Man charged with second-degree murder in fire death - The family of a woman killed in an east-end house fire that police say was deliberately set plans to return her to their home in Manitoulin Island to be with her grandfather.
"I just feel they should be together because her grandfather loved her," said Darlene Neganiwina about funeral plans for her daughter, Renee.
Hours after police charged a Hamilton man with second-degree murder, Darlene, her husband and their children were trying to come to grips with losing Renee, 26.
Firefighters found her in an upstairs bedroom of the 561 Kenilworth Ave. N. home Wednesday evening. She was taken from the one-and-a-half storey house to hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
The blaze, which broke out at about 6:20 p.m., was not an accident, police said.
"All I can tell you is that it was intentionally set," Det. Sgt. Paul Hamilton of the homicide unit said Thursday.
Joseph Snelgrove, of Hamilton, has been charged with second-degree murder and remanded into custody.
The 38-year-old surrendered to Toronto police at about 4 a.m. Thursday. He was returned to Hamilton, where police interviewed him.
Snelgrove had been in a relationship with Renee for about a year and lived with her in the Kenilworth house, which is between Beach Road and Burlington Street East near the National Steel Car plant.
The Ontario Fire Marshal is investigating to determine the cause of the fire, including whether accelerants were used, Hamilton said.
By Thursday afternoon, police hadn't yet received an official report from the coroner's office on what caused the woman's death.
"There's still toxicology to be done," Hamilton said.
Gathered at their west Mountain home, the Neganiwina family was also waiting for more information from police.
Renee's parents and five siblings remember her as a fantastic cook who also had a knack for hairstyling.
As the eldest daughter, she also had a special way with children, her mom said.
"She was such a people person," said Darlene, noting Renee was trying to find employment through a temp agency, but had worked at a factory and a hair salon.
The family met Snelgrove once, when he and Renee got together with them at Christmas.
"And we weren't impressed," said Darlene, who noted her daughter had an on-and-off relationship with Snelgrove.
Forensic investigators and the fire marshal were probing the scene of the fire Thursday.
Yellow police tape cordoned off the property, including a decrepit lot strewn with discarded shopping carts, pallets and other scraps of wood.
The landlord of the rental property called news of Renee's death "very sad."
"It was terrible because she's a very young girl," said Sathananthan David, who lives in Richmond Hill. He owns two other homes on the block.
A neighbour who lives in one of them, next door to 561, said Neganiwina was a kind person who sometimes brought him food.
"She'd stop over and ask me if I wanted to come over for a coffee; she'd ask me how I was doing. Things like that," said Colin Lemoyre.
Lemoyre, 25, said he sometimes heard his neighbours quarrelling.
"I know that her and her boyfriend fought."
Lemoyre said he had no interaction with Snelgrove. "I saw him around a couple of times."
The last time Renee's family saw her was in February for the funeral of her grandfather in Manitoulin Island.
Although Renee was born in Hamilton, the family is from the northern Ontario community.
Her brother Daniel said his phone had been ringing all day with calls of condolence from friends. "It's phenomenal. It's amazing … It's nice that people care."
But the circumstances are terrible, the 32-year-old added. "You've got to be strong."
His sister's death is the city's second homicide of 2015.
Police want to speak to anyone who has information about her and Snelgrove, as well as about the incident.
Those with information are asked to call Det. Catherine Lockley at 905-546-3825 or provide anonymous tips to Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477 or visiting crimestoppershamilton.com.
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