When Derek Winnig didn’t contact his mother on Mother’s Day his family knew something was seriously wrong.
The 42-year-old father of two went missing in April in Edmonton, where he had moved to in 2002 after being laid off.
His cousin, Jill Lawrence, spoke to the Black Pressabout his death, his mother Lynn MacGregor too upset to be interviewed.
“He was communicating with his family in Kitimat right up until the time he disappeared,” said Lawrence.
Following a tip-off, Edmonton police found Winnig’s body buried under the floor of a garage in Edmonton, six months after he went missing.
“Up until he disappeared, there was no sign of any trouble,” said Lawrence, who had high praise for the missing persons officers who worked on Winnig’s disappearance.
She said the family was spared from having to identify his remains – the coroner had confirmed his identity through dental records.
She said none of his friends in Edmonton knew about the house where he had been found.
“We still don’t know when or how he died. If it hadn’t been for the tip-off, he would never have been found,” said Lawrence.
She said the last six months had been extremely difficult for the family, not knowing what had happened to him.
“The family is thankful for the tip-off – it’s a relief that he has finally been found,” said Lawrence.
Winnig, who was born in Ocean Falls, moved to Kitimat with his family when he was six years old, after the mill closed down in Ocean Falls.
Lawrence, who grew up with Winnig and babysat him a lot when he was young, said he was an extremely kind and thoughtful boy with a heart of gold.
“He was always the joker, but if anyone was down or upset, he was always there for them,” said Lawrence.
She said he was also very family orientated, having a 16-year-old son who lives in Terrace, and his nine-year-old son who lived with him in Edmonton.
Lawrence said Winnig, nicknamed D-Rock, was also very much into his music, especially Motley Crue.
A celebration of life memorial for Winnig was held on October 21 at the Rod and Gun Club in Kitimat.