Police tape still surrounds a bungalow in Wainwright Sunday, where two days earlier the body of a 31-year-old mother was discovered under suspicious circumstances.
RCMP were called to the blue and white home at 1206 8 Avenue in Wainwright, Alta. at around 10 a.m. Friday to perform what’s called a welfare check, which police say is usually done when they receive a call expressing concern about a person’s well-being.
When Mounties entered the home they found the body of Nichole Clifford, 31. She was alone in the house. A police vehicle remained in front of the home on Sunday.
Neighbours, who did not want to be identified, told Global News Clifford was “a nice lady” who was outgoing and involved in the community. Neighbours said she worked in social services and was the mother of two young children.
Clifford went by her maiden name McKeith on Facebook, and neighbours said she was recently divorced.
Kiesha Ball lives two houses down from Clifford and saw her Thursday night.
“I was taking my dogs for a walk, she ended up being outside with her dogs and she seemed kinda agitated,” Ball explained.
She did not know Clifford personally but said she would often see her out and about in the neighbourhood. Hearing of Clifford’s death was a shock for Ball.
“When it’s two houses down from you and you [saw her] the night before, you are kind of [shocked].”
A friend who had known Clifford for a few years said she was always upbeat and happy and her enthusiasm was contagious. Randi McCabe said she was “in disbelief about her death and hope answers are found about what happened.”‘
RCMP are keeping mum about the incident, citing the “sensitive nature of the investigation” but said there is no risk to the public. The RCMP Major Crimes unit out of Edmonton has taken over the suspicious death case.
Ball said a police officer from Edmonton came to her door on Friday night. “He basically said, ‘If you can read between the lines, something bad has happened.’ Didn’t tell us what it was, but we kinda had a feeling because I had cops around my house all day,” she said.
Police want to talk to anyone who may have been out walking or driving in that area between Thursday evening (Feb. 23) and Friday morning (Feb. 24).
RCMP are looking to speak to residents who may have noticed any unusual activity in the area of 12 Street and 8 Avenue. Investigators are specifically interested in anyone with exterior video surveillance in their home or vehicle.
RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Shawn French said police do not have any persons of interest and no arrests have been made.
A friend of Clifford has set up a GoFundMe page to help cover funeral costs. “A family lost their loved one in a shocking and tragic way. Nichole left behind two beautiful young children, adoring parents, a brother, extended family and best friends,” the page said.
The page said anything raised over the $10,000 goal would go to Clifford’s children.
A family spokesperson declined to comment for this story.
Her cause of death is not known. An autopsy will be conducted Tuesday.
Anyone with information is asked to call Wainwright RCMP at 780-842-4461 or call your local police. If you want to remain anonymous, you can contact Crime Stoppersby phone at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS). With files from Julia Wong