Police gather disturbing letters found near where house exploded

Police are trying to find out who wrote letters found by neighbours near the scene of a fatal house explosion in Mississauga, Ont. Neighbours say the letters are disturbing.

House looked vacant for last 2 months and had tinfoil on windows, a resident says

Two homes on either side of the 'blast house' will have to be torn down, says Mississauga Fire Chief Tim Beckett. (CBC)

Police are trying to find out who wrote letters found by neighbours near the scene of a fatal house explosion in Mississauga, Ont., this week. Neighbours say the letters are disturbing.

The explosion on Hickory Drive killed a woman, injured several people and damaged 25 homes in a residential area about 30 kilometres west of Toronto. Fire officials are not speculating on what may have caused the explosion, but Ontario's fire marshal is investigating.

Some residents told CBC News they found notes among piles of household items, building materials and other debris. The notes were handed over to police. It's not known whether the notes came from the house that exploded.
Keri Graham allowed a reporter into her home on Dixie Road to show the damage caused by the explosion. A mirror on the wall fell and shattered. (CBC)

Sgt. Josh Colley, public information supervisor for Peel Regional Police, said Wednesday that police are treating the notes as evidence.

"There's nothing to connect it to the actual house," he said. "As you are aware, there are a lot of damaged homes. So we're working on connecting it to wherever it belongs. We're not specifying what's on the paper, what the documents are. We're just asking if you do find something, turn them over."

He said there is no indication that the incident is criminal and homicide investigators have not been called in.

A window was shattered in Graham's bedroom by the force of the explosion. (CBC)

Residents who read the notes told CBC News the wording is apologetic in tone. They say the writer describes being in pain, asks God for help and, according to at least two different residents, requests forgiveness for the writer's future actions.

"They were apologizing for what they were about to do and [said] 'dear Jesus please forgive me,'" said Rhonda, who found a shopping bag full of letters in her yard and admits they may have "no bearing" on the investigation. She would only give her first name.

One of the letters a neighbour showed to CBC News was addressed to God and mentioned health problems suffered by both the writer and the writer's husband. It also made reference to the writer's faith in God.

"Why are we still here God?" the letter asks.
Anna Wolanin says she once spoke to the woman who lived in the house that exploded and nothing seemed amiss. Recently the home looked vacant and the grass was overgrown. (CBC)

A second letter shown to CBC News also mentions health challenges and includes an apology for the writer's inability to keep up with home maintenance and cleaning.

"I trust God to look after me and my husband to take us home," the writer says.

Anna Wolanin, a Mississauga resident who has not been allowed to return home, said she once spoke to the woman who died in the explosion and nothing seemed amiss.

Within the last couple of months, she said, the house looked vacant, with grass overgrown and tinfoil on the windows.

Wolanin and her mother, Bozena Wolanin, still don't know when they will be able to get back into their home, which has been deemed structurally unsafe.

"I still feel a little unsure and uneasy as I have nothing with me. It's just whatever I took to work with me in the morning. I got the news at work that this happened at my house. I've had to go to the store and buy stuff, which has been an inconvenience," Wolanin said.

"I am happy that my family is safe, but at the same time, I would like to have some answers."
Firefighters and emergency personnel work at the scene of the home explosion on Tuesday. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

Some residents allowed back home

Several homeowners found handwritten letters, bills and even a man's will mixed among debris from the blast. 

"This is part of the person's life and I think it needs to be turned in to police," said Rhonda. "It may help the relatives of the deceased and it may help them in their investigation."

Peel Regional Police Chief Jennifer Evans said the force is investigating where the papers came from and their significance. 

"Citizens reported seeing pieces of paper, with possible information that may lead us to the cause … we're still in the initial stages on that, but we are pursuing that."

Fire Chief Tim Beckett said Wednesday evening that some more residents will be allowed access to their homes because the perimeter area closed off after the explosion has been reduced.

Beckett said homes on either side of the "blast house" will have to be demolished because of severe damage. He said there may be others that have to be demolished.

He said the fire marshal's office is continuing to investigate, but no cause has been pinpointed yet.

"This is a long, arduous process," he said. "They are anticipating they will be here into the weekend. They are not any closer right now to determining the cause."

Peel Regional Police said in a statement that residents can call 905-453-3311 ext. 1241 to find out if they can return to their homes.

"We would like to thank the affected members of our community for their patience in this matter and we ask for further patience from community members who will not be able to access their homes this evening," police said.