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UPDATE: Coroner says foul play ruled out in deaths of Venables Valley family

Melissa Penner (centre) with her two children Kaylex and Ay.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/GoFundMe
March 27, 2017 - 2:35 PM

VENABLES VALLEY - The B.C. Coroners Service says foul play has been ruled out in connection to the deaths of a family of four near Ashcroft.

In a news release, the Coroners Service says it has worked with the RCMP and B.C. Safety authority to rule out foul play, and the focus of the investigation is now on a suspected occurrence of carbon monoxide in the house.

Toxicological examinations are underway and results are expected later this week. According to the release, the extended family of the deceased people have been notified.

Although the Coroners Service and RCMP have yet to confirm identities, Graham Goddard says he is the uncle of 10-year-old Kaylex, who died along with his half-brother 7-year-old Ay, mother Melissa Penner and step father Harvey Volaine in the suspected carbon monoxide leak at their home south of Ashcroft. The family dog was also found dead.

Goddard says his brother Colin is the father of Kaylex but has not been a part of the boy's life. Goddard says he hasn’t had contact with Penner since she moved to the Saranagati community in Venables Valley, south of Ashcroft.

Goddard says close family friends of the Volaine family have told him the family died from carbon monoxide poisoning last Wednesday, March 22 and were not found by RCMP until Friday, March 24. Southeast District RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Dan Moskaluk said in a news release over the weekend that RCMP had responded to the Venables Valley home for a well-being check.

Police were seen in the driveway of a house in Venables Valley near Ashcroft on Sunday, March 26, 2017. Four people were found dead in a home in a remote community in the Interior.
Police were seen in the driveway of a house in Venables Valley near Ashcroft on Sunday, March 26, 2017. Four people were found dead in a home in a remote community in the Interior.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Two separate GoFundMe pages, both with the goal of gaining donations for the Volaine family, began circulating in the days since the deaths. Both have identified the deceased family members.

A small community named Saranagati Village is located in the Venables Valley area. According to the village’s website, the 1,600-acre community has about 25 families living there.

Along with a temple, the village has Govardhana Academy, a spiritual school where 10 students ranging from grades two to 12 study.

The website says Saranagati residents practice Bhakti yoga.

“The residents of Saranagati relate to God through loving devotional service,” the website says. “They utilize their abilities, intelligence, talents in service to the Supreme Lord, and in this way they are able to serve each other and the needs of a spiritual community.”

The website continues to say the residents have a goal of understanding their relationship with the “Supreme Personality of Godhead” also known as Krishna. Residents are also referred to as servants of Krishna.

A GoFundMe page for funeral costs for Melissa Penner can be found here.

Another fundrasing page for the Volaine family's bereavement fund can be found here.

Members of the Saranagati village community near Ashcroft.
Members of the Saranagati village community near Ashcroft.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/

– This story was updated at 2:32 p.m. Monday, March 27, 2017, to include new information from the B.C. Coroners Service.

– This story was updated at 2:26 p.m. Wednesday, March 29, 2017, to correct a GoFundMe link. The story originally indicated the funeral costs were for the Volaine family. but it is actually for Melissa Penner.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ashley Legassic or call 250-319-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2017
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