WARNING: This story contains details involving the deaths of children.
Five people — three of them children — were found dead Sunday morning in three incidents RCMP say are linked in southern Manitoba.
A 29-year-old man has been taken into custody. No charges have been laid yet, Insp. Tim Arseneault of RCMP major crime services said at a news conference at Winnipeg RCMP headquarters Sunday afternoon.
"As a parent, I simply can't imagine the enormity of your loss," Arseneault said. "The community of Carman and surrounding areas will also be grieving as they have lost some of their youngest residents in such a tragic way."
RCMP say the deaths happened at three different locations — Highway 3 between Carman and Winkler, Highway 248 north of provincial road 424 and a home in Carman, Man., which is about 75 km southwest of Winnipeg.
Police said Carman RCMP found the body of a woman after responding to a report of a hit-and-run on Highway 3 at 7:30 a.m. The woman's body was found in a ditch just off the highway.
At 10 a.m., Headingley RCMP responded to a vehicle on fire on Highway 248. Three children were pulled out of the burning vehicle by a witness before RCMP arrived. All three were declared dead at the scene.
Officers arrested the man at that location. Arseneault said there were no issues during the arrest.
The investigation then led officers to a residence in Carman where the body of another woman was located.
RCMP major crimes services, forensic identification services, collision reconstructionist unit and officers from Stonewall, Headingley and Carman detachments are investigating the deaths, Arseneault said.
Highway 248, from the junction with Road 65N to Main Street in St. Eustache, was closed in both directions as of 11 a.m. because officers were working on the road, according to Manitoba 511.
St. Eustache resident Trent Lepine said he was driving his daughter to skating lessons around 9:20 a.m. when he saw what looked like a broken down vehicle on the road. About an hour later, he was heading back home and said he saw a roadblock, and police cars and an ambulance passing by.
Lepine said the vehicle wasn't on fire when he first passed by it, and that he didn't pay much attention to it.
"I didn't stop because, yeah, I had my daughter with me. But also like I said, we always see broken down vehicles," Lepine said. "People always pull off to the side."
He said that as a parent he found the news "pretty sad."
"It's shocking, especially in a small town like this," he said.
5 from Carman area: RCMP
Police didn't provide the name of the suspect nor any further details, but Arseneault said RCMP believe he and the victims are known to each other.
Arseneault said police believe the people found dead are all from the Carman area.
"It's absolutely horrific. I cannot believe it," Carman Mayor Brent Owen said.
"It's kind of mind-numbing to realize that something like this could happen in this community."
Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew sent condolences via social media.
"Sending comfort and strength to the families and community of Carman during this challenging time of loss," Kinew said on X, the platform formally known as Twitter. "Our deepest sympathies go out to all those affected by this tragedy."
Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham also sent his condolences.
"Having grown up in Carman, and with many connections still in the area, I'm shocked and saddened by today's news." he said on X. "My sincere condolences to the community and the families impacted by this tragedy."
Arseneault said the man in custody is the only suspect, and that there is no risk to public safety.
WATCH / Emergency crews attend to a crime scene on Highway 248 in rural Manitoba:
Support is available for anyone affected by these reports. You can talk to a mental health professional via Wellness Together Canada by calling 1-866-585-0445 or text WELLNESS to 686868 for youth or 741741 for adults. It is free and confidential.