A woman living in Winnipeg suffered for months with severe burns to her body before she ultimately died and now the Major Crimes Unit is investigating it as a homicide.
*Warning: This story may contain some details that may be disturbing to some.
Melissa Cook, a 41-year-old passed away in hospital on August 20, 2022, after suffering severe burns to her body.
Cook was an Indigenous woman from the Sapotaweyak Cree Nation (near the Swan River area) and had been living in Winnipeg since April. She was 5’3” in height with a medium build, brown eyes, and brown hair.
The Winnipeg Police Service became involved in the investigation into Melissa’s injuries on August 25 after being notified by Chief Medical Examiner’s Office that her death had been ruled a homicide.
Based on the investigation to date, detectives believe the following:
- Cook was unhoused while in Winnipeg and may have resided in encampments. She had also spent time at Siloam Mission and in the South Point Douglas area.
- She likely sustained her burns between late June and early July.
- In early July, she notified a shelter about her injuries and was transported to a hospital, where she remained until her passing.
The Major Crimes Unit has been working on learning more about Cook and her activities over the summer but is asking the public for help.
Investigators hope to speak with anyone who knew Cook, knew about her injuries or anyone who may have been victimized similarly.
Those with information that may assist investigators are asked to call the Major Crimes Unit at 204-986-6219 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477).