Police have determined that a fatal house explosion in Mississauga in late June was intentional and that it was a double suicide, officials said Friday.
The homeowners, Robert Nadler and Dianne Page, were both killed after the residence located at 4201 Hickory Drive was levelled by the blast at around 4:20 p.m. on June 28.
Peel Regional Police Chief Jennifer Evans said during a press conference Friday afternoon that a post-mortem examination determined the cause of death to be blunt-force trauma consistent with being close to the epicentre of the explosion. Investigators said tests determined Nadler and Page were both alive prior to the blast.
Evans said investigators looked at four scenarios for the cause of the blast: accidental, double murder, murder suicide and double suicide.
Police said notes found scattered in the neighbourhood were consistent with someone who was depressed, but they weren’t able to confirm if the notes were directly related. Investigators added the notes are believed to have been written by Page.
Investigators also said witnesses told police they smelled gas for an hour-and-a-half before the explosion, which police said would have given Nadler and Page enough time to exit the house.
Kevin Pahor, a fire investigator with Ontario’s Office of the Fire Marshal, said it was determined the explosion originated in the basement of the house. He said natural gas pipes were intentionally disconnected from the hot water tank and the blast occurred after a build-up of free-flowing gas.
Pahor said the ignition source couldn’t be determined, adding natural gas has a low-ignition requirement and the source of the ignition could have been small.
Crews have since been working to repair nearby homes damaged by the blast.
Mayor Bonnie Crombie said 33 families are still displaced from their homes, including residents like Barbara Castleberry and her 11-year-old son who were forced from their townhouse just behind the explosion site.
She said she expects her home to be safe to re-inhabit by mid-to-late-2017.
Crombie said a public meeting will be held in the new year to answer any questions from those affected.
In September, it was reported that 4201 Hickory Dr. was put on the market through Save Max Realty with an asking price of $675,000. At the time, there was no information about the fatal explosion in the public listing. The realtor confirmed to Global News that the home was sold in October for $550,000.
By Nick Westoll, David Shum, and Gabby Rodrigues of Global News