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A British Columbia man has been charged with the first-degree murder of a 28-year-old Belgian woman who was visiting Canada.

Detectives with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team say Oliver, B.C., resident Sean McKenzie was arrested on Sept. 14. He remains in custody, awaiting a court appearance in Chilliwack on Wednesday.

Corporal Frank Jang said Mr. McKenzie is linked to a white van found north of the community of Boston Bar on Aug. 22, near the area where the body of Amelie Sakkalis was found.

Cpl. Jang added Mr. McKenzie is known to drive throughout the province for work and investigators believe he met Ms. Sakkalis as she was hitchhiking toward Vancouver from Penticton on the day she died.

Detectives are urging anyone who may have seen Mr. McKenzie, Ms. Sakkalis, or the two together, to speak to police.

Cpl. Jang has not said how Ms. Sakkalis died or why Crown lawyers laid the first-degree charge.

First-degree murder can apply when a homicide is planned and deliberate, or when death occurs during a sexual assault or kidnapping.

“We will be supporting the prosecution in the days ahead, but we are still open to speaking with people, especially if they have information on that particular day, Aug. 22. If you saw Mr. McKenzie, if you saw Amelie, we need to speak to you today,” Cpl. Jang told a news conference on Monday.

“We are certainly not done with the investigation,” he said.

The woman’s family in Belgium has been informed of the arrest and has been kept up to date in the investigation.

“You can imagine the shock of receiving that news, made more difficult by the fact that it happened in a foreign land,” Cpl. Jang said.

He says the homicide team hopes news that a charge has been laid will help the Sakkalis family in their healing process.

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