Homicide investigators have issued a plea for international public assistance after learning a woman found murdered in North Vancouver last month may have had connections from outside the country.
At a news conference held Wednesday in Surrey, investigators displayed a sketch of the woman, along with photos of clothing similar to those she wore at the time of her death.
The brown Adidas slip-on shoes and black VS Miss-brand skinny jeans she wore appear to only be sold in Europe, although possibly also online, said Sergeant Jennifer Pound of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team.
“When we’re asking for the public’s assistance, we really aren’t just keeping this local,” she said. “Not strictly to North [Vancouver], not strictly to B.C., and, really, we’re not even keeping it within Canada. We’re hoping this information reaches a broader group and goes international.”
The victim was between five-foot-two and five-foot-six, Sgt. Pound said, and in her mid-20s to early 40s, with shoulder-lengthy, wavy, blue-black hair. Also on display at the news conference were photos of the victim’s teeth, which showed a number of caps on the front, top teeth that may help friends and family members identify her.
Dr. Bill Inkster, a coroner who was at the news conference, said this type of restoration is typically used to cover something on the front surface of the teeth, such as stains or enamel defects.
“It’s a more reasonably cost-effective way to do it than a crown, or some gold work,” he said. “This would be noticeable by her friends and acquaintances, but it’s not particularly unique.”
As well, investigators learned the victim had broken two vertebrae at least six months – though possibly years – before her death, possibly from having fallen on to her bottom or back. As a result, she would have received non-surgical care and may have worn a brace for some time.
Her body could have been at the site anywhere from a few months to one or two years before being discovered last month, Sgt. Pound said.
Police located the body at 5:45 p.m. on Aug. 18 following a report from a resident of what appeared to be human remains in the 2000-block of Curling Road. They found the body six metres from a popular trail, amid the bushes and trees that concealed the path from street view. It was so body was so badly decomposed investigators could not immediately determine its sex.
Sgt. Pound said it was apparent efforts had been made to hide the body – enough reason alone to call in IHIT.
The team is now liaising with the coroners office and the missing persons unit, reaching “national and international levels as well,” Sgt. Pound said.
Anyone with information about the victim, or the investigation, is asked to contact IHIT at 1-877-551-4448 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Those who wish to remain anonymous can contact Crime Stoppers through a number of avenues, including phone (1-800-222-8477) and online (solvecrime.ca).