The only people who know what caused the death of slain Armstrong teen Taylor Van Diest are one forensic pathologist, a few Mounties, and the person or persons who attacked and killed her.
Police are refusing to release the results of a Thursday autopsy, and they are still without a suspect in the case that has shocked the quiet North Okanagan town.
Mounties intensified the search for a suspect Friday with the addition of seven additional major crime unit officers from the Lower Mainland. There are now more than 40 officers assigned to the homicide investigation.
“We want to solve this case. This community needs closure. The family and the community needs to heal,” said RCMP spokesperson Gordon Molendyk.
He said the additional officers were needed while events of Halloween were still fresh in peoples’ minds. Police have received more than 55 tips from the public and hope more will come in.
“The longer a case goes on, the harder it is to solve,” Mr. Molendyk said.
Mounties currently believe Ms. Van Diest left her home at 5:50 p.m. She walked north on Pleasant Valley Road for 10 minutes until she reached a set of railroad tracks near the 3100 block of Rosedale Avenue.
The last contact Ms. Van Diest made to friends was 6:00 p.m. by text message. At 7:30 p.m. her cell phone was found near the railroad tracks and RCMP were notified of her disappearance.
Friends and family found the 18-year-old woman severely beaten and unconscious at 8:45 p.m. She was found less than one kilometre from her home. Ms. Van Diest later died in hospital.
As the investigation continues, members of the community are working to help support the Van Diest family.
Bake sales and fundraisers have been scheduled in and around Armstrong and an account for the Van Diest family was started at the Armstrong Valley First Credit Union.
Catherine Thompson, the aunt of Taylor Van Diest, said support for the single-parent family is welcome.
“We’re very thankful for the overwhelming support from the community,” said Ms. Thompson. “Their donations of food and flowers and their monetary donation has been warmly received from all of us.”
David Kropp, a spokesperson for the Valley First Credit Union, said the number for the Van Diest Family Trust is 803536.
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