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Daughter of Winnipeg couple killed in Jamaica faces hurdles bringing them home

Last Updated Jan 23, 2018 at 2:40 pm EST

WINNIPEG – The daughter of a Winnipeg couple killed in Jamaica says she is facing several challenges as she works to bring their bodies back to Canada.

Debbie Olfert says she is waiting on a signature from the coroner’s office in Jamaica to release her parents’ bodies.

After that, she says, it will cost about $13,000 — plus airfare — to transport them to Winnipeg.

Melbourne Flake, who was 81, and his wife Etta, who was 70, were found dead in their Saint Thomas vacation home on Jan. 9.

Jamaican police have confirmed they are investigating the deaths as homicides.

Olfert told CTV Winnipeg in a telephone call from the Caribbean island that Interpol and the RCMP have offered to help, but the Jamaican Constabulary Force has turned down the offer.

“Because I have been informed that there are some strong leads that the police are following, I am extremely encouraged. However, I do understand the police department is extremely stretched,” Olfert said Tuesday.

She said a family of three, including a five-year-old girl, was also killed around the same time as her parents.

“I am grateful they have these leads on my parents’ behalf … but when we asked for help in the initial stages, I’m not sure why they said no, being so overwhelmed with these crimes.”

The Canadian government is warning travellers seeking sun in Jamaica to “exercise a high degree of caution.”

Last week, Jamaican authorities imposed a military lockdown in the area of St. James Parish following 335 murders in 2017 — twice the tally of any other parish.

Olfert previously said that her mother was suffocated and her father was beaten in an apparent botched robbery at their home. Family members believe the couple is likely to have been killed by someone they know, because the home was secure.

The Flakes had lived in Winnipeg for 53 years after immigrating to Canada with their two daughters, including Olfert. They had two more daughters and a son.

Melbourne Flake retired as a carpenter with the Department of National Defence and his wife retired after years as a nurse.

The couple had been spending their winters in either Florida or Jamaica, Olfert said, and started spending more time in Jamaica after her father built a home there a few years ago.

(CTV Winnipeg, The Canadian Press)