The RCMP on Vancouver Island have identified a badly burned body found near Duncan on Monday as the remains of 42-year-old Karrie Ann Stone, a former Vancouver resident who moved to the Cowichan Valley late last year to be closer to her family.
While investigators are still waiting for the B.C. Coroners Service to confirm the victim's identity, RCMP Corporal Darren Lagan said Thursday that preliminary autopsy results and evidence gathered at the scene indicate the body is that of Ms. Stone.
"That's the theory that we're working on right now and it's based on some very solid information," Cpl. Lagan said.
The cause of death has yet to be determined, but the autopsy shows that "foul play was involved and that this is a homicide investigation," he said.
Ms. Stone moved to Duncan in late 2009 and lived in various locations in the months before she disappeared, Cpl. Lagan said. She was last seen on Wednesday, July 7, at the Super 8 Motel in Duncan, where she had been living for "about a month."
A berry picker discovered her charred remains around 3:30 p.m. Monday lying in a burned-out patch of forest in the rural hamlet of Glenora, about five kilometres southwest of the city.
Two hours later, Ms. Stone's mother walked into the North Cowichan RCMP detachment to report her daughter missing. "Her mom attended the detachment at 5:30, not knowing we had made the discovery earlier in the day," Cpl. Lagan said.
About 20 officers from the RCMP and the Vancouver Island major crimes unit, along with an 18-person volunteer search team, spent Tuesday and most of Wednesday looking for clues in the forest where the body was found.
TV news cameras captured video of Ms. Stone's mother near the scene of the search Wednesday, but she did not speak on camera.
Cpl. Lagan said the Super 8 Motel, on the southern edge of town, caters mainly to low-income people who rent rooms by the month.
However, investigators need to gather more information about Ms. Stone's movements prior to her death to get a "clearer picture of who she was and the lifestyle she led," he added.
An unidentified staff member at the Super 8 Motel who answered the phone Thursday said management has no comment on the investigation. "We don't know anything," she said.
Investigators were reluctant to identify the victim before receiving "100-per-cent" confirmation from the coroner, but decided that releasing the name might help generate some tips.
"The longer we wait to put that information out, the less information we can potentially glean from the public," Cpl. Lagan said.
Police have yet to identify any suspects. Final autopsy results are not expected for several days.