Deaths of 4 people in Timmins part of a 'tragic, violent' event, police say

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Investigators believe that the deaths of four people discovered inside a badly burned vehicle in a remote area near Timmins, Ont., were part of a "tragic, violent" event, but believe the incident is "isolated," police said Sunday. 

Timmins police found the remains on Friday afternoon after a caller reported that a vehicle stopped on a publicly accessible logging road about six kilometres southwest of the city was on fire. 

"We haven't ruled out foul play completely," said Marc Depatie, communications co-ordinator for the Timmins Police Service, adding that no further details about the victims will be available until forensic investigators complete their work.

According to Depatie, the bodies were discovered inside a 2004 Chrysler Intrepid sedan. Both the remains and the vehicle are currently en route to the Centre of Forensic Sciences in Toronto for examination. 

"But the indications are that this is, in fact, some sort of tragic, violent event that did occur but in an isolated sense — where the alleged suspect is linked to the victims directly," he continued. Depatie did not offer any other details about the suspect or their relationship to victims. 

At an afternoon news conference, Depatie said that although positive identifications have not been confirmed for each victim, a family in Timmins has been notified that some of their loved ones are likely among the dead. Depatie said the warning was provided "so they are braced for the worst outcome."

There is no remaining threat to the public, he told CBC News by telephone on Sunday morning. 

Investigators are appealing for any information about the Chrysler Intrepid in an effort to piece together when the sedan may have been driven down the logging road. According to Depatie, the car is registered to someone from Timmins.

"This particular vehicle is the key element of the investigation at this point. We're hopeful to determine a timeframe that will better allow investigators to determine how the vehicle ended up where it did," Depatie said. 

It's likely that whoever drove it to the forested area would have done so when the road was still covered in a layer of hard snow. Given the spring thaw underway, it would have been nearly impossible to navigate a four-door sedan on that road in the last several days, Depatie said. 

Police are scheduled to provide another update on the investigation on Monday. Depatie said the grisly discovery is a "benchmark event" for Timmins police and that all available resources have been deployed to help in the probe.