34, was charged with accessory after the fact and Perez Adaryll Cleveland, 43, was charged with first-degree murder in connection to the death.

CBC has learned Sullivan lived with the victim and the co-accused in the Waverley Heights home in the summer of 2016. The group moved out of the home in November.

'They were very friendly'

In December, Tara Garrett says, her mother also tried to purchase a pug puppy from Sullivan and another woman with no success despite putting down a deposit. 

Garrett said she kept in touch with other people who had attempted to purchase puppies from Sullivan. Many of them told her Sullivan and her partner were pleasant to be around.

"They said, 'You know what, they seem to be great people.' They were very friendly, they were talkative, they were definitely people people," Garrett said.

"One said that [Sullivan said] she was a nurse. Another one said that she was a web designer. Those stories turned out to be false, but …" she trailed off.

Other would-be pug purchasers who had visited the Waverley Heights home described it as unsanitary and in poor condition, with animals living in their own excrement, Garrett said.

Garrett said she recognized Sullivan's name when it was posted to Facebook after the arrest. 

"[I thought] that's Holley, this is the one that's in connection with that pug," Garrett said. "My mom was livid. Everyone is sickened."