The discovery of a charred human remains in a wooded area southwest of Duncan has sparked a sweeping investigation as police in the Vancouver Island community search for clues that might help identify the victim and track down the killer.
The badly burned body was discovered by a local resident who was out picking berries in the rural enclave of Glenora, about five kilometres southwest of Duncan, around 3 p.m. Monday.
RCMP Corporal Darren Lagan said 28 officers, including forensic identification experts, dog handlers, air service and an eight-man crew conducting a "grid search" were still on the scene late Tuesday.
However, Cpl. Lagan said the body was "damaged significantly by the fire, which made … any determination of age or gender impossible." The body could have been in the woods anywhere from "a couple of days or a couple of weeks," he said.
An autopsy scheduled for Wednesday morning is expected to shed more light on the mystery, Cpl. Lagan added.
"All indications are the body was burned at the scene, based on the burn to the body and the charring to the ground around it," he said.
Elliott Road resident Sibylle Blacklock-Schroeder said RCMP investigators interviewed her Monday night and asked if she had seen, smelled or heard anything unusual in the last few days.
"There was nothing that was any different than any other weekend," she said. "I was quite surprised and concerned that something like this would happen so close to our residence."
Vicki Noonan, Ms. Blacklock-Schroeder's neighbour, said most of the police vehicles have turned down a long gravel road that runs from Elliott Road toward the Cowichan Indian Reserve. "I haven't gone down there. I'm just trying to stay out of the way," she said.
Monday's discovery had an unsettling similarity to the murder of Victoria-area teen Kimberly Proctor, whose charred remains were found near the Galloping Goose trail in Victoria in March.
However, Cpl. Lagan said police have not made any links between the two cases. "There's nothing at this point to indicate the two are connected besides the circumstances in which they were discovered," he said.
The two youths aged 16 and 18 who face first-degree murder charges in Ms. Proctor's slaying have been in custody since June 19, he said.
Asked if the Duncan death could be linked to organized crime, Cpl. Lagan said police won't be able to tell if it was a random or a targeted attack until the investigation has progressed further. "Once the victim is identified, we will have a solid investigative foundation to work from," he said.
Special to The Globe and Mail